The last fight card in Uncasville for the year took some work in order to be official, and after the night was over the official results left a lot on the table. Here are three things that came out of the featured bouts that were on Showtime on Saturday.
G. Antonio Russell is ready to step up at bantamweight
In the first fight of the televised card, unbeaten contender Gary Antonio Russell took on the former champion Juan Carlos Payano and he had to work a little bit to have some success against the veteran. Payano attempted to get in close quarters on Russell and initiated a lot of clinches during the fight but the young fighter from Capitol Heights, Maryland worked on his jab and scored rounds by controlling the pace of the fight. After six rounds were completed, the bout was put to a halt as Payano suffered a cut due to an accidental headbutt. Russell won by technical decision (58-56, 59-55, 59-55) as he out-landed Payano by 28 total punches in the fight. It opens up the possibility of him fighting for a world title in 2021, as he may be lined up to be the top ranked contender in the WBA rankings.
Boots was primed to shine, but gruesome head clash puts halt to plans
Jaron “Boots” Ennis has been a topic of conversation as many consider him to be one of the top fighters in the division real soon. He had a string of knockout victories going into Saturday’s fight against Chris Van Heerden and wanted to steal the show as he was originally scheduled to face Thomas Dulorme but Dulorme was removed due to a positive COVID test. The first round showed the difference in class between Ennis and Van Heerden as Ennis was too fast for the South African to keep up with in the first couple of minutes. With about 20 seconds left in the round, the cheekbone of Ennis and the forehead of Van Heerden clashed together leaving a huge cut on Van Heerden’s forehead. This immediately stopped the bout and it was declared a no contest.
While Ennis is still unbeaten, he wanted to keep his knockout streak going and also win the IBO welterweight title. That is now put on hold as Ennis may return to the ring in a couple of months, possibly against Dulorme.
Gaballo leaves Uncasville with a controversial split decision
The main event of the evening topped off the wild fight card with what may be one of the most shocking decisions of the year. Reymart Gaballo came into this fight as a replacement for Nonito Donaire, against Emmanuel Rodriguez who was in this fight as a replacement for Nordine Oubaali. Rodriguez is the former world champion that saw this fight as an opportunity to get back in the top five in the division and win the interim WBC title in the process. Gaballo was unbeaten but had not faced competition to the level of Rodriguez and it showed over the course of twelve rounds.
Timely jabs and ring generalship by Rodriguez made it look like he was going to get the clear victory when the scores were about to be read…but that was not the case as John McKaie and Don Trella scored the bout in favor of the 24-year-old Gaballo. The difference of those scores and David Sutherland who gave the bout to Rodriguez were wide as that judge gave ten rounds to Rodriguez. Gaballo seemed ineffective in his punch output as he landed less punches than Rodriguez and didn’t hurt the former champion in comparison to what happened to Gaballo in the fight. However, Gaballo was given more credit for what he did by two judges and he wins that interim title to put him in position to fight the winner of Oubaali vs. Donaire if that fight is rescheduled.
Cover photo by Amanda Westcott