Popular Connecticut heavyweight Tony “TNT” Grano (15-1-1, 12 KOs) made his much anticipated return, earning a six-round unanimous decision victory over Rochester, New York’s Jermell “The Truth” Barnes (18-19-2, 4 KOs) on Friday night at Ken Shamrock’s Lions Den Fitness Center in Middletown Connecticut. Grano was more than impressive in his first return to the ring since his September upset loss to Mark “Oak Tree” Brown, scoring a shutout victory over the seasoned veteran Barnes.
Barnes was tough, as expected, and had his moments in the heavyweight affair, but Grano was simply the better of the two, landing heavy-handed, ill-intended punches throughout. If it wasn’t for the rock-solid chin of Barnes, who has only been stopped once in his career, this bout would certainly have ended in a knockout. All three judges at ringside scored the bout 60-54 in favor of Grano.
The bout headlined Doug Cartelli’s Hard Hittin’ Promotions first ever boxing show and if it was any indication of things to come, New England boxing fans have a lot to look forward to! Friday night’s event was action-packed from bell to bell, and the fight fans in attendance certainly left content that they got their money’s worth. “There are some things we have to fine tune, but all in all I’m very pleased with the fights and the attendance,” stated Cartelli. “We’re going to run many more shows at this venue. We got off to a great start, and we are committed to making this work.”
In other action, Juan Nazario (6-1-1, 4 KO’s) and Jason Rorie (2-2-2, 1 KO) fought to a six-round majority draw in their junior lightweight match-up. While contrasting styles often make for lackluster boxing matches, nothing could have been further from the truth in this bout. While Nazario opted to run for most of the fight, Rorie stalked him relentlessly. The action was often, going back and forth, with both of the fighters giving and taking throughout. As well-matched as all the bouts were tonight, credit goes out to matchmaker Danny Sheehan who really hit a home run with this one! Upon completion of the bout, one judge scored the fight for Rorie (58-56), while the two other judges tallied the fight at 56-56, resulting in a majority draw.
Philadelphia’s Simon Carr (5-3-1, 3 KO’s) put in the finest performance of his professional career, outpointing West Virginia’s Clarence Moore (5-6-1, 5 KO’s) in six-round cruiserweight action. Carr was a beast in this one, moving forward constantly, staying very busy with his hands, and really ripping some strong shots at both the head and body of Moore. Moore, to his credit, fought back all night putting in a very valiant effort. Carr was in very good shape, and fought at a very good pace throughout each and every round, thus earning himself a unanimous six-round unanimous decision.
Brooklyn, New York welterweight prospect Martin Wright (8-0-2, 4 KO’s) maintained his unbeaten record with a devastating second-round knockout of Jefferson City, Missouri’s Shad “Crazy Train” Howard (13-14-3, 6 KO’s). In the first stanza Wright managed to control the action, although the veteran Howard was very game, landing some good shots of his own. Wright did manage to put a little more pressure on Howard upon completion of the round. In the second round, Wright came out quick, ultimately landing a huge shot, roughly 30 seconds into the round, forcing Howard to the canvas. While Howard was able to beat the count, the damage was done. Wright quickly pounced on the unsteady Howard, this time landing an even more impressive shot, once again introducing Howard to the canvas, where he would be counted out.
Providence, Rhode Island cruiserweight Keith Kozlin (3-0, 1 KO) maintained his unblemished professional record with a unanimous four-round decision victory over Davenport, Iowa’s Brandon Burke (0-5-1). While the winless Burke would have appeared to be easy pickings for the undefeated Kozlin, Burke managed to take everything Kozlin had to offer…and that was a lot. Kozlin landed some hellacious shots in this, the evening’s opening affair, yet Burke never once took a step back! By the end of the action-packed fight, there certainly wasn’t a person in the house that could believe Burke had yet to win a bout.