Light heavyweight Blake Caparello was hoping to showcase his talents in front of a larger audience Friday with a strong performance in his debut on American soil.
Consider the unbeaten Australian's plan a successful one after Caparello scored a 10-round unanimous decision (98-92 twice, 100-90) against former title challenger Elvir Muriqi at the Richard J. Codey Arena in West Orange, N.J. ESPN.com also scored it 100-90 for Caparello.
"It was a tough fight," Caparello said. "I used my angles and quick hands. I love that I was fighting in America. The fans were all against me, but it was an awesome experience."
Whatever Caparello (19-0-1, six KOs) might have lacked in terms of show-stopping moments against the veteran Muriqi (40-6, 24 KOs) he made up for in sheer dominance. The tall southpaw controlled the bout with his straight left hand and relied on his defense and quick combinations to work himself out of any potential trouble in the corners.
The 27-year-old Caparello, who signed with promoter Lou DiBella, landed quick, flush shots throughout the fight despite not using his jab much against the orthodox Muriqi. He also repeatedly blocked any of Muriqi's advances in terms of a counterattack by timing him with left hands from the outside.
Key moment: Midway through the fight, it was becoming apparent that Caparello was safe to enter cruise control as a frustrated Muriqi was unable to land anything significant. But Caparello responded by landing the best punch of the fight in Round 7, when he snapped Muriqi's head back with a perfectly placed left uppercut that split the guard.
We've got your number: 6. That's the amount of knockouts for Caparello through his first 20 pro fights -- just 30 percent. In fact, Caparello never had Muriqi in any form of real trouble despite repeatedly connecting with clean shots. What Caparello did provide, however, was a thorough outclassing from start to finish, even if he appeared to take his foot off the gas pedal a bit late in the fight.
Final word: Getting a full grasp on just how bright a future Caparello has in one of boxing's most exciting divisions was somewhat compromised by the effort turned in from Muriqi. The 34-year-old, who announced his retirement after the bout, was unable to provide any real form of resistance. While Caparello was slick enough to escape any trouble, he will have to work a bit harder to prove he is dynamic enough to have an impact against some of the division’s best.