Lightweight contender Felix Verdejo delivered a messasge to the 135-pound division by stopping Will Madera in the first round of Thursday’s Top Rank on ESPN main event at the MGM Grand Conference Center. It was an explosive performance that reminded everybody in boxing of why Verdejo was such a highly touted prospect a few years back.

Verdejo (27-1, 17 KOs) first hurt Madera (15-1-3, 8 KOs) with a right uppercut, then as Madera wobbled into the corner, another uppercut hurt him again. A hard right hand and then a left uppercut sent Madera crashing to the canvas near the neutral corner.

There really was no need for referee Robert Hoyle to administer the mandatory eight count. This fight was called off at 2:59 of the first.

Full fight recap coming up …

Jules takes a majority decision win

Martino Jules remained undefeated as he scored a majority decision victory over the scrappy Aleem Jumakhonov in a hard fought eight-round featherweight contest. It was a battle of styles between the southpaw boxing of Jules, and the steady pressure of Jumakhonov.

Both men have their moments, but at the end, it was Jules (10-0, 2 KOs) leading in the scorecards 76-76, 78-74 and 78-74.

Jules began the fight moving and boxing well, using his footwork and advantage in speed from the outside to keep Jumakhonov (8-3-2, 4 KOs) away. But when the bout was contested on the inside, Jumakhonov got the advantage. By the third round, Jumakhonov had Jules bleeding from the nose.

Many of the rounds were close, but while he wavered a bit in the middle of the fight, Jules was able to gather himself, and did just enough to win, fighting at a distance, while tying up Jumakhonov while in-close range. Jumakhonov landed some heavy overhand fights that visibly affected Jules, but could never string together a set of punches that swung momentum in his direction.

Jules outworked and outlanded Jumakhonov, landing 217 of 565 total punches. Jumakhonov landed 91 of 406.

Takeaway: Thursday’s fight was one of the best kind of victories that a young prospect like Martino Jules can earn. The undefeated featherweight picked up the majority decision over Aleem Jumakhonov to remain spotless as a professional, in a bout that showed Jules has plenty of things to work on if he wants to be serious contender later in his career.

While Jules (10-0, 2 KOs) boxed well on the outside, he gave up his distance advantage too often and struggled on the inside against Jumakhonov, who found success by throwing hooks that connected. Luckily for Jules, Jumakhonov (8-3-2, 4 KOs) was unable to set those hooks up with other shots — he didn’t land a single jab in the final four rounds — and just wasn’t accurate enough to pull out a victory. According to CompuBox, Jules outlanded Jumakhonov 38.4 percent to 22.4 percent. It also didn’t help that Jumakhonov threw nearly 160 fewer punches than his opponent.

As he gains experience as a professional, Jules will gain some of the ring savvy he lacked on Thursday night. He’ll need a lot more polish whenever he fights someone of a higher caliber. But at this point in his career, a win is a win, especially during a pandemic, and any lessons learned at this stage are tremendously valuable.

Anderson scores another TKO win, stays unbeaten

It was a short and easy night for highly regarded heavyweight prospect Jared Anderson, who scored a first-round knockout of Hector Perez. Anderson, making his second appearance inside ‘”the bubble,” started quickly and let his hands go liberally early on. A chopping overhand right ultimately knocked Perez out, as referee Russell Mora waved off the fight just 1 minute, 45 seconds into the round.

Anderson (5-0, 5 KOs) is considered to be a blue-chip prospect. At just 20 years old, he has a deep amateur background and plenty of time to develop. Perez was coming off a four-fight winning streak and was expected to give Anderson some rounds. On June 16, Perez defeated Juan Torres by decision in a six-round fight.

Asked what’s in his immediate future, Anderson said, “Anybody who’s good. I want Olympians, I want former world champions, challengers, all of it, anybody I can get, really.”

Takeaway: There’s no doubt that Anderson is the best pure American heavyweight prospect at this moment. Unlike many other U.S.-based big men, he isn’t a guy who stumbled into boxing after exhausting his other athletic options. Anderson actually grew up boxing, and it shows.

Anderson made short work of Perez, which in all honesty he was expected to do. But he continues to pass the eye test.

At just 20, you can see the possibilities with Anderson. He has a deep amateur background, solid fundamentals, the requisite size at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, and above-average athleticism. And he’s just scratching the surface. Look for Anderson to continue to be kept active, and don’t be surprised if he makes a third appearance inside “the bubble,” in August.

Davis outpoints Sanchez

Kenny Davis Jr. won a hard-fought four-round majority decision over Eduardo Sanchez in a fast-paced lightweight battle. When it was all said and done, Davis came out on top by scores of 38-36, 38-36 and 37-37.

Sanchez (2-3) looked to be taking control in the second round and much of the third, until Davis struck him with a left hook to the body that sent Sanchez to one knee. Davis was fortunate not to be penalized for hitting Sanchez while he was down. After the knockdown, Davis (3-2-1) was energized and began to pick up the pace.

Davis and Sanchez battled hard for the rest of the fight, and there were times when Sanchez was the more active fighter. But down the stretch, Davis’ punches had more impact. In the fourth round, Davis was penalized by referee Robert Hoyle for losing his mouthpiece for the second time in the fight, but ultimately it didn’t cost him.

Takeaway: It was a really solid opening bout. Both men let the leather fly and there was plenty of back-and-forth between the two. Davis got his hands raised in victory, but it wasn’t without controversy.

In the third round, he turned the tide as he hit Sanchez with a left hook that floored Sanchez and sent him to one knee. It was at that point that Davis blasted him while he was down. To the credit of Sanchez, he didn’t try to win an Academy Award, but instead beat the count and fought on.

You could easily argue that Hoyle should have penalized Davis. He didn’t, but the question has to be asked: If Nevada is utilizing instant replay for knockdowns (which is a great rule), why not also use it in cases like this where fouls might have occurred?


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