NY Sports Day
Rich Mancuso

Mancuso: Throwing Punches In New York

Main Events

Bivol and Kovalev Keep up their end of the bargain  The puzzle in this mix of a highly contested light heavyweight title picture was partly answered Saturday night at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden with convincing wins and title defenses of Dmitry Bivol and Sergey Kovalev were in retaining their WBA and WBO titles and now promoters at Main Events will decide what is next.

This was one of two boxing cards on the same night in New York. At Barclays Center in Brooklyn heavyweight Deontay Wilder retained the WBC title stopping Louis “King Kong” Ortiz in a thriller. Wilder is in position to unify the heavyweight title picture with an opportunity to face either Joseph Parker or Anthony Joshua who will square off in the ring next weekend.

Bivol the number two contender took every round but the 10th before stopping the tough challenge of Sullivan Barrera. For Kovalev it seemed easy in also taking every round but one before cuts forced referee Steve Willis to put an end to the bout at 2:25 of the seventh round.

Now the question will be answered at some point  as to how to complete the puzzle towards a title unification bout that could lead to a showdown between Kovalev and Bivol.  And with Andre Ward a  recently retired two-time champion, who defeated Kovalev twice and hinting about a comeback ,the division could get more complicated.

Kovalev lost to Ward twice and in November regained the WBO title with a convincing second round stoppage over Vyacheslav Shabranskyy at the Garden.

So where is this puzzle headed with two of the premiere light heavyweights in the division? More so would a Kovalev and Bivol unification bout be the one that boxing fans buy and have that appeal?  

Kovalev said after his convincing win, “ I am always looking for the big fight.” That could be with Bivol who is attempting to take his style for that appeal outside of St. Petersburg Russia. Main Events has a working agreement with the Garden and Biviol-Kovalev could be the headline there as soon as September.

Again that requires a sell and both fighters did nothing to convince fans that this would be a mega fight. Bivol, 13-0, 11 K0’s, after a successful amateur career was cut over the right eye in the second round and that did not hinder his effort. Barrera got his title shot and felt the opportunity was better against Bivol and bypassed Kovalev.

Either way, the puzzle will soon be solved. It’s a matter of unifying the titles and neither winner hinted what was next.

“I’ve got the goods to be the best light heavyweight in the world,” Bivol said. “But I got a lot of work to do to be the best in the division. I have to fight the best to prove I am the best in the division.”

Kovalev was only talking about fighting with the best, more so for the lucrative purse that has appeal.  “This was better work than the last fight for sure,” he said “I don’t think about that right now,” he said about another possible meeting with Ward.

So where does this puzzle go to determine who reigns as the best light heavyweight?  Based on the outcomes at the Garden that will still be determined. But for now, and with Andre Ward the retired fighter it remains a Kovalev-Bivol fight to determine where this division is headed.

Villarreal Wins at Garden Again:  The 20-year old Ismael Villarreal and son of former super lightweight fighter Otilio won his second pro fight as a  junior middleweight.  Back in November, Villarreal won his pro debut and the plan is to fight again in two months after his four round unanimous decision over 1-7 Anthony Woods.

“Threw more punches to the body tonight and did well with the combinations,” he said. Villarreal is promoted by Main Events that staged the Garden card of boxing, He continues to pursue a degree at Bronx Community College in criminal justice and intends to fight four more times this year.

Said his manager, Joe Santiago of Catalino Puerto Rico, “We will keep him (Villarreal) busy with Main Events where there is a promotional deal.” Santiago also manages junior flyweights 4-1 Rene Santiago and 11-2 Brian Aqueno….

“Threw more punches to the body tonight and did well with the combinations,” he said. Villarreal is promoted by Main Events that staged the Garden card of boxing, He continues to pursue a degree at Bronx Community College in criminal justice and intends to fight four more times this year.

 “We will keep him (Villarreal) busy with Main Events where there is a promotional deal.” said Santiago also manages junior flyweights 4-1 Rene Santiago and 11-2 Brian Aqueno….

And Frank Galarza of Brooklyn who was born in Puerto Rico won his second straight fight at the Garden under the Main Events banner. Galarza, 32, after a 14-month layoff before his first fight back in November had a rough go with Norberto Gonzalez, 24-11, 14 KO’s of Monterrey Mexico.

But Galarza went to the body and pulled out the 8-round unanimous decision and improved to 19-2-2 with 11 KO’s.

“I had a chance to show skill and ability in the ring and show my tools,” he said, “We got the round and I’m happy about that. I give myself a B, what do you think about that? I’m satisfied with the performance and happy lo be back with Main Events and doing a good job.”

Main Events plans a return to the Garden in July. Kovalev could have a unification bout with Bivol or the winner of the Adonis Stevenson- Budu Jack title fight that takes place next month. Villarreal and Galarza both under Main Events contracts will also return to the Garden ring.

By the way the PBC Barclays show won the fight at the gate with over 14,000 reportedly in the seats compared to the 4.600 at the Garden Theater. 

Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso  Twitter@Ring786


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *