By Derek Gionta: Fighters take a big risk every time they step through the ropes to engage in fisticuff battle. Embarking on a career that ensures a continuity of inflicting pain on another person is rare. With even more devious reciprocation in the mind of the opposition, it leaves one to wonder what the driving force is to choose a career in the hurt business.
Lyubomyr Pinchuk and Oleg Dovhun have been involved in the sport of boxing since their childhood. Like many that become champions, an early start leads a fighter to a more likely peak of world titles and enough money to put a positive stamp on their career.
Leaving their home country of the Ukraine in early 2017, Pinchuk and Dovhun planned to box professionally in their adopted hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.
A city once known for boxing prominence has become more of a niche sport with a smaller, yet loyal group of followers.
Under the watch of trainer/manager Mike McSorley, who owns the Conn Greb Boxing Club, (in memoriam of late Pittsburgh boxing greats Billy Conn and Harry Greb) along with his partner JJ Richardson, the Ukrainian duo is adjusting to the area, as well as the language barrier. This allows the two to engage in conversation with fans when not engaging with their opponents.
Pinchuk headlined a Saturday night (8/18) professional card promoted by McSorley and Richardson’s Integrity Fighter Management Company at the prestigious Pittsburgh Priory in the city’s North Side.
The second pro boxing event held here since late May, the Integrity team hopes to make it a hub for the city’s top up and coming professionals.
Sporting a 5-1 record with 4 Knockouts, Pinchuk, a cruiserweight, also known as the Demolition Man, took on durable vet Lamont "Too Smooth" Capers of Eastern Pennsylvania.
The two battled for the American Boxing Federation-USA cruiserweight title over eight rounds.
Capers, 9-13-4 (1), is a tested vet despite having a losing record.
Living up to his moniker, "Too Smooth" moved around the ring and looked to elude the violent onslaught of Pinchuk.
Pinchuk was the agressor yet found himself boxing a bit more strategically over the duration of the bout as Capers limited his assault and punch volume.
All three judges gave the fight to Pinchuk, now 6-1 with 4 Knockouts. Scores were 79-73 x 2 and 80-72.
Pinchuk stablemate Oleg Dovhun, 6-0 (2), battled his way to a 6 round unanimous decision over Youngstown, Ohio southpaw Anthony "The Tiger" Taylor, 4-3 (1).
Both touched the scales at 120 lbs the day before.
Dovhun, aka "The Ukrainian Pitbull," and also a southpaw, had a clear height advantage over Taylor and used it throughout the fight. Taylor was a skilled boxer and fit to last, with Jack Loew and his son John in his corner.
Dovhun, an aggressive fighter that is never one to shy away from action, boxed well on the outside, jabbing and setting up his straight left hand consistently. In this writer’s opinion, it was his best performance so far in his young career.
Judges all had the decision in Dovhun’s favor at 60-54 x 2 and 59-55.
McSorley praised each fighter afterwards.
"Oleg and Lyubomyr fought tough opponents in Taylor and Capers, stated McSorley."
"Our guys boxed well tonight, no brawling."
In the co-feature of the evening, popular Pittsburgh brawler Mike "The Bull" Manna made his debut, scoring a devastating knockout over Marcus "Lights Out" Willamson of Pittsburgh in the third round of a scheduled four.
Manna, a cruiserweight, is donating his entire purse to Children’s Hopsital. The man sold a lot of tickets and made sure everyone got their money’s worth.
After an opening round knockdown against fellow local debuter Williamson, the two began exchanging more in the second round. Williamson had some success as the right eye of Manna became swollen and blackened.
Just past the midpoint of the third, Manna landed an over hand right square on the target and followed up with a right hook that sent Williamson crashing to the canvas. Referee Tim Shipley immediately called off the fight as the crowd erupted and medical staff entered the ring to address Manna’s fallen foe.
At 35 years old, Manna doesn’t have plans to continue long in the sport but wanted to have a positive finish as a boxer after a number of tough amateur fights.
Pittsburgh middleweight J.T. "The Samurai" Brackett, 1-1, won a hard fought majority decision over local debutant Jordan Zlacki in a four rounder.
Zlacki came out swinging at the opening bell, much like we have seen throughout his amateur career, winning the the round in everyone’s eyes.
The second was competitive and maybe the toughest to score in the fight.
Brackett, who fights out of an orthodox and southpaw stance, remained calm and began gauging the distance well over the second half of the fight.
Stepping back as Zlacki pressured and putting straight punches down the middle worked well for the usually awkward brawler Brackett.
A close one went to the cards as the judges saw the fight 38-38 and 39-37 x 2 for Brackett.
Brackett suffered a tough first round knockout loss in his debut this past May, and was determined to get right back in the ring and redeem himself. That he did.
With a vast experience of amateur fights, earning regional Golden Glove titles in Pennsylvania and Michigan, you can bet that Brackett is already planning his next trip to the pro ring.
In the opening bout, super middleweight Maidel Sando, 6-0 (4), of Tennessee, scored a one sided TKO in the opening round of a scheduled four over South Carolina’s Javier Frazier, 8-5-1 (4).
Four first round knockdowns and a sleu of body shots prompted referee Chris Riskus to call off the fight near the two minute mark.
The Integrity Team has hosted shows at the Carnegie Music Hall in Homestead and now the North Side’s Priory. Plans to continue are in the works as more Pittsburgh boxers hope to showcase their skills at a consistent venue.