PLAINS TWP. — One punch turned the tide.
Because it unleashed a flurry of rage.
Tagged with a hard right near the start of the round, Karl Dargan responded with four power shots of his own Saturday to drop Anthony Flores and retain his unbeaten record and USBA Atlantic Coast Region Lightweight Championship with a technical knockout at 42 seconds of the fifth round at Mohegan Sun Casino.
“I got hit a couple times,” Dargan said. “Sometimes it’s a reaction to punch back.”
Flores found out the hard way.
Dargan responded to a stinging right by Flores with an overhand right that sent Flores into retreat, then used a left followed by two overhand rights to drop Flores. When Flores recovered, Dargan darted in with two more thudding punches to the face, ending a fight Dargan had owned most of the way.
In the night’s other co-featured bout as part of NBCSN’s Fight Night, Nadjib Mohammedi bloodied Anatoliy Dudchenko and scored a TKO at 37 seconds of the seventh round to become the IBF’s No. 1 light heavyweight contender to the crown held by Bernard Hopkins.
The victory earned Mohammedi, who lost a light heavyweight title fight in 2008, a guaranteed shot at Hopkins for the IBF title.
“My name is Nadjib Mohammedi. I’m the best,” Mohammedi, from France, said. “I’m ready to fight Bernard Hopkins.”
It seems Dargan is ready to fight anyone.
The Philadelphia fighter nicknamed “Dynamite” was content to counter-punch his way to a big lead on the scorecards, allowing Flores to press the action and peppering his opponent with sharp jabs and straight rights that welted Flores’ face in the first two rounds.
“I was baiting him,” Dargan said.
Using superior speed, Dargan connected seemingly when he wanted to, splitting Flores’ gloves time and again.
“In training camp, I was prepared to fight any style,” said Dargan, who improved to 16-0 with eight knockouts. “I said it’s not so much my speed, but my timing. I have speed and I have great timing.”
Evidently, Dargan has a lot of power, too.
Flores tried to open things up at the start of the fifth round, catching Dargan a couple times with hard shots to the cheek. But Dargan responded with his bout-ending flurry that staggered and stunned his fellow Philadelphia challenger Flores.
“I wanted to be real impressive, make a statement,” Dargan said. “My first fight (on NBCSN’s Fight Night) was when I won the title. Any fight is a learning process. You’re not going to be able to do everything in one night.”
Dudchenko, from the Ukraine, was hardly able to do anything against France’s Mohammedi.
Mohammedi dominated their scheduled 12-round bout from the third round on, continually snapping Dudchenko’s head back with hard uppercuts and overhand rights.
In the seventh round, three straight power punches cut Dudchenko above the bridge of his nose, and a flurry of eight straight shots to the head stopped the fight.
That ended a 16-match winning streak for Dudchenko, who fell to 18-3 overall, while Mohammedi improved to 36-3 with 21 knockouts with his 11th straight victory.
They weren’t the only fighters pressing the action.
In a machine-like performance, Cuban light heavyweight Sullivan Barrera piled up points against North Carolina’s Lee Campbell, then chopped Campbell to the canvass at 2:42 of the fifth round to record the night’s first knockout in a battle of unbeaten fighters.
Carrying a good four inches on Campbell, Barrera nonetheless stood toe-to-toe inside and slugged it out. He had Campbell in a defensive position while carrying the action for most of the night and was ahead on all three scorecards at the time of the knockout.
But a Campbell knockdown in the first round — which came more than anything from Barrera losing his balance as he tried to slip a Campbell punch — created some suspense on the scorecards. One judge had him ahead by a point halfway through the scheduled eight-round fight.
But Barrera quickly ended any anxiety.
He hurt Campbell with a stinging, left-right combination that sent Campbell scurrying to the ropes. Then Barrera pounded away at the helpless Campbell, who crouched against the next-to-bottom rope, then finally crumpled under the onslaught of a few more Barrera uppercuts.
That moved Barrera’s overall record to 12-0 with seven knockouts, while Campbell fell to 7-1.
The bout was followed by another knockout, as promising light welterweight Wellington Romero moved Mack Babb straight to the ground.
Romero dropped Babb to one knee with hard body blows in the first round, then used a flurry of hard combinations to record the knockout at 2:07 of the second round. Romero, from Newburgh, New York, remained unbeaten at 4-0 with two knockouts, while Babb fell to 0-3.
Leading up to the co-featured fights, Erik Spring of Reading used a big finish in the fourth round to move to 2-0 in his young career with a unanimous decision over Jamil Gadsden in a junior middleweight fight. The judges gave Spring every round, and scored it 40-36 across the board.
In the night’s opener, Hakeem Bryant got his junior middleweight career off to an impressive start with a unanimous decision over Al Johnson in a battle of fighters making their pro debuts.
Bryant survived a cut right eye, but carried the action from the start, dominating Johnson with blistering body blows and quick combinations from the opening bell to the last of the four-round fight.
Bryant, Middletown, New Jersey, won every round on the scorecards of all the judges except one, wh0 awarded Johnson the third round.