By Rick Scharmberg and Kurt Wolfheimer at ringside
Christopher “Kid Kayo” Fernandez (20-15-1, 12 KOs) won the WBU welterweight title with an eight round unanimous decision over defending champion Mike “No Joke” Stewart (48-8-3, 25 KOs) at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Dover, Delaware. The scores were 80-72, 79-73, and 77-75. The bout was elevated to main event status after an irregularity was found on Mike Mollo’s MRI, causing his heavyweight bout with Franklin Lawrence to be scratched. In the co-feature “Queen” Ronica Jeffrey (10-0, 1 KO) won the women’s WBU featherweight title with an exciting eight round unanimous decision over Jackie “The Force” Trivilino (8-5-2, 1 KO). Dover Downs Hotel & Casino promoted the seven bout card.
Chris Fernandez won the biggest fight of his 15-year pro career against former USBA champ and one time Contender reality show star Stewart, and he did it in Mike’s “home” arena. In fact, Fernandez became the first fighter to defeat Stewart in his twelve fights at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino.
Fernandez sports a deceiving journeyman’s record, which is dotted with the names of champions such as Devon Alexander, Paulie Malignaggi, and Danny Garcia.
Stewart, for his part, has had a successful career, which is one bout short of sixty. In addition to his USBA junior welterweight belt, Stewart has faced the likes of Sharmba Mitchell in an unsuccessful try at the interim IBF title, and Ricky Hatton in a title eliminator and – ironically – a try for the WBU belt.
People will always remember the night Stewart appeared on network TV and knocked out Ebo Elder on season two of The Contender. After the bout, Stewart emotionally described to a national TV audience how he hated to have knocked Elder out because his wife and Elder’s became friends and how their children played together.
Stewart was considered to be at the end when he lost a decision to unheralded Robert Frankel was back in 2007. Stewart didn’t fight for 18 months, but ended up coming back and going 6-0-1 leading up to his bout with Fernandez.
It was apparent from the beginning that Stewart was lacking the fire that in the past had let him hang tough with boxing’s elite. The first round was close, and Mike may have won it, but it ended up possibly being his best one.
Stewart was boxing well early in round two, but was stopped in his tracks by a Fernandez right hand up the middle. Stewart was forced to hold for much of the remainder of the round. The fight, for all intents and purposes, ended there.
The right hand from Fernandez hurt Stewart, and Mike used his defensive skills to try and stay away from his right. Unfortunately for Stewart, his defensiveness opened the door for Fernandez to out-work him.
Fernandez landed enough right hands to win round three. Stewart landed his trademark left to the body, and doubled it up on two occasions, but it was delivered without the usual passion.
Fernandez landed an accidental low blow to open the fourth round, and Stewart was given a short reprieve by referee Benji Estevez. Stewart then answered with a nice body attack of his own to narrowly take the round.
That was about it for Stewart. Realizing Mike was effectively slipping, sliding, and ducking under his right hand, Fernandez smartly went to work with his left. He swept rounds five, six, and seven with his jab, along with a much higher work-rate. Try as he might, Stewart just couldn’t pull the trigger against an opponent who was there to be hit.
Stewart might have found something in the eighth and final round. He began to surprise Fernandez with several overhand rights. Chris responded with single shots of his own to keep the round close, and may have even won it.
“This is by far my biggest win. I didn’t know I was fighting for a title until the weigh-in,” said an elated Chris Fernandez after the bout. “I feel stronger at 147. I am coming up from 140, and I feel much stronger. He was aware of my power.”
“I was hoping to get to 50 wins, but I couldn’t get past this guy. I couldn’t pull the trigger. I don’t love it anymore like I used to,” said a disappointed Mike Stewart. “It might be time to get out.”
Jeffrey tames Trivilino
“Queen” Ronica Jeffrey scored an impressive eight round unanimous decision win over a tough-as-nails Jackie “The Force” Trivilino in a women’s featherweight bout.
Jeffrey continues to develop as a fighter. Judging from her performance against Trivilino, one would be surprised to discover that Ronica has fought just ten professional fights. That is because of her extensive and successful amateur background. She is a three-time NYC Golden Gloves champion, and a student of the game.
When she turned pro in 2008, Jeffrey was a pure boxer with natural hand speed and good movement. She tried to hit and not be hit, like she did as an amateur champion. Now, Ronica is willing to stand in the pocket and use her superior hand speed to set up her opponent and deliver blistering combinations.
Jackie Trivilino can fight. As her nickname implies, she forces her will on her opponent, pressing forward and looking to trade. That style makes for a good fight, but it also plays into the hands of a fighter like Jeffrey.
Jeffrey proved to be too fast for Trivilino from the start. Although there was good action in the exchanges, it was Jeffrey landing the crisper shots. There was also variety. Jeffrey won the first round with jabs and right hands to the body, the second with counter right hands and lead rights, and the third with her left hook.
Trivilino was game. She landed her shots, but usually ended up on the wrong end of the exchanges. Jeffrey seemed willing to take one in order to land three or four, much to the delight of her growing fan base. This was Ronica’s seventh appearance at the venue.
Jeffrey continued to hammer home left hooks and vicious rights to Jackie’s body. A hard right-left combination near the end of round four caused Trivilino to hold for the first time in the fight.
The fifth round was close, but Jeffrey had a big round in the sixth. She opened with a hard double left-right combination, and continued to hammer home left hooks to the head and right hands t the body.
Trivilino was still hanging in, but was visibly weakened from the assault. Jeffrey continued her high work rate over the final two rounds to handily win the fight on all three cards. Scores were 80-72, 79-73 and 78-74.
With the win, Jeffrey took home the traditional “Fighter of the Night” trophy.
Belasco outduels Samuel
The six round lightweight bout between Delaware’s “Rockin” Ryan Belasco (17-5-3, 3 KOs) and Maryland’s Tyrell “Da Show Shocka” Samuel (14-5-1, 6 KOs) is a fine example why Nick Tiberi is one of the best matchmakers in the business. These are two fighters with similar records and styles that mesh well. One fighter was a counter puncher (Samuel) and the other had a more aggressive style (Belasco).
Ryan Belasco has quietly improved in his six years as a pro, evolving from a blood and guts brawler to an in-and-out boxer who will not back off when the situation warrants it.
Belasco easily took the first two rounds, sliding in and out behind a nice jab. Samuel sized him up, but hit mostly air while trying to land his right.
Things heated up in round three. Belasco started with some jabs before unloading a hard right-left combination to the body. He continued his body attack throughout the round, while Samuel countered with three right-left combinations and several body shots of his own.
Round four was another close one. Belasco opened with some body shots and landed a short left hook over a Samuel right. Samuel displayed his own effective jab during this round.
Round five was the best round of the fight. Belasco won the first half of the round, but Samuel finished strong, landing a series of left hooks in the final minute. A stray elbow cut Ryan under his left eye during the round.
Undeterred by the cut, Belasco finished strong, mixing in an assortment of power shots while using his jab to near perfection. Both fighters received a nice hand from the crowd for their efforts.
In the end, it was Belasco winning a majority decision.
The scores were 59-55 (twice) for Belasco, with the Maryland judge scoring it even at 57-57.
Douglas overpowers Garcia
Undefeated lightweight sensation, Omar “Super O” Douglas of Wilmington, Delaware upped his record to 5-0, with 3 KOs, as he pounded out a well deserved six round unanimous decision victory over Aguada, Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Garcia (2-2).
It was probably the biggest test of Douglas’s early career as he had to overcome a several inch height and reach advantage of the upset minded Garcia, who was last seen handing fellow prospect Jose Javier Calderon his first defeat as a professional.
Right from the opening get-go, Garcia came out flurrying from a distance, but Douglas was calm and picked his spots to bang the body in the opening two rounds. The impressive skills of Douglas were apparent as he varied the combinations, finishing with uppercuts, hooks and crosses, which seemed to confuse the game but outgunned Garcia. The heavier handed Douglas wobbled Garcia with a four-punch combination as the round came to a close
Even though he couldn’t win the war on the inside, Garcia was game and tried to trade with the stronger Douglas throughout rounds three and four. It was to no avail, as Douglas would take the shots and walk through them with flurries of his own.
Garcia’s punches seemed to lose their steam in the fifth as Douglas stepped up the attack. Each time Douglas would land what looked like a damaging combination, Garcia would gallop like a horse in a stable to show he wasn’t hurt.
Garcia was game throughout the sixth and final round, but Douglas again calmly dominated with heavy combinations to close the show.
All three judges saw the bout in favor of Omar “Super O” Douglas by scores of 59-55 (twice) and 58-56, giving him the well deserved unanimous decision victory.
King clobbers Denby
Duane King (4-2, 1 KO) dropped local veteran Mike “Strictly Business” Denby (4-13-4, 2 KOs) three times en-route to a third round technical knockout in their scheduled four round welterweight contest.
Denby tried to set the pace as the aggressor with tight shots on the inside, but wide volleys from King kept finding their mark. Looking to change the tide, Denby began to set down on some wide hooks of his own. It would be a big mistake, as King timed a wide hook and countered with a big left hook on the button which Denby to the canvas. The valiant Denby rose to his feet and survived the round.
Mike Denby quickly recovered from the knockdown and once again went on the offensive in round two, but a quick right forced him off balance and his glove touched the canvas. Referee Benjy Estevez, Jr. called it a knockdown. Denby rose to his feet and went to work on the inside, even backing up King late with a heavy combination. It would not stop King though, who was on his a game as he uncorked a beautiful straight right through the guard of Denby. The punch seemed to take the steam out of the hungry veteran.
Both fighters scrapped in some awkward clinches early in the fourth. Denby once again set the pace, but King found another right hand and Denby lost his balance as his glove touched the canvas again. This time it was ruled a slip, but Denby never truly looked like he had his legs under him after that. Just Moments later, King backed him into the ropes and unloaded a huge right uppercut. Denby looked out on his feet just before another left deposited him to the canvas for the third and final time. Referee Benjy Estevez Jr. waived the fight off without a count as Denby wobbled to his feet. The time of the technical knockout was 2:09 of the third round.
Singletary solves Saldana
In the opening bout, Lamont “The Problem Solver” Singletary (4-0, 2 KO) overcame a rocky first round to score a unanimous decision over Rogelio “Little Heathen” Saldana (1-3, 1 KO) in a four round cruiserweight bout.
Singletary came out behind a heavy jab that moved Saldana back. Saldana started throwing overhand rights over the jab, one of which rocked Singletary midway through the round. Saldana took advantage and attacked. His effort earned him the round.
A big overhand right from Saldana early in round two caused Singletary’s left eye to swell, but that only seemed to fire Singletary up. Suddenly, the brawl was on. A right uppercut from Singletary drew blood from Saldana’s nose. Singletary followed up with three hard left hooks. Saldana landed a hard right of his own, but another right uppercut from Singletary shook Saldana, and Singletary came on with a barrage of power shots for the rest of the round.
Singletary dug in and hammered Saldana around the ring with right uppercuts and hard left hooks in the third, concluding with a four-punch combination at the bell.
Singletary opened the final round with a hard left hook, and then shifted to the body with his left. Saldana landed a nice left hook, before trading with Singletary until the final bell.
The scores were 40-36 (twice) and 39-37, all for Singletary.
Bowman outworks Hatcher
In the walkout bout, Dover Delaware’s own John “Church Boy” Bowman (3-0-1) closed the show with a hard fought four round unanimous decision victory over the wild swinging light heavyweight Dorian “The Sneak” Hatcher (1-5).
Bowman seems to be improving with each fight and you could see it as he was able to use his tight defense and slick combinations to wear down the wild swinging Hatcher. Bowman would have chosen to swing away with Hatcher a few fights ago, but this time he looked calm and collected as he wore down Hatcher with sharp combinations and good defense on his way to the well deserved victory.
All three judges gave every round to Bowman by scores of 40-36 (twice) and 40-35.
Ring announcer: Larry Tornambe
Matchmaker: Nick Tiberi
Guest star: Larry “The Easton Assassin” Holmes