Lepage-Joanisse Wins Split Decision Over Vidal for Unlikely Title

Vanessa Lepage-Joanisse (7-1, 2 KOs) of Saint André Avellin, Quebec, Canada, won a 10-round split decision over Abril Argentina Vidal (10-2, 4 KOs) in the final prelim of Thursday’s card at Casino de Montréal in Montreal, Canada.

The bout, which saw the fighters trade leather nearly throughout, lived up to its billing as a world title fight. Neither fighter showed much defensive wizardry, but Vidal came on early and, at the end of the third round, bloodied Lepage-Joanisse’s nose with a right hand.

The most interesting action in the bout came when the fighters punched with each other, with Vidal landing the bigger punches in those exchanges. The doctor looked at Lepage-Joanisse’s nose before the sixth round but allowed the fight to continue.

When the fight slowed and was contained in the middle of the ring, Lepage-Joanisse had a big advantage. A theme emerged: Lepage-Joanisse would have good rounds, but get caught with an eye-catching shot before the final bell. Often, it was the most memorable punch of the round.

But Lepage-Joanisse got aggressive late and Vidal seemed to slow down, throwing fewer punches in the later rounds. Lepage-Joanisse was faster all night, but especially late in the fight. Her confidence grew as she seemed to move ahead in the fight, and she grinned while walking back to her corner at the end of the eighth.

Lepage-Joanisse dictated pace, but just when you wanted to count out Vidal, she would land a big shot. A clear difference in acumen became apparent over time, and by the 10th, Lepage-Joanisse had established her ring generalship. She took command of the fight, controlling the terms of engagement – at least until she got caught with some big shots in the last round.

Lepage-Joanisse had a face full of blood when the final bell rang, but when the scores were announced – 97-93, 94-96 and 97-93 – they landed in her favor.

Lepage-Joanisse was stopped in her previous WBC heavyweight world title fight by former champion Alejandra Jimenez. That was in 2017. She returned to the sport only last March. Now, a little less than a year later, she is a world champion.

Junior welterweight Arthur Biyarslanov (14-0, 12 KOs) stopped Cristian Palma (33-14-2, 7 KOs) in the third round.

The bout saw two fighters at different stages of their career. Biyarslanov, 28, is a prospect still on the way, while Palma, 38, is a veteran whose career highlights happened mostly at featherweight – and are slowly fading into the distance.

In the first round, Biyarslanov received his marching orders from his corner – finish Palma in Round 3 – and dutifully obliged. After dropping Palma at the end of the second round, Biyarslanov, a southpaw, landed five straight right hooks to the body on Palma, who then hit the canvas. At 3:00 in the third, the fight was over.

Lightweight Luis Santana (11-0, 5 KOs) overpowered Emiliano Garcia (19-10-1, 13 KOs) on his way to a stoppage win.

Santana began the fight landing a good left hook to the body at will, and he dropped the 40-year-old Garcia with it at the end of the first round. Although the punch was deemed late, officials didn’t elaborate, Garcia took the full time, and the fight continued.

In the second round, Santana finished what he started, dropping Garcia with a body shot that saw him counted out by the referee.

The time of the stoppage was 1:31.

Light heavyweight Mehmet Unal (9-0, 7 KOs) picked up an eight-round unanimous decision over Facundo Nicolas Galovar (15-11-2, 9 KOs).

The fight was grueling, with Galovar troubling Unal early. But the conditioning and power of Unal took over in the second half of the fight, as Unal targeted the body of Galovar effectively.

Perhaps the most dramatic moment of the fight came in the fourth round, when an Unal left hook seemed to catch Galovar’s attention and forced a grimace. Unal lacked the power to finish his opponent, which eventually made the bout begin to feel a bit redundant.

But Unal, a 31-year-old from Turkey who competed in the 2016 Olympics, had the requisite skills to easily outpoint Galovar, 80-72, 80-72 and 79-73.

Undefeated 20-year-old lightweight Columbian stand-out Jhon Orobio (7-0, 7 KOs) knocked out Argentinian Cristian Rodrigo Gonzalez (12-20-1, 6 KOs) in the second round.

Orobio solved the difficult puzzle presented by Gonzalez, who gamely tried to play the spoiler. After a tricky first round, the body work of Orobio paid off. Gonzalez went down on a shot to the body in the second, which was followed by another Orobio body shot that sent Gonzalez to the canvas for a second time. After the latter knockdown, Gonzalez didn’t get up.

The time of the stoppage was 2:51.

The opening bout from Casino de Montréal saw hometown 19-year-old super middleweight Wilkens Mathieu (8-0, 5 KOs) stop Patrik Fiala (8-5-2, 5 KOs) of the Czech Republic in the second round.

After Mathieu dropped Fiala with a left hook, the bout – contested at a catchweight of 172 pounds – was stopped seconds later by referee Martin Forest. The time of stoppage was 1:57.