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14 NOVEMBER 2018


Fernandez Upsets Stewart in Yawner

J. R. Jowett reporting: The booming fight scene here at Dover Downs Casino/Racetrack underwent a 911 drill when the local debut of heavyweight Franklin Lawrence had to be scratched after opponent Mike Mollo failed the physical. The MRI reportedly revealed an old football injury to a neck vertebra. Good matchmaking kept the card alive, with the invaders keeping the heroes honest. But with no Tiberi on a Delaware show save matchmaker Nick, the crowd was a little less than the usual SRO. And the best that can be said about the promoted main event was that the judges scored it honestly.


Popular Michael “No Joke” Stewart, 147, New Castle, 48-8-3 (25), was certainly no joke, but also no offense, as he brought little into the ring against Chris Fernandez, 146, Salt Lake City, 20-15-1 (12), in the main eight. As early as the first, they were wrestling, and by the fourth, the crowd was booing. The local is tough and normally a battler, but this time relied on experience and defensive skills to take away most of the invader’s offense while trying to catch him with sucker counters. The crowd got little to cheer out of this, while the willing Fernandez was rolling up points by virtue of “making” what action there was. Stewart wasn’t getting beat up, he just wasn’t answering back. The contest was dull, and in Denmark, Michael would have won. But the judges did a good job, giving the verdict fairly to Chris. Joe Pasquale scored 77-75, John Gradowski 79-73, and Steve Weisfeld 80-72.


“I was just coming to fight,” explained Fernandez in making the most of his underdog disadvantage. “Boxing’s not big in Salt Lake City. When I tell people what I do for a living, they look at me like I’m a zombie or something.”


Not to worry; by that time, the fans had already seen five good matches, topped by the co-feature eight with “Queen” Ronica Jeffrey, 126, Brooklyn, 10-0 (1), gaining a unanimous win over Jackie Trivilino, 126, Plattsburgh, NY, 8-5-2 (1). As usual, the ladies put on the best bout, and got the night’s award for same. The willing Trivilino took the fight to her, but the mobile Jeffrey was just too good! Sharpshooting counters got Ronica off to and early lead before Jackie began to come on in the close middle rounds. But Jeffrey rallied to pick her apart in a sterling sixth, and then rolled, as the crowd was on their feet at the final bell. Scores: 78-74, 79-73, 80-72.


In an interesting tactical contest, Ryan Belasco, 134 ½, Wilmington, 16-5-3 (3), used movement and a sharp left to control a tentative Tyrell Samuel, 132 ¼, Balto., 14-5-1 (6), six. Samuel thought he had won, but no way; Belasco’s left beat him to the punch and finished off the exchanges. Scores: 57-57 from Gradowski, 59-55 from the others.


In a sizzler, Omar Douglas, 132, Wilmington, DE, 5-0 (3), earned a unanimous win over game Jonathan Garcia, 136 ½, Aguada, PR, 2-2, six. Douglas quickly adjusted to the lanky Garcia’s reach, moving inside sharply with rattling combos and jolting left hooks. Garcia was staggered several times, but made a fight of it with a determined effort to the end. Scores: 58-56, 59-55 twice.


In a brutal and punishing four, Lamont Singletary, 192, Dover, 4-0 (2), was rocked in the first by a roundhouse right from Rogelio “The Little Heathen” Saldana, 185, Hesperia, MI, 1-3 (1). But Lamont rallied, bringing up solid inside punches as the crouching Saldana walked straight in, to win a deserved unanimous verdict by scores of 39-37 and 40-36 twice.


In a brutal slugfest four, hard-luck Mike Denby, 148, Felton, DE, 4-13-4 (2), just wouldn’t give up, but got beat up and stopped by Duane King, 148, Reidsville, NC, 4-2 (2). The stubby Denby vigorously attacked the rangy King, but was wrecked by crushing counters. A left hook poleaxed him late in the first, a right spun him to the canvas in the second, and a left hook snuffed a brave Denby rally when he went down on the ropes and referee Benjy “This Time!” Estevez called a TKO at 2:05 of the third.


The show closed with another hard-fought battle, as John Bowman, 171 ¾, Dover, 3-0-1, earned the unanimous decision from Dorian Hatcher, 181, Battle Creek, MI, 1-5, four. Hatcher would start the rounds fast but then wilted from solid inside shots as Bowman controlled the bruising action at close range with short punches. Scores: 40-36 twice, 40-35.

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