By Mark Eisner: Steve Sparks (16-2, 14 KOs) defeated previously unbeaten Montana Love (18-1-1, 9 KKOs) by sixth round disqualification victory on Saturday night at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Cleveland, Ohio. It looked intentional on Love’s part to push Sparks out of the ring due to him getting the worst of it.
A frustrated Love appeared to push Sparks out of the ring in the sixth round after suffering a cut over his left eye in the round from a clash of heads.
Sparks dropped Love in the second round and appeared to get the better of the action with power punches.
After the fight, Love’s promoter Eddie Hearn said they’ll appeal the disqualification on Monday and try and get it changed to a no contest.
Undefeated light welterweight contender Richardson Hitchins (15-0, 7 KOs) halted Yomar Alamo (20-2-1, 12 KOs) by an eighth round stoppage. The bout was halted by Alamo’s trainer after the round ended. Hitchins dominated from start to finish, nailing Alamo at will with shots. After the contest, Hitchins called out Montana Love, resulting in the pro-Love crowd booing him loudly.
Undefeated featherweight contender Raymond Ford (13-0-1, 7 KOs) stopped Sakaria Lukas (25-2-1 17 KOs) in the eighth round. The 23-year-old Camden, New Jersey native Ford nailed Lukas with a big right hook in the eighth round that flattened him on his back. Referee James Easter then immediately stopped the fight at 2:20 of the round.
In a shocker, super featherweight Thomas Mattice (20-3-1, 15 KOs) got the better of the talented Christian Tapia (15-1, 12 KOs), defeating him by ten round unanimous decision. Mattice dropped the 28-year-old Tapia in the second and hurt him in the third and the seventh with big shots. Tapia fought well in the championship rounds but was too far behind to get back into the fight. The judge’s scores were 97-92, 96-93, and 96-93.
Super featherweight prospect Beatriz Ferreira (1-0) defeated Tanya Cardoso (5-1, 1 KO) by a four round unanimous decision in her debut. The scores were 40-34, 40-34, and 40-34. Cardoso was down in the first and third rounds.
Junior middleweight Nikoloz Sekhniashvili (8-1, 6 KOs) halted David Rodriguez (6-1, 2 KOs) in the third round of a one-sided contest.
Lightweight Raynell Williams (14-1, 7 KOs) schooled Ryizeemmion Ford (8-3, 6 KOs), putting him down on the canvas in the first and winning six round unanimous decision. The judges scored it 60-53, 60-53, and 60-53.
Unbeaten cruiserweight Khalil Coe (4-0-1, 2 KOs) defeated Bradley Olmeda (5-1, 3 KOs) by a masterclass six round unanimous decision. The scores were as follows: 60-53, 60-53, and 60-53. Olmeda hit the deck in the fifth round after getting caught by a big shot from Coe.
Preview: Montana Love hasn’t performed well in his last two fights against Gabriel Valenzuela and Carlos Diaz, and he needs a performance tonight to show that Matchroom made the right decision in signing him.
“Steve Spark is not known in the U.S. He doesn’t have any kind of following, but he can crack. He can make this an exciting fight,” said Chris Mannix to DAZN’s JABS for tonight’s clash between Montana Love and Steve Spark.
“15 wins, and 14 of those wins have come by knockout. So this has the potential to be a rock em sock em robot type of fight that Montana Love, just like against Baranchyk, he could look really good in.
“He has a chance here to push himself back into the world title mix. There are plenty of world titles out there now that Josh Taylor has vacated three of them.
“Right now, after what I’ve seen in the last two fights, he’s lost a lot of the momentum that he had after the win over Ivan Baranchyk,” said Mannix about Love. “He has not looked like a top guy at 140 lbs, and he’s going to need a big performance to be considered a top contender once again.
“I’m not disparaging the level of competition, but I just expected Montana Love to be a little bit more professional and come in on weight for the [Carlos] Diaz fight and look a little bit more dominant against [Gabriel Gollaz] Valenzuela and not get knocked down in the second round of the fight.
“I’m not saying he’s done. He certainly has a chance with one win to put himself back into that upper tier of the 140-pounders, but right now, I just don’t see it with Montana Love,” said Mannix.
“Your expectations don’t mean nothing to me or these fighters that are chasing greatness,” said Sergio Mora. “Montana Love has all the potential in chasing greatness.”
“Chasing greatness?” said Mannix. “Can we stop? Chasing greatness? Steve Spark is not chasing greatness. Dmitry Bivol is chasing greatness. Stop; you’re all over the place with this.”
“No, I’m not all over the place. Let me finish my point of view here,” said Mora. “So, chasing greatness, you said the exact same thing about Devin Haney when we were calling his earlier fights that he’s not stepping on the gas a little bit more looking for the knockouts.
“Dominating is not enough. He has to have that extra oomph. He’s undisputed now. Devin Haney did that. So Montana Love, give him a chance to really find his way, find his rhythm, find the knockout ways.
“You’ve got to understand that he’s fighting fighters that aren’t accustomed to getting knocked out with good records, guys that are winners. You’re not just going to be knocking out fighters that are used to winning.
“So, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. I know what fighters are like, and when it comes to a guy like Montana Love, one performance can put him on the right trajectory to get those consistent knockouts and the victories that you want him to get,” said Mora.
Undefeated light welterweight contender Montana Love will be fighting the capable Steve Spark tonight in a 12-round headliner live on DAZN in what he and his promoter Eddie Hearn hope to be an impressive performance at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. ET.