HOLLYWOOD, Florida (November 7, 2020) — A pair of Heavyweight fights led up to the event’s main event Devin Haney vs Yuriorkis Gamboa. Undefeated Croatian Filip Hrgovic faced Rydell Booker in the chief support bout, which was proceded by China native Zhilei Zhang’s clash with veteran Devin Vargas.
Neither bout became too competitive, both ended inside the distance, but winners Hrgovic and Zhang took important steps forward in one of boxing’s resurgent divisions.
Hrgovic (12-0, 10 KOs) pounded away on former sparring partner Booker – a 39-year old from Detroit who had never been stopped.
Hrgovic and Booker (26-4, 13 KOs) both punched freely through Round 1. Hrgovic tapped with his jab and aimed shots to Booker’s midsection. Booker unloaded several looping shots upstairs, but few found Hrgovic’s head.
Hrgovic maintained his fast pace in Round 2. He landed a solid right to Booker’s body in the opening seconds. The Croatian’s confidence grew, his lead hand lowered and he started punching with bad intentions. Booker withstood a pair of right hands, but didn’t escape the round before visiting the canvas.
A clean left hand, not far away from a corner, followed by several big rights hurt Booker. He fell forward into Hrgovic before sliding down to the canvas. He beat the count to resume fighting, but took a slow walk back to his corner.
Hrgovic’s attack remained constant in Round 3. Booker continued to weather the prolonged storm, as Hrgovic punched away until late in the round. Booker tried to turn with the shots to lessen the full steam.
Booker stood flat-footed behind his high guard as Hrgovic worked steadily through the first minute of Round 4. He tried to spring forward and sparsely surprise Hrgovic with some shots. The strategy didn’t work. Hrgovic fought tall, smart and didn’t relent. He worked up and down furiously, and referee Samuel Burgos repeatedly expressed his concern with Booker’s lack of offense.
Booker was back behind the high guard early in Round 5. Hrgovic bounced some more flurries off of him immediately, but Burgos stepped in quickly to stop the fight. Burgos visited Booker’s corner prior to the start of the round, and warned the team that Booker was taking an excessive amount of headshots.
Zhang Too Big and Powerful For Vargas
Zhilei Zhang weighed over 25 pounds more than Devin Vargas. The Ohioan also gave up over two inches in height advantage to Zhang. Vargas (22-7, 9 KOs) accomplished very little through the first couple of rounds, after Zhang opened the first frame aggressively.
Five of Vargas’ six losses ended inside the distance. After 49 seconds in the third round Vargas’ night was brought to an abrupt end after the 37-year old southpaw from China connected to the chin in one of his most explosive combinations. Zhang (22-0, 17 KOs) sent Vargas to the canvas after a sharp flush right hook, straight left combination. Vargas stumbled back several feet, from the force of the combination, and as he settled face-first he signaled a lower leg problem to referee Frank Gentile.
Photos by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing