By J. R. Jowett reporting from ringside: A successful boxing program at Harrah’s Chester Casino in Chester, PA, continued with a state lightweight title contest on 9/14/12. With a typically anxious Russell Peltz eying the prospects from the seats, promoters Joey Eye (Intrieri) and David Feldman pitted Naim Nelson, 133 ½, Phila., 8-0 (1), and Victor Vasquez, 134, Phila., 15-7-1 (7), for the coveted crown. The spirited contest proved to be a throwback to the do-or-die Philly rivalries that made a young Peltz the Boy Wonder of the ‘70s. Matchmakers Nick Tiberi and Zach Pomilio filled the undercard with young hopefuls in tough competition, but leave it to the commission to ruin the event with the obligatory horrible decision!
After a cautious first round in which Vasquez was a bit busier, the bigger and more stylish Nelson began working his left in the second. Naim was controlling the round until the roof fell in! Coming off an exchange, Victor cracked a last-tap left hook, and augmented it by stepping on Naim’s foot as he reeled back. Nelson sprawled to the canvas and referee Shawn Clark gave him a count. Worse, a wicked cut was opened in a bad spot, the inside of the right eye. Nelson scrambled out of the round, but it looked like the fight was over.
But he came out for the third and risked everything in possibly the most heated round of the fight. With the crowd going crazy, the two mixed it up as the cut poured. Nelson gained an edge, but tangled footwork trying to elude Victor’s attack had him stumbling at the bell, and reminded the excited crowd that this could be over at any moment.
Beginning in the fourth, however, action settled into a hard-fought but contained pattern; Nelson circling and boxing, Vasquez stalking and looking for another lightning bolt. A spirited exchange finished the fifth, as Vasquez tried to force Nelson off his game and the contest into a shootout. But Naim was a match, either boxing or trading. The cut continued to plague him intermittently, but the combination of cutman Jimmy Williams’ game-saving work and Naim’s composure under pressure kept him focused on the task instead of allowing the cut to dictate the terms, as so often happens.
In the final four, action settled to mid-range with less movement and more on the punches. Nelson’s counter left hook tormented the ever-advancing Victor. Vasquez shook him with a surprise right in the eighth, but it was otherwise Nelson’s round. Victor kept up the pressure and broke through in a close ninth, while the tenth finished the fight appropriately with no-nonsense trading won by Naim with a couple of sustained volleys. Nelson gained the unanimous verdict, 98-91 from Pierre Benoist, 97-92 from Dave Braslow, and 96-93 by Allen Rubenstein.
“I knew he can’t really fight backing up,” said Nelson’s trainer Rory Bussey of Vasquez, “So we wanted to back him up. Once we got the knockdown and the cut, I said we gotta start working. I figured they would stop it, so we wanted to win some rounds so we’d have more rounds than he had.”
Rangy Todd Unthank-May, 181, Phila., 5-0 (2), survived a test against difficult Taneal Goyco, 179, Phila., 4-4-1 (2), with a unanimous shutout in a good four. Goyco comes in low and wings from all angles, but Unthank-May managed to hold him at bay while zinging him with long, straight shots. By the fourth, Taneal was out of fight and giving ground.
Sensational prospect Jesse Hart, 168 ½, Phila., 3-0 (3), took just 0:28 to leave Lekan Byfield, 163, Yonkers, 2-2-1, flopping on the canvas like a landed fish. Jesse brought up a short right in an exchange to abbreviate the scheduled four.
A positively horrible decision kept Alex Barbosa, 122 ½, Phila., 4-0 (1), “undefeated” against hard luck “King” Arthur Parker, 122 ¾, Lancaster, 1-8 (1), in a tense and tightly boxed four. The diminutive Parker darted in and out, picked his shots judiciously, and generally frustrated the stalking Barbosa. When Parker finished with a big fourth, embarrassing Alex with a tattoo of head-jarring shots, it should have removed all doubt as to the winner. Well, it did for the fans, who unanimously booed the atrocity that followed, but it didn’t help the judges. Braslow had 38-38 and the others 39-37 Barbosa. Ugh! These guys make the same mistake over and over, judging on appearance and body language rather than scored blows.
All smoke and no fire was a meaningless four between Julio DeJesus, 139 ½, Chester, 6-3-2 (3), and lefty Gabriel Diaz, 139 ½, Phila., 1-2-1. DeJesus came forward while Diaz ran wide circles and drew boos. Neither landed enough punches to make a difference, but DeJesus got the majority verdict on effort. Braslow 38-38, Rubenstein 39-37, Benoist 40-36.
Mark Rideout, 243, Phila., 2-0, gained a deserved majority call over tough fat guy Lonnie Kornegay, 252, Balto., 1-7-1 (1), in a rugged, mauling four. Kornegay tried to bull Rideout around on the inside, but Mark got his hands free and threw shorter, cleaner punches. Rubenstein 38-38, the others 40-36.
In a crude battle of first timers, Edson Soto, 150, Hackensack, “broke bad” during the pre-fight staredown, then had Joshua Rivera, 150, Phila., covering up helplessly. The lanky southpaw Soto ripped a left uppercut through the defenses to sink Rivera to his knees, where Clark stopped it, at 2:52 of round one of four.
September 14, 2012