A couple of junior lightweights will stake their futures in boxing on Saturday night when Teon Kennedy, of Philadelphia, PA, and Joselito Collado, of Jamaica, Queens, NY, collide in the 10-round main event in the Grand Ballroom at Bally’s Atlantic City. This is not your ordinary off-TV main event. Promoter Russell Peltz says two careers are on the line in this one.
Kennedy (left), 26, turned pro as a super bantamweight (122 pounds) early in 2007 after winning the National Golden Gloves the year before at 112 pounds. He was undefeated in his first 18 fights, scoring seven knockouts and winning both the USBA and NABA titles at 122. Only a disputed 10-round draw with Lante Addy, of Ghana, marred his record. In that fight, the scores were 98-92 Kennedy and a pair of 95-95 tallies.
On Aug. 18, 2013, disaster struck when a listless Kennedy was soundly beaten at Bally’s by underdog Alejandro Lopez, of Tijuana, Mexico. That setback cost Kennedy his USBA and NABA titles. Five months later, Kennedy again was held to a disputed draw, this time in Las Vegas, NV, by Chris Martin, of Chula Vista, CA. Scores that night were 97-93 Kennedy and again a pair of 95-95 tallies.
When an opportunity came to fight for a world title five months later, Kennedy went for it, challenging talented lefty Guillermo Rigondeaux, of Cuba, for the latter’s WBA 122-pound belt in Las Vegas. Kennedy worked hard to get down to 122 pounds—he had been having weight problems for months—and was knocked down five times and stopped in the fifth round.
After that, Kennedy took a one-year hiatus. Talking things over with his crew—managers Doc Nowicki and Jim Williams and trainers Randy and Wade Hinnant—Kennedy decided to move up two weight classes to 130 pounds, junior lightweight.
Feeling more comfortable at the new weight, Kennedy took on Carlos Vinan, of Newark, NJ, on June 1 at Ballys. After a slow start, Kennedy found his groove, taking command in the third round and dropping the iron-chinned Vinan in the 10th en route to a unanimous decision. Since the June 1 fight, the Hinnant brothers have had a tough time keeping Kennedy out of the gym.
“I’ve never seen Teon so dedicated,” Wade Hinnant said. “It’s like he’s starting all over again. He knows a win on over Collado could lead to bigger things.”
Collado also is taking this fight seriously. When it was first signed in mid-July, he and trainer Gary Stark immediately made the trip to Mullica, NJ, to get the pre-fight medicals out of the way so they could concentrate on training. Originally from the Dominican Republic, where he turned pro in 2006, Collado moved his base of operations to New York in 2008 and has won 13 out of 15 fights, three by knockout.
The only men to beat Collado, both by decision, were Casey Ramos, of Austin, TX, who was 14-0 at the time, and Jerry Belmontes, of Corpus Christi, TX, who was 16-0 when he beat Collado in Collado’s last fight on Sept. 8, 2012, at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.
Collado has beaten Rafael Lora, of Irvington, NJ, and Andres Ledesma, of Miami, FL.
“Training has been going well and Collado is in top shape,” said Stark. “We been getting good (sparring) work in the gym and we’ll be ready.
“It hasn’t been easy for Collado to get the right fights for the right money ever since he lost to Belmontes. Now we feel we have the right fight and the right situation and it’s time for us to make a move in the (junior lightweight) division. I know Kennedy is a good, tough fighter but so is Collado.”
Seven additional fights complete the card.