Photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank
IBF Featherweight champion Evgeny Gradovich (19-0-1, 9 KOs) and title challenger Jayson Velez (22-0-1, 16 KOs) fought to a draw in a very close 12-round fight at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
The fight was the co-main event of a card presented by Top Rank Promotions and HBO Boxing.
Velez, 26 of Puerto Rico, scored an early lead by landing jabs and right hands.
His offense, however, was nothing to be proud of as he often left his punches lazily out for too long and failed to move his head during combinations.
Nevertheless, his chin and ring generalship allowed him to make the fight tough for Gradovich into the middle and later rounds.
Gradovich, 28, of Igrim, Russia, got better and better at closing the distance as the fight progressed and forced Velez to fight at close range for the middle and later rounds.
Gradovich landed the better body shots and better combinations, but Velez did answer to most of them. The fight was very hard to score.
According to HBO’s post-fight punch stats, Gradovich landed 35 percent of his overall punches (310 of 875) compared with Velez who landed 37 percent of his total punches (278 of 1032).
Velez was clearly a lot busier than the two, but didn’t seem to land as many power punches in the later rounds.
One judge scored the fight 117-111 for Gradovich, one judge scored the fight 115-113 for Velez and a third judge scored the fight a draw.
Gradovich keeps his title and both fighters remain undefeated.