The top two Jewish fighters of this generation, Roman Greenberg and Dmitriy Salita, reached professional highs and lows, respectively, continents apart on Saturday night.
Greenberg scored a technical knockout of Russian Alex Vassilev in Monte Carlo for the vacant International Boxing Organization Intercontinental heavyweight title.
The Ukrainian-born, Brooklyn-raised light welterweight Dmitiriy Salita was knocked down twice in the first round by Mexican Ramon Montano before salvaging a draw in Atlantic City on the undercard of the WBC heavyweight title bout between Hasim Rahman and James Toney, which also ended in a draw.
Although they are both undefeated, the 23-year-old Greenberg's (22-0, 15 KOs) stock now rises in the heavyweight ranks, while Salita's (24-0-1, 14 KOs) showing has insiders doubting if he is a world title contender.
Greenberg stopped Vassilev (16-15-1, 8 KOs) in the sixth, when a blow to the face opened a bad cut over Vassilev's left eye and the ringside doctor ended the fight. Vassilev was already bleeding from a cut on the right eye.
The Israeli was in control for much of the fight, although he also took his share of blows. Nevertheless, Greenberg was all smiles in the end as he posed for the cameras with his belt.
The plan for Greenberg now is a fight against a legitimate world title contender, with his promoter Fight Academy already floating the names of Danny Williams, Sam Peter and Shannon Briggs.
"Star of David" Salita had trouble early against Montano (10-3-2). Using crisp right-hand leads and superior quickness, Montano knocked Salita down the first time with a stiff right to the head that left Salita on his backside. He was up at three, but back down again moments later after a left hook and another right to the head.
Montano wrestled him down again just after that, but referee Earl Morton ruled it no knockdown, and Salita got through the round.
He recovered remarkably well. Looking no worse for the knockdowns, he landed a solid left-right combination in the second and stayed out of trouble for most of the rest of the night.
But in the fifth round of the eight-round fight, Montano nailed him with a pair of head-snapping rights in the last 10 seconds.
Judge Eugenia Williams scored it 75-74 for Salita, judge Lawrence Layton had it 76-74 for Montano and judge Robert Grasso scored it a 75-75 tie. The crowd at Boardwalk Hall booed when the result was announced.
Rahman remained the WBC heavyweight champion without beating Toney.
Rahman, handed the crown when Vitali Klitschko retired last year, fought Toney to a draw, a verdict booed by many fans in the crowd. So the 33-year-old Rahman has never actually won the belt in the ring.
"I can beat James Toney and I beat him tonight," Rahman insisted. "I was competitive inside. I thought it would be harder inside and it wasn't, so I was comfortable fighting him on the inside, even though the game plan [was] to use the jab."
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