By Jason Pribila, ringside in Allentown: Midway through the main event, promoter/trainer Marshall Kauffman yelled to his fighter Keenan Collins, “What are you waiting for?” While one is not sure if Kauffman was referring to his current rematch against George Rivera, or Collins’ 9-year career in general; but it was clear that Collins got the message.
Collins (15-7-3, 10 KO) was entering his thirteenth straight round against Rivera when he finally began to fight with a sense of urgency. After spending four rounds following Rivera, Collins began to let his hands go. A big looping right hand buckled Rivera, and inspired Collins to reluctantly begin to come forward. Another big right hand punctuated the round, and tightened things up on the scorecards.
In round six it was clear that Rivera was gassed and ripe for the taking. Collins continued to move forward, but at the pace of a person walking down a ramp into cold water. He won the round by default rather than committing to taking a plunge.
Collins found his stroke in the seventh. He began ripping shots to the exposed ribs of his stationary opponent, adding uppercuts when they presented themselves to him. An exhausted Rivera fought off the ropes one punch at a time during the rounds second minute. That would prove to be Rivera’s last stand, as Collins finished the round strongly to take a 67-66 lead on my scorecard.
Midway through the final round I felt as if I was going to have to change my headline. Collins was again failing to let his hands go, and looked as if he’d allow Rivera to steal the final round and salvage another Draw. Instead Collins again unleashed a looping right that sent Rivera to the canvas. Rivera tried to hold on until he walked into another right hand that sent him to the canvas face first. Rivera did everything he could to beat the count, but when he rose on unsteady legs referee Gary Rosato waved off the bout at 2:15 of the eighth and final round.
Collins got his revenge 10 months after their original fight was ruled a draw. He vows to stay busy in 2013, with the hopes of getting the chance to test his skills against an up and coming prospect. He is realistic that his path to a career payday is through the loser’s bracket as someone else’s B-side.
At 36-years old, Collins’ window is closing. Even if he got that call, one wonders if he would seize that opportunity. But, as Collins proved on Friday Night, the pop in his right hand could suddenly force a writer to change the headline of his story.
The best prospect on the card was clearly middleweight John Thompson of Newark, NJ. Thompson (11-0, 4KO) dominated the game but out-gunned Grayson Blake through five rounds when the fight was stopped at the recommendation of the ringside physician (cuts).
Thompson will celebrate his 24th birthday before his next scheduled bout in New Jersey on March 15. Thompson is tall and athletic and possesses a weapon of a jab. The fight came easy to him when he doubled up the jab and followed with his straight right hand.
For most of the bout Thompson was effective at standing his ground and fighting well on the inside, but he also was guilty of backing straight back with his chin up and exposed. That should be the first thing that his trainer Buddy McGirt works on him with when they get back in the gym.
Thompson got good exposure on the undercard of Cotto-Trout in December, and he is continuing a brisk pace in 2013. If you are going to a live bout in the North East you may want to get to your seats early if Thompson is on the bout sheet.
The final bout of the evening featured a one-sided yet entertaining heavyweight scrap between hometown favorite William Miranda (6-6-2, 1KO) and Newark’s Aaron Kinch (5-1-1, 1KO). Kinch pitched a shut-out on all three judges’ cards, but the bloodied Miranda gained more fans while ensuring everyone got their monies worth.
Miranda is popular because of the every-man approach he takes when entering. He seems to spend the majority of his prize money covering is soft frame with tattoos. He is not technically sound, nor does he possess one-punch power. He does, however, fight for three full minutes of every round. He continues to come forward no matter how many punches he absorbs en route, and he’s heard the final bell in each of his losses.
On this night, however, there were several people that should have pulled the plug early to ensure that the 34 year old Miranda is able to squeeze in as many paydays as he can. The 33-year old Kinch is by no means a world-beater, but he was clearly the bigger, stronger, and more athletic man in the ring. He was able to tee off and score at will to Miranda’s body before and after opening a nasty gash over Miranda’s eye in the third.
The fight was halted as the ringside physician took a look midway through the third. He allowed Miranda to finish the round. At that point there was no point for the bout to continue. Miranda was down 3-0 on the cards. He doesn’t possess the power to change the tide, and now he was compromised by fighting with impaired vision.
Those even braver than Miranda allowed the fight to continue and it reached the final bell. Kinch won every round on all three judges’ cards, while Miranda absorbed more punishment. Miranda was never seriously hurt, and I suppose he deserved the right to continue to fight, but for me it ended an otherwise fun night on a bit of a sour note.