Matchroom Boxing USA's and DAZN's U.S. Premier: A Review
By Steven Weinberg | Contributing Writer and Photographer
Published: October 08, 2018
By the time headliners, Jessie Vargas and Thomas Dulorme entered the ring on Saturday night for the United States premiere of Matchroom Boxing and DAZN, in Chicago, Illinois, the audience had already thinned out. Polish Legend Tomasz Adamek had just suffered a second-round knockout to Jarrell “Big Baby Miller,” and there wasn’t much reason for them to stick around. Those who stayed were hoping that the fireworks from the Vargas and Dulorme weigh-in would justify their attendance. Despite what was left of the audience alternatively chanting “Mexico” and “Puerto Rico” to energize the fighters, they remained relatively listless.
For most of the fight, Vargas and Dulorme kept their distance with jabs, only to mutual rush in for some quick exchanges. Dulorme appeared to stun Vargas with an overhand left to the temple at the end of the first round. Throughout the fight, Dulorme was faster and more aggressive, using head and body movement to make Vargas miss whatever was thrown. In the second round, Vargas suffered a nasty cut over his right eye as the result of a head butt that continued to trickle blood for most of the night. By the fifth round, Vargas appeared to have established some sort of rhythm, boxing from the outside, and moving inside for some quick exchanges. But like the previous rounds, Dulorme bobbed and weaved, besting Vargas with wild outside shots, again momentarily stunning Vargas. Vargas may have won the sixth and seventh rounds by staying on the outside with limited flurries, but every time he had a bit of success, it was matched by Dulorme’s ability to land straight left and rights of his own. By the tenth round, the two combatants decided to meet at center ring. For the first time of the night, Vargas got the best of Dulorme, scoring a knockdown with an overhand hand right, flush on Dulorme’s cheek. Dulorme easily beat the count, but Vargas, smelling blood, became the aggressor in the eleventh round, only to be met with one of Dulorme’s overhand rights, the same punch Dulorme had been successful with all night. By the twelfth and final round, Vargas, thinking he had control of the fight, attempted to stay on the outside, but Dulorme scored with consecutive straight left and rights. With less than twenty seconds left, Dulorme baited Vargas into a brawl, walking Vargas straight into a right hand, resulting in a knockdown. Dulorme’s late knockdown seemed to be the difference maker as the judges scored the fight 115-111 for Vargas, and 113- 113, and 113-113 resulting in a draw. The fight probably should have gone to Dulorme, but with Vargas being the “A” side, the upside is that Dulorme was able to leave the ring without an unjustified “L.”
The evening’s co-main event featured Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, coming in at a career-high 317 pounds, against Poland’s Tomasz Adamek, who was 90 pounds lighter at 227 pounds. With the heavily Polish crowd chanting “Polska, Polska,” Adamek attempted to circle the ring moving backward, hitting Miller with left hooks to the body. The size difference between the two was so great, however, that Miller simply moved forward at will, plastering Adamek with left and right hooks to the head. Less than a minute into the second frame, Miller stunned Adamek with a thunderous right uppercut, sending Adamek stumbling backward. Miller took the few steps necessary to finish Adamek with another right uppercut, scoring a KO victory at 51 seconds of the second round. Adamek never stood a chance. The most important lesson learned, however, is that in order to sell tickets in Chicago, there needs to be a Polish fighter on the card.
Artur Beterbiev, making his second Chicago appearance, and first defense of his IBF Light Heavyweight belt, took on a game Callum Johnson. Johnson said before the fight that he expected to brawl, and he came out doing just that. Beterbiev, however, scored a first-round knockdown as Johnson failed “to protect himself at all times” on a break, getting caught with a with check hook as he pulled his head through the ropes. Beterbiev decided to start boxing in the second round, but this time it was Johnson who scored a knockdown as Beterbiev failed to protect himself on a break. Beterbiev beat the count but was visibly wobbly as he stood up. He survived the round, and opened a cut under Johnson’s right eye in the third, as Beterbiev started to land his jab at will. In the fourth round, Beterbiev countered Johnson with an overhand right, landing on Johnson temple, sending the Brit to the ground. Beterbiev was awarded with a KO at 2:36 of the frame.
Daniel Roman, making the third defense of his WBA World Super Bantamweight titled, squared off against Gavin McDonnell. Roman, despite being significantly shorter with less reach, was able to walk McDonnell down throughout the fight and connect with short right hands. McDonnell simply could not establish his jab and use his reach. By the fifth round, McDonnell began to exchange on the inside with Roman. But Roman, with a clear speed advantage, seemed to get the best of McDonnell every time. By the seventh round, McDonnell was bloodied and getting battered by Roman’s heavy shots. In the tenth round, in a flurry of lefts and rights, Roman stunned McDonnell, forcing McDonnell to stagger backward, and Roman eventually scored a knockdown with a number of consecutive right uppercuts. McDonnell was able to get to his feet but was clearly shaken. The referee called off the fight, giving Roman a TKO victory.
In women’s action, Erica Anabell Farias, the WBC World Female Super Lightweight Champion, faced Chicago’s Jessica “The Caskilla” McCaskill. McCaskill came out to brawl as she usually does, leaving Farias no choice but to try and box and establish distance. For the first four rounds, McCaskill continued to walk forward and work the inside. By the fifth round, McCaskill began to box, throwing jabs, followed by uppercuts, with her superior head movement causing Farias to miss whatever was thrown. By the seventh round, both fighters were exhausted trying to stick to their respective game plans, Farias boxing on the outside, McCaskill brawling on the inside. It was more of the same through the tenth and final round, where at the end, McCaskill was declared the victor and new world champion with scores of 98-92, 97-93, and 96-94. In doing so, McCaskill became Chicago’s first women’s champion.
The undercard action involved three amateur standouts making their pro-debuts. Heavyweight Nkosi Solomon’s debut, however, was spoiled by Chicago’s Matt Cameron. Cameron was awarded a unanimous decision, 39-33, on all three scorecards. Solomon was knocked down twice and had points deducted twice for grabbing behind Cameron’s head. Middleweight Nikita “White Chocolate” Abably needed only 32 seconds to destroy Jake Henrickson, securing a KO victory with a left hook to the liver. Reshati “The Albanian Bear” Mati, a college sophomore, stopped Adan Ahumada in the third round, also with a left hook to the body. Rising light heavyweight Anthony Sims, Jr., who promised to “stick and move, because that’s his groove,” before the fight, did just that. After Sims, Jr. bloodied Mario Aguilar in the first round, he went on to thoroughly dominate, scoring a sixth round KO. In the night’s swing bout, Chicago’s Shawn Simpson continued his winning ways by battering Francisco Javier Lapizco around the ring for four rounds.
(Featured Photo: Matchroom Boxing USA)