by Cliff Rold
36-year old Ukrainian former 154 lb. titlist Sergiy Dzinziruk (37-2-1, 24 KO) of Hamburg, Germany found out what Middleweight contender Andy Lee and former Jr. Middleweight titlist Sergio Mora have discovered in the past. Friday night at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York, 31-year old Brian Vera (22-6, 13 KO) of Austin, Texas, proved again more than the sum of his parts and all fighter in dropping Dzinziruk three times en route to a stoppage in the tenth round. It was the second stoppage loss in the career of Dzinziruk, the other coming in a 2011 Middleweight title shot versus Sergio Martinez. Dzinziruk hasn’t won a fight since 2010.
Both men came into the bout at the Middleweight limit of 160 lbs. The referee was Benji Esteves Jr.
A grazing left and some awkward feet tangling led to a knockdown ruling in favor of Vera in the first minute of round one. The southpaw Dzinziruk got up to no ill effect but the feet continued to touch. He tried to get a jab going, but it was Vera planting and throwing the heavy shots. A right rocked and a left hook dropped Dzinziruk for real and the former titlist rose on shaky legs. Vera stayed on top of him through to the bell and the Ukrainian looked to be in big trouble.
Vera, grinning and relaxed in the corner, stepped forward with purpose at the bell for the second. Eyes wide, Dzinziruk appeared focused on getting past the first round turbulence. The jab was fired with greater snap but the right hand of Vera continued to land anyways. Dzinziruk answered with some sneaky lefts, part uppercut and part hook.
Dzinziruk again took some unhealthy rights in round three but he blocked the shot much better and managed to box his best three minutes of the fight to then. It made the round harder to score than the clear first two. A snapping right hook landed for Dzinziruk in round four and seemed to give him a dash of confidence but Vera responded by landing more power shots down the stretch.
The subtle improvements of Dzinziruk continued in rounds five and six, the latter his first clear winning frame of the fight to then. Vera was struggling to land the right as consistently as in earlier rounds. Vera controlled the first half of the seventh and rallied late in the round to seal it with some right hand lumber.
Round eight was ugly stuff early, Vera dishing a beating as he trapped Dzinziruk in the corner. Vera suffered a cut over the right eye to stem the assault. As the round wore on, it was the right jab and hook of Dzinziruk bringing the former titlist back from the brink of defeat and sprinkling the bout with drama.
Another tangle of feet coincided with a slicing, landing left for Dzinziruk. Vera hit the deck at center ring but the referee ruled no knockdown, a contrast to the less emphatic knockdown call in round one. It was a solid round for the Ukrainian.
Round ten was not. Vera trapped him in the corner again and this time survival would be no option. A right hand had Dzinziruk in trouble. Vera followed with a sustained assault to drop Dzinziruk to his haunches. Vera threw a shot while Dzinziruk was down, but the foul blow missed saving the ugly chance of a disqualification on an otherwise excellent night. Esteves dished the count and Dzinziruk rose unable to continue, the action halted at 1:50 of round ten.
In the televised opener, rugged 25-year old Jr. Welterweight Jose Hernandez (14-6-1, 6 KO), 139, of Fort Worth, Texas, bounced back from defeat in his last outing to upset undefeated 25-year old Tony Luis (15-1, 7 KO), 138, of Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, in an entertaining scrap. Luis built an early lead but was dropped in the eighth and being battered when his corner threw in the towel. The referee was Dick Pakozdi.
The taller Hernandez started out stalking in round one, Luis responding with quick salvos and some shots to the ribs. Hernandez was taking cleaner shots at mid-ring in the middle of the round, but kept firing. Luis worked in combination to stay a step ahead.
The fight stayed at close quarters in the second and third, both men digging hard to the body. Luis used his feet to circle and reset often; inevitably it was back to the trenches they went. Round four was more of the same, both men taking turns teeing off. As the frame wore on, Luis seemed to slow, leaving one to wonder if the body attack of Hernandez was taking a toll.
Both men appeared arm weary at times in the fifth, Luis’s weary arms pumping more and Hernandez seeming to land the more clubbing blows. Hernandez was having success with the left hook to the head. In the sixth, it was the left and right but Luis stayed busy and fired back when blasted. Luis closed with a strong volley of shots before Hernandez fired a heavy right back at the bell.
Rounds seven and eight were unfolded much as the previous rounds had in form and substance. In the latter, a dramatic shift late told the tale. A left hand rocked Luis near the minute mark and a follow-up assault sent Luis to the floor. Luis beat the count but was in big trouble. He kept firing. Hernandez kept landing. Luis tried to tie up and was shoved away. Being drubbed along the ropes, Luis looked in shock as his corner threw in the towel, saving their man from further punishment. The official time of the stoppage was 2:47 of round eight.
Interviewed after the fight, Hernandez said, “I just tried my best…I spent a lot of time and dedication at the gym…I do everything a working man can do for his family.” His family had much to be proud of on Friday night.
Middleweight: Antoine Douglas (4-0, 3 KO) UD4 Emmanuel Medina (2-3-1, 2 KO)
The card was televised in the U.S. on ESPN2 as part of its “Friday Night Fights” series, promoted by Banner Promotions & Greg Cohen Promotions.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]