By Anthony “Champ” Ross
Tonight HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” (10PM ET/ 7PM PT) series returns live from the historic Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. to showcase one of biggest punchers in the sport today. WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (23-0-1, 21KO) of Russia by way of Ft. Lauderdale, FL. will make the third defense of his title against the upstart Cedric Agnew (26-0, 13KO) of Chicago, Ill. in the 12-round main event. Opening up the telecast is an intriguing battle of two prospects ready to take the next step in there careers as NABO junior welterweight champion Karim “Hard Hitta” Mayfield (18-0-1, 11KO) of San Francisco, Calif. will battle Thomas Dulorme (20-1, 14KO) of Carolina, Puerto Rico over 10-rounds for the vacant NABF junior welterweight title.
One of most feared punchers in boxing today next to Deontay Wilder and Gennady Golovkin, Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev has taken the light heavyweight division by storm over the two years scoring seven consecutive knockouts all inside seven rounds. The last man to take Kovalev to the final bell was Karen Avetisyan in Dec. 2010 where he went the six-round distance and take away the technical draw versus Grover Young during the summer of 2011, Kovalev has scored eleven knockouts all within three rounds. Some critics would say is Kovalev overrated at this point or just under-matched with his level of opposition? Kovalev’s last five foes have a combined record of 101-7-1 (.927) including wins over the credible Gabriel Campillo and Nathan Cleverly which could spell trouble for Agnew tonight who’s last five opponents have been the polar opposite with a 93-79-8 with the two names worth mentioning Otis Griffin (UD) and Yusaf Mack (UD). The accurate power punching Kovalev possesses throwing an average of 88 punches per round his last three fights is not only legitimate but abnormal for the light heavyweight division. If you take a look at divisions up and down boxing, there is only one name that rings on par with Kovalev’s effectiveness and precise volume which is fan favorite super bantamweight Leo Santa Cruz. Agnew is a natural orthodox fighter although likes to switch to southpaw to give opponents a different look which has become very effective for him. Agnew is not a notable puncher and will have to use his lateral movement early and often to keep Kovalev at a distance although the big question is how long can he be successful with that plan? The power of Kovalev is real and consistent with both hands and we may soon find that out very quickly after the first bell sounds. These two fighters look to be on opposite sides of the spectrum as Agnew could experience some success early giving angles possibly hindering Kovalev big power attack early although Agnew should be in for a long night once he tastes the devastating power from the Russian.
The opening bout between Karim Mayfield and Thomas Dulorme will not only be more competitive than the main event it also became more appealing after the weigh-in fiasco yesterday afternoon between the two fighters as it matches two of the hardest punchers in the junior welterweight division. A native of the infamous Fillmore district in San Francisco, 33-year old Mayfield did not turn professional until he was 25-years old coming up the hard way being matched very tough throughout his career facing four unbeaten fighters in his first nine bouts. Under the guidance of trainer Ben Bautista, Mayfield began to shoot up the rankings in 2011 after being the first man to stop former world champion Steve Forbes (TKO10) inside the distance. Mayfield continued his success picking up the NABO title with a workmanlike decision over veteran Patrick Lopez in 2011. Mayfield has won two of his last three bouts inside the distance with victories over Raymond Serrano (TKO5) and Chris Fernandez (KO8) while picking up his most notable victory in 2012 over Mauricio Herrera (UD) in what looks to be a career defining win up to this point. The 25-year old Dulorme turned pro in 2008 and was on the fast track to super stardom after compiling an excellent amateur record of 140-2. Dulorme was signed to the promoter trio of Lou DiBella, Gary Shaw and Universal Promotions creating “Team Puerto Rico”, a stable of promising prospects that include super featherweight contender Jose Pedraza. The 24-year old Dulorme ran into his first stumbling block of his career against welterweight contender Luis Carlos Abregu getting more than he bargained for in a fight that many thought was too much too soon. Dulorme was touched up badly in that fight after being knocked down in rounds three and seven before the corner of Dulorme threw in the towel to stop the fight. Dulorme went back to the drawing board and collected four wins in 2014 over modest opposition although the confidence of Dulorme looks to be at an all-time high coming into tonight. Under new trainer Robert Garcia and strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza, Dulorme is ready to show he is ready to take the next step from prospect to contender. Dulorme has all the makings of a good fighter hand speed, foot speed and good movement yet the only missing link could be his chin. Mayfield who is built like welterweight titlist Shawn Porter in stature yet fights with the demeanor of super-middleweight king Andre Ward. Mayfield with his rugged style has always been a tough style to prepare for with his pawing jab and a clubbing overhand right hand that does damage. Dulorme has to box effectively from the outside while trying to negate Mayfield from tying him up on the inside. Dulorme had problems in the past establishing his distance jumping inside the pocket too far where opponents can counter him, effectively smothering his own punches. Mayfield comes into tonight with more experience on this level yet Dulorme packs all the natural gifts you would want in a fighter. The winner tonight will undoubtedly turn prospect into contender and on the verge of a possible world title shot versus WBO junior welterweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov.
TV: HBO “Boxing After Dark” 10PM ET/ 7PM PT
Kovalev -5000 vs Agnew +1400
Mayfield -165 vs Dulorme +135
Kovalev – 3rd Rd KO
Mayfield – 8th Rd KO