It’s not uncommon for Art “Lionheart” Hovhannisyan to emerge from a bout battered and bloodied.
However, for only the second time in his career, the Glendale boxer walked away with a loss, as Jonathan Maicelo defeated Hovhannisyan via split decision in a 10-round lightweight bout at the Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton, Wash. on Friday night.
Serving as the co-main event on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights,” the bout saw Maicelo claim the WBC International Silver title, but perhaps most important was that it was a crossroads fight for both combatants.
Maicelo (21-1, 12 knockouts) entered having gone 1-1 with a no-contest over his previous three bouts, while Hovhannisyan (17-2-2, nine KOs) had won two straight prior to Friday after incurring his first career loss.
Maicelo won despite some puzzling scorecards of 100-90, 94-96, 97-93 to nab the split verdict.
The News-Press scored it 98-92 for Maicelo, who landed 160 of 490 punches (33%), while Hovhannisyan connected on 93 of 368 (25%). Hovhannisyan, who emerged with a badly swollen left eye and busted lip, moved forward throughout the bout, but his output never followed, as Maicelo was far more active, stayed on the outside and picked his shots and tied up Hovhannisyan when the Glendale fighter got inside.
The News-Press scored the third and seventh rounds for Hovhannisyan, who found the most success when he got off first and maintained his aggression. But that didn’t happen enough, as Maicelo stayed on the outside, had the more consistently effective jab, put together nice combinations in spurts and quickly smothered Hovhannisyan when the latter was finally able to come in close.
To open the fight, both came out aggressive with Maicelo taking the outside as the two exchanged jabs and flurries. A nice left hook by Maicelo landed on Hovhannisyan to knock him back, though the Armenian appeared off-balance before it landed. With fewer than 20 seconds to go, both landed good right hands, but Maicelo took the round based on activity.
In the second, Hovhannisyan looked to push forward, but Maicelo continued to do well picking his shots, while Hovhannisyan was looking for counters and getting beat to the punch. Maicelo continued to dance around and pick his spots to win the round.
Fifteen seconds into the third, Hovhannisyan dropped Maicelo with a left hook, but the referee ruled it a slip. It appeared the punch landed, though it didn’t hurt Maicelo. Hovhannisyan began landing better than he had previously, particularly when he got off first. Maicelo began landing well with Hovhannisyan against the ropes, connecting on a solid right to the temple. Hovhannisyan closed strong, however.
As the fight progressed in the fourth, it appeared as if Maicelo’s darting and dancing was beginning to frustrate Hovhannisyan. The fourth was relatively lackluster, though both landed solid with rights in an exchange, but Maicelo was the more active.
Maicelo landed a beautiful one-two that began a huge series of lefts and rights against the ropes that seemed to hurt Hohvannisyan a bit. Hovhannisyan soldiered forward, though, but lost the round, though it was just two minutes as the timekeeper incorrectly timed the round.
Hovhannisyan continued to press forward, but was rarely effective, as Maicelo moved and hit well in spots. Maicelo landed consecutive textbook one-twos in the sixth and landed another overhand right later on, as Hovhannisyan’s nose continued to bleed and his left eye began to swell.
In the seventh, Hohvannisyan began working his jab well, though Maicelo was quick to clinch. A solid left hook snapped Maicelo’s head back just before the midway point, but Hohvannisyan didn’t follow up. Hohvannisyan continued to get smothered by Maicelo’s holding, but the seventh was Hovhannisyan’s most impressive in a while.
To open the eighth, Maicelo began working his jab well, darting in and out. A Hovhannisyan right hook just missed the button, but still connected well on the head, spraying sweat. But Hovhannisyan couldn’t corral Maicelo and deliver steady offense. Hovhannisyan landed some stiff jabs, but wasn’t throwing near enough to build up points. Maicelo landed well on a counter right to accentuate the end of the round.
Hovhannisyan continued to plod forward, but did little in terms of output, while Maicelo continued to land on the outside and tie up Hovhannisyan on the inside. Maicelo landed a solid right-left hook combo with less than a minute to go for the highlight of round nine.
Hovhannisyan landed a good right cross and a better left hook early in the 10th and final round. He came forward and exchanged and kept coming forward, landing a pair of left hooks before a push by Maicelo floored Hovhannisyan, who slid under the bottom rope. It wasn’t ruled a knockdown, but as Hovhannisyan came to his feet, his left eye was bleeding heavily. Hovhannisyan was on the wrong end of a combination as the round and fight wound down.
Follow Grant Gordon on Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon.