OXON HILL, Md. — Dmitry Bivol’s goal was not only to win but also impress on Friday night during his national television debut. Oh, my, did he do just that.
Bivol retained his interim light heavyweight world title for the second time as he ran absolute roughshod over Samuel Clarkson in a fourth-round knockout victory. It was a surprisingly one-sided main event on Showtime’s “ShoBox: The New Generation” card before, 2,159 at the MGM National Harbor in the Washington suburbs.
With the tremendous performance add Bivol’s name to the growing list of talented fighters in a deep light heavyweight division that also includes unified world titleholder Andre Ward, former unified titleholder Sergey Kovalev, champion Adonis Stevenson and rising contenders Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Artur Beterbiev. Bivol (10-0, 8 KOs), 26, of Russia, was fighting in the United States for the third time but made the most of his television debut as he impressively destroyed Clarkson, whom he knocked down three times.
Bivol had a huge first round, scoring two knockdowns and nearly stopping Clarkson, who was hurt almost immediately. Bivol set him up with hard right hands to the body and then landed a clean left hook to the temple that dropped him. Bivol took his time and landed several hard punches before connecting with a body shot followed by a right hand to the head that dropped Clarkson for the second time in the round. He barely made it to the bell.
“I thought it would be four or five rounds to find the openings, but I found them in the first round and took advantage,” Bivol said through translator and manager Vadim Kornilov. “The opening was to the body.”
Bivol, who was 285-15 in a big-time amateur career — though he elected to turn pro in 2014 rather than pursue a 2016 Olympic berth — continued to dominate Clarkson and had him badly hurt again and bleeding from the nose in the third round.
In the fourth round, Bivol finally put Clarkson (19-4, 12 KOs), 26, of Cedar Hill, Texas, away, dropping him again, this time with a hard left-right combination to the head, and referee Harvey Dock waved off the fight at 1 minute, 40 seconds.
“I’m very happy I won by knockout and, as far as the fans go, it seems everybody is happy and satisfied,” Bivol said. “I am hoping everybody got what they wanted to see.”
The loss ended Clarkson’s nine-fight winning streak.
“I thought I was back in the fight in Rounds 2 and 3,” Clarkson said. “In Round 4, I got caught, I stumbled and my balance was off.”
Bivol is expected to now be ordered to face secondary titleholder Nathan Cleverly (30-3, 16 KOs), 30, of Wales.
“I hope Cleverly is next,” Bivol said. “I’ve been waiting for that fight and I hope that fight will be on Showtime in the United States. I want to fight whoever the best is. It’s been my goal. I’ll fight anybody.”
Kornilov, who plans to have Bivol fight regularly in the United States now, was immensely satisfied with his performance.
“When I came into the ring after the fight I told him it’s an A-plus,” Kornilov said. “There’s nothing more I can ask for. You can say a new star was born tonight.”
Hawkins blows out Soto
In the co-feature, 21-year-old Baltimore welterweight prospect Malik Hawkins (11-0, 8 KOs) easily dispatched substitute opponent Carlos Soto (13-1-2, 7 KOs), stopping him at the end of the second round because of a badly swollen left eye.
Hawkins, 98-2 in a standout amateur career, was all over Soto in the opening round. The talent gap was obvious. The best Soto could do was go low with a couple of left hooks and get warned for the infraction by referee Bill Clancy. Later in the round, Hawkins landed a right hand that immediately swelled Soto’s left eye nearly closed. The doctor examined it but the fight was allowed to continue. Moments later, Soto took a knee under heavy fire.
Hawkins continued a relentless attack in the second round and rocked Soto, 28, of Mexico, late. When the round was over the fight was stopped on recommendation of the ringside doctor in Soto’s corner because of the damaged eye.
Hawkins was originally slated to face 2012 Ukrainian Olympian Taras Shelestyuk (15-0, 9 KOs), but an injury kept Shelestyuk out. Then Venezuela’s Juan Ruiz (18-0, 11 KOs) took the fight but he was forced to drop out because of a right-hand injury.
In a highly entertaining fight, junior featherweight Glenn Dezurn Jr. (9-0, 6 KOs), 29, of Baltimore, held off Leroy Davila (5-1, 3 KOs), 28, of New Brunswick, New Jersey, for a unanimous decision victory. All three judges scored the fight 78-74.
Dezurn, who was 87-7 as an amateur and is trained by elite trainer Barry Hunter, appeared a little bigger and stronger and applied constant pressure to Davila in a crowd-pleasing and competitive fight. Davila did have his moments, and they closed the fifth round going toe to toe as the crowd cheered the great action.
Davila, a two-time U.S. national champion and National Golden Gloves champion, landed some heavy shots in the eighth round and had Dezurn backing up and perhaps in some trouble. But Dezurn rallied as they traded punches at close range for most of the tremendously exciting round.
Dezurn was cheered on at ringside by his wife and sparring partner, Franchon Crews, a former standout amateur and multi-time national champion, who lost a four-round decision to two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields — who was also ringside — in November in the pro debut for both women.
Besides sparring with his wife, Dezurn also prepared by sparring with junior lightweight titlist Vasyl Lomachenko and former bantamweight titlist Rau’Shee Warren.
Baltimore heavyweight Hasim Rahman Jr. (1-0, 1 KO), the 25-year-old son of the former heavyweight world champion Hasim Rahman, made his professional debut a quick one. With his father in his corner and a big cheering section, Rahman disposed of Lanham, Maryland’s Ralph Alexander (0-1) in just 40 seconds.
“It was great to make my debut in my hometown. Baltimore showed up, and I am glad we could do this,” Rahman Jr. said. “I am now ready for the next 50 fights and to become heavyweight champion of the world.
“I know there is always pressure on me. There would have been in anything I did because of my last name but I [have] seen and been through it with my dad and I will be champion.”
Rahman went right at Alexander and eventually landed a stiff left-right combination to the head that dropped him face first, causing referee Bill Clancy to wave off the fight.
Pops was proud.
“As you saw in there, he is ready for the challenge,” Rahman Sr. said. “I really believe in him. He has a leg up because he has seen the good, bad and the ugly of the sport, and he will become heavyweight champion.”
Featherweight prospect Ruben Villa (5-0, 3 KOs), 19, of Salinas, California, dominated Puerto Rico’s Luis Diaz (2-1, 1 KO) en route to a sixth-round knockout. Villa, a two-time National Golden Gloves winner, who went 164-17 as an amateur and lost to 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson in the Olympic trials finals, displayed a diverse arsenal against Diaz.
He went hard to Diaz’s body, threw combinations, uppercuts and stiff jabs against a Diaz, whose shots were often wide and missed wildly. In the final round, he put together a flurry of shots with Diaz along the ropes and referee Kenny Chevalier stepped at 34 seconds.
Junior welterweight prospect Michael Dutchover (4-0, 4 KOs, a 19-year-old from Santa Fe, California., took it to Eder Amaro (2-3, 1 KO), 24, of Mexico, forcing him to quit on his stool after the third round of a one-sided fight. Dutchover entered the pro ranks after a standout amateur career in which he went 130-17 and was the runner-up in the 2016 National Golden Gloves at 132 pounds.
In a fight that featured virtually no notion of defense, Philadelphia heavyweight Joey Dawejko (17-4-4, 10 KOs) and Modesto, California’s Rodney Hernandez (10-5-2, 2 KOs) blasted away at each other for eight helacious and bloody rounds in an all-out slugfest only to leave with a split draw. One judge had it 77-75 for Dawejko, one had it 78-74 for Hernandez, whose white trunks were covered in blood from his nose by end of the bout, and one judge scored it 76-76.