Commentary

Herrera pulls upset over Provodnikov

Originally Published: January 10, 2011
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com


A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:

Saturday at Shymkent, Kazakhstan
Light heavyweight
Beibut Shumenov KO6 William Joppy

Retains a light heavyweight title
Records: Shumenov, 11-1, 7 KOs; Joppy, 39-7-2, 30 KOs

Rafael's remark: Shumenov, a 2004 Olympian for Kazakhstan who turned pro in 2007 and is now based in Las Vegas, returned to his hometown for his second title defense, and what a ride it was just getting to the ring. Shumenov was scheduled to face Germany's Jürgen Brähmer in a 175-pound title unification bout. However, Brähmer withdrew Tuesday and left town, claiming illness, which promoter Universum later announced was "acute gastrointestinal illness." To translate, Brähmer was said to be puking his brains out and had a base case of the runs. However, he left town without alerting anyone involved in the promotion, which did not sit well with Dan Goossen, Shumenov's promoter.

It looked as though the card was going to be called off but, after a day of uncertainty, it was saved. Joppy, the faded for three-time middleweight titlist, was supposed to fight light heavyweight prospect Gayrat Shumenov on the undercard. But when Brähmer bailed, Joppy accepted the title shot on short notice and Shumenov also agreed to change opponents on just a few days' notice (and to go from facing a southpaw to a right-hander). Joppy, 40, of Washington, D.C., has not been a serious factor since about 2003, when Bernard Hopkins gave him the beating of a lifetime in a middleweight championship fight, but he's always game and figured to give his best effort. He did, but he was just too small, too old and too slow to pull the upset.

With several Kazakhstan dignitaries in attendance, Shumenov, 27, knocked Joppy to his knees in the fifth round with a right hand. Seconds into the sixth round, Shumenov backed him into the ropes and dropped him again with a right hand, which caused Joppy to take a knee and be counted out.

Joppy dropped to 0-3-1 in his past four fights, including a 10th-round knockout loss to super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute in February 2008. After that fight Joppy retired for two years before returning. Now, after this defeat, Joppy said he was retiring for good, according to Goossen. Shumenov notched his second title defense since claiming his belt via controversial split decision against Gabriel Campillo last January in a rematch of his only defeat, which came the last time Shumenov fought in Kazakhstan.

Also on the card were some of Shumenov's Las Vegas-based stablemates. Welterweight prospect Ravshan Hudaynazarov (14-0, 12 KOs), 26, stopped Mexico's Jose Luis Cruz (41-8-2, 33 KOs) in the 10th round on a deep cut over Cruz's right eye. Hudaynazarov, who had never gone more than six rounds, dropped Cruz (who has a draw with Carlos Baldomir and once went the distance with Shane Mosley) with a left hook to the body in the first round. Las Vegas-based Shumenov (16-0-1, 11 KOs), who originally was supposed to fight Joppy, scored a fourth-round knockout of Uzbekistan's Tursunboy Absullakimov (13-5, 3 KOs). Junior welterweight Alexandr Zhuravskiy (10-0, 8 KOs) stopped Hammond, Ind., journeyman Ruben Galvan (27-15-4, 10 KOs) in the sixth round.

Friday at Las Vegas
Junior welterweight
Mauricio Herrera W12 Ruslan Provodnikov

Scores: 116-112 (twice), 115-113
Records: Herrera, 16-1, 7 KOs; Provodnikov, 17-1, 11 KOs

Rafael's remark: In the first main event of the first card of the new season of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights," we already have our first upset of the year, as Herrera took the competitive decision against Provodnikov, 26, of Siberia in Russia, who was widely considered a top prospect. This is, by far, the biggest win of Herrera's career and he earned it in a tough, grinding battle in which both men went past the 10th round for the first time and showed a lot of heart. Provodnikov did what he always does, which is to bull forward, be aggressive and work the body. He also landed lots of right hands. But Herrera took the punches and dished out his own, especially in the late rounds. They both showed they wanted it badly with the way they were fighting and the outcome looked like it was in doubt. Even when it was over it looked as though the fight could have gone either way, so Provodnikov sure was surprised when Herrera, who admitted that Provodnikov was the heavier puncher, got the nod. Provodnikov turned Herrera's left eye black and blue in the third round and seemed to be inching ahead, but Herrera never gave in. While Herrera -- whose eye was closed by the end of the fight -- may not have had as much power as Provodnikov, he landed enough shots to inflict damage on his right eye later in the fight. In fact, when the fight was over, both of their faces were a mess -- even though Herrera was smiling because of the victory. Herrera, 30, of Lake Elsinore, Calif., won his third in a row since a debatable split-decision loss to former junior lightweight titlist Mike Anchondo in December 2009. This was a really good fight and a nice way to kick off the FNF season.

Junior middleweight
Demetrius Andrade W8 Alberto Herrera

Scores: 80-72 (twice), 79-73
Records: Andrade, 12-0, 8 KOs; Herrera, 7-2-1, 5 KOs

Rafael's remark: In the first fight of the new season of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights," Andrade cruised to the decision against Herrera, the brother of main event winner Mauricio Herrera. Andrade is the 22-year-old 2008 U.S. Olympian and former world amateur champion from Providence, R.I. Many consider the southpaw to be one of boxing's elite prospects. He has tremendous potential and good size (6-foot-1) to go with speed (hands and feet) and obvious skills. But he fought just three times in 2010, in part due to issues with his father, Paul Andrade, who is also his trainer and manager. At one point last year, Andrade split with his dad. But now he's back and still, apparently, unable to clean up his son's amateur habits that need polishing. He'll beat guys like Herrera all day long because of his athleticism and quickness, but what's going to happen when he steps up in class? He more or less toyed with Herrera, landing lots of left hands and using a solid jab. He rocked him in the first round with one of those lefts. And in the final round, he looked like he was going for a knockout as he smacked Herrera around. But Andrade also kept his hands low and got tagged more times than he should have. It is a learning process in the professional ranks, and co-promoters Artie Pelullo and Joe DeGuardia say Andrade will fight six times this year, but considering the amateur pedigree of Andrade, is it too much to expect to see a little more from him after a dozen fights?

Friday at Fairfield, Calif.
Middleweight
Brandon Gonzalez W8 Lester Gonzalez

Scores: 79-73, 78-74 (twice)
Records: Gonzalez, 14-0, 10 KOs; Gonzalez, 11-2-1, 6 KOs

Rafael's remark: On the season premiere of Telefutura's "Solo Boxeo Tecate," Sacramento's Brandon Gonzalez, 26, turned in a solid display of boxing as he methodically outboxed Lester Gonzalez, 33, who is from Cuba, living in San Diego and not related to his opponent. Although Brandon did not put much hurt on Lester, he was in control from the opening bell and cruised to the decision. Brandon adjusted well to Lester's southpaw style and handled him thanks to his superior skills and speed. He used a solid jab and attacked Lester's body, even if his shots were sometimes a bit wide. Trainer Jeff Mayweather can go to school with him on that. Lester suffered his second consecutive defeat, while Brandon showed enough to warrant another look.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.