J. R. Jowett reporting from ringside: Boxing in the Tidewater area hasn’t been the same once Pernell Whitaker was gone. But the resources and infra-structure are here, and promoter Richard B. Ashby (RBA Prom’ns) intends to revive it. A medical doctor with a family practice, Ashby got interested in promoting through an ex-boxer patient, former DC lightweight Keely Thompson. Building from ground level, Ashby presented a small but exciting show at the VA-Live Entertainment Complex in Chesapeake. Taking advantage of Presidents’ Day, the show was a rare Monday night offering. Even more rare, ticket prices were reasonable!
Matchmaker Jerry Hill put together a six-bout card, reduced to five, that didn’t last long but offered some explosive action. In the ring with announcer “Discombobulating” Jones prior to the main event, the promoter told the crowd it would feature “…two of the mouthiest boxers in the area, talking trash across the tunnel.” The scheduled six “grudge” match had Bobby Jordan Jr., 181, 10-3-1 (6), squaring off with Robert Jackson Jr., 178, 6-20 (5), both from Norfolk. Jackson exploded out at first bell with a wild, flailing attack that immediately brought up the crowd. Jordan coolly waited him out and then got the range. A spearing straight right lead jolted Robert into the ropes where a combo had him sagging with the strands holding him up. Referee Chris Wollesen jumped in, many thought he was stopping the fight, but only to administer a count.
It was only a brief respite. Jackson was wobbled in an exchange, and then another straight right sent him careening. Propped in a corner, the stricken fighter was raked with lefts and rights until he began to slump down. Wollesen jumped in again, but Jackson was on his way to the canvas, and took the ref down with him! That was enough, at 2:24 of the first. No one seemed to mind the brevity; the crowd was going crazy.
The semi-final six didn’t last even that long. In a pairing of southpaws, unbeaten Jerry Forrest, 234, Newport News, 5-0 (4), met unbeaten Tracey Johnson, 210, Boston, 1-1-2. Sounds like a challenging match, but Forrest used his size advantage…in an unusual way. The stubby underdog got his left arm around Forrest, who clamped it with his own right, and then clobbered him with a left behind the ear. Tracey collapsed to the canvas with a look of surprise and protest. Johnson got up a bit wobbly, got out of it, but then fell into the same clinch. This time, two big lefts folded him again, and Wollesen called a TKO, at 2:07, over Tracey’s complaints.
Popular Keith Robertson, 196, Chesapeake, debuted with some buzz, and didn’t disappoint against winless Kenneth Farr, 200, Wash., DC, via Rocky Mount, NC, 0-8, in a scheduled four. The stubby underdog, boxing off a squared stance, spent the entire first round blocking the rangy favorite’s busy jab. In the second, he began to answer back some, but paid a price. Evidently hoping to taunt the superior boxer into making a mistake, Farr began feinting and clowning. When he leaned back in a corner with both arms on the ropes, inviting destruction, Wollesen headed him off with a TKO, at 1:30. Kenny protested futilely. Fans celebrated, unperturbed by the unconventional ending.
Earl “The Bull” Platt, 190, VA Bch, 3-0 (3), came out ambitiously firing overhand rights in a scheduled four against weak-kneed Joshua Nelson, 186, Wilson, NC, 0-3. When the non-combative underdog tried ducking inside, The Bull brought up the right from underneath and dropped him twice. The second time, Nelson made no effort to rise and ref Mike Davis called a TKO at 1:46 of round one.
The opening four was the only bout that lasted the distance. Debuting Maurice Holley, 258, Norfolk, faced Antonio Robertson, 225, Sampson, NC, 0-4-1. An earnest tactical contest, it nonetheless lacked sustained action or clean punching. The towering favorite switched stances behind a long jab. The underdog tried to lure him into right hand counters, but the lanky local was able to pull away and take the sting off the blows. The third had the only excitement, when Antonio tried to step in, got his feet square, and was hit by a left-right from orthodox stance and sent down. He was unhurt and no fireworks ensued. All judges (Alisha Meneses, Joe Bernier, Clark Walters) scored 39-36 for Holley.
The show didn’t end with the main event. Another local favorite, Frankie Filippone, was in the ring with his recently-won belt, and Jordan was all ready to take it away. Additional players joined in the spirited banter in which they did everything but call each other pencil-necked geeks, while setting the stage for the next level of local competition. Then most of the full house of around 200 adjourned to the bar. The card was over by nine, but the evening was still much alive. Grassroots shows like this can’t be compared on the same level with major metropolitan offerings. But once accepted on their own terms, they can be a lot of fun and surprises.
February 19, 2013