Spotlight on | Boxing

Yunieski Gonzalez’s punch could be candidate for boxing’s ‘Knockout of the year’


Coming up

Friday (9 p.m., ESPN2): Adrian Granados vs. Kermit Cintron, 10, welterweights.

Special to The Miami Herald

“Knockout of the Year” fights usually are selected from the usual vehicles of network or pay-per-view telecasts.

Panther Promotions, which presented Friday’s show at Seminole Hard Rock Live Arena, should provide Yunieski Gonzalez hype in “Knockout of the Year” recognition.

Gonzalez, a Miami resident, indeed deserves notice for the achievement after his devastating eighth-round knockout victory over Rowland Bryant.

The impact of Gonzalez’s fight-winning punch separates it from most knockout finishes. Gonzalez caught Bryant flush with a right to the head. Bryant’s arms dangled, legs buckled and the fighter from Altamonte Springs fell hard to the canvas.

Referee Sam Burgos didn’t bother to count and ended the fight.

Without the advantage of an HBO, ESPN2, Showtime or Telemundo broadcast, the Gonzalez-Bryant fight’s first witnesses were the approximate 1,500 spectators who attended the card. Because Panther taped the bout for an international feed, the knockout will have additional viewership. When the fight ends on YouTube, then Gonzalez will have a wider platform for support.

“I noticed that my hand landed strongly and felt it when I made contact,” Gonzalez said. “I knew once I hit him he was not going to get up.”

Even if the media and fight experts that select “Knockout of the Year” winners shun Gonzalez (11-0, 7 KOs), the native of Cuba nonetheless took a significant career step with the knockout win.

Bryant (16-3) was a capable opponent at this stage of Gonzalez’s still-spotless professional journey. Instead of quickly disposing of Bryant, Gonzalez absorbed multiple combinations, which eventually opened a cut above his left eye.

“We knew he was going to be tough, that’s why this is a very sweet victory,” Gonzalez said.

Late Saturday

Timothy Bradley survived a late flurry against Ruslan Provodnikov and successfully defended his welterweight title with a close unanimous decision victory late Saturday in Carson, Calif.

Bradley (30-0) built a lead through the middle rounds as his combinations caused swelling around Provodnikov’s eyes. But Provodnikov (22-2) remained relentless and pressed Bradley when the fight reached the final three rounds.

Provodnikov increased his power punching output and hurt Bradley late in the 12th round with a left hook and follow-up combinations to the head. The accumulation of punches floored Bradley, but he managed to beat the 10-count as time expired.

Two judges scored the bout for Bradley 114-113, and the third also had him winning 115-112. The victory was Bradley’s first since defeating Manny Pacquiao for the World Boxing Organization welterweight belt last June.

After the fight, Bradley admitted he felt dizzy from Provodnikov’s shots.

“This guy is a power puncher and a great warrior,” Bradley said. “I came out fast because I wanted to control the action.”

Fight card in Miami

Boxing will return to Casino Miami Jai-Alai on April 6. Veteran trainer Al Bonanni, who promoted shows at Miami Jai-Alai in the 1980s and ’90s, will present an announced seven-bout card.

The card’s main event will feature Miami resident Azea Augustama and Paul Jennette in a scheduled 10-round cruiserweight bout. For information, call 305-633-6400.

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