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Elijah Pierce survives knockdown, stops Arthur Villanueva in four rounds

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Elijah Pierce. (Photo by Adam Hagy/OTX)

by Francisco Salazar | 

Elijah Pierce is asserting himself in the upper echelon of the junior featherweight division.

Pierce, who went into the fight rated No. 9 by The Ring at 122 pounds, suffered an early knockdown but then dropped Arthur Villanueva twice en route to a fourth-round stoppage win on Friday night at the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. Pierce, who is from Oklahoma but now trains in the Atlanta area, improved to 19-2 (16 knockouts).

Early in round two of the scheduled eight-rounder, a straight right from Villanueva staggered Pierce. Villanueva followed up with a barrage of punches, eventually dropping Pierce to the canvas. Pierce was able to get up and gather himself, then overcame an onslaught of punches before taking control of the fight.

The southpaw Pierce was the aggressor from that point, his two-punch combinations taking their toll as Villanueva’s punch output dropped with each passing minute.

With about a minute left in round four, a right-left combination dropped Villanueva to the canvas next to the ropes. Villanueva beat the count but got hammered by Pierce’s follow-up. Moments later, Pierce backed Villanueva into the ropes and unleashed a barrage of punches that left the Filipino slumping down onto the bottom ropes, prompting referee Malik Waleed to stop the fight at 2:57.

Pierce, who is trained by his father, Andy Pierce, and co-managed by Trifon Petrov and Jessie Tanksley, previously fought on August 4, knocking out former contender Mike Plania in the third round. 

The 27-year-old Pierce has now won his last 10 bouts, including an April 22 victory over former world title challenger Tramaine Williams, since dropping decision losses to Giovanni Cabrera and Sulaiman Segawa in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Villanueva, who resides in Bacolod City in the Philippines, falls to 35-5 (20 KOs). The 35-year-old had won his previous three bouts but fought just once per year since losing to then-WBC bantamweight titleholder Nordine Oubaali in July 2019.

In the co-feature, junior featherweight Haven Brady Jr. of Albany, New York, stopped Waldemar Carril Areizaga in the sixth round, improving to 12-0 (5 KOs).

Carril was game, but Brady was the more polished fighter, outboxing and outlanding the previously undefeated Puerto Rican throughout most of the fight. There were instances of clenching and roughhouse tactics, which led to referee Nate Mann deducting a point from Brady for hitting Carril in the back of the head.

There was a delay for a few minutes as the ringside physician climbed into the ring and assessed Carril before allowing the fight to continue.

During the sixth round, a combination hurt Carrill, prompting Brady to follow up with more of the same. Carril tried to fight back, but Brady’s attacks continued to hurt him. A series of left hooks forced Carril to grab onto Brady, and referee Nate Mann stopped the fight at 1:59.

Carril fell to 8-1 (4 KOs). 

Welterweight prospect Giovanni Marquez of Houston, Texas, defeated Jayson Velez by six-round unanimous decision. All three judges scored the bout 59-55 for Marquez, who improved to 9-0 (5 KOs). 

Velez had his moments early in the fight, staying in the pocket and exchanging with Marquez. As the fight progressed, Marquez’s punches began to take their toll. Marquez battered Velez during the fifth round, landing at will, almost prompting referee Nate Mann to step in. To his credit, Velez was able to weather the barrage of punches, even fighting back as the round ended. 

Sensing Velez was vulnerable, Marquez was on the offensive during round six, particularly connecting with right hands to the head. Velez was visibly stunned once but was able to make it out of the round on his feet.

The 23-year-old Marquez is the son of former junior middleweight titleholder Raul Marquez. 

Velez, who resides in Juncos, Puerto Rico, falls to 30-14-1 (21 KOs). The former fringe contender, whose long resume includes fights against Evgeny Gradovich, Ronny Rios, Joseph Diaz and Ryan Garcia, has now lost nine of his last 10 fights. 

Junior middleweight Oshae Jones of Toledo, Ohio, stopped Sonya Dreiling in the fifth round, improving to 6-0 (2 KOs). 

Jones, who won a bronze medal at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo and is currently ranked No. 5 at 154 pounds by The Ring, broke Dreiling down during each round. As the bout progressed, blood began oozing out of Dreiling’s nose. After Jones landed a combination to Dreiling’s head, referee Malik Waleed stopped the fight at 1:06 of round five. 

The 33-year-old Dreiling, who resides in Albertville, Alabama, falls to 6-5 (2 KOs). 

Heavyweight prospect Dacarree Scott stopped Detrailous Webster (6-3, 2 KOs) of Courtland, Mississippi, in the fourth round. 

Scott (9-1, 8 KOs), who resides in Atlanta, dropped Webster early in round four. Webster beat the count and fought back but was backed into a corner, absorbing punishment before Waleed stepped in at 2:12. 

In a clash of unbeaten super middleweights, Donte Layne of Elmont, New York, stopped DeShun Mitchell (2-1, 2 KOs) of Senatobia, Mississippi, at 2:43 of the opening round. Layne improved to 2-0 (2 KOs). 

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]

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