In a collision of two highly-skilled, exciting southpaw featherweights in the co-feature on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING, international amateur standout Vasyl Lomachenko (2-1, 1 KO), of Ukraine, won a hard-fought 12-round majority decision over previously undefeated yet untested Gary Russell Jr. (24-1, 14 KOs), of Capitol Heights, Md., to capture the vacant WBO world 126-pound crown.
The telecast opened with former two-division world champion Devon Alexander (26-2, 14 KOs), of St. Louis, winning a hard-fought unanimous 10-round decision in a terrific, fast-paced scrap over determined Jesus Soto Karass (28-10-3, 18 KOs), of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico
“Golden Boy Promotions is accustomed to putting on tremendous fights at the StubHub Center, and tonight was no exception,’’ Golden Boy President Oscar De La Hoya said afterward. “Each and every fight was fast-paced and action-packed, and all the fans who turned out to watch boxing at its best went home fully entertained. We look forward to the July 12 (SHOWTIME PPV) and Aug. 9 fights on SHOWTIME and to many more in the future.”
Guerrero, making his first start in 13 months, won by the scores 117-111 twice and 116-112. There were no knockdowns but both warriors pounded on each other and were battered and bruised at the finish at which time they were given a standing ovation by the 5,711 in attendance.
“It was a rough fight,’’ Guerrero, whose left eye was cut and swollen shut, said. “I didn’t want to get caught into his style, but right out of the gate I did. I’m not a runner, I will fight. He is a tough, great fighter. I want to give the fans what they want. I was in great shape. I took the shots very well because of the shape I am in because of CrossFit.”
“I wanted to get on my toes but I fell right back into banging with him. I have been out for a year and it’s time to get back to work again. I am getting back in the gym right away. He hit me with a great shot to the left eye and I had to get right back up and keep fighting. There’s no backing down.
“There are a lot of fighters out there. We will enjoy this win and then get back to seeing who is out there. My opponent came in 110 percent better than what you see on TV because it was his opportunity to shine in the SHOWTIME main event. This was his opportunity and he came to fight.”
The gamest of the game, Kamegai, said his motivation was propelled by the fact that he flew all the way from Japan for this chance.
“I’m OK with the decision,’’ Kamegai said. “My fighting spirit stems from the fact I flew all this way to win. All through the fight I kept thinking I am here to win, I felt he shook me a couple of times and weakened my legs, but I hurt him a few times, too. But he recovered quickly.’’
There were no knockdowns in the epic showdown between Lomachenko and Russell for the vacant WBO title that Lomachenko won by the scores of 116-112 twice and 114-114. Lomachenko, 396-1 as an amateur, was a two-time Olympic Games gold medalist (2008, 2012) who fought and lost for a world title in his pro debut.
“I am very happy and excited to be a world champion,’’ the physically strong and talented Lomachenko said. “I want to thank all the fans that came here to support me from Ukraine. To join the Klitschkos as a champion from Ukraine, I would like to thank them.
“The plan built by our team was great, I was trying to land the punches and I did. I landed punches very well. I started from the body and went to the head.’’
Said Russell following his first pro defeat. “It was a fair decision. It’s disappointing to lose, but we’re warriors and we will go back to the drawing board.
“He had real good lateral movement, we tried to close the distance with the jab but he was moving well. I tip my hat to him.
“My past opponents have no bearing on this fight. I need to execute better going forward. I don’t think he’s better than me, we knew he was going to use the lateral movement. Honestly we didn’t execute the game plan. We wanted to close the distance between the double and triple jabs but I couldn’t get to him as easily as I wanted to.
“I would definitely fight him again, anytime, anyplace.’’
The southpaw Alexander, in his first fight since losing to Shawn Porter in December, was satisfied afterward.
“Overall I’m happy with my performance,’’ he said. “I’m my own worst critique, I wanted to shut him out. But he was a tough, tough competitor. I want to thank God, Al Haymon, my family and coach. We got it done St. Louis.
“Soto Karass keeps coming, he’s a tough competitor. I wanted to pace myself and see my punches more, instead of going out there and missing shots.
“I’m a good fighter with skills and I will be the best one day, I promise you.”
Offered Soto Karass: “I was trying to focus on the body, that was the plan, but I hurt my hand in the fifth round. Alexander was very fast. He was hard to hit and he has good skills. I was surprised he decided to hang in there with me and exchange.’’
Former light heavyweight world champion “Bad Chad” Dawson (31-3, 17 KOs), of Las Vegas, ended his first start in 12 months quickly, knocking out George “Honey Boy” Blades (23-5, 16 KOs), of Indianapolis, Ind., in the first round. Dawson dropped Blades twice. Blades was counted out at 2:35 after the second knockdown.
In a one-sided give-and-take battle in the SHOWTIME EXTREME co-feature, 2012 U.S. Olympian and undefeated heavyweight Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale (11-0, 10 KOs), of Los Angeles, registered a third-round knockout over hard-trying but outclassed 2004 U.S. Olympic team captain Devin “Devastatin’” Vargas (18-4, 7 KOs), of Toledo, Ohio.
“I was just starting to boil, just starting to get warmed up,’’ said Breazeale, who dropped Vargas once in the second and once in the third before it was stopped at 2:26. “After I hit him good with a couple of good right uppercuts I knew it was just a matter of time.
“He hit me a few times but I thought that was great. I finally got hit by a guy who came to fight. It’s always an honor to fight a fellow Olympian, so I’m definitely feeling happy about this performance.
“This was my first scheduled 10-rounder and I was prepared to go 10 rounds, but I knew I had to pace myself without holding back.’’
De La Hoya and Canelo Alvarez (via satellite), who faces Erislandy Lara on SHOWTIME PPV on Saturday, July 12, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, were interviewed by SHOWTIME before the main event.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING tripleheader will re-air this week as follows:
Tomorrow, Sunday, June 22, 9 a.m. ET/PT SHOWTIME
Tuesday, June 24, at 10 p.m. ET/PT SHO Extreme
Saturday’s three-fight telecast will be available at SHOWTIME ON DEMAND beginning Sunday, June 22.
Brian Kenny hosted the SHOWTIME telecast, with Mauro Ranallo calling the action, Hall of Fame analyst Al Bernstein and former world champion Paulie Malignaggi commentating and Jim Gray reporting. In Spanish, Alejandro Luna called the blow-by-blow with former world champion Raul Marquez serving as color commentator. The executive producer of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING is David Dinkins Jr. with Bob Dunphy directing.