By Jason Pribila, Ringside in Reading, USA: On Friday Night Al Haymon’s Premiere Boxing Champions on Spike TV broadcasted two live fights from the Santander Arena in Reading, USA. At the end of an uneven two hours both the pro and anti-Haymon crowd were able to walk away saying, “That’s what I’m talking about.”
In one bout we had a well matched and relevant battle for the vacant IBF lightweight title between Robert Easter Jr. and Richard Commey. This back and forth battle was that rare fight in which both fighters walked out of the ring as “winners”. That was followed by the Sequel to a bout that no one asked to see in the first place. Danny Jacobs and Sergio Mora traded knockdown when they first met, before Mora was forced to retire after breaking his ankle in the second round. Bad break for Mora, worse break for boxing fans.
Hindsight may be 20/20, but facts are facts. Not even the editors of the television show “The Contender” could make Mora a TV-Friendly fighter. Despite landing a flash knockdown vs Jacobs, he was in over his head during every other moment that they shared together in the ring. With such low expectations this fight should have supported an Easter Jr. – Commey main event. Unless, producers feared the television audience would have turned off the TV before ever making it to the main event?
I don’t have to worry about the ratings of cable television, so I will give Easter Jr. and Commey the main event treatment that it deserved.
Richard Commey (24-0, 22KO) Age 29 from Ghana vs Robert Easter Jr. (17-0, 14 KO)
The main event of the evening kicked off the televised portion of latest edition of the PBC on Spike TV. Two undefeated lightweights squared off to battle for the vacant IBF lightweight title when Toledo Ohio’s Robert Easter Jr. (17-0, 14 KO) matched his perfect record against the even glossier perfect record of Ghana’s Richard Commey (24-0, 22KO) .
Easter showed a national audience that he is a multi-dimensional fighter who could box, brawl, take the lead, counter, follow a game plan, all while learning on the fly. Yet, he was never really able to distance himself from the equally determined Commey.
The first third of the fight was like watching a game of high paced chess. While neither man was landing cleanly, it was evident that they were measuring each other and setting a few traps along the way.
When Easter took the lead, he did so behind his long jab. He made early deposits to the body, and was at his best when he forced Commey to the ropes. When Commey was the aggressor he relied on the thunder in his right hand to force Easter Jr. out of his comfort zone. Commey, however, sacrificed technique for aggression. He attached with wide punches that left him vulnerable for return fire up the middle.
Easter began to distance himself on my card when he began to land uppercuts that would temporarily stall Commey’s attack. By the midpoint of the fight he started to land clean shots to Commey’s head, and by round 7 he seemed to have Commey figured out.
However, as myself and Easter would learn, Commey had an equalizer attached to his right shoulder. When both fighters stepped forward it was Commey’s right that landed first. The impact buckled Easter, and he was awarded an extra point when Easter’s glove touched the canvas.
The flash knockdown inspired the three minutes of back and forth damage distribution in round nine. This round will be on the short list when year-end awards for best frames are n handed out.
Each fighter had their moments in the next two rounds, which led to a final round that as it turned out determined who would walk out of the ring as an undefeated titlist.
Easter would present his case loudly. A huge right hand brought the entire crowd to their feet, while almost knocking Commey off of his. The flurry that followed seemed destined to end with either a knockdown or knockout.
Commey survived, and then used his right hand to try to persuade the jury that his power was enough to have the verdict read in his favor.
Had this been a court a law, the three judges at ring side would have been a hung jury. We are fortunate that in boxing majority rules
Official Scores were read as 115-112 for Easter, 114-113 for Commey, and finally114-113 for the right
When the final score was announced the crowd erupted, and suddenly Easter was joined on the ring apron by the cast of “Straight Outta Toledo”.
Not sure what is next for Easter Jr., but from the number of people who traveled to see him fight, boxing could soon have another break out star.
Unfortunately, when the ring cleared, much of the buzz also left the arena. Easter-Commey had successfully turned Jacobs-Mora II into a “walk out bout”.
Middleweight titlist Danny Jacobs is one of the more likeable athletes in sports today. When he was able survive his most deadly opponent, Cancer, he was able to inspire both fans of the sport and beyond. The fact that this “survivor” was able to resume his career at the highest level allows him to continue to inspire mass audiences.
In December, he surprised many when he stopped the favored Peter Quillin in an all-Brooklyn battle at the Barclays Center in New York.
Unfortunately, he had his team failed to capitalize on that win by accepting a rematch against Sergio Mora in an arena two hours south of where he was establishing a fan base.
The only thing Mora brought to the ring was name recognition of those who remember him being crowned a “Contender” after the first season of the boxing reality show.
While Mora was still elusive and awkward early, his reflexes slowed to the point that all Jacobs needed to do was be patient.
Mora fought most of the seven rounds against the ropes, trying to avoid punches by bending at the waist. He seemed to hit the canvas each time he was hit cleanly. He would rise complaining about being hit illegally, as if he knew that a disqualification would be his only chance at victory.
Jacobs grew more dominant as the fight went on. He was credited with 5 knockdowns before the fight was finally waved off.
Jacobs best moment in the ring was when he stepped up and faced Quillin. He claimed after the fight he wants to fight GGG in December, assuming Golovkin is successful later today against Kell Brook.
Jacobs-GGG would be an interesting fight if it could be made. If not GGG, we need a legitimate middleweight in the opposite corner to bring validity to a belt that few recognize as being relevant.
The untelevised portion of the card was highlighted by the return to the ring of Reading, PA’s own, Travis Kauffman (31-1, 23 KO), who made short work of his hired opponent, Josh Gormley (22-6, 21 KO).
This was Kauffman’s first fight since he faced Chris Arreola on December 12. That fight was originally judged in favor of Arreola, despite many observers, including this writer, felt that Kauffman was a clear winner. The fight was later ruled a no-contest, as Arreola failed a post-fight drug test.
Unfortunately, the business of boxing rewarded Arreola with a title shot against Deontay Wilder. A fight that was a mismatch on paper resulted in Arreola breaking Wilder’s hand with his face.
Kauffman, meanwhile took the high road, and did his best to promote this stay busy fight in his home town.
Kauffman was the aggressor from the opening bell, and he dominated the action over the first three minutes. Kauffman used his light feet to get himself in position to land hooks, uppercuts, and straight rights.
When the second round began, Kauffman forced Gormley to the ropes, where Gormley crumbled to the canvas. While on the canvas Gormley was clearly in distress, but it was due to a shoulder injury rather than a Kauffman punch. Despite beating the count, when Gormley rose, he realized he would be unable to continue and he surrendered by taking a knee.
The fight was immediately waved off, and Kauffman was declared the winner by TKO, 40 seconds into round two.
Jason Pribila is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He could be reached for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter.com @PribsBoxing.