New York, NY: Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) of Russia delivered another trademark crushing performance with a seventh round stoppage of Igor Mikhalkin(21-2, 9 KOs) of Russia at The Theater at Madison Square Garden to retain his WBO World Light Heavyweight Championship. Photos by Ed Mulholland.
Despite their friendship, there was no love lost between Russian countrymen as Kovalev made Mikhalkin feel the heat from the opening bell. Through the first six rounds, Kovalev out landed Mikhalkin 145 to 25 punches, according to CompuBox.
Nevertheless, Mikhalkin is a world champion, and stayed in Kovalev's face. A cut opened below Mikhalkin's right eye, and as Kovalev continued to punish him, referee Steve Willis stepped in to have the ringside physician examine Mikhalkin. He determined Mikhalkin could not continue, delivering a TKO victory to Kovalev at 2:25 of the seventh round.
In the exciting co-feature, WBA Light Heavyweight Champion Dmitry Bivol (13-0, 11 KOs) of Russia battled Sullivan Barrera (21-2, 14 KOs) of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba down to the final round before scoring a TKO victory at 1:41 of the twelfth.
Vaughn "Da Animal" Alexander(12-0, 8 KOs) of St. Louis, Missouri remained undefeated in his second appearance at Madison Square Garden, 14 years after his original 2004 victory. Alexander won a ten-round unanimous decision over a tough as nails Devaun Lee(10-3-1, 5 KOs) of Brooklyn, New York, who took the fight on barely two days' notice.
Brooklyn's own Frank "Notorious" Galarza (19-2-2, 11 KOs) battled a determined Norberto Gonzalez (24-11, 14 KOs) of Monterrey, Mexico in an eight-round junior middleweight contest. The local hero delivered a unanimous decision victory by scores of 80-72, 79-73, and 78-74.
Galarza, 32, traded shots with Gonzalez, but was in control of the action and directed the path of the fight throughout as his devoted fans cheered him on. The veteran Mexican, 36, took the fight on short notice and acquitted himself well with his effort.