SALT LAKE CITY (November 15) — Heavyweight contender Junior Fa defeated Devin Vargas behind a pair of knockdowns. The bout was the main event of a DiBella Entertainment Broadway Boxing event. Fellow New Zealander Hemi Ahio stopped Joshua Tufte in the co-main event’s second round. The two rising heavyweights played well at the Salt Palace for the welcoming Tongan community who turned out to root on their own.
The 30-year old Junior Fa (19-0, 10 KOs) entered the ring at 267 1/2 pounds to Vargas’ 218 pounds. However, he gracefully moved his 6-foot 5-inch frame around the ring in opening minutes. Fa quickly established his jab against the 37-year old Ohioan.
Vargas (21-6, 9 KOs) remained poised in the face of Fa’s notable height and reach advantages. He looked for openings to Fa’s body with his left hook, and threw well-timed overhand rights. Vargas was able to counter Fa’s jab by moving inside to make Fa adjust his attack.
In the third round, Vargas got a taste of Fa’s power in the form of a right uppercut. Fa, the WBO’s No. 7 heavyweight, soon added a straight right and followed Vargas into a neutral corner. Still composed, Vargas used the ropes to bounce around and was able to evade Fa’s follow-up combinations.
Vargas connected with his own right uppercut in the subsequent round. In fact, Vargas’ scrappy effort in the fourth round thwarted Fa’s early momentum. However, Fa restored order in round five. Vargas landed the round’s first left hook to the body, but Fa landed a bigger left hook as Vargas went to move inside. Vargas dropped to one knee and regrouped while the ref counted. He got up, weathered Fa’s flurries and rallied back himself to end the round.
Fa fired away punches in a combination off the ropes in the sixth round. Vargas used his legs and upper body movement to work from the outside in round seven. Fa opened the eighth round flashing his jab before scoring his second knockdown in the first 60 seconds. Vargas locked his left arm against body as he rolled around on the canvas near the ropes, but it was difficult to make out which Fa punch did the damage.
Fa scored the better shots throughout the final two rounds, including another combination with Vargas on the ropes. Vargas used his ring savvy to box, out-maneuver Fa and place the decision in the judges’ hands. In the end Junior Fa remained undefeated behind cards of 100-88, 99-89 and 97-91.
Fa’s gym mate, Ahio, solidified his reputation as an emerging power puncher in the division. Ahio’s a smaller heavyweight, standing at just 6-feet, but his compact right hooks quickly erased Tufte’s 38-pound weight advantage. Tufte (19-5, 9 KOs) hit the canvas after right hooks in the first round, and again in the second frame for the third and final knockdown. Earlier in the round the first knockdown resulted from a straight right hand by Ahio (16-0, 11 KOs). The official time of the stoppage was 1:10 in round two.
In the first two fights streamed on UFC Fight Pass, a pair of Brooklyn fighters had completely opposite outcomes. One-loss welterweight Ivan Golub (18-1, 14 KOs) abruptly stopped Janer Gonzalez (19-3-1, ) in the tenth round of a bout he controlled most of the night. The Ukrainian southpaw finally unleashed a series of left hands that left Gonzalez unable to recover from at 1:56.
Conversely, Denis Douglin – now a Las Vegas resident – returned after 54 weeks of inactivity for a self-described “win or retire” bout versus Mike Guy. Douglin (22-7, 14 KOs) gradually succumbed to Guy’s start-and-stop pressure made worse by the 38-year old’s unpredictable physicality. Douglin, the southpaw in the match-up, finished the first round with a cut above his left eye. Guy had a cut under his right eye by round three.
Douglin came into the fight after high-profile assignments in the camps of Shawn Porter and Sergey Kovalev. Unfortunately, he failed to ever fully establish his offense against Guy who basically looked to just engage from close-quarters and make contact as often as possible. The formula delivered him a surprising split decision victory behind scores of 77-75, 78-74 and 75-77.