Notebook: A fight night to remember for boxers, fans

Tahoe Onstage / Michael Smith
Heavyweights Akhror Muralimov and Bryant Jennings battle in the center of the ring on Feb. 16, in Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Michael Smyth

A native of the City of Brotherly Love, Bryant Jennings won’t lay a finger on a cow, chicken or hog. But he has no compunction about knocking out a 259-pound heavyweight from Uzbekistan.

The Philadelphian knocked down Akhror Muralimov five times before the fight was stopped 1 minute, 12 seconds into the third round. Jennings, who has been criticized for being too defensive and not utilizing power punches, improved his record to 22-2 with 13 knockouts.

It was his third straight knockout win since losing two in a row and taking a 20-month break from the sport.

“I just need to trust my power,” he said. He first hurt Muralimov with a left to the body, the same punch he used to stop Artur Szpilka in 2014. He followed that fight with a close win over Mike Perez before losing two world title fights to Wladimir Klitschko and Luis Ortiz.

“It was a murderer’s row,” he said. “I fought all the top guys.”

Jennings, a heavily muscled 231.5 pounder, has been a vegetarian for five years and a vegan for three.

“Everything we eat has side effects,” he said “You don’t know your body until you eat what you are supposed to eat. We aren’t supposed to eat animals. When we do, we don’t know what we are getting. We get all of the animal’s troubles.”

Michael Smyth / Tahoe Onstage
Robson Conceicao, an Olympic gold medal winner, tags Ignacio Holguin.

Gold medal winner shines

When he floored his opponent with a body shot in the first round, it appeared it would be a short fight for Robson Conceicao, the 2016 Olympic gold medal winner from Bahia, Brazil. But Ignacio Holguin, who like Conceicao entered the ring undefeated as a pro, weathered the storm and went the distance.

A super featherweight, Conceicao (6-0, 4 KOs) tried a variety of tactics to stop San Antonio’s Holguin (4-1-1, 4 KOs). He snapped jabs from the outside, threw over-the-top right hands, moved inside and fired uppercuts. But Holguin, who didn’t use much head movement, shifted his hips and often went into a crouch to avoid a lot of the blows. Late in the fight, Conceicao realized he couldn’t stop him and he danced on the outside and twirled his glove and smiled as Marvelous Marvin Hagler did against Sugar Ray Leonard.

“I train to throw all the blows but this guy was very hard,” Conceicao said to his trainer and interpreter. “He’s a tough boy. I give credit to him.”

The Brazilian did not sit in a stool between rounds.

“I get tired when I sit,” he explained.

What is the toughest adjustment from moving from the amateurs to the pros?

“Winning the gold medal, that was the best adjustment,” Conceicao said, smiling.

Michael Smyth / Tahoe Onstage
Lithuanian Egidijus Mavaliauskas, left, and Russian David Avanesyan exchange jabs.

Rock ’em, sock ’em welterweights

In the NABF Welterweight Championship, Lithuanian Egidijus Kavaliauskas (18-0, 15 KOs) and Russian David Avanesyan (23-3-1) looked like mirror images.

Respectful of each other, the competitors were cautious in the first two rounds. The action picked up in the third when the Lithuanian threw lead uppercuts. The Russian occasionally switched from a right-handed to a left-handed stance. A pattern was Kavaliauskas winning the early portion of each round, while Avanesyan would close out strongly.

In the fifth, Avanesyan landed a solid punch to Kavaliauskas, who responded with a respectful nod.

In the sixth, Kavaliauskas hurt Avanesyan with a right hand that sent him retreating to the ropes. But he was unable to get away. A flurry of unanswered blows led referee Tony Weeks to stop the fight at the 1 minute, 55 second mark, catching Avanesyan who as he was falling courageously moved toward Kavaliauskas.

Michael Smyth / Tahoe Onstage
Sagadat Rakhmankul scores a win in his pro debut against Noel Esqueda.

The Russia-Oxnard connection

Along with Lithuanian Egidijus Kavaliauskas, Russians Sagadat Rakhmankul and Alexander Besputin are working out of a training camp in Oxnard, California. A super welterweight, Rakhmankul won his pro debut with a TKO at 1:51 into the fifth round against Wichita, Kansas, resident Noewl Esqueda (8-5-2, 6 KOs). Besputin (9-0, 7 KOs), also a welterweight, won on a fifth round TKO as well, when Toledo’s Wesley Tucker (14-2, 8 KOs) did not answer the bell.

Michael Smyth / Tahoe Onstage
Paulus Moses and Ray Beltran embrace after the decision.

Round-by-round look at Beltran-Moses decision

The judges scores indicated a convincing victory for Ray Beltran over Paulus Moses in the WBO World Lightweight Championship. Two of them scored it 117-111, which the third had it 116-112. Tahoe Onstage felt the fight was much closer. Here’s our take, round-by-round:

1 – A feeling out round to open the fight. Moses stayed outside and jabbed. Beltran landed an overhand right and left to the body. Toss-up round. Moses, 10-9.

2 – As the highly partisan crowd chanted “Beltran, Beltran,” the two fighters tried to land head shots. Moses, who had a 4-inch reach advantage, used a quick jab to score points. He landed four unanswered blows to win the round. Moses, 10-9.

3 – Despite his success from the outside, Moses moved in close, and the two exchanged punches. Beltran backed his foe twice with powerful blows. But Moses was much more efficient. When Beltran returned to his corner, he had a nasty cut close to his left eye, the sixth cut there in his career. Moses, 10-9.

4 – Both fighters took the fight inside, much to the delight of the fans. Moses landed a great 1-2 combination and Beltran began to bleed from his mouth. Moses, 10-9.

5 – Moses landed some right hands that put Beltran on the ropes. Then he pelted him with a precise combination. Beltran’s eye began to bleed and he nearly went down. Moses, 10-9.

6 – Despite the blood near his right eye, Beltran began to turn the tide. He landed some power shots and end the round with a by connecting with a vicious left. Another toss up round. Beltran, 10-9.

7 – Great action in a fight that now resembled a war. The crowd again chanted “Beltran.” A big right late gave Moses a close round. Moses, 10-9.

8 – Beltran landed some big shots, but Moses’ accurate jab won the round and seemingly clinchéd a decision. Moses, 10-9.

9 – A strong right by Moses buckled the knee of Beltran, who steadied himself by reaching back with his right arm around the rope. Moses continued to fire the jab but a courageous Beltran battled back with body punches. He ended with a fast flurry of punches. Beltran, 10-9.

10 – Bleeding near both eyes, the bridge of his nose and mouth, Beltran opened the round very aggressively. Moses landed a wicked body blow. Beltran fought fiercely from close range. The crowd was raucous and the relentless fighters began to tire. Beltran, 10-9.

11 – The fighters went toe-to-toe and bleeding from Beltran’s left eye looked worse. At the bell, Moses patted Beltran on the back. The respectful veteran fighters knew they were both valiant warriors. Beltran, 10-9.

12 – A body shot took Moses breath away. The crowd cheer for Beltran and the weary fighters often clinched. It was a close round in a close fight. At the bell the exchange of punches changed to an embrace. Beltran, 10-9.

Tahoe Onstage total: Moses 115, Beltran 113

The judges’ scorecard is below

Beltran Moses scorecard

 – Tim Parsons

Related story: Beltran wins world title on fourth try.

Tahoe Onstage

Tahoe Onstage
Referee Tony Weeks stops the fight between Avanesyan and Kavaliauskas.
Michael Smyth / Tahoe Onstage

Michael Smyth / Tahoe Onstage

  • Boxing
    Grand Sierra Resort, Grand Theatre
    Reno, Nevada
  • WBO World Lightweight Championship, 12 rounds
    Ray Beltran (35-7-1, 21 KOs) defeated Paulus Moses (40-4, 25 KOs) by 12-round unanimous decision
  • NABF Welterweight Championship
    Egidijus Kavaliauskas (18-0, 15 KOs) defeated David Avanesyan by 6th round TKO
  • Shakur Stevenson, Newark, New Jersey (5-0-2 KOs) defeated Juan Tapia, Brownsville, Texas (8-2, 3 KOs) by 8-round unanimous decision; featherweights
  • Robson Conceicao (6-0, 4 KOs) defeated. Jayro Duran (11-5 9 KOs) by unanimous 6-round decision; super featherweights
  • Bryant Jennings (22-2, 13 KOs) defeated Ahror Muralimov (14-4, 11 KOs) by 3rd round knockout; heavyweights
  • Alexander Besputin (9-0 7 KOs) defeated Wesley Tucker (15-1 8 KOs) by 5th round TKO
  • Sagadat Rakhmankul, Oxnard, California (1-0 1 KO) defeated Noel Esqueda (8-5-2) by 5th round TKO; super welterweights
  • Ricardo Lucio-Galvan (2-0-2 KOs) defeated Kenny Guzman (4-2, 1 KO) by 3rd round TKO; featherweights

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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