Light heavyweight world titlist Dmitry Bivol, unable to land a major fight in the talent-rich 175-pound division, stayed busy with an expected romp over Lenin Castillo on Saturday night at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
Fighting in the co-feature of former undisputed cruiserweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk's heavyweight debut against Chazz Witherspoon, Bivol knocked Castillo down in the sixth round and had no problems as he cruised to a near-shutout unanimous decision in a slow-paced fight. He won by scores of 120-107, 119-108 and 119-108 to retain his world title for the seventh time.
"Maybe there are people who say, 'You are a boring fighter,' or something like this. But I try to win and I won," Bivol said. "Who wants to fight me? Who wants to try to beat me?"
Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs), 28, of Russia, took control from the outset, using his jab and quick combinations to keep the slower Castillo at bay. He stayed steady with his jab, which he also worked well to Castillo's midsection.
Castillo (20-3-1, 15 KOs), 31, a 2008 Olympian from the Dominican Republic, could not get much going on offense. He was sporadic with his punches and spent long stretches following Bivol around.
Bivol broke through in the sixth round when he countered a lazy Castillo jab with a clean right hand on the chin that dropped Castillo to his rear end midway through the round. Castillo, who had never previously been knocked down as a pro, did not appear badly hurt and acknowledged Bivol with a nod as if to say "good shot."
"I saw his fights before. He is really good at counterattacking. All five rounds before that, I tried to land that punch," Bivol said.
Even after the knockdown, Castillo, who came into the fight having won two fights in a row since a 10-round decision loss to top contender Marcus Browne in August 2018, had no sense of urgency. He looked only to counter rather than go on the offensive, while Bivol continued to jab him to the head and body. It was a steady, if unspectacular performance.
Bivol, a broadcast free agent, hopes to land a unification bout next year and plans to attend the light heavyweight title bouts coming up, including Friday's unification fight between Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Artur Beterbiev in Philadelphia, then the Nov. 2 showdown between titlist Sergey Kovalev and middleweight world champion Canelo Alvarez.
"I want to make my mark in boxing history and to do this you have to fight the best," Bivol said. "Of course, I want to fight against the other champions but sometimes you cannot do it because they are busy, but we have had good fights and I am happy with that. The fight next weekend is a great one and I would love to face the winner between Gvozdyk and Beterbiev. We will know more about my future after that fight. I don't know who wins that fight."
Bivol would also like to face the Kovalev-Alvarez winner.
"Of course, the Kovalev fight could happen because we are in the same division. I don't know what is going to happen in his fight with Canelo, but I am ready to fight anyone at light heavyweight," Bivol said. "Canelo? Of course! It's a good fight for me. I'm taller than him. I have good boxing skills and enough experience to box a guy like him. He's one of the best guys from middleweight. He's not a heavyweight. If he was it would be difficult to talk about but he's coming from two divisions below so why not? I can also make 168 pounds. I have talked about this many times because I am not a big guy, so I could make super middleweight for a big fight."
McCaskill retains unified title
In a sloppy fight filled with holding, unified women's junior welterweight world titlist Jessica McCaskill retained her belts by majority decision in a rematch with Erica Farias. McCaskill won by scores of 97-91 and 96-92, with one judge scoring the bout 94-94.
A year ago, McCaskill (8-2, 3 KOs), 35, of Chicago, outpointed Farias (26-4 10 KOs), 35, of Argentina, by scores of 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94 to take Farias' 140-pound world title. McCaskill then unified two belts with a decision victory against Anahi Esther Sanchez in a slugfest on May 25 before giving Farias a rematch. Farias was boxing for the first time since the first fight with McCaskill.
As McCaskill landed punches, Farias resorted to nonstop holding. Finally, referee Christian Curiel docked her one point for excessive holding in the fourth round. Even after he took the point, Farias continued to hold as McCaskill roughed her up with punches on the inside.
In the sixth round, Curiel docked one point from McCaskill for landing a punch behind the head as Farias, whose right eye was marked up, was holding on to her.
Farais' holding was extreme and blatant, but Curiel did not dock another point even though she was grabbing McCaskill's arm as Curiel tried to pry them apart time and again.
"Felt like a WWE wrestling match but I just wanted to come out here and brawl," McCaskill said. "I wanted to put on a good show for the fans and I don't feel like they got a lot of that. I apologize but I am glad we got the win. The first fight was a lot of brawling, banging, boxing and movement. I thought that was what I was going to get tonight but I just realized that she was tired. She gassed a lot and complained a lot. She held me when my arms were in. She was tired and couldn't really put on a performance tonight. I wish I could've given the crowd a lot more."
According to CompuBox, McCaskill landed 151 of 435 punches (35 percent) and Farias connected with 127 of 393 blows (32 percent).
Biyarslanov has tough time vs. Jones
Junior welterweight Arthur "The Chechen Wolf" Biyarslanov won a unanimous decision by scores of 59-55, 59-55 and 58-56, but he had a tough time getting the job done against journeyman Tyrome Jones.
Biyarslanov (5-0, 4 KOs), 24, a southpaw who fled Chechnya with his family at age 10 and settled in Toronto, where he took up boxing and represented Canada in the 2016 Olympics, looked uncomfortable throughout the bout. He ended the bout looking weary, bleeding from cuts over his right eye and on the bridge of his nose.
Jones (4-6-1, 1 KO), 31, a southpaw from South Bend, Indiana, attacked Biyarslanov with combinations and roughed him up. But Biyarslanov managed to land enough punches to sway the judges in a fight that was far more difficult than the scores made it look.
Sims dominates Fitch
Super middleweight prospect Anthony Sims Jr., a former amateur standout, stayed sharp in his fifth fight in 13 months by dominating Morgan Fitch en route to a sixth-round knockout victory.
Sims (20-0, 18 KOs), 24, of Plainfield, Indiana, nearly ended the fight in the first round when he dropped Fitch twice and had him in big trouble. Sims first landed a clean right hand to send Fitch to one knee and then dropped him again moments later from an onslaught of punches. But Fitch, who participated in last year's fifth season of "The Contender" reality series, survived and made it to the bell.
Fitch (19-4-1, 8 KOs), 36, of Pittsburgh, showed heart to keep fighting and made it into the sixth round, but he was being steadily broken down. Sims scored another knockdown in the sixth round with a clean right hand. During the follow-up attack, Sims forced Fitch to the ropes and was teeing off on him when referee David Smith finally intervened and waved off the fight at 2 minutes, 18 seconds.
After the fight Sims said he wanted to step up in competition and called out a former secondary world titlist.
"Rocky Fielding, if you're watching this, I want you next -- in the U.K.," Sims said.
Conwell defeats Day
Junior middleweight prospect Charles Conwell, a 2016 U.S. Olympian from Cleveland, stepped up to face his best opponent so far and dominated Patrick Day en route to a 10th-round knockout victory.
The 21-year-old Conwell (11-0, 8 KOs) scored three knockdowns and handed Day (17-4-1, 6 KOs) his second consecutive loss. This one, however, came in a much more painful fashion than his 10-round decision loss to emerging contender Carlos Adames in June.
Conwell, who suffered a cut over his right eye in the fourth round, dropped Day later in the round with a straight right hand to the tip of his chin.
Conwell beat Day, 27, of Freeport, New York, to the punch repeatedly, landing many hard combinations. Day was dropped again late in the eighth round when Conwell landed a clean right hand to the face.
In the 10th round, Conwell finished Day off when he landed two right hands to drive him back, followed by a left hook that knocked him out cold flat on his back. Referee Celestino Ruiz waved off the fight at 1 minute, 46 seconds. Conwell was taken out of the ring on a stretcher and to the hospital for further evaluation.
Jones outpoints Manriquez
Junior lightweight Otha Jones III, 19, a blue-chip prospect from Toledo, Ohio, won a majority decision over Eric Manriquez, who put in a game effort but had few answers for Jones' speed and skills. Jones won by scores of 40-36 and 39-37 while one judge surprisingly had it 38-38. Manriquez lost his third fight in a row by decision.
Jones (4-0, 1 KO), who turned pro in March, was much faster and more skilled, landed several good left hooks and was pushed by Manriquez (7-9-1, 3 KOs), 28, of Houston, who has lost six of his past seven but has not been stopped in any of those bouts.