By J. R. Jowett reporting from ringside: Once again, Turning Stone Casino in Verona, NY, ran a show in opposition to the annual Int’l Boxing Hall of Fame dinner in nearby Canastota. Art Pelullo’s Banner Prom’ns, with matchmaker Alex Camponovo and publicist Marc Abrams, combined with Showtime and drew a nice crowd of around 3000 on 6/11/16. Timekeeper Bill Maxeiner gave the final count to Muhammad Ali.
The main event was a 12 between Ruslan Provodnikov, 140, Berezovo, Russia, 25-5 (18), and John Molina, 140, Covina, CA, 29-6 (23). This was a good fight that saved an otherwise unspectacular card with action, drama, and style. The compact and decidedly smaller Russian did what was expected and attacked immediately, boring in behind clean, straight shots. In round two, Molina found some room to begin working a paintbrush jab and the fight was on! The ever shifting pattern would keep the crowd on edge for the rest of the night with first one, then the other, forcing the contest onto their own terms. Before the second ended, Molina also showed an ability to infight effectively, making for some solid trading and no laugher for the Russian even when he bored in. The third and fourth were bitterly contested rounds with both fighters alternatively taking the lead.
Molina began to forge ahead in the fifth and sixth when he was able to work his jab and keep the action at long range. Ruslan’s left eye became puffy, and in the sixth, John began reaching him with rights. Action peaked in the next two as Provodnikov willed himself back into the fight with a vigorous attack and some solid shots as he closed in. But he never put punches together and Molina stayed busy. No one applied himself strongly in the ninth, but in the final three rounds, Provodnikov was noticeably held at bay by John’s longer punches, circling from the rim of action instead of applying his trademark penetration. There wasn’t a dull round, and when it ended, the outcome was still in doubt. But when Ruslan began circling wide in the late rounds, that was a harbinger of the outcome. John McKaie scored 117-111, Don Ackerman 116-112, and Glen Feldman 115-113, all for Molina. Mark Nelson refereed.
If the favorite hadn’t salvaged it in the last two rounds, the “title eliminator” between Demetrius Andrade, 154, Providence, 23-0 (16), and Willie Nelson, 154, Cleveland, 25-3-1 (15), would have eliminated them both. Nelson was into the final round of a scheduled 12 before being stopped. The southpaw Andrade circled and danced around the lanky, straight-up Nelson, getting a volley of punches started with a straight left and finishing with a right hook to drop Willie late in the first. Willie trudged after him all night but was unable to track him down. He had one brief moment when he scored an inside right in the third, but otherwise it was all Andrade. By the fifth, Demetrius was throwing lurching kangaroo punches, sometimes spinning off balance. But his opponent was unable to capitalize. By the seventh, the crowd was getting restless, as Nelson wrestled Andrade to the canvas. A late rally by Demetrius in the eighth brought the fans back, and when he rallied again late in the penultimate round, a left at last sent Willie to the canvas. Determined to put on a grand finish, Demetrius let it all go in the final round, dropping Willie with a right hook and left and then again with a right hook, as referee Dick Pakozdi stopped it, at 1:38.
And this is what the WBC called a world lightweight title bout? On an undercard, no less? Does anyone remember Duran, Whitaker, or Mayweather? Or Leonard, Williams, Montgomery, Jack, Brown, and Ortiz? That didn’t stop the WBC from condoning a scheduled 12 between Dejan Zlaticanin, 134, Podgorica, Montenegro, 134, 22-0 (15), and Franklin Mamani, 133 ½, La Paz, Bolivia, 21-2-2 (12), as for the lightweight title. It didn’t even make the press kit!
The fight nearly ended with the opening exchange, when the two tore into each other at close range and the southpaw Zlaticanin wobbled Mamani with a short left cross. The Bolivian scrambled and got out of the round. But he was right back in trouble in the second when he stood like a deer in the headlights and got plastered with a wide open left hand sucker punch that sagged him almost to the floor with feet in opposite directions, then stumbling backward into the ropes. Zlaticanin missed numerous flailing punches before the desperate Mamani grabbed him around the waist and slumped to the canvas. Referee Charlie Fitch ruled no knockdown. Zlaticanin then crucified him, with ropes holding Mamani up, and Fitch stopped it, at 0:54. It was a good fight while it lasted, had it been the main event of a club show. It was not championship quality, but then who cares?
It wasn’t an action contest, but held tactical interest, and moreover, delighted local fans when Willie Monroe, Jr., 160, Rochester, 20-2 (6), completely dominated John Thompson, 159, Newark, 17-3 (6), 10. In a pairing of southpaws, Monroe got the quick jump when he scored a surprise knockdown in round two. After Willie put over two long rights to the body, Thompson tried to counter. But a left cross spun him face-first to the canvas, although not badly hurt. The contest then settled into an odd game of chicken, with both fighters freezing and daring the other to commit. Monroe established a pattern of winning these exchanges by darting in and out, scoring and spinning away from Thompson’s weakly committed, chopping counters. In the fifth, Willie unceremoniously dropped him again with a straight right to the kisser. John got up laughing with embarrassment, but Willie treated him to some serious workover until lapsing back into the waiting game. Thompson then switched orthodox in the seventh, but it did nothing. Willie was taken a bit off his game and scored less, but Thompson was unable to get an offense going, and the fans were quite satisfied when Monroe got the unanimous decision. Don Ackerman scored 96-92, Wynn Kintz had the best score at 99-89, and Glen Feldman somehow came up with a jaw-dropping 95-93!
It wasn’t pretty, but fans enjoyed a heavyweight clobberfest between Andrey Fedosov, 222 ½, Shuya, Russia, via Hollywood, 28-3 (24), and Mario Heredia, 286, Juarez, 13-2 (11), scheduled 10. Heredia established a jab but little else. Fedosov measured him for the inside left hook and once he got the range, Heredia was down in four straight rounds before Pakozdi had seen enough and stopped it, at 1:33 of the sixth. The Baby Huey-like Heredia wouldn’t keep his guard up but tried pulling away, a la Ali. It worked for Muhammad, not for Mario. The stocky, muscular Russian bored in and brought the hook, breaking the fight open with a knockdown late in the third after some heated trading. In the fourth, again late, after a weak Mario jab, the hook dropped him again, even though the punch didn’t look all that potent. Near the end of round five, Heredia was leaning his bulk on the ropes when Fedosov ripped a three punch combo off the hook, and down went Mario. Finally in the sixth, an inside hook provided the final knockdown, with Heredia just looking resigned to his fate.
Popular Stivens Bujaj, 200, Westchester County, NY, 16-0-1 (11), delighted fans by quickly polishing off Sergio Ramirez, 198 ¼, Tijuana, 11-1 (7), in a scheduled four. The fireplug Mexican engaged in a crackling exchange but held his hands low and was nailed by a beauty of a left hook. When the same shot immediately dropped him a second time, referee Fitch called a TKO, 1:09 of the opening round.
Oscar Sarmiento, 146, Los Mochis, MX, 3-0-1 (1), dropped the first to Jose Miguel de la Rosa, 144 ½, Queens, 3-1 (1), but figured out Jose’s long, awkwardly reaching punches and took over. The New Yorker was reduced to occasional popshots as the Mexican took it to him with long, solid blows to win a unanimous 39-37 verdict.
Miguel Trejo, 152 ½, Anaheim, 5-0 (4), was just too big and strong, walked through poor Latorie Woodberry, 148 ½, Roanoke, 0-2-1, in a scheduled four. Latorie was dropped twice by big rights to the ear, bouncing up and protesting Pakozdi’s stoppage at 1:27 of round one.