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21 NOVEMBER 2018

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Howard Theatre Opens For Boxing In DC

J.R. Jowett reporting from ringside: On Saturday(Aug 12), husband & wife promoters Jarod & Tatiana Moton (Nations Fight Night) ran the first-ever pro boxing show at the Howard Theatre in Washington, DC.


The century-old classic pre-tech theater had thankfully been restored and flourishing in the Florida Avenue district. A packed house of something around 600 saw a lively show that was a matchmaker’s dream; eight bouts in which the underdogs failed to win a single round and yet provided lively and entertaining scraps. Back on his home turf, Chris Middendorf was matchmaker. DJ Fatz DaPlug of R&G Entertainment did a civil job on the PA system, providing pleasant contrast to the torture of the night before in Philly. The Backyard Band put on a mini concert at halftime, making for a kinetic night of entertainment.


There was no main event as such, but in the top bout, Patrick Harris, 140 ¼, Hyattsville, MD, 12-0 (7), met Jesus Lule, 141, Ft Myers, FL, 11-23-1 (2), in a six. Seeing the popular underdog fight is an experience in itself. He bopped into the ring first and danced around to lively Mexican music. His style is his own. He has no punch…in more ways than one. He can’t break a window, yet attacks fearlessly. He has no jab, no hook, no straight right, no one-two, nothing that could be distinguished as a combination. He just wades in and wails away at close quarters, getting hit with everything the opponent can muster yet never hurt or deterred. And so it was that the two raised the roof with six rounds of non-stop battling. Despite parity in weights, the gnome-like Jesus always appears at least a division smaller than his opponent. The popular southpaw favorite outfought him in the early going with a good body attack. There’s no getting away from him, but beginning in the third, Patrick was able to step back and fire before Jose closed in. In the fifth, something remarkable happened. Harris was able to momentarily stop Lule in his tracks with a thudding body blow. But the underdog quickly regrouped and maintained the hectic attack through the final round. Of course, all cards were shutouts for Harris (Wayne Smith, Tammyi Jenkins, Paul Wallace), but Lule romped around the ring and prolonged the spotlight.


By contrast, in the lone eight, Jaron Ennis, 146, Phila., 14-0 (12), demolished Ricardo Cano, 152, Guadalajara, 17-14-5 (10), in just 40 seconds. Although ring announcer “Discombobulating” Jones gave him a buildup as “un hombre malo” (“bad man”), the woebegone underdog looked like he was going to his death. The hairless Cano was drawn and pallid as he waited for the imminent execution. The contest barely started before they engaged in a sizzling exchange in which Ennis nailed him with a sharp, short right cross. Cano wobbled back into a neutral corner, where Jaron ripped a combo to the body and another crushing right to the skull. Ricardo collapsed back onto his elbows and surrendered, as referee Sharon Sands counted him out.


In a gem for the purist, Kareem Martin, 148, DC, 9-1-1 (3), pitched a unanimous shutout of Evincii Dixon, 147 ¼, Lancaster, PA, 7-19-2 (2), six. The contest gained momentum but was never out of control. The compact favorite began by whacking the body as Dixon kept his guard up high around the head. In the second, Evincii began to try countering. In the third, “Reemo” countered the countering with slick breaks and slips reminiscent of the schooled master boxers of the ‘50s. This carried him through a heated fourth and crested in the fifth, in which Dixon…no bum…dropped his hands and turned away in frustration.


Two women’s contests were also highlights. Tiara Brown, 133 ½, Bladensburg, MD, 3-0 (2), faced well-traveled Tammy Franks, 133 ¼, San Antonio, 2-29-1, scheduled four two-minute rounds. Good exchanging provided excitement through the first, with the slick favorite gathering momentum as she began to put more behind straight, solid rights, then rattled Franks with a left hook just before the bell. In the second, it was all over, as Brown found a groove and was tattooing the willing but progressively unraveling opponent until referee Brent Bovell called a halt, at 0:49.


Franchon Crews-Dezurn, 171 ¼, Balto., 2-1 (1), got all she wanted in a crowd-pleasing four (two minutes) with Sydney LaBlanc, 167, NOLA, 4-3-1. The rugged LeBlanc forced the action and was more than willing to trade, but was a plodder. The quicker local favorite was able to dance around her and fire withering combos that nonetheless never discouraged the tough visitor. In the second, Crews worked her over on the ropes until she got tired of hitting her and stepped away. LeBlanc stood her ground and motioned Franchon to come on, while the crowd went crazy. Action continued rugged to the final bell, with the sturdy underdog in pursuit but the favorite able to out-maneuver and out-punch her. All scores 40-36.


Brandun Lee, 143, Coachella, CA, 5-0 (4), fought Roy Garcia, 139 ¾, Agua Dulce, TX, 4-25-1 (3), to a standstill in 1:23 of the second of four. Taking advantage of the lack of threat from the compact opponent, the rangy favorite hotdogged through a spirited first, winding up his punches and taking full swings fearlessly. In the second, the already wide-open contest escalated. Lee trapped Garcia in a neutral corner and belabored him unmercifully until a left hook to the liver forced Roy to take flight. In hot pursuit, Lee tracked him down and hammered away at full abandon with Garcia able to do nothing but cover until referee Sands stopped it.


Even the comedy bout pleased fans, as popular Tyrek Irby, 142 ½, Hyattsville, 6-2 (2), blew out unskilled Anthony Alston, 140 ¾, Raleigh, 0-2, in 58 seconds of a scheduled four. The opponent couldn’t fight a lick, but briefly engaged in a mad scramble until Irby was able to find the range and put him away. Alston leaned awkwardly straight back form punches and B-word slapped wildly, while the southpaw favorite stayed cool and measured him for a straight left that buried him. Dave Braslow refereed.


Shyngyskhan Tazhibay, 146 ¼, Karaganda, Kazakhstan, 5-0 (2), and Robert Hill, 144 ½, Biloxi, 7-34-1 (1), opened in a good four. Shyngy fought out of a deep stance at middle range, had the better hands and went over and under in steady trading, at times trying to put it together to get Hill out of there. But the southpaw veteran hung in, “gave rounds”, and was by no means disgraced as Tazhibay won by unanimous shutout (Jenkins, Smith, & Eric Irizarry).

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