By Nick Bellafatto
Photo Credit: Reuters
Calling the fight at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada last night, Showtime analyst Al Bernstein perhaps summed it up best when he said, “it looks like a hockey fight.”
In trying to close the gap against a much taller opponent in defending WBA lightweight champ Richard Abril (18-3-1, 8 KO’s), hometown fighter and Ugandan born Sharif “The Lion” Bogere (23-1, 15 KO’s) would attempt to turn it into a street fight, only to come up short in the end by scores of 116-110 twice, and 115-111.
Simply unrefined in his approach, not only would the challenging Bogere lead with his head throughout, deducted a point for the same in round 12 after causing multiple facial lacerations to his Miami based Cuban adversary, but Sharif would in amateur fashion engage in meaningless wrestling while winging punches with little or no effect.
In saying that, the African fighter would win a few early rounds based on the fact that Abril was less than busy. But letting his hands go at range from the fourth frame on, although quite sporadic, the champion had begun to separate himself as the frontrunner. This despite the fact that a bit of holding on the part of Abril would further contribute to the bout’s ugliness.
And in mentioning that holding, it seemed apparent that Richard would for the most part grab on or push down in an effort to avoid the head of onrushing challenger Bogere. Nevertheless a busy Russell Mora involved in yet another potentially controversial bout would deduct a point from Abril in the eighth frame for just such tactics.
Perhaps feeling the fight hung in the balance at this juncture, the Cuban would increase his work rate, not only utilizing the ring to his advantage, but he would go on to land the more visibly appealing shots which in finality had Abril connecting at a much higher rate.
All told Richard Abril would have been better served by getting busy behind a jab from the get go, which in a dual role could have set up the reach deficient Bogere on a more repeated basis, as well as kept the African fighter at bay to avoid the aforementioned head clashes.
“Definitely I won the fight although it was a dirty fight,” stated Abril. “I wasn’t concentrating enough because it’s difficult to fight against dirty fighters.” As for who he’d like to fight next Abril let it be known that WBC lightweight titlist Adrien “The Problem” Broner is a desirable opponent. “ I’d like to fight Broner.”
One handed Russell Jr. registers shut-out over Gusev
European featherweight titlist Vyacheslav Gusev (20-3, 5 KO’s) of Prokopyevsk, Russia couldn’t feel very good in knowing he landed all of 32 punches, to include a perhaps record establishing one jab over the course of ten rounds in this co-main event.
As a result, the quite tentative and ineffective Russian fighter would at the hands of yet undefeated Gary Russell Jr. (22-0, 13 KO’s) of Capitol Heights, Maryland suffer a shutout on the scorecards, the final tallies reading 100-89 all the way around.
Russell Jr. during the early rounds would mix his shots well, dropping Gusev for only the second time in his career with a right hook in round 3. Standing right in front of his opponent, the Capital Heights native was virtually untouchable as Gusev was unprepared to deal with Gary’s overall speed. “I couldn’t catch up to him. He’s too fast,” stated Vyacheslav.
And what’s got to have the foreign fighter slapping himself at this time is that Gary Russell Jr. would damage his left hand in or around the fourth frame, so that he was virtually a one handed fighter from that point forward.
Still Gusev failed to engage despite the lack of a two handed attack perpetrated by his American counterpart. Whether Russell Jr.’s hand is actually broken or not is yet to be determined.
“I knew I was in a lot of pain going into the fourth and fifth rounds,” stated Russell Jr., but “I won six rounds straight with one hand.”
In summing up the European champion didn’t amount to much at all considering that not only was he facing a one handed opponent, but he was facing an adversary who has yet to be tested against any type of stern opposition.
What’s next up for the Al Haymon managed fighter is far from set in stone, but pending the prognosis concerning his left hand Gary let it be known what’s on his mind. “We most definitely want to put our hands on Juan Manuel Lopez.”