Seeing stars in the ring…and on the sideline

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Boxing

Two belts in the larger waist sizes (Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight) were on the line in Atlantic City last weekend.

But before the big boys battled it out, Murodjon Akhmadaliev defended his WBA Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight title for the first time, against Isaac Zarate.

Akhmadaliev was a 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist and this was only his fifth fight as a professional.

Zarate has been boxing for seven years and works part-time at a brewery in Gardena.

The opening frames were close, as both southpaws were effective with their jabs. Akhmadaliev used his to set up straight lefts, combinations and body shots.

Zarate remained competitive into the later rounds but after eating a large helping of leather in the 9th, the referee wisely stepped in to call a halt to the contest.

Good call, ref.

Murodjon Akhmadaliev  (5-0, 4 KO’s) retains his title and remains undefeated.

***

Also defending a title for the first time was undefeated Sergey Kuzmin.

He laced them up against knockout artist LaRon Mitchell.

In his sixteen wins, Mitchell (a lefty) has kayoed 14 opponents. But at 38-years-old he’s getting long in the tooth, and he slid into this bout on the first loss of his career…and that descent continued.

Mitchell saw more canvas than a Bob Ross painting class. He got stretched out in Rounds 3 and 5, and a pair of knockdowns in the 6th had stars circling his head, which convinced the referee to call an end to the campaign.

Another good call, by another good ref.

Sergey Kuzmin improves his record to 14-0, with 11-wins coming by way of knockout.

***

In the main event, Dimitry Bivol (15-0, 11 KO’s) out-boxed and out-classed Jean Pascal (33-6-1, 20 KO’s) in every aspect of the match.

Bivol measured with his jab and threw in combinations, landing over three and a half times more than Pascal.

In the third defense of his WBA World Light Heavyweight belt, Bivol kept his unbeaten record intact with an impressive unanimous decision win.

Rams

The Los Angeles Rams had a bye last week. They needed a rest after their game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 19.

The hype around that game was growing in geometric proportions as the two teams were racking up wins.

Seldom does anything that is so highly anticipated come close to its pregame promotion and publicity.

But this one went beyond expectations.

It is a classic in and of our time. It will be talked about for decades to come, and mentioned in the same breath as heroics performed on the larger stage of the Super Bowl.

Like the Patriots 25-point comeback to win SB LI when they held the Falcons scoreless in the 4th quarter, tied the game on a 2-point conversion in the last minute of the game and won with a touchdown in overtime.

Or like SB XXIII when Joe Montana was dubbed “Joe Cool.”

In the huddle he nonchalantly pointed to the sidelines and said, “Hey look, that’s John Candy.” Montana then drove the San Francisco 49ers 92-yards for the winning touchdown in the final 34-seconds.

This game defined the term, “shootout.”

A total of 105-points were put up on the board, which is the third-most in NFL history and the very first time that two teams have scored 50-points (or more) each.

There were fourteen touchdowns. The defenses were responsible for three of them.

Gauged by the NFL’s quarterback passer rating (RTG) Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and Rams QB Jared Goff scored 117.6 and 117.1, respectively.

Both QB’s lost the ball on fumbles that resulted in scoring drives by the opponent, and the game may have come down to Mahomes’ two interceptions.

There were seven lead-changes… four of them in the 4th quarter.

The final (and winning) score of the game came just after the 2-minute warning, on a 40-yard pass from Goff to tight end Gerald Everett.

It was history in the making.

God Bless and be cool.

Mark Felicetti would like to hear from you. Reach him at mark@tolucantimes.com.  

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