By Kurt Wolfheimer at ringside
Friday night at the Valley Forge Casino Resort, a near sellout crowd of almost 2,000 fans witnessed “Lightning” Harry Joe Yorgey (26-2-1, 12 KOs) of nearby Bridgeport, PA pull out all the stops to capture a hard fought six round split decision victory over Windsor Hill, Maryland’s Julius Kennedy (7-4-1, 3 KOs) in the main event of the evening. In the co-feature of the evening of the seven bout card promoted by Marshall Kauffman’s King’s Promotions, PA State lightweight champion Naim Nelson (10-0, 1KO) of Philadelphia, PA moved to 10-0,1KO with a one sided eight round unanimous decision victory over rugged Georgian, Georgi Kevlishvili (12-5, 3KOs).
It was to be a step up into the middleweight division for Yorgey as he looked to bounce back from a loss to undefeated Golden Boy junior middleweight prospect Jermell Charlo (20-0, 10KOs). Yorgey had trouble shredding off the final pounds and it hurt during the fight. At thirty five years old Yorgey knew it was time to move up to a weight class that he would be more comfortable in.
It was the perfect place for Yorgey to make his return as his birthplace of Bridgeport, PA was just minutes down the road and his fans showed up in droves to witness the homecoming of the former world title challenger.
While most fighters would take an easy opponent, not Yorgey, who chose “Relentless” Julius Kennedy. Though Kennedy’s record was only (7-3-1, 3KOs), he had a victory taken away from him against Zain Shah and also had a disputed draw with local fan favorite Jesse Ncklow. His record could just as easily been a very dangerous 9-2-1.
Yorgey looked sharp in the early portion of the opening round, moving and snapping his lightning fast jab and frustrating the shorter Kennedy. Yorgey began to mix in a few left uppercuts as the round progressed. Kenned did connect with a heavy right over the top, but Yorgey continued to box effectively in the opening round. Late in the round the more muscular and stout Kennedy began to muscle yorgey by pushing him to the ropes where he could bang.
Kennedy took round two as he continued to land whenever Yorgey had his back on the ropes.
In the third Yorgey seemed to get hurt by a couple of big right hands from Kennedy, but he weathered the storm and went back to boxing in the center of the ring. Yorgey spun him around in the corner and unloaded in the closing moments, unleashing a four punch combination. Kennedy looked stunned as he walked slowly to his corner.
Yorgey switched to the body in the fourth and it appeared to do damage, but Kennedy like his nickname was relentless and continued the pressure to catch Yorgey consistently against the ropes where he could swing away. Though many missed their mark, the few that did land looked effective and may have take the round.
Both fighters looked tired, and Yorgey looked to be behind entering the fifth. Both fighters knew they needed to finish hard in the final two rounds. Yorgey sucked it up and continued to finish the rounds strong. In the fifth, Yorgey hurt Kennedy in the corner and was unloading wehen the round came to a close. Kennedy still had some big shots left in him and he landed a few windmill like right hands, but Yorgey more than held his own as both traded until the final bell.
There were tense moments as the crowd waited for the decision to be announced. Renowned Ring Announcer Larry Tornambe added to the suspense with his perfect timing announcing the split decision and the crowd let out a gasp. The first score was read 58-56 in favor of Julius Kennedy. The second score went the opposite way 58-56 in favor of the hometown hero. The final score was read 60-54 and the crowd gasped until the name Yorgey was announced. It appeared to be way off, but Yorgey had emerged victorious in the very tight contest and it set up a future title fight to be held in June right here at the very same Valley Forge Casino and Resort.
It was fight that neither fighter really deserved to take a loss, as both laid it all out in the ring.
“Julius was physically strong and a hell of a fighter,” said Yorgey afterward. “My corner wanted me to walk him down more and when I had him against the ropes, I owned him, but he was really tough. I would turn him alot, but he was on me all the time. Julius is the kind of guy that tries to impose his will on everybody he fights and that makes his very dangerous. The only difference is the guys he fights don’t have the speed or power that I have.”
“I was physically stronger than him when I walked him down and Marshall Kauffman wanted me to continue to do that but I thought I was doing okay with what I was doing. I will hear what I did wrong when we get back into the gym and make corrections, so that I will be even better next time.”
Sometimes hard fought close contest help a fighter find himself. The victory catapults Yorgey back into a proposed title contest and continues his quest for world title aspirations.
The co-feature of the evening, was an eight round lightweight contest featuring PA State lightweight champion Naim Nelson against rugged Georgian Georgie Kevlishvili.
It looked to be good test for Nelson, because Kevlishvil had won a bloody tooth and nail battle with Anthony Flores and owned close losses to prospects such as Frank Trader (9-1, 2kO’s), Casey Ramos (16-0, 5KOs) and Ronny Rios (20-0, 9KOs).
Nelson looked confident in the early going, using has sharp jabs and light combinations that kept Gavlishvili on the retreat. Georgian tried to counter punch, but Nelson was easily able to take his best and return with busier combinations.
Nelson’s hand speed was just too much for Kevlishvili and in the fifth he mixed in body work to increase the attack. Kevlishvili tried to battle it out in the center of the ring, but just didn’t have the power to back Nelson off.
Nelson seemed to be way ahead on the scorecards by round eight and boxed his way to the final bell.
All three judges saw the bout clearly in favor of Naim Nelson by scores of 80-72 x 2 and 79-73 respectively. Nelson ups his record to 10-0, 1KO, while Georgi Kevlishvili falls to 12-5, 3KOs.
Farmer outclasses Rodriguez. Philly lightweight Tevin “The American Idol” Farmer easily out boxed journeyman Esteban Rodriguez over six rounds to capture a one sided unanimous decision victory.
Farmer appeared to be in the best shape of his professional career and he used it to move in and out at will, pot-shotting the game but outgunned Rodriguez throughout.
Farmer has great head movement and the ability to avoid many of the return volleys but he also showboated just a little too much for the local crowd, even running at times away from the action which elicited some boo’s.
All three officials saw the bout 60-54 in favor of Tevin Farmer who ups his record to 9-4-1, 1KO. Esteban Rodriguez drops to 6-6-1, 1KO.
Rodriguez overpowers Montalvo
Allentown, PA welterweight Jerome Rodriguez (3-0-1,1KO) remained undefeated with a six round majority decision victory over Pottsville PA’s Rafeal Montalvo (2-3,2KOs).
Montalvo appeared to be the more polished boxer throughout, but Rodriguez carried the heavier leather and his fewer punches, but heavier power seemed to carry enough rounds to capture the majority decision victory.
One judge saw the bout even at 57-57 but he was overruled by the other two officials saw it in favor of Jerome Rodriquez by scores of 59-55 each, for the majority decision victory.
Thompson draws with Arrocho
It was back and forth affair as two rugged lightweight veterans, Travis “The Animal” Thompson (4-9-2, 3KOs) and Joshua Arrocha (3-6-3, 2KOs), who were both looking to get out of the opponent mode battled tooth and nail, but when the dust was settled there was still unfinished business left on the table as the bout was declared a draw.
Thompson, appropriately nicknamed “The Animal” for his all-out pressure style took the opening round as he backed him up with in your face body work and head shots.
The fight changed in the second as Arrocha of Vineland, New Jersey found his mark with counters as Thompson seemed to become more stationary when was he squared up.
The relentless Thompson of York, PA would not go away and appeared to squeeze out round three with more hard pressure that befuddled Arrocho.
The fourth round went back and forth as each fighter took turns landing good shots, but Arrocha appeared to steal the final round late when he caught Thompson backing out with to good right and counters.
One judges had the bout 39-37 in favor of Arrocha while the second had it the other way, surprisingly giving every round to Thompson (40-36). The third official scored the bout even at 38-38, making the fight a split draw.
The crowd cheered when asked if they would like to get a rematch when Kings Promotions returns to the Valley Forge Casino Resort in June, so look for unfinished business to be settled at that time.
Quinonez out-duels Sloane
York, PA junior welterweight Sammy Quinones (2-1, 1KO) moved above the five hundred mark with a four round unanimous decision victory over Philly’s Korey Sloane (2-6-2).
Quinones fell behind early as the pressure from the Sloane was finding its’ mark and Quinones was forced to fight on the retreat.
The bout turned in the second as Quinones began to work the body. Sloane tried to fight from distance but Quinones continued the pressure right through the third round.
You could see Sloane wear down from the pressure in the fourth and final round as Quinones mixed up good body work in short combinations while playing it somewhat safe.
All three judges saw the bout in favor of Sammy Quinones by scores of 40-36 x 2 and 39-37 respectively.
Staton impresses in debut
In the opening bout of the evening super featherweight Sultahn Staton looked in impressive in his professional debut with a second round TKO victory over fellow Philadelphian Kenneth Brown (0-2).
Sultahn controlled the bout throughout the opening round behind tight jabs and short combinations. Staton stepped up the pace and wore down the winless Brown, who could only run and clinch. Saton cornered Brown in the closing moments of the second and unloaded three heavy hooks the had brown in trouble as the round came to a close. Brown retired in his corner between rounds.