Hlatshwayo Wins IBF Title in Rematch!
By: Billy “Loops” Luppert
Photography by Emily Harney
Call it The Rematch. Call it Rounds 13-24. Call it whatever you want. One thing was for sure. After 24 rounds of boxing each other, it really is hard to call either fighter the dominant one over the other. On Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena, in Uncasville, CT, Isaac Hlatshwayo won a twelve round split decision over Delvin Rodriguez and claimed the vacant IBF belt in doing so. Scores of the bout were 116-113, 116-112, and 113-115.
Back in November, Rodriguez traveled to Hlatshwayo's home country of South Africa, with both fighters vying for the mandatory shot at then title-holder Josh Clottey. Rodriguez knocked Hlatshwayo down in that fight, only to walk away with a controversial draw.
It was a fight that many in attendance, including the South African press, felt Rodriguez did enough to walk away with the win. It wasn't soon thereafter that Clottey relinquished his belt for the opportunity to fight Miguel Cotto, and the IBF ordered a rematch, only this time, it was for the vacant title.
Rodriguez's promoter Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing won the purse bid for the fight, and this time the rematch was a mere hour and twenty minutes away from Rodriguez's hometown in Danbury, CT.
With an arena full of Rodriguez supporters, he seemed to feed off of the energy of the crowd and got off to a fast start. Both men worked the inside, but Rodriguez was getting his punches off faster than Hlatshwayo.
Rodriguez was also finding success at a distance, landing three and four punch combinations. Hlatshwayo, however, despite eating some early leather, never stopped coming forward and kept bringing the fight to Rodriguez.
It was evident early on in the fight that it was going to be a gritty and gusty fight for both fighters, and both showed tremendous heart and determination throughout. While Rodriguez was finding his range, Hlatshwayo was having his own success on the inside as he landed solid right hands to the body and head of Rodriguez.
As the fight progressed, so did the swelling on each fighter’s face. During the middle rounds, Hlatshwayo seemed to even out the fight after Rodriguez lost a little bit of speed on his punches. The same speed that just a few rounds earlier, enabled him to throw and land first.
In the seventh round, Hlatshwayo drilled Rodriguez with a right hand that hurt the hometown hero. Hlatshwayo was never able to capitalize on it. Rodriguez however, seemingly slowed down his pace after that punch and Hlatshwayo was able to take advantage as he fired off some hard combinations.
Rodriguez in his own right however, was still hanging in there displaying his toughness as he fired off some hard punches of his own that managed to find an open spot on Hlatshwayo's head and body.
By round ten however, it was clear that Hlatshwayo was now in control of the fight, as Rodriguez's stamina began to fade even more. He managed to land some more hard shots, but Rodriguez dug deep and fought back as hard as he could.
When the final bell rang, both fighters looked as if they had just come from the trenches, and left everything they had in the ring, and finally after 24 rounds of boxing, someone's hand would be raised in victory.
When the first two scores were announced, 115-113 for Rodriguez and 116-112 for Hlatshwayo, you could've cut the tension in the arena with a knife as Hlatshwayo waited eagerly in his corner while Rodriguez nervously paced around the ring.
When the final score of 116-113 in favor of Hlatshwayo was announced, his corner erupted into celebration, while Rodriguez dropped his hands in disappointment. It was truly a moment of triumph and tragedy for two warriors who gave it all they had. With the win, Hlatshwayo improves to (29-1-1-1 NC, 10 KOs), while Rodriguez dropped to (24-3-2, 14 KOs).
Simms Decisions Upshaw!
Reunited with his old promoter, middleweight Tarvis Simms, the brother of former WBA 154 lb. title holder Travis Simms, kept his hopes of landing a big fight alive with a workman like eight round split decision victory over the durable journeyman Marcus Upshaw. Scores of the bout were 77-74 twice, and 75-76.
Simms throughout the fight used combinations to neutralize the height advantage of Upshaw, who tasted the canvas in the fourth round after Simms nailed him with a right hand.
Upshaw was able to get up and beat the count as he was able to continue fighting on. Upshaw came out in the fifth round and put on a good display of boxing, as Simms seemingly took the round off.
In the sixth round, Simms picked the pace back up and began landing solid combinations to keep Upshaw at bay, and continued to do so for the remainder of the fight.
Simms improves to (25-0-1, 11 KOs) while Upshaw drops to (11-4-1, 5 KOs).
Garbatt Shocks Shea!
Super featherweight Lindsay Garbatt (3-2, 3 KOs) scored the biggest upset of the evening with a seventh round TKO over Ireland’s Maureen Shea (13-2, 7 KOs). Shea was looking to get back into the win column after suffering the first loss of her career in her previous bout, that being a shot for a world title.
Both fighters put on a good showing, as neither was willing to move away from fighting on the inside. While the fight lacked any big punches that would please the crowd, it was an entertaining bout as each fighter threw non-stop combinations.
Garbatt however, was stronger than Shea, and as the fight progressed, was able to break her down. The end came when Garbatt landed a two punch combination that sent Shea to the canvas on a delayed knockdown and the fight was waived off at 1:52 of the round.
Riley Destroys Taylor!
Cruiserweight Yathomas Riley improved to (7-0-0-1NC, 5 KOs) with a first round annihilation of veteran Tiwon Taylor. It was the second knockout victory for Riley in the past two and a half weeks after stopping Andre Hemphill on July 16h.
Riley came out and almost immediately began unloading power punch after power punch. A big right hook dropped Taylor (26-16-1, 19 KOs) in the early part of the round, however he was able to beat the count.
Riley, like a hungry shark, smelled blood and went right back to work and landed a thunderous right hand just before the bell sounded to end the round, and the fight was waived off at 2:59 of the opening stanza.
Andrade Stops Greenleaf in Two!
2008 Olympian and hot 154lb. prospect Demetrius "Boo Boo" Andrade of nearby Providence, RI, put on a masterful performance as he dominated Chad Greenleaf for a round and a half.
Andrade (6-0, 5 KOs) used blinding hand speed to blitz the hapless Greenleaf, who couldn't do much more than cover up and attempt to block some of the punches being fired his way.
In the second round, Andrade continued his all out assault and drilled Greenleaf with a left uppercut and a big right to the body that had his opponent crumble like a tin can. Greenleaf was in no condition to continue as the referee waived off the bout at 1:38 of the second round.
Serrano Stops Davis!
Junior Middleweight prospect Raymond Serrano improved to (10-0, 6 KOs) with a third round TKO over Jessie Davis. Serrano was in control for the entire bout, but to Davis credit, he was willing to stand in there and trade with the much stronger Serrano.
Serrano however, had too much firepower for Davis (11-14, 8 KOs) as he constantly nailed him with big punches. In the third round, with Serrano still pressing the attack, he landed a crisp right to the head followed by a punishing left to the body that dropped Davis.
Davis was able to get up and beat the count, but the fight was stopped shortly thereafter when Serrano trapped Davis against the ropes and unloaded a barrage of heavy punches that Davis had no answer for. Time of the stoppage was 2:02
DeSanto-Torres Battle to Draw!
In the opening bout of evening, Dominic DeSanto and Eliud Torres battled to an entertaining four round unanimous draw.
DeSanto floored Torres in the opening round, but was unable to finish him off.
Both fighters pressed the action as the bout went on and Torres returned the favor and dropped DeSanto in the fourth. DeSanto as able to answer the referee’s ten count as he hung on to finish the fight. All three judges scored the bout 37-37.