By Rick Scharmberg and Kurt Wolfheimer at ringside
IBF #11-ranked Mike “MJ” Jones, 144, of Philadelphia, PA successfully defended his NABA welterweight belt with an impressive second round destruction of late sub Dario Esalas, 145.5, of Miami, FL last night at the Blue Horizon in Philadelphia. In the co-feature, Teon “The Mechanic” Kennedy, 121, of Philadelphia, showed what he was made of, coming off the floor and overcoming a nasty cut to take a split decision over tough southpaw Andre Wilson, 118.5, of St. Joseph, MO in an eight round super bantamweight bout. Peltz Boxing Promotions, in association with Joe Hand Promotions presented the sold-out, 7-bout show.
Seasoned veteran Dario Esalas stepped in with about a week’s notice to face rising welterweight contender Mike Jones, after original opponent suffered a training injury. Esalas presented a completely different style for Jones, but it did not matter. Esalas, who had boxed his way to victories over Terrance Cauthen and DeMarcus Corley, went for broke, and it played right into Jones’s hands.
They started slow, considering what was to come. Esalas jabbed to the body while circling the ring, while Jones studied and measured his man in the opening round. It was a feeling out round, to say the least. It turned out to be the proverbial calm before the storm.
Esalas went right after Jones to open round two, firing two hard rights to the body. Jones answered with a right of his own, and then with a nice counter left hook. Esalas jabbed to the head, and Jones followed with two left hooks. Jones landed a flush right hand that sent Esalas down hard. Esalas got up on shaky legs, but the fight was as good as over.
Jones battered Esalas along the ropes, and punctuated a left-right-left combination with left hook that sent Esalas down again. At this point, referee Gary Rosato called the doctor over to inspect Esalas. The bout continued, but not before Rosato deducted a point from Esalas for spitting out his mouthpiece. Jones closed the show with a double left hook, first to the body and then to the head, that sent Esalas down for the third and final time. It was over at 1:56 of round two of the scheduled ten-round bout.
Mike Jones, who has now hit the big time, appears to be ready for anyone in the top-10. He improves to 17-0, with 15 KOs, while Esalas slides to 31-16, with 25 KOs.
– Rick Scharmberg
Kennedy shows his heart
It looked like it would be a quick night for unbeaten prospect Teon Kennedy, after he rocked his slippery southpaw opponent, Andre Wilson, with a big right hand just a minute into his scheduled eight round super bantamweight bout. He seemed to find a home early for his straight right hand, which had Wilson covering up for much of the first two rounds. Things would change in round three.
Teon opened the third round with two left hooks. He bored in on Wilson, as he took the fight to the inside. Kennedy emerged from an inside exchange near his own corner with a bad cut over his right eye from what appeared to be a clash of heads. With blood cascading down the side of his face, Kennedy was squared-up in the middle of the ring, when Wilson caught him with a right-left combination that sent him down near the end of the round.
With Kennedy facing his greatest adversity yet as a pro, no one panicked. Cut man Jimmy Williams worked the cut, while trainer Wade Hinnant calmly issued instructions between rounds. Kennedy came out fast in round four and landed a hard left-right combination. Wilson countered with a nice straight left. After a couple of one-twos to the head, Kennedy shifted his attack to Wilson’s body. In between left hooks to the body, Kennedy landed a hard right to the head that drew blood from Wilson’s nose.
Teon continued to beat Wilson to the punch, and took round six in a big way. Mixing straight right hands in with lefts to the body, Kennedy, with blood still streaming down his face, rocked Wilson back with a hard right uppercut near the end of the round. Kennedy left no doubt as to the winner was – at least in the eyes of the knowledgeable Philly fans – by drawing blood from Wilson’s mouth and landing a series of hard right hands in the final round.
Kennedy, now 12-0, with five KOs, appeared to win every round except the third. The scoring was surprising closer, with two judges scoring 79-73 and 76-75 for Kennedy, and one 76-75 score favoring Wilson, who drops to 11-2-1, with nine KOs.
– Rick Scharmberg
Hasson overwhelms Wilson
Undefeated super middleweight prospect Dennis Hasson (7-0, 2 KOs), of the Kensington section of Philadelphia, scored the biggest victory of his seven fight career with a hard fought, but one sided six round unanimous decision victory over North Philadelphia’s hard punching Garrett Wilson (3-2, 1 KO). The 26-year-old Wilson, 169, who has fought as high as cruiserweight, appeared to have brought the power with him as he tested the chin of Dennis Hasson, 170.5, early with a couple of leaping left hooks and right hands. Hasson’s chin was tough though and he rocked Wilson late in the opening round with a left jab-right hand combo on the button. Wilson whistled a right hand that missed, and Hasson backed off as the bell sounded. As the rounds progressed, the 23-year-old Hasson showed his maturation process in the ring, slowing the wild lunges of Wilson with stiff lefts and short combinations along with movement. Wilson could only land the occasional body shot or wild hook. Hasson also began to find a home for some crunching overhand rights on the chin that would have planted many fighters, but Wilson shrugged several of them off. Late in the fourth, Hasson staggered Wilson again with a four-punch combination, but the bell sounded before the Kensington native could inflict any more damage. Wilson recovered, but Hasson continued to press the attack with combination after combination that ended with big overhand rights in the final two rounds. Wilson would only connect with the occasional leaping right hand if Hasson backed straight out. All three judges scored the fight in Dennis Hasson’s favor by scores of 60-54 x 2 and 59-55.
“It was a great fight,” said Hasson afterward. “He was a strong kid. He came down in weight and I came up in weight to fight him, but that is going to happen for me to get fights at this stage of my career.”
“I rocked him several times, but he was heavy handed, so I had to be careful in there,” continued Hasson. “I kept listening to my corner and everything worked out as planned.” -Kurt Wolfheimer
Salka wins bloodbath
Lightweight “Lightning” Rod Salka of Bunola, PA made the eight hour trip down from Pittsburgh on Thursday night worth it, winning an impressive and bloody six-round unanimous decision victory over hometown favorite, Victor Vasquez, of North Philadelphia. Both fighters went at it right from the opening bell, each trying to establish ring dominance with different styles. Vasquez, 135, used big rights in combination to establish territory. Salka, 136.5, was relentless though, and continually pressed forward with combination after combination which bloodied the nose of Vasquez in round one. Vasquez returned the favor and caught Salka backing out in round two with a vicious counter right hand that open sent blood pouring out of the nose of Salka. Even with the blood coming out profusely, Salka just would not let up and continued to pour on the pressure, which slowed the attack of Vasquez, as the fight went inside in rounds three and four. Both fighters continued the wild exchanges throughout, but Salka’s were the heavier and busier causing more damage. Salka’s shorts were a bloody mess as the both fighters continued to bleed profusely throughout. Vasquez tried to step up his attack in round five, but Salka answered with a pair of big one-two combinations. Vasquez tried to throw an uppercut, but caught Salka coming in below the beltline with an unintentional low blow. Salka grimaced and turned away. He recovered quickly though and the bout continued where it left off. Salka hurt Vasquez in early in the final round with a big right hand on the chin, behind a straight left. Vasquez tried to hold on, but fell onto the second ropes. Referee Gary Rosato ruled it a slip and Vasquez rose to his feet and had his gloves wiped off. Salka continued to connect with big single left hooks and right hands. Vasquez would not go down, and even returned fire with a huge left-right combination that sent the hometown crowd into a frenzy. Both fighters began to fight toe-to-toe in the final seconds as the crowd rose to their feet in appreciation of the outstanding efforts of both fighters. All three judges gave every round (60-54 x 3) to the winner, “Lightning” Rod Salka, who raised his unblemished record 7-0, with 2 KOs. Victor Vasquez gave a great effort, but fell to a very respectable 8-3, with five KOs. The crowd stood on their feet cheering for five minutes, showing their appreciation for one hell of fight, a trademark of Peltz Boxing cards.
“My game plan was to stay inside and land my combinations,” said Salka afterwards. “The only problem was, is that I would land the one-two and then back straight out and kept getting caught with counters. I began to listen to my corner and in round six. I stayed inside and landed those one-two combinations that hurt him. He was definitely a tough fighter and I have to give him a lot of credit.”
The evening was not over for Salka though as his team had to make the long eight hour drive overnight to get back home, so that Rod could make a wedding. Hope everything turns out well there too. – Kurt Wolfheimer
Davis decisions Taylor
Jamal “Da Truth” Davis, 153.5, of Philadelphia, withstood a fast start from Clarence “Sonny Bono” Taylor, 153, of Wilmington, DE to take a six round unanimous decision in a six round junior middleweight bout. Taylor rocked Davis with a hard left-right combination in the opening minute of the bout, and then dominated round two before closing with a nice left hook at the bell. Davis made some adjustments in round three. He began shifting his attack to the body, and increased his activity, while Taylor’s punch output slowly declined. Davis was busier down the stretch, and won by scores of 59-55 on all three cards. Davis improves to 9-4, with six KOs, while Taylor dips to 13-21-3, with six KOs. – Rick Scharmberg
Bivins draws with Esquilin
A North Philly slugfest erupted in the opening fight of the evening between Derrick Bivins and Luis Esquilin, both of North Philadelphia. Bivins, 125, had several inches in height and reach on Esquilin, and tried to stay behind his right jabs in the opening round. The southpaw Esquilin, 128.5, was slick though, and found holes for hard counters that forced the taller Bivins to get into heavy exchanges. Esquilin bloodied the nose of Bivins in round two as both exchanged on the inside. The fight appeared to have shifted in Esquilin’s favor as he won many of the exchanges as the fight stayed in close corners, allowing him to land big left hands on the button. Round three was a back and forth brawl as both fighters won furious exchanges on the inside as the crowd oohed and aahed with excitement. Bivins tried to go back to fighting on the outside and was successful early in the fourth, but Esquilin was relentless and continued to get inside late, causing furious exchanges right up until the final bell. The bout went to the scorecards and the results were as follows: 39-37 Bivins, 40-36 Bivins, and 38-38 even. resulting in a draw. Derrick Bivins moves to 1-0-1 while Luis Esquilin slides to 1-1-1. -Kurt Wolfheimer
Wilson defeats Clay
In the closing bout of the evening, Kaseem Wilson, 146.5, of Philadelphia, PA won an eight round unanimous decision over Martinis Clay, 146.5, of Norristown, PA in a welterweight bout. The bout was a chess match, with Clay pressing matters, and Wilson countering with straight left hands from his southpaw stance. Wilson had the better defense in this battle of defensive-minded fighters, and he landed the crisper shots throughout. Clay (13-20-4, 5 Kos) had his moments, but Wilson (11-1-1, 3 KOs) finished strong to win by scores of 79-73 (twice) and 78-74. – Rick Scharmberg