Ashton Sylve was forced to hear the judges’ scores for the first time in his young pro career.
It was all good news for the unbeaten lightweight prospect, even if his knockout streak came to an end. Sylve went all eight rounds in a shutout win over Tanzania’s Adam Kipenga in their ten-round DAZN main event Friday evening from Caribe Royale Orlando in Orlando, Florida.
Judges Efrain Lebron (80-72), Fred Fluty (80-72) and Dave DeJonge (80-72) scored every round for Sylve, who’d stopped all eight opponents prior to his first televised main event. The bout headlined the inaugural installment of Most Valuable Promotions’ prospect-based series on DAZN.
Sylve was a fitting choice to top the bill as he was the second fighter signed to the Jake Paul and Nakisa Bidarian-run company. He entered the ring with Paul as well MVP’s first signee, seven-division and reigning undisputed featherweight champion Amanda Serrano.
Once the bell rang, Sylve was on his own—figuratively and, at times, literally as it related to activity.
Kipenga was a late replacement for California’s Angel Rebollar (6-2, 3KOs) who was forced to withdraw after suffering an eye injury late in training camp. The Tanzanian southpaw was in defensive mode from the opening bell, mindful of Sylve’s punching power—or so suggested in his perfect knockout-to-win ratio entering the fight—and who never attempted to initiate a single exchange.
Sylve—a 19-year-old from Long Beach, California—pawed with his jab and threw right hands behind it. Some found the mark but all were enough to force Kipenga to fight in reverse.
The start of round five provided uncharted territory for Sylve, who was only extended into the fourth round twice in his pro career—both within his first three fights. Kipenga braved a combination, with both punches blocked by Sylve.
Kipenga struggled to defend against Sylve switching between orthodox and southpaw stance. Sylve remained poised and followed a right hand upstairs with a committed body attack punctuated by a right uppercut midway through round six.
Sylve continued to target the body and briefly froze Kipenga in his tracks in round seven. A left hook downstairs set up a flurry by Sylve. Kipenga rode out the storm and landed a left hand just before the bell.
A distance fight was in Sylve’s destiny, though he persisted in pushing for a knockout ending. Kipenga showed his mettle as he absorbed punishing left hooks and right hands from Sylve and was able to make it to the final bell. It extended Kipenga’s winless streak to four in a row as he fell to 11-4-1 (7KOs), though deserved credit for accepting the fight on just two days’ notice.
Sylve advanced to 9-0 (8KOs) with the win, his first of 2023. His previous bout took place on the undercard of Paul’s win over Anderson Silva last October 29 in Glendale, Arizona. MVP has three more DAZN dates along with the August 5 DAZN Pay-Per-View show featuring Paul versus longtime rival Nate Diaz in Dallas, Texas. Somewhere in that mix, Sylve figures to make his way back to the ring in the near future.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox