NORTHEAST GLENDALE — The man known as "The Crazy Russian" never lost his cool on Friday night, skillfully surviving eight action-filled rounds with a driven Javier Gallo until lowering the boom in the ninth round to earn a technical knockout victory.
Khabir Suleymanov improved to 11-0 and claimed the vacant North American Boxing Organization bantamweight title in the 10-round main event of Glendale Glory 3, the latest in a series of local promotions that once again managed to draw a large crowd to the Glendale Civic Auditorium.
"I feel great, I'm not tired, not at all," said Suleymanov, who earned his fifth win by knockout. "I expected I was going to knock him out in the sixth round. …He was really tougher than I thought."
Suleymanov won the first two rounds, but Gallo (17-2-1) began to pick up steam, igniting his large rooting section in the third round with some combinations. By the end of the fifth round, both fighters were streaming blood from cuts near the eye.
Gallo continued to work his jab well and caught Suleymanov with a 1-2 at the bell for the end of the seventh round. But Suleymanov battled back nicely in the eighth, landing flurries of punches and attacking Gallo's body.
Suleymanov was landing power punches and continuing his assault on the midsection when both fighters met in the middle of the ring and traded haymakers. Gallo got the worse of the exchange, hitting the deck after Suleymanov connected with a right hand.
Gallo got to his feet, but couldn't persuade referee Raul Caiz, Jr. that he was fit to proceed, leading to an official stoppage at the 2:59 mark.
"At the end, in the seventh round, I started to punch him to the body," Suleymanov said. "That's why he dropped his hands. I opened him up."
The undercard, although it had dwindled from its original six bouts to just three by Friday night, essentially delivered what was promised, with all three competitive fights going the distance and, in one case, making history.
Holly Lawson suffered a four-round majority decision loss to Britney Christian (2-1, one KO) in the former's professional debut, which was also the first female boxing match ever staged in Glendale.
Christian seemed intent on not letting the taller Lawson get comfortable in the ring and she accomplished that with an aggressive opening that had Lawson in a defensive posture for most of the first two rounds.
"[My plan] was to stay on her so she couldn't get me with her reach," Christian said.
Lawson began to counter in the last two rounds, and while the punches she landed were probably more damaging, she didn't throw enough to offset the volume of punches thrown by Christian, who pretty much never stopped swinging.
"I know that I waited a lot and I just needed to be more aggressive," Lawson said. "She's real wild and I'm a boxer, so I wait to pick my spots and sometimes I guess maybe the judges see action and they don't see placed shots. That's something I'm going to have to work on, I guess. I don't like to waste my energy to throw punches."
Anatoliy "The Dragon Man" Dudchenko took on Chris Thomas in a six-round cruiserweight tilt, improving to 10-2 with a unanimous decision in which he was awarded every round by each judge.
While the fight was bogged down by clinching and grappling that had to be broken up by the referee every few seconds, Dudchenko eventually asserted himself over the final three rounds.
Big overhand rights from Dudchenko bloodied Thomas (17-14-2) in the fourth round and Dudchenko scored a knockdown in the fifth.
The sixth round saw Dudchenko floor Thomas once again with a two-punch combination just before the bell.
Things didn't start off great for Jesus "El Pollo" Hernandez in the first bout of the night as he was bloodied and taken off his feet twice in the opening round by Steve Marquez.
But Hernandez's tenacity and Marquez' occasional reluctance to protect his head from Hernandez' right hand allowed Hernandez to rally for a unanimous decision in the four-round bout.