Julian Smith spent the night trying to make his enemy as comfortable as possible.
It wasn’t enough to cause an upset, but junior welterweight rookie Kevin Hayler Brown was forced to go all ten rounds to claim his final victory. Judges Efrain Lebron (98-92), Dave DeJonge (96-94) and William Glover (96-94) unanimously favored Brown for their ten-round joint DAZN show on Friday night with Caribe Royale Orlando in Orlando, Florida.
Smith established his strength and physical superiority from the start. The once-defeated junior welterweight from Country Club Hills, Illinois, who is legally deaf, landed a left hook to Brown’s chin in the first round in an effort to send the message that he was unimpressed by his opponent’s stellar amateur pedigree.
In the second round, Brown found space to set the punch and use every inch of the ring. The former Cuban amateur standout – who owns victories over compatriots and two-time Olympic gold medalists Andy Cruz and Roniel Iglesias – was sped up as he embarked on his second ten-round fling after just three professional bouts. He only needed rounds two and six to pick up his previous victories, but had to use a full trick set in all ten rounds against the stubborn Smith.
A steady stream of jabs was enough for Brown to get through the second and third rounds cleanly. The 29-year-old Cuban – trained by Bob Santos in Las Vegas and managed by Shane Shapiro – was also successful with a right-hand lead, but he left an open counter right next to Smith late in the fourth round.
Brown adapted and cleanly dispatched Smith for much of the second half of the fight. Smith’s modus operandi was to charge and land with a left hook or straight right hand. Brown was smart with his approach and consistently picked the 32-year-old Smith with a stiff jab. Brown’s subtle lateral movement sets up the left and straight right hands.
Smith rose late in the ninth round after being sent off for most of the frame. He cornered Brown briefly, but was unable to count it.
Brown was pressed with little adversity in the tenth and final round. Time was called in to examine the cut above Brown’s right eyelid, which Smith took as a target when he released the lead left hooks. Both fighters landed a right hand in the last minute of the fight. Brown bit down and connected with a left hook to the body and another on top before the final two-way exchange came just before the bell.
Smith (6-2, 4 KOs) was brave in the defeat, although he has now lost two of his last three starts.
Brown went 3–0 (2 KOs) in his first long-distance fight. All three professional bouts took place at this venue under BoxLab Promotions, which co-promoted Friday’s show with Most Valuable Promotions.
Undefeated lightweight knockout Ashton Sylve (8-0, 8 KOs), broadcasting four bouts, will take on Tanzanian backup opponent Adam Kipenga (11-3-1, 7 KOs) in a scheduled eight-round bout.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox