B.J. Flores wasn’t looking for a dance partner Saturday at The Pearl at The Palms in Las Vegas, but his opponent, Beibut Shumenov, skillfully cut a rug in the ring.
It was a cat-and-mouse type of fight, where one fighter was defined by frustration and the other by fleetness of foot.
B.J. Flores (31-2-1, 20 KOs) pressed the action all night against a kinetic Beibut Shumenov (16-2, 10 KOs), who never stopped moving, much to the annoyance of Flores.
“He ran all night,” Flores said afterward. “You have to fight to win fights.
Shumenov pounced early, cornering Flores in Round 1 and unleashing a barrage of punches, some of which strayed low.
But Flores rallied shortly thereafter, landing a thumping right that reverberated throughout the room and a hard left followed by an equally sharp right as the round came to a close.
From there, though, Shumenov mostly fought on his heels as Flores came forward.
Shumenov bounced around the ring, picking his spots, firing punches judiciously, as Flores attempted to walk him down.
This is how the fight went much of the night: Flores marching at Shumenov, loading up on his punches and throwing bombs, while Shumenov relied on constant movement and counter punching.
“I did what I had to do,” Shumenov said in his locker room after the fight. “In front of me was the bigger guy, stronger guy. I didn’t have to go and engage when I could just use my skills, proper positioning, land the shots and don’t lose the fight.”
Shumenov did step on the gas from time to time, most notably in Round 8, when he went on the attack, throwing combinations in the center of the ring and reducing the distance between him and Flores.
He continued to let his hands go in the next round as Flores began to look a little winded from constantly having to chase Shumenov around the ring.
Flores almost managed to turn the tide in Round 12, however.
With 10 seconds left to go in the fight, he landed a punishing right that sent Shumenov careening into the ropes.
Flores didn’t have enough time, though, to take advantage of the opportunity to inflict more damage on a suddenly vulnerable Shumenov.
As such, it turned out to be too little too late as Shumenov won a unanimous decision (116-112 on all three judges’ scorecards).
The crowd contained plenty of Flores fans, who booed the result.
“I understand those people because they’re disappointed, they came to cheer for B. J. Flores,” Shumenov said. “But tonight I was the better fighter.”
This was Shumenov’s second fight at 200 pounds after formerly being a champ at 175 pounds, and he said he liked how his body responded at this weight.
“I felt like I had speed, I was able to use my footwork, I had more explosion,” he noted. “When I was making 175 pounds, I was more stiff. I’d want to throw punches, but my body wasn’t listening to me. Now, my brain gives an order and my body acts right away.”
Thomas stays undefeated while handing Shimmell his first loss in battle of Michigan bragging rights
Michigan’s Jordan Shimmell and Isiah Thomas should have entered the ring in wrestling singlets instead of boxing trunks, such was the amount of grappling they engaged in Saturday.
Teenagers in love hold one another less than this pair did.
Thomas (15-0, 6 KOs) was the main offender, consistently locking up Shimmell (19-1, 16 KOs) throughout the fight as Shimmell pressed him into the ropes, which he did often.
Shimmell was the aggressor much of the night, consistently coming forward and working behind his jab while Thomas countered.
Neither fighter got into much of an offensive rhythm, though.
Shimmell outworked Thomas, but it was the latter who landed some of the hardest shots of the night, including a snapping right in Round 1, crisp body shots from both hands in Round 4 and a cracking left in Round 6.
Thomas was the sharper, more accurate puncher, and though Shimmell threw more, he rarely landed more than one shot at a time.
Thomas’ precision paid dividends as he earned a unanimous decision victory (99-91, 98-92, 97-93).
In other action, 126-pounder Claudio Marrero (19-1, 14 KOs) scored a devastating, highlight-reel knockout of former 122-pound champ Rico Ramos (24-5, 12 KOs).
After battering Ramos with body shots early in the fight, Marrero closed the show in sensational fashion in Round 3 thanks to a thundering left hook to Ramos’ temple that sent him to the canvas flat on his back. Referee Jay Nady immediately signaled an end to the fight without even bothering to count Ramos out.
In the opening bout of the televised card, undefeated 200-pound prospect Andrew Tabiti (11-0, 10 KOs) hammered out a unanimous decision win, but saw his 10-fight knockout streak come to an end against a durable, albeit doughy Roberto Santos (12-2, 5 KOs).
Working behind a stiff jab and firing lefts around and through Santos’ guard, Tabiti dished out plenty of punishment.
Still, Santos proved to be a game opponent, walking down Tabiti consistently beginning in Round 2, getting him on the ropes, and ending most rounds with a flurry of activity.
He lost a wide decision due to Tabiti connecting at a much higher rate, but likely won a few new fans with this gutty (pun intended) performance.