THERE is no comfortable way to describe this – there never is. Under normal circumstances we would lead in with the main event, that being Teofimo Lopez against Masayoshi Nakatani, but long after we stop thinking about that contest we will remember the fate of Russian Maxim Dadashev, who died on Tuesday (July 23), four days after being put in a medically induced coma following his stoppage loss to Puerto Rico’s Subriel Matias in an IBF super-lightweight title eliminator.

At the end of the 11th round in this scheduled 12, Dadashev’s trainer, Buddy McGirt, determined that his man, far behind on points, had taken enough punches to justify stopping it in the corner. At the time it seemed that McGirt’s intervention was perfectly timed so that Dadashev could live to fight another day. Tragically that proved not to be the case.

Dadashev had held his own early on before Matias’ body blows took a toll. The last two rounds were particularly difficult for the Russian. Despite that, Dadashev was fighting back, so blame should not be attached to referee Kenny Chevalier or anyone else for not having pulled him out earlier.

Not until Dadashev left the ring unsteadily did everyone realise how dire his situation had become. Dadashev faced a fight for life and, sadly, lost it.

Maxim Dadashev
The brave and tragic Maxim Dadashev (Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

Following his unanimous 12-round decision over Masayoshi Nakatani in an IBF lightweight title eliminator, Teofimo Lopez was asked to assess his performance. His reply was more direct than any punch he threw inside the ring at the MGM National Harbor (Top Rank promoted): “Horrible”, he said.

Perhaps that response should have been saved for the scores of judges Bernard Brumi at 119-109, Dave Braslow and Larry Hazzard Jnr at 118-110. Most observers put Lopez’s margin in the 116-112 range. At least Lopez took some positives away from this victory, as disappointing as it was.

For one, Osaka’s Nakatani, boxing outside Japan for the first time, was no slouch, having won all of his prior contests. Secondly, Lopez, who had never been over six before, handled the 12-round distance very well and was the stronger of the two at the conclusion. And of course, with this victory, Lopez punched his ticket to a title shot against IBF champion Richard Commey.

Enough with the niceties. The bar Lopez has set by relentlessly calling out Vasyl Lomachenko is so high that the public has every right to expect him to perform at a dominant level. Anything less than that leaves him open to criticism.

Teofimo Lopez
Lopez lays into Nakatani (Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

Nakatani at close to 6ft is very tall for a lightweight, something Lopez admitted having problems with. But the man from Japan was not exactly mobile. He rushed in on his Bronx opponent, chin in the air, taking risks.

There were few highlights. Nakatani landed some looping rights but they had no power behind them. Lopez connected with hard digs underneath and the occasional power hook to the chin. Nakatani was durable and fought dirty as well, drawing various warnings from referee Harvey Dock.

There was a sense until the final bell rang that Lopez would drop one on Nakatani’s chin, then do his trademark backflip to celebrate yet another knockout to the roar of the crowd. We got the backflip, but the crowd hardly reacted to it.

“From this point forward we’ll fight guys my height,” said Lopez, who dealt with family issues which may have affected his performance.

Brazilian Esquiva Falcao impressed in stopping Tijuana’s Jesus Gutierrez at 1-35 of the eighth round in a 10. The 2012 Olympic silver medallist outboxed Gutierrez the whole way, dropping him for a nine-count in the decisive round. Referee Dave Braslow stepped in when Gutierrez was under duress on the ropes shortly thereafter.

Washington, D.C. native Dusty Harrison toyed with Tijuana’s Juan De Angel before halting him at 2-30 of the seventh round in an eight. De Angel spat out his mouthpiece after arising from a knockdown and turned away from Braslow, who stopped it.

Raleigh’s Joel Caudle was sensationally sent head first out of the ring, bypassing the apron and onto the floor by Connecticut’s Cassius Chaney. Caudle made it back in before the allotted 20-count, but Braslow stopped it shortly after at 1-52 of the opening round of an eight. Predictably, footage made its way onto social media.

THE VERDICT: Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Dadashev at this tragic time.

RESULTS: Teofimo Lopez (134 1/2lbs), 14-0 (11), w pts 12 Masayoshi Nakatani (134 1/2lbs), 18-1 (12);Subriel Matias (140lbs), 14-0 (14), w rsf 12 Maxim Dadashev (139lbs), 13-1 (11); Esquiva Falcao (162 1/2lbs), 24-0 (16), w rsf 8 Jesus Gutierrez (161lbs), 25-4-2 (12); Dusty Harrison (160lbs), 33-0-1 (19), w rsf 7 Juan De Angel (164 1/2lbs), 21-12-1 (19); Cassius Chaney(253lbs), 16-0 (10), w rsf 1 Joel Caudle (255 1/2lbs), 8-3-2 (5); Patrick Harris (138 1/2lbs), 17-0 (8), w pts 8 Donald Ward (138 1/2lbs), 11-11-1 (5);  Tyler Howard (162lbs), 18-0 (11), w pts 8 Jamaal Davis (162lbs), 18-15-1 (7); Tyler McCreary (133lbs), 16-0-1 (7), w pts 8 Jessie Chris Rosales (134lbs), 22-3-1 (10); Rolando Vargas (135lbs), 3-0 (3), w rsf 2 Nathaniel Lee Davis(135lbs), 1-1 (1).