By JR. Jowett reporting from ringside: It has been nearly 40 years since there was boxing in Bayonne, NJ. But LGM Prom’ns (Nick Jayme), after two cards at other venues, presented their third show at the Pavilion there on 8/27/16. Chuck Wepner was there and all was right with the world. The venue is basically just a large tent over a steel framework, but not a bad site. Set up for circa 550, the show lost a couple ticket sellers through fallouts and so there were some empty seats. All seven of matchmaker Jose Rosario’s undercard bouts resulted in wins for the favorites and only the top six rounder was really competitive. Yet the action was still good and produced several surprises. Then the evening ended with a bang-up main event that extended well beyond the final bell! Ring announcer Henry Hascup played a role in the closing dramatics. Marc “The King” Abrams was publicist.
The main event eight was a first rate local showdown between returning Alex Perez, 146 ¼, Newark, 18-3 (10), and Juan Rodriguez, 145 ¼, Union City, 13-4-2 (5).The increasingly cosmopolitan nature of boxing through expanding worldwide media makes these local battles for bragging rights less and less common. But they can still produce memorable experience for those fortunate enough to catch a show. By objective analysis, Perez should have won this. But he didn’t. Alex’s tragic downfall began as early as the first round when he lunged awkwardly with an overhand left and his deeply trailing foot slipped out from under him and he went to the canvas. Referee Eric Dali ruled a knockdown over Alex’s protests, no doubt giving Rodriguez a jump start in what was otherwise no more than a feelout round.
The fight really started in round two when both contestants, lefties both, began bailing out with sweeping shots aiming for the bleachers. For the rest of the battle, little attention was paid to scoring points while, as is common in local showdowns, nearly every shot was fired with bad intentions. The frequent misses were enough to set up a breeze on a hot night, but were offset by the constant sense of urgency that a contest fought on these terms generates. Perez jolted Rodriguez with some full-swing shots to establish a lead, but Juan surged after landing a clobbering right hand, bringing up the crowd and stealing the round. Action was suspended in the third for the doctor to check a cut between Rodriguez’ eyes, but it played no role. The two continued with wild exchanges often highlighted by big misses even at close range, an especially odd tactic for the rangy Perez. Rodriguez began circling the ring in round four, although Alex caught up to him and poured it on.
Perez landed an inadvertent left in round six that stung Rodriguez, but in frenetic exchanging Alex got a cut left eye, bringing up Juan’s fans and spurring him to rally. In the seventh, Perez should have finally put the frustrating contest away. He didn’t. Trapping Rodriguez in almost a sitting position against the ropes in a corner, Perez brought up a crushing left from the floor and Juan sagged to the canvas like a rag doll. It should have been over. It wasn’t. Rodriguez regained his feet by an amazing act of will but was badly shaken and his posture seemed to lack anything holding it upright. The referee checked him carefully and ruled Juan fit to continue. Shortly after, he got what may have been a saving break by losing his mouthpiece, necessitating a delay. With the crowd going crazy and plenty of time, Alex gunned for the home run while the wobbly Juan miraculously stayed on his feet, lurching this way and that, and getting out of the round.
Everything was on the line in the final round and it was all Rodriguez. Many fighters would have just tried to go the distance, but to his credit, Juan made it a whole new contest. With Alex still looking for the finisher, Juan circled and dodged, stuck out his hands and scored points, while leaving Perez swinging at the empty spot where Juan had been. Then came the decision! Steve Weisfeld scored for Perez, 76-75. Lindsey Page scored for Rodriguez, 76-74. Lawrence Layton had 76-76. It was a draw! No one was satisfied; nothing decided. But wait! It wasn’t over yet! The arena began to empty, until an uproar erupted behind the curtains where the fighters were changing. Some thought a scuffle had broken out, but no. It was Rodriguez fans celebrating the news! Hascup noted that Layton’s card was reportedly even after seven, yet he had scored the eighth for Rodriguez. How could it then be a draw? It wasn’t. Layton’s corrected card read 76-75, making Rodriguez the winner! Rematch in order? The way boxing is now conducted, don’t hold your breath. Everyone will just move on…
In a huff-‘n’-puffer, popular Tyrell Wright, 242 ¼, Jersey City, 9-0-1 (6), lumbered and mauled his way to a unanimous decision over Nicholas Thompson, 271 ½, Burlington, NC, six. It wasn’t exciting, but it was competitive. All the rounds followed a pattern; Thompson would come out throwing punches, get a lead, and then the bulky local favorite would close in, bulldoze him around the ring and along the ropes, shoving and landing a shot here and there while forging ahead in the round. In the fifth, Thompson got some daylight as Wright was tiring from his own efforts and began giving ground. As long as he had room, Thompson could score, and he got the early lead in the closing round. But midway, Wright landed a clumsy left that jolted Thompson, and from there Tyrell was spurred on to pull out the round and nail down the decision. Page scored 60-54, the others 59-55.
In another heavyweight bruiser, Egor Plevako, 228 ¼, Kharkiv, Ukraine, who was either debuting or entering at 2-2 (1) depending on the accounting, battered Kenny Cruz, 241 ½, Bayamon, PR, 0-2-1, through four grueling rounds. The tall and lanky Ukrainian stood straight up, doubled the left to body and head, and dropped in right leads. The squat underdog dutifully took his beating, scoring a counter here and there to stay in the fight but never putting anything together enough to turn it around. Weisfeld scored 40-35, Layton 40-36, and Page 39-37.
Magdiel Cotto, 162, Comerio, PR, 5-0 (4), dished out a ferocious body beating to poor debuting Jermaine Corley, 164, Concord, NC, four. The shifty southpaw underdog, wearing a full beard, managed to stay in the fight in round one with some flashy defensive slipping. But when Cotto began going underneath to the body in round two, it was over. The shots twice caused Corley to spit out his mouthpiece and referee Robert Ali Bashir penalized him. The next two got even worse and it was another small miracle on a show that had several that Corley made it to the decision. Bashir could have stopped it, with Corley doubling over in pain, but he made it to the cards. Page 40-34, the others 40-32.
A one-sided but still entertaining four ended abruptly and strangely when ref Ali Bashir DQ’d Lamont White, 141, Wash., DC, 0-3, at 2:29 of the final round. White looked physically fit and sleek, but just wasn’t strong enough to hold off no-nonsense Caleb Hernandez, 145 ½, Paterson, 3-0 (1). The flat-footed favorite effectively walked down the shifty underdog and unceremoniously clobbered him. White tried turning southpaw in the second, but it didn’t help. Hopelessly behind in the final round, Lamont staged a mini rally, first running and then whirling and scoring a good right on the pursuer. But after a rabbit punch, Ali Bashir stopped the action to issue a penalty. When White disdainfully shook him off, the ref rightly disqualified him.
Leon Johnson, 199, Paterson, 2-0 (2), wowed his fans with an eye-catching one-punch TKO of well-worn Alando Pugh, 235, Wash., DC, 1-9-1, in 2:46 of the first of four. Alando exploded out with a two-fisted attack, but when that fizzled, the favorite began to find his groove. Alando was still active with sneak shots until Leon confused him with a chest-beating display of bravado, then crossed him up with a sweeping right uppercut that sprawled the blubbery Pugh on his back, where referee Dali called a halt.
Popular John Bauza, 138, N. Bergen, 3-0 (2), pleased his fans while battering game Jose Carmona, 138, Carolina, PR, 1-6 (1), in a one-sided yet lively four. Carmona tried a hands-high peekaboo defense but that wasn’t enough to keep the southpaw Bauza’s punches from repeatedly getting through the radar and finding the target. Carmona was nearly gone in the first when cleaned up by combos. In the 3rd, Bauza deftly shook off a clinch and drilled him with a left cross, rocking and punishing him to the bell. Carmona scored a minor moral victory by lasting the distance, as Page scored 40-36, the others 40-35.
Prospect Luis Perozo, 129, NYC, 3-0 (2), got nothing but a W out of hopeless Christian Foster, 130, Alexandria, VA, 0-2, belting him out in 41 seconds of a scheduled four. The victim couldn’t fight a lick, standing up straight, hopping around and flailing with both hands at the same time. Perozo smoked the body, drove him against the ropes, and buried him with a right to the head. Ref Ali Bashir called a TKO without bothering to count.