Cruiserweight prospect Lateef Kayode defeated the most experienced opponent of his career by out-pointing former title challenger Matt Godfrey over 10 rounds in the main event of a ShoBox: The New Generation card in Santa Ynez, Calif., on Friday.
Kayode (17-0, 14 knockouts), who won by scores of 98-90, 97-90, and 98-89, knocked Godfrey down three times during the fight.
The Los Angeles-based Nigerian, who is trained by Freddie Roach, dropped Godfrey with a straight right at the end of the first round, a hard cross to the forehead in the fifth, and a left to the body in at the start of the ninth (although he stepped on Godfrey’s foot as he landed the punch).
Apart from a brief moment in the fourth round when Godfrey (20-3, 10 KOs) rocked Kayode with a pair of left crosses, the undefeated African was in firm command of the fight. The 28-year-old physical specimen wasn’t pretty in his constant pursuit of Godfrey but he was busier and he landed almost all of the telling blows of the bout, most of which were body shots.
Godfrey, a 30-year-old switch-hitter from Providence, R.I., who has faced far better competition than Kayode, was slippery and elusive but he did not return enough fire to win more than a couple of rounds.
There is talk that Kayode, who is rated in the top 10 of three sanctioning bodies, might fight a title-elimination bout in his next fight, but that could be a mistake. Despite his dominant performance, Kayode, whose appears downright clumsy at times, still looks more like a raw prospect than a bona-fide contender.
In the co-featured bout of the Showtime telecast, hard-punching junior featherweight prospect Chris Avalos (19-1, 16 KOs) dropped unbeaten spoiler Khabir Suleymanov (11-1, 5 KOs) twice on his way to scoring a unanimous 10-round decision.
Avalos, a 21-year-old boxer-puncher from Lancaster, Calif., won by scores of 95-92, 97-90, and 96-91, which earned him a regional title.
Suleymanov, an awkward 30-year-old boxer from Russia, used his unorthodox style to frustrate Avalos and occasionally walk the younger man into well-timed pot shots but the Californian’s forward-marching aggression and higher punch output secured the victory.
The knockdowns also helped. Avalos knocked Suleymanov down with a hook that landed on the break near the end of the first round and then dropped the Los Angeles-based Russian with a clean right midway through a wild third round.
Suleymanov, who was only dropped to one knee by the punch, immediately jumped up and resumed fighting before referee Dr. Lou Moret could get between the two. Avalos continued to punch when Moret finally got in position to call the knockdown, which drew the ire of the veteran referee.
Moret made sure the judges counted the knockdown Avalos scored and then penalized the young man for hitting Suleymanov after he told both to break.
Avalos was able to afford the point deduction in part due to Suleymanov’s awkward style. The Russian’s constant in-and-out movement and lunge-punch-and-hold tactics enabled him to neutralize much of Avalos’ aggression and even land clean shots, but he was only able to throw one punch at a time. That wasn’t going to get the job done against a prospect as game and talented as Avalos.
In the opening bout of the broadcast, lightweight prospect Art Hovhannesyan (14-0-1, 8 KOs) dropped Archie Ray Marquez (12-1, 8 KOs) four times en route to stopping the unbeaten New Mexican in the sixth round of a scheduled eight rounder.
Hovhannesyan, a 30-year-old Armenian amateur standout who now resides in Glendale, Calif., proved to be the bigger, stronger and better-schooled fighter throughout the contest.
Marquez, a 22-year-old boxer-puncher from Albuquerque, N.M., was visibly smaller than Hovhannesyan. The younger man, who has never fought above 133 pounds, is more of a junior lightweight than a lightweight. Hovhannesyan, who has fought as heavy as 142½ pounds, is a big lightweight who could fight at junior welterweight.
The bigger, more mature fighter put his size and smarts to good use by outmaneuvering Marquez while walking the brash young fighter into accurate power shots.
Hovhannesyan knocked Marquez down at the end of the first and third rounds with left hooks. He dropped the Marquez with a right hand midway through the fifth, and absolutely flattened the kid with a big right-hook combination a minute into the sixth round.
Marquez’s head was snapped back so violently by Hovhannesyan’s finishing hook that the fight was waved off the moment his back hit the canvas.