A new star in the heavyweight division emerged Thursday night at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Russian Olympic silver medalist Sultan Ibragimov destroyed contender Lance “Mount” Whitaker, knocking him down three times en route to a seventh round stoppage.
Ibragimov, now 19-0 (16 KOs) went right after Whitaker, 31-4-1 (26 KOs), assaulting him with combinations to the body and head. The southpaw sent Whitaker to the canvas for the first time in round one with a left hand. Whitaker, to his credit, backed Ibragimov up a few times later in the round with rights.
Whitaker tasted the canvas again in the second from a left to the body, right to the head combination. The transplanted Russian, now living in South Florida, gave the gentle giant a beat down in the third frame, unleashing savage lefts to the body.
Ibragimov seemed to slow in the fourth. For the next several rounds Whitaker set the pace as he attempted to walk down his smaller opponent. Whitaker scored with a few hard right hands, even buckling Ibragimov’s knees at one point. However, the threat of Ibragimov’s left hand was enough to keep Whitaker’s right hand in place for much of the fight.
Whitaker was knocked down for the third time in the sixth after two cracking left hands set up a combination that sent him to the mat for the last time.
Ibragimov picked up the pace in the seventh and opened a cut over Whitaker’s right eye. When Dr. Stanley Simpson examined Whitaker, the fighter told him he had blurred vision in the eye, which forced Simpson to recommend halting the fight.
Ibragimov is currently ranked #15 by the IBF and will certainly vault into the top 10 as Whitaker was rated #10.
Ibragimov displayed terrific hand speed, power, boxing ability and a willingness to slug it out with the bigger man – all traits that the television networks will likely notice. The performance certainly wasn’t lost on Ibragimov’s manager Sampson Lewkowicz. “The networks are looking for new blood,” he said. “Please, HBO and Showtime, it’s a new beginning. Forget the old men.” Lewkowicz stated that he would be willing to put Ibragimov in the ring with anyone that the networks desired.
The fight, which had built up some interest due to a press conference brawl (in which Lewkowicz was knocked unconscious), overshadowed the main event between Samuel Peter and Robert Hawkins.
This was Peter’s first fight since his defeat to Wladimir Klitschko. The heavy-handed Nigerian pounded out an uneventful (and quite boring) 10 round decision over Robert Hawkins, 21-5 (7 KOs).
Peter, 25-1 (21 KOs), knocked Hawkins down in the first with a left hook. For the next several rounds, the crowd paid more attention to a fallen Panama Lewis at ringside. Sultan Ibragimov’s legendary and infamous trainer suffered a heart attack shortly after the Peter-Hawkins fight began. Lewis had no pulse and was flatlining before paramedics revived him with a defibrillator. Lewis was conscious and talking as he was taken to the hospital.
After the fourth round, the fight was halted in order to get replacement medical personnel at ringside. When the contest resumed, there was confusion as to the timing of the round. The fifth seemed to last only about a minute long.
For the rest of the bout, Peter was content to throw one punch at a time, while Hawkins barely mounted any offense, instead staying in survival mode.
After ten rounds, Peter was awarded a unanimous decision by scores of 98-91 and 99-90 twice.
In undercard action:
· Lightweight Jesus Pabon won a four round unanimous decision over Mike Salyers.
· Heavyweight Mike Marrone remained undefeated with a first round KO over Curtis Taylor.
· Cruiserweight contender Dale Brown pitched a six round shutout over Dennis McKinney.
· In a battle of undefeated heavyweights, JD Chapman took an unpopular but deserved twelve round decision over Edward Gutierrez.
· Undefeated middleweight John Duddy electrified the crowd for three rounds before opponent Wilmer Mejias refused to come out for the fourth, complaining of an injured hand.
Many celebrities were at ringside for the Warriors Boxing Promotions card, including Mike Tyson, Angelo Dundee, Glen Johnson, Shannon Briggs, Lil John and Burt Reynolds.