J. R. Jowett reporting from ringside: Bob Arum (Top Rank) presented a modest card at Bally’s Atlantic City on 6/14/14, showcasing and eyeballing talent to sign before Al Haymon does. Matchmakers Bruce Trampler’s and Brad Muhammad’s bouts produced a main event that was disappointing to everyone but the fans, six undercard bouts that never came close to an upset, and explosive action that was thoroughly enjoyable to the crowd in the circa 1500-seat room. The card had been anticipated for Latin American TV, but the World Cup short-circuited that. Thank goodness that Arum continued with it off TV, as it provided valuable work for the prospects and an entertaining show for the fans.
The main event 10 headlined the return of Glen Tapia after getting destroyed in his last bout. The popular Tapia, 154 ¾, Passaic, 21-1 (13), faced what could have been a re-entry exam in Keenan Collins, 156, Reading, 15-9-3 (10). Collins can be a tricky spoiler, but an explosive Tapia never let him get out of the gate. Seemingly pumped by maniacally cheering fans, the favorite burst out with a flat-footed square stance, pumping both hands in short hooks. Keenan couldn’t get off the ropes, and trying to cover only invited more punches. Some were partially blocked, some got through, until Keenan’s knees buckled and the ropes held him up, with referee Earl Brown administering a count. The bombardment immediately resumed and this time, Collins did get off the ropes…by going to the floor, a clean knockdown. Back on his feet and back on the ropes, he was again being roasted when Brown called a TKO, all in 1:22. Those expecting more for their comped ticket may have been unhappy, but not the Tapia fans, who crowded ringside in excited celebration. Keenan, who hadn’t gotten off a serious punch, protested weakly.
The semi 8 produced a similar result but took a lot longer getting there, with much more drama. Jesse Hart, 169 ½, Phila., 14-0 (11), met two opponents in one, as Dion Savage appeared as Shujaa El Amin (depending on which record-keeper was consulted), 168, Flint, 12-6 (6). Wearing jailbird trunks that said “Free Dion”, Savage took a savage beating and ultimately was barely able to leave the ring under his own power. But there was no dog in him and he may have revealed some points of entry in the vaunted Hart’s game. That almost didn’t happen. Dion was trying to duck under a bombardment in round one when Jesse dug a booming right uppercut underneath and dropped him. Savage was then chased out of the round, but made it to the bell. Dion did the right thing in round two and forced his way inside against the tall and rangy Hart. But it produced only an ugly mauler. In the third, Jesse executed well, driving Dion back with the long left, then hooking off the jab and following with the right to catapult Savage canvasward again. But subsequent action fizzled. The next two rounds were tame and non-directional, as some ringsiders began to speculate if that was all Jesse had. But in round six, Hart briefly reincarnated the memory of his dad, Cyclone (working his corner). Going back to a manhandling attack, Hart brought the action inside, chest to chest, then unloaded a cannon of a left hook, leaving Savage for dead, a KO at 1:36. Fortunately, Dion wasn’t, but remained woozy even after rising. Ricky Vera refereed.
The most impressive showing on the undercard was that of Michael Reed, 140 ½, Waldorf, MD, 10-0 (6), in a good six against no slouch in Alberto Morales, 142 ¾, Managua, 11-4-1-1 (8). The compact southpaw Reed was able to take the fight to the decidedly bigger and aggressive Morales, but he did it with style. After Reed edged a get-acquainted first, Alberto came out for round two with a vigorous attack. They traded evenly in heavy exchanging until Reed emerged on top and pulled away. The next two rounds provided more heated trading, but a pattern emerged. Reed was able to slip deftly, many of Alberto’s punches deflected, looping behind his head or falling onto his shoulders. Meanwhile, Michael was scoring with short, precise blows. Alberto began to yield ground behind a bloody nose in the fourth. Michael punctuated his effort dramatically late in the final round. After fighting Morales to a standstill in solid exchanging, he put over a long, splatting left from southpaw and sent Alberto to the canvas. The game underdog had to run to get out of the round. This was the kind of contest that clueless judges routinely blow, by looking at body language over scored blows, but Lynne Carter, Joe Pasquale and Emil Conforti did a fine job, all 60-53.
Despite a relatively tame boxing match, Toka Kahn Clary, 127 ½, Providence, 12-0-0-1 (8), did a skilled job in dominating Jose Haro, 127 ½, Salt Lake City, 8-1 (6), six. The much bigger southpaw Kahn Clary, versus an opponent who had yet to face a dangerous foe, used his size and consistently held the edge in close rounds. The compact Haro just couldn’t find a way inside, but not for lack of trying. In the fifth, Toka was leaning over him and pushing down when he dug a left to Jose’s ribs and Haro’s knees folded. Ref Vera ruled it a push. Haro was cut severely on the right eye in the last round, but that was from a clash of heads. Jose comported himself well considering the quantum leap in quality of opposition, but it was hard to see how he managed even the one round in unanimous 59-55 scores for Clary.
Announcer Lupe Contreras deserves the Buffer Award for successfully navigating through Egidijus Kavaliauskas, 146 ½, a Lithuanian fighting out of Oxnard, CA, 6-0 (5), in a six with Larry Darnell Ventus, 145, Detroit, 6-5-1 (3). The rugged Lithuanian was too strong and bruising for the game but outgunned Ventus, who was cut between the eyes in the first. In round two, the underdog was being hurt by left hooks to the body. At the warning tap, a double left hook to the ribs caused Ventus to pull back, where an overhand right sent him down. Larry went down again in the third when a left hook froze him in a hunched position and Kavaliauskas brought the right behind it. Finally in the fourth, the battered Ventus was being routed and twice took a knee by way of escape when referee Vera stopped it, at 2:13.
Angel Acosta, 108 ¾, San Juan, 7-0 (7), looked sharp stopping game Eduardo Valenzuela, 109 ¼, Nogales, 5-4-1 (1), in 1:55 of round three, scheduled six. Acosta skilfully countered almost every right with a short, sharp left hook while working in a potent body attack. In the first, a right to body – left hook to chin rocketed Valenzuela to the canvas. Acosta moved a step closer with his attack in round two and battered the gritty Valenzuela throughout. In round three, with Eduardo getting picked apart, ref Brown stopped it.
Julian Rodriguez, 140 ¾, Hasbrouck Hgts, 4-0 (3), wowed the North Jersey fan contingent with an eye-catching artillery barrage against Angel Figueroa, 142 ¼, Lorain, OH, 3-1-1. Julian was all offense, but placed punches well. A crushing left hook to the ribs quickly had Figgy turning away in pain. Julian immediately followed with a hook to the head to send Angel down for the first of three knockdowns in the opening round. A left-right combo buckled Figueroa’s knees and though he didn’t go all the way to the floor, ref Brown gave him a count. Then it was another booming left hook to score a third knockdown, yet Figueroa still tried to stay in the fight while fans were going wild. Figgy miraculously made it out of the first, and although he got in no serious trouble in round two, he failed to come out for the third of a scheduled four.
June 15, 2015