Former IBF cruiserweight title challenger Andrew Tabiti came through his first test as a heavyweight as he dropped James Wilson before Wilson was pulled out at the end of the fifth round on the Usyk-Joshua bill in Jeddah.
Tabiti took his time but had too much speed and variety for Wilson
The heavier Wilson pushed forward as Tabiti worked behind the jab, but almost fell over in the third round as he pulled back from a left hook.
Tabiti continued to break down Wilson and hurt him with a couple of hard rights early in the fifth. Wilson started to unravel quickly as he tired and after a right to the side of the head, Wilson ducked low and was then nailed by a right uppercut that dropped him to his knees.
He just beat the count of referee Daniel Van de Wiele, but was under pressure for the final 30 seconds of the round, before being pulled out by his corner.
“I was trying to take my time because he was a bigger guy and saw what he had, then I saw he didn’t have that much,” said Tabiti, who said he intended to box at cruiserweight, heavyweight and bridgerweight.
Ben Whittaker was taken the full six rounds in his second professional fight as he claimed a unanimous decision over Petar Nosic, being largely content to box his way to victory in a light-heavyweight six-rounder.
The flashy Olympic silver medallist won his debut three weeks ago in two rounds, but never really got out of first gear as he was content to move around and try to pick his shots against the Croatian, whom he beat as an amateur.
“I just tried to box to the gameplan and work my way around the jab,” Whittaker said. “We had boxed before so you could see he was a bit wary but it was a great fight for me.. I switched southpaw trying to be a bit sexy at times, but that’s just me.”
Whittaker eased his way into the fight in the first, using his jab while Nosic came forward and trying his luck with a couple of short hooks that narrowly missed.
Landed big right as Nosic walked in, but he was struggling to land clean on Nosic, while the Croatian tried his luck, jumping forward with a big left hook that narrowly missed.
Nosic forced Whittaker to lead off in the third and he caught the Englishman walking in wide open a couple of times, but Whittaker was working hard to find openings.
Whittaker started going through the gears in the fourth round, hurting Nosic with a right, although when he landed again, Nosic landed one back in response.
After Whittaker cruised through the fifth, but landed a good overhand right, possibly his best punch to date, with a minute remaining in the sixth round, although never really followed it up.
One judge made it a whitewash, scoring 60-54, while the other two had it 59-55.
Tall southpaw cruiserweight Daniel Lapin went to 6-0 as a pro, but is yet to get a stoppage, as he took apart Josef Jurko, of Slovakia, over eight rounds.
Lapin was a class apart from Jurko, whom he hurt several times, but he never really pushed for the early finish.
Jurko was hurt by a body shot in the first and then by a left hook to the side of the head in the fifth. Lapin stepped up in the fifth when he rocked Jurko with a right hook and he had the Slovakian rolling around in the sixth when he put his punches together and Jurko tired.
All three judges scored it 80-72 to Lapin.
In the show-opener, Dubai debutant Rashed Belhasa lost a split decision to Traycho Georgiev, from Bulgaria, who was the more aggressive fighter in a messy welterweight four-rounder.
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.