Joseph Elegele entered Sunday’s 150-pound fight with Phil Lo Greco possessing a decided power advantage, and promised to show as much when the two men got in the ring.
That he did.
Lo Greco got a face full of his opponent’s two-fisted power for most of 10 rounds, and even though the steel-chinned Canadian gave nearly as much as he took, it was Elegele who did the more telling damage en route to a unanimous decision victory at the Lakeland Center in Lakeland Florida.
The judges scored the action-packed bout 97-93 and 96-94 twice for Elegele, who overcame an injured left hand, which “swelled up like a balloon after the fifth round,” according to his trainer, Jason Galarza.
“This was a win that keeps me relevant in the welterweight division,” Elegele said. “I could have made 147 [pounds], but we fought at 150, which is cool.
“I hope that I put on a good enough performance to land some fights against the bigger names within the division.”
A 5-foot-8 boxer-puncher, Phil Lo Greco (27-3, 15 KOs) actually looked like the more powerful fighter early on, rocking Joseph Elegele (16-2, 11 KOs) with a big left hook in Round 2. The punch sent the 6-foot Elegele into and nearly through the ropes, and from there Lo Greco unleashed a barrage of unanswered lefts, rights and uppercuts.
But the 31-year-old Toronto native was unable to land the decisive blow, and after weathering the storm, Elegele actually fired back with a big punch late in the round that wobbled Lo Greco.
“I was buzzed because he caught me with an awkward shot, but it was nothing that I couldn’t handle,” Elegele said. “I just shook it off and stayed calm, gathered myself and turned it up on him.”
Lo Greco admitted he punched himself out during his all-out assault in Round 2, and that he struggled to regain his energy as the fight went on.
“I believe that the second round was a gift and a curse,” Lo Greco said. “If it had never happened, I might have had more energy. I was pushing the action, other than a couple of middle rounds when I needed to catch my breath.”
A 31-year-old southpaw, Elegele came out strong in Round 3 and began using his jab to alternately gain range and close distance, which helped set up his sledgehammer lefts to the head and body.
Elegele controlled the bout in the middle rounds, doling out his biggest punishment in the sixth when he twice hurt Lo Greco, first with a combination and later with another big left hand.
“Lo Greco was the shorter fighter, so I had to keep range and run him into the bigger shots,” Elegele said. “The way he was coming in was head-first, and that was good for me, because I could catch him with the left hand and the right hooks and hurt him.”
In the process of pounding his opponent, though, Elegele did damage to himself as well.
“I think I hurt my left hand somewhere in the fifth round, he said. “But I kept on throwing it because I’m a warrior.”
Despite absorbing a great deal of abuse from the hammer-fisted Elegele, Lo Greco managed to remain on his feet the entire way. That was in contrast to when he faced 147-pound contender Errol Spence Jr., another southpaw with a vicious left hand who knocked out Lo Greco in the third round a year ago.
“Phil Lo Greco’s a tough guy who has only been stopped one time, and that was by Errol Spence, who is a bad boy,” said Elegele, who won his third consecutive fight in the longest outing of his career. “But I think I faced the better Phil Lo Greco tonight, because I know he only took the Spence fight on two days’ notice.”
Lo Greco, who won his first 25 professional fights, fell for the third time in his last five contests. Afterward, he hinted that Elegele—a native of Melbourne, Florida, which is about 120 miles west of Lakeland—might have been the beneficiary of some hometown officiating and scoring.
“If we were not in his hometown, and the referee would have stopped the fight [in Round 2], I don’t think there could have been any argument, he was hurt so badly,” Lo Greco said. “Some people may think it could have been a draw, but we were in his hometown.”
In earlier televised action, Craig Baker (17-1, 13 KOs) of Baytown, Texas, rose from a fourth-round knockdown to stop Australia’s Steve Lovett (15-1, 12 KOs) in the eighth to win a 176-pound contest. Also, Dauren Yeleussinov of Kazakhstan (5-0-1, 4 KOs) battled to an eight-round split-draw with Davaun Lee (7-2-1, 3 KOs) of Queens, New York, in a 163-pound fight.
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