In undercard results from Glendale, Arizona, fans at the Desert Diamond Arena enjoyed a comeback performance by former titleholder MJ Akhmadaliev, a stunning upset win by Ja'Rico O'Quinn, and a snoozefest by Olympian Galal Yafai.
Akhmadaliev Back On Track
In the co-feature, a battle of southpaws saw Murodjon “MJ” Akhmadaliev of Uzbekistan (12-1, 9 KOs) come back from his first professional loss with an impressive eight-round TKO of Kevin Gonzalez of Culiacan, Mexico (26-1-1, 13 KOs).
Gonzalez was down four times in the fight, twice in the sixth round and twice more in the eighth. He sustained a bigger beating at the hands of Akhmadaliev as the fight went on. A final left hand made Gonzalez crumble to the canvas, and the fight was stopped at 2:49 of round eight.
Akhmadaliev outlanded Gonzalez 77 – 13 over the final three rounds, with 63 of those shots being power connects.
“When I stepped into the ring, I knew I could box the guy,” Ahkmadaliev said. “I know I’m a superior boxer, stronger and faster than anyone. I wanted to show I could do what it takes to get the victory. I wasn’t going to let it slip away anymore.”
Akhmadaliev wants to fight the winner of the Naoya Inoue/Marlon Tapales unification fight, which will take place on December 26. He lost a disputed split decision to Tapales in April.“Those are my belts,” he said.
Stunning KO Gives O'Quinn The Win
In a stunning turnaround, Ja’Rico “Great Lakes King” O’Quinn of Detroit (17-1-1, 9 KOs) staged a comeback to knock out highly regarded prospect Peter McGrail of Liverpool (8-1, 5 KOs) in the fifth round of their super bantamweight bout.
McGrail easily won every round, completely controlling the fight up until its stunning conclusion. In the second round, McGrail scored a knockdown equal parts left hand and push. In the fourth round, he floored O’Quinn with a straight left hand that left nothing up for interpretation.
In the fifth round, McGrail threw a one-two combination at O’Quinn as he was against the ropes. O’Quinn dodged the left hand and fired his own right hand, knocking McGrail out cold.
Referee Mark Calo-oy gave a ten count, but there was no need. McGrail was face down on the canvas for minutes after the fight. He left the ring under his own power.
“He ran into it, he got desperate,” said O’Quinn said. “He was looking for the knockout. He was sharp, but all it takes is one. He’s got to tighten up on his defense … He was going to the body on that side, and boom. Shoot, that’s my signature punch.”
O'Quinn said he believed in himself 100%. “Everybody counted me out.”
Galal Yafai Wins But Doesn't Impress
In a performance that did its very best to kill the entire energy from the crowd coming off the stunning knockout at the hands of O’Quinn, Galal Yafai of Birmingham, England (6-0, 4 KOs) won a unanimous decision from a game but outgunned Rocco Santomauro of Apple Valley, California (22-3, 6 KOs). The scorecards read 99-91, 98-93, 97-93 in favor of Yafai.
The crowd lustily booed the dull fight during its duration, especially at the final bell. The loudest boos were saved for the announcing of the judges' scorecards. Santomauro got a standing ovation from fans after he left the ring.
“He’s a veteran, he has 23 fights,” said Yafai. “I learned a lot tonight. It’s all experience … I’m still learning this game.”
What was set up as a showcase fight for Yafai to gain a new fan base may have accomplished the opposite. Santomauro gave an honest effort, but it wasn’t nearly enough to post a legitimate challenge to Yafai. Despite this, Yafai chose not to pick up the pace at any point in the fight, leading a restless crowd.
Before The Bell Results from Glendale
In super bantamweight action, Arturo Popoca Cardenas of Mexico (12-0-1, 7 KOs) stopped Carlos Mujica of Las Vegas (8-4, 3 KOs) at 1:24 of the fourth round when Mujica’s corner threw in the towel. Referee Chris Flores didn't notice the corner waving the towel in the air for several seconds, allowing Cardenas to land several power shots after the fight was over.
In somewhat of a rematch (if you count the brawl the two camps had after Thursday’s press conference as the opening contest), Junaid Bostan of Rotherham, England (8-0, 6 KOs) outpointed Gordie Russ of Detroit (6-1, 6 KOs) in eight rounds for a unanimous decision. Scores were all 79-73.
It was an action-packed contest. Both combatants fired shots until the final bell. Both men exchanged words at the end of the second round, then put on a round-of-the-year candidate in the third round, throwing power shots throughout.
Russ appeared to have Bostan hurt at the end of the round. Bostan was more measured in his attack for the rest of the fight. His corner implored him to focus more on defense. At the end of the eighth round, the two fighters again traded shots with little regard for defense or their own health. Bostan drove Russ into the ropes at the final bell, with bitterness causing Russ to refuse Bostan’s post-fight handshake.
Albert “Chop Chop” Gonzalez of Moreno Valley, California (7-0, 3 KOs) lived up to his nickname with a knockout victory over Alexis Molina of Guadalajara, Mexico (9-3-1, 5 KOs). Gonzalez opened up in the second round, stalking Molina. Molina did his best to survive and throw precise countershots, but he soon faded against the constant attack. A devastating body shot ended the bout at 2:24 of the second round,
In the opening bout, Joe McGrail of Liverpool (8-0, 4 KOs, Liverpool) fared better than his brother Peter. He defeated Edgar Ortiz Jr. of Phoenix ( 8-5-2, 4 KOs) by second-round TKO. McGrail knocked Ortiz down twice in each of the first two rounds. The last three knockdowns were scored with left hooks to the body.