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Prospect Andrew Tabiti decisioned 41-year-old cruiserweight Steve Cunningham rather easily, giving him the best win of his young career. Cunningham, though, looked very old, looped his punches, had trouble finding the range, was one-dimensional in throwing big right hands and wasn’t as fast as he used to be. Tabiti exacerbated those problems with his versatility and ring IQ; he varied up his defense (although he was warned for holding) and just found a few moments every round where he threw quick scoring combinations. Tabiti has been knocking everyone out through 15 fights, but couldn’t knock down an opponent who has been down 13 times over his career, suggesting Tabiti doesn’t have much power. Tabiti won 100-90 and 97-93 twice, the latter scores more reasonable because there were some slow rounds where not much distinguished either man and Cunningham won at least a couple. Tabiti beating this gateway opponent nonetheless heralds his arrival on the brink of being a contender.
Badou Jack delivered a brilliantly brutal performance in stopping Nathan Cleverly at light heavyweight. Jack has never looked better; his punch variety was awesome, his defense was top-notch and he put an enormous amount of pressure on Cleverly with sharp power punching to the head and body. He bloodied Cleverly in the 4th and it looked like it was just a matter of time until he stopped him. In the 5th Jack just swamped Cleverly along the ropes and eventually the referee has to stop it. Cleverly is a veteran with a mixed record, having restored some of his lost luster in his last fight by beating Juergen Braehmer, even though Braehmer retired in that fight due to an injury. But even in his loss before that against Andrzej Fonfara he was competitive, so Cleverly was no slouch. Jack made him look like one. After he humorously called out division champion Adonis Stevenson (“unless he wants a trilogy with Fonfara,” a fighter Stevenson has beaten twice) he’s earned the shot. Ideally, though, Jack gets in line for the winner of Stevenson vs. Andre Ward.
Highly-regarded youngster Gervonta Davis’ star took on a tarnish even though he scored a knockout victory over Francisco Fonseca. First, he didn’t make the 130-pound weight. Then, during the fight, he lost a couple rounds against a far inferior opponent, apparently suffering from a cold. He also showboated arrogantly, to the point that when he pulled the Roy Jones hands-behind-back trick and Fonseca popped him back, the crowd cheered. In the 8th round, he scored the knockout on a clearly illegal shot behind the head, which the referee didn’t count as such, and he dismissively shoved Fonseca off him as he held on. After Fonseca stayed down for the 10 count on all fours, hands on the back of his noggin, Davis went over and struck the same pose mock him. Davis was roundly booed during his post-fight interview as the fans saw a replay and he denied throwing an illegal shot or that Fonseca was hurt by it. Vasyl Lomachenko called out Davis even before the fight. Maybe Davis helped sell that bout somehow by coming off as a bad dude, setting him up as the black hat?