Last night, in a defining moment of his rising career, Ali Izmailov held onto his unblemished record.
The fight against Charles Foster was intense. It was a fight of the undefeated, a pivotal match-up on SHOBOX: The New Generation, held at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y.
Izmailov, the pride of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Foster, a native son of New Haven, Conn., engaged in a nail-biting 10-round showdown. The odds seemed evenly stacked. Either fighter could’ve taken it. Yet when the dust settled, the judges agreed – Izmailov’s punishing body work and a decisive knockdown in the fifth round sealed his victory. The scores? A narrow 95-94 and a slightly more comfortable 96-93, twice, in Izmailov’s favor.
After the match, Izmailov, under the guidance of the veteran John David Jackson, didn’t show any doubt about the outcome. “I didn’t even listen to the scores. I knew it wasn’t close. I knew I won. I wasn’t even thinking it was even close,” he said, brimming with confidence.
It was a night of shattered records. Six fighters entered the ring with unblemished histories. Foster was the third to leave with his perfect streak broken. Adding to the historical impact, he became the 228th fighter in the 22-year history of SHOBOX to suffer his first defeat.
A pivotal moment came at the closing seconds of the fifth round. Izmailov landed a stinging right jab, and down went Foster. Foster confessed to his trainer, Luis Rosa, Sr., that he’d injured his right shoulder at the start of that round. Izmailov didn’t hold back, expressing frustration about Foster’s evasive tactics, “He didn’t want to fight. That’s why he held so much. He knew what would happen if he fought me.”
Intriguingly, the fight was so tightly contested that both fighters landed an equal number of punches. Izmailov’s 113 of 385 (29%) mirrored Foster’s 113 of 532 (21%). But Izmailov’s superior power punching, yielding a 94 to 72 edge, and the critical fifth-round knockdown, made all the difference.
Undefeated welterweight contender Mykquan Williams (19-0-2, 8 KOs) of Hartford, CT, may have gotten a break to stave off an upset loss and remain undefeated in his eight-round battle with Sao Paulo, Brazil’s surprisingly capable Paulo Cesar Galdino (12-7-2, 8 KOs).
Headlining the untelevised undercard of the Boxing Hall of Fame induction weekend SHOBOX: The New Generation tripleheader broadcast from the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY, Williams was shockingly held to an eight-round majority draw against the tough Brazilian journeyman Galdino, who appeared to most to land more often and control a majority of rounds.
Williams seemed to be stifled by the combination punching of Galdino, who marked up the American’s face with steady output and the occasional power shot. Appearing significantly smaller than Galindo, Williams tried to time the Brazilian and landed some decent counter hooks, but never showed the potential he’s shown in other, seemingly tougher matchups.
A myopic score of 77-75 was overruled by two slightly better scores of 76-76.
Local favorite super lightweight Bryce Mills (11-1, 4 KOs) of Liverpool, NY, took an impressive six-round unanimous decision over a game but under-weaponized Jonathan De Pina (12-1, 5 KOs) of Boston.
Seemingly unaware of even the possibility of taking a backward step, Mills’ fast combination punching and highly pressurized attack to the head and body had De Pina playing defense and loading up on attempted potshots to little effect the entire fight. Mills seemed to have De Pina hurt a few times, but his “Mayweatheresque” defensive technique allowed him time to recover in time.
The scores reflected the mostly one-sided nature of the affair at 59-55 and 60-54 x 2.
Middleweight/super middleweight contender Maciej Sulecki of Warsaw, Poland, moved to 31-2, 12 KOs with a stay-busy second-round knockout over veteran Angel Hernandez (19-22-1, 14 KOs) of Gary Indiana. Sulecki stunned Hernandez with a right at the end of round one and finished the job just 16 seconds into round two. Referee Benjy Esteves reached the count of 10 with Hernandez trying to rise.
In a minor upset, Detroit heavyweight Walter “Fourth Degree” Burns moved to 7-0, 5 KOs with a first-round knockout over formerly undefeated New Yorker Moses “Thunder Hands” Johnson (now 9-1-2, 7 KOs). The free-swinging Motown native caught Johnson cold with a series of power shots, dropping him three times. Upon the third knockdown, a left hook that felled Johnson nearly face-first, referee Mark Nelson waved it off at 1:57. Solid win for Burns, who came out blazing and hit paydirt.
In as entertaining a scrap to start the night as a fan could ever hope for, heavyweight double debuters Fabio Rodriguez of The Bronx and Robert Hernandez of Rochester, NY, traded power shots to the brink of mutual exhaustion through four action-packed rounds. There were no knockdowns in the evenly matched affair, but both men appeared to be headed toward being stopped at times, only to bounce back with an equally effective return barrage. The judges favored Rodriguez’s work in the end, scoring his unanimous decision victory 39-37 x 3.