LAS VEGAS (AP) – Shakur Stevenson Felix Caraballo stopped with a knockout in the sixth round on Tuesday night, in the first major boxing event held in North America since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs), the WBO featherweight champion, dominated his untitled fight against the Puerto Rican veteran, limiting the sport's return to the fighting capital of the world.
After a three-month break at major boxing competitions, Top Rank held five fights for ESPN in a fanless room in the conference center of the MGM Grand casino complex. Although each fight was an incompatibility of varying degrees, the favorites still offered fun performances for the sport's hungry audience.
Stevenson knocked Caraballo in the knee in the first round, and the brutally accurate power of the U.S. Olympic silver medalist continued to hurt Caraballo. Stevenson he finished precisely in the middle of the sixth, opening Caraballo's defenses with his right hand to the side before placing his left hand directly on Caraballo's solar plexus.
Stevenson, who turns 23 later this month, and heavyweight Jared Anderson wore T-shirts with the inscription "Black Lives Matter" in the ring. Stevenson he also came out for "Changes", the Grammy-nominated anthem of social change, written by Tupac Shakur, in honor of the boxer's name.
Anderson, 20, easily improved to 4-0 with a stoppage of Johnny Langston in the penultimate fight.
Mikaela Mayer was scheduled for a showcase at the co-main event, but the U.S. Olympic athlete was pulled from his scheduled fight with Helen Joseph on Sunday when he tested positive for COVID-19.
Mayer is asymptomatic, but remained in quarantine – and his positive test forced Stevenson fight without coach Kay Koroma, who works with both fighters due to his Olympic past.
Koroma's COVID-19 tests are negative, but he departed according to established health protocols for the return of combat sports to Nevada. Koroma was also scheduled to work on Anderson's corner.
Top Rank's precautions also did not include weigh-in confrontations, ample social distance for everyone, from judges to the ring announcer, and masks for almost everyone involved.
The card opened with an impressive victory for Robeisy Ramírez, twice an Olympic gold medalist in Cuba. In his fourth professional fight, Ramírez (3-1, 3 KOs) defeated Dominican opponent Yeuri Andujar twice in the first 48 seconds.
Ramírez is the last man to win Stevenson, winning a decision about the then teenager in the Rio roosterweight final in August 2016. Ramirez left the Cuban team in July 2018 and signed with Top Rank, and recovered from a surprising split decision loss in his professional debut in last year. with three straight stops.
Italian heavyweight Guido Vianello stopped Donald Haynesworth with 44 seconds remaining in the first round after a knockout. Haynesworth had a 65-kilogram lead at Vianello (7-0, 7 KOs), a Rio Olympic superweight, but stood up shakily after Vianello flattened him with a cutting right hand in the center of balance behind his ear.
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