By Thomas Gerbasi
The Theater, Madison Square Garden, New York City - Former interim cruiserweight champion Ola Afolabi added the IBO belt to his resume with a hard-fought 12 round win over Polands Lukasz Janik.
The majority decision win read114-114, 117-111 and 115-113 for Afolabi, his first since a majority decision loss to Marco Huck in June.
After two closely-contested rounds fought mainly in the trenches, Afolabi appeared to start pulling away in the first half of the third as he forced Janik to clinch on a number of occasions. But as the round entered its late stages, Janik came alive, scoring with several good shots before the bell sounded. The roles reversed themselves in the fourth, with Afolabi rocking Janik late, and the Londoner kept the momentum going in rounds five and six as Janik began to tire.
Afolabi rocked Janik on a couple occasions in the seventh, but the game Jelenia Gora native wouldnt go away, with his response not to go down from a hard shot but to fire back. The eighth saw some solid back and forth action from both combatants, but the pace dipped in the ninth, with Afolabi visibly annoyed by his opponents clinching. Janik did have the last word in the round though, as he clipped Afolabi with a hard right just before the end of the frame.
Janik got cut over the right eye early in the tenth, but he still seemed to have gotten a second wind in between the clinches he initiated. With a minute left, Afolabi struck with a straight right, rocking Janik and drawing oohs from the crowd, but the 27-year-old once again fired back, undeterred.
Janik rallied in the 11th, and both fighters dug deep in the final round in an effort to leave a final impression with the judges, but it was Afolabis cleaner shots that left little doubt as to who the winner was.
With the win, Afolabi improves to 20-3-4 with 9 KOs; Janik falls to 26-1 with 14 stops.
Washington D.C. welterweight Arthur “Dusty” Harrison kept his unbeaten record intact in an exciting back and forth 10 rounder with Josh Torres that saw plenty of action from start to finish.
Scores were 100-90 and 98-92 twice for Harrison in a fight that was much more competitive than those scores would indicate.
Harrison’'s speed and range kept him a step ahead of Torres in the early going, but the aggressive attack of the “Pitbull” began paying dividends in the fourth, with his body shots and ability to cut Harrison off making it a new fight. And while Harrison kept scoring as the rounds progressed, it wasn’t without taking plenty of return fire in the process. In the 10th, Torres rocked Harrison with a left hook but was unable to capitalize, putting his biggest chance to turn things around to rest.
With the win, Harrison, now 17-0 with 9 KOs, picks up the WBC Youth title. Albuquerque’s Torres falls to 12-3-1 with 5 KOs.
California hot prospect Joel Diaz Jr. got a few scares from Vineland, New Jersey’s Bryne Green before dropping his foe twice en route to a six round unanimous decision victory.
All three scores for Palmdale’s Diaz, now 13-0 with 11 KOs, read 60-52; Green falls to 7-7-1 with 3 KOs.
After a fairly uneventful opening frame, Diaz got rocked a few times by flush right hands but Green was unable to close the show. By the next round, Diaz was back in control, sending Green to the canvas with a left hook to the body. A right hand sent Green down a second time in the fifth round, but he was able to make it up and survive the fight, still trying to land another bomb the entire way.
Almaty, Kazakhstan’s Isa Akbarbayev got the crowd into the action immediately, keeping his undefeated record intact with a shutout four round unanimous decision win over Brian Clookey in the cruiserweight opener.
Scores were 40-36 across the board.
Clookey showed up to fight, but without the firepower to hurt his opponent, the better schooled Akbarbayev steadily broke the New Yorker down, with body shots being his most effective weapon. By the fourth round, the “Bumble Bee” had Clookey bleeding from a cut over his eye, and the outcome was no longer in the doubt, but the previously unbeaten Chase Mills product did manage to make it to the final bell.
With the win, Akbarbayev improves to 11-0 with 7 KOs and 1 NC; Clookey falls to 4-1-2 with 2 KOs.