By Derek Gionta, ringside: "Lightning" Rod Salka’s Team Salka Promotions and SLG Entertainment presented their third installment of the "Lightning Strikes" series at the Greentree Sports Complex in the Greentree section of Pittsburgh on Saturday night (6/23) with a five bout card headlined by Salka himself.
Salka, 16-1 (3), of Bunola, PA, earned a hard fought split decision over eight rounds against Ghana native Joseph "Mandingo" Laryea, 14-7 (11).
Salka began the fight circling his taller opponent, who stood at nearly 6’. Quick two-punch combos to the head and body of Laryea were enough to seal the rounds. Laryea worked behind a snapping left jab but failed to land anything behind it in the early stages.
Laryea’s punch output increased in the third, as he landed a left hook to the head early in the round, and a right hand to the body, the two most telling blows of the round.
Laryea found more success in the fifth round. As Salka back peddled near Laryea’s corner, he slipped and nearly fell to the canvas. Laryea capitalized on the action and landed a few good shots, again the most telling of the round.
Salka regrouped and finished strong, but most likely lost the round.
As the final three rounds approached Salka needed to stay out of Laryea’s range and box the same way he did for most of the fight to secure the win. Laryea had a good seventh round, fighting at a favorable back and forth pace.
Salka had a good final round circling Laryea and landing crisp jabs. Short two-punch combinations were the best Salka could do for the most part but it was enough in the end. The judges scored the bout 78-74 and 77-75 Salka, and 77-75 for Laryea. The two fought in the junior welterweight division.
Salka commented after the fight, "He was a tough opponent. His height and jab made things a little more difficult. It was hard to land more than two punches at a time."
Former heavyweight champion Michael Moorer worked the corner of Salka along with Buzz Garnic. This was the first time Moorer worked the corner of Salka and plans to continue working with him in the future.
In the co-feature bout of the night heavyweight Jason "Iron Man" Bergman, 19-9-2 (13), of Adah, PA, won a fifth round TKO over Julius "Towering Inferno" Long, 15-17 (13), of Detroit, MI, as Long did not answer the bell for the sixth and final round.
The fight looked to be even after the first two rounds as Bergman stayed in close range of his 7’ opponent.
Bergman suffered a cut over his right eye in the opening round, which was ruled an accidental head butt. Long was hit with a low blow during the second round, which was a foreshadowing of events to come as the fight progressed.
Long landed a big left hook to the head of Bergman in the third, shaking him up for a brief moment. Shortly thereafter, Bergman landed another low blow, causing Long to fall to the canvas. Executive director of the PA commission, Greg Sirb, signaled to referee Rick Steigerwald, who was out of view of the low blow, to deduct a point.
As the fourth round began, both fighters looked fatigued. Long then landed a low blow of his own on Bergman. No point was deducted for the low blow. Bergman overcame the blow and size differential, managing to score a knockdown towards the end of the round with a hard two-punch combo.
In round five Long was then deducted another point, this time for holding. Bergman scored two more knockdowns to follow, increasing the separation on the scorecards. As the round came to a close, Long’s corner decided they have seen enough, stopping the fight seconds into the break.
Bergman commented after the fight, "His size made things difficult. I think that caused a lot of the fouls on both ends. It was a rough fight."
Long shared his thoughts on the bout in the locker room afterwards. "I feel he should’ve been DQ’d after the second low blow. I caught him with some good shots. The cut over his right eye was from an overhand right."
Monessen, PA welterweight Samuel Vasquez Jr., 3-0 (2), continued his winning ways by scoring a dominant first round knockout over Gabriel Morris, 4-20-2, of Toledo, Ohio. Vasquez scored two knockdowns in the opening round, the latter of the two from a right hook that sent Morris to the canvas and the towel to the center of the ring, compliments of the Morris corner. Vasquez plans to get back in the ring for his fourth pro fight July 14th.
Heavyweight Daniel Martz, 4-0 (3), of West Virginia, knocked out Paul "Zeus" Zalus, 4-2 (4), of West Deer, PA, in the opening round of a scheduled four. The fight began with back and forth trading of power punches. Martz imposed his will, opening a flurry of punches on Zalus, finally sending him to the canvas after the ropes held his fall. Zalus, coming back from a two year layoff, got back on his feet by referee Rick Steigerwald’s eight count, but did not have his legs under him to continue, which prompted the stoppage at the 2:28 mark of the round.
In the opening bout of the night "Soldier" Larry Blakely, 1-0, of Pittsburgh, won a four round unanimous decision over fellow Pittsburgh middleweight John Fairley, 2-5. The debuting Blakely boxed well from his southpaw stance, allowing minimal openings for the looping punches of Fairley in the opening round. Action continued as such until the later stages of the third round when Fairley, sporting a slightly bruised face, was able to pick up the pace and land some big punches on Blakely, who was in retreat mode for a small portion of the round. Blakely returned to his corner with a cut over his right eye and much
needed rest time. The final round was an exciting back and forth battle as Blakely used his slick boxing skills to overcome his resilient opponent’s late surge. Final tallies were 39-37 across the board for Blakely, matching my score from ringside.
The two previous "Lightning Strikes" fight cards were held in Elizabeth, PA in August of 2011 and this past April. A potential August fight card is on the board for Team Salka Promotions.
June 23, 2012