By Christopher P. Cook at ringside
In front of a capacity crowd at the stunning A La Carte Event Pavilion in Tampa, Florida, St. Petersburg’s Inka Laleye scored the biggest victory of his young career, defeating Manny Woods to claim the Florida State Light Middleweight title. The night also saw Kenneth Lacy win his second professional contest and prospects Justin Jones and Radivoje Kalajdzic continue their winning ways. Fight Night Productions in association with Ker’s Wing House brought together an exciting night of boxing to the Tampa area.
Headlining the card, Inka Laleye (5-1-3, 1 KO), 152.8 lbs met local staple Manny Woods (8-2-1, 3 KOs), 153 lbs, also hailing from St. Petersburg, Florida. This match was a rematch of a September fight of last year which saw the fighters battle to a majority draw. Woods opened the fight strong, landing a nice left hook that stunned Laleye in the first. Laleye fought a defensive fight early on, letting Woods come to him and dictate the pace. Inka was warned in the third by the referee for rough-housing and almost immediately after received a point deduction due to hitting Woods three times after the referee called for a break.
In the fifth round Woods came out strong, landing flurries of punches. Inka weathered the storm and turned the tides as Woods tired. Inka was able to catch Woods as he moved in to attack with counter lefts and rights. The middle rounds were much of the same concluded with an exciting eighth and final round. Both boxers came out looking for the KO, trading in the center of the ring. Displaying heart and determination, both battled until the bell. This bout ended up similar to the prior match between the two fights: a split decision. Judges Ged O’Connor (76-75) and Brian Garry (77-74) saw the match for Laleye, while Emil Conforti saw it a near sweep for Woods (79-72). In winning the rematch, Inka also won the Florida State Light Middleweight title.
In the co-main event of the night, Fight Night Productions let the fans determine the contest. In a unique way of involving the fans into the night, Fight Night encouraged fans to vote on Twitter to let them know who they wanted to see in the co-main event. The fans voted and Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy’s brother Kenneth “Right Hook” Lacy (2-0-0, 1 KO), 234 lbs. Lacy was originally scheduled to face Larry Slayton, but Slayton pulled out of the fight a week prior. Chris “The Beast Boy” Barnett (1-4-0, 1 KO) stepped in with a week notice to battle against “Right Hook.”
Lacy was able to dictate a lot of the pace during the bout, landing several short blows to the head of Barnett in the second round. Barnett’s protector kept riding up in the fight and came to haunt him in the fourth as a low blow by Lacy in the fourth dropped Barnett for several minutes. In obvious pain, Barnett held on to finish the bout, however, it allowed Lacy to capitalize and score a points victory over the Beast Boy. Scores for the bout were unanimous in 40-36 (judges Emil Conforti, Brian Garry, and Don Balas).
St. Petersburg’s Alphonso Black (3-0-1, 2 KOs), 151.8 lbs, swept the cards against Darrell Eacholes (0-1-1), 154.6 lbs, winning 40-36 on all three judges’ scorecards (Brian Garry, Don Balas, and Ged O’Connor). Black came out quick and accurate in the first, showing good poise for a young fighter. Black remained more active throughout the bout creating headaches for Eacholes, as he never found opportunities to land combinations.
Up and coming Radivoje Kalajdzic (6-0-0, 4 KOs), 173 lbs, was taken the distance by a game Mark Sanders (3-4-1, 2 KOs), 172.8 lbs. Sanders opened the bout strong, working the body of Kalajdzic and moving well enough to avoid his punches. Kalajdzic opened up more in the middle rounds, finding better rhythm and connecting with his straight rights. After knocking out four of the first five opponents, Kalajdzic never found that elusive blow but was able to walk out with a unanimous decision victory 59-55 twice (Emil Conforti and Brian Garry) and 60-54 (Ged O’Connor).
Undefeated Justin Jones (5-0-0, 3 KOs), 139.4 lbs, overcame a slow start to knockout Rohan Wilson (6-6-1, 1 KO), 140.2 lbs, at 1:10 of the fourth round. Wilson had the upper hand early in the bout, catching Jones as he moved in with solid rights. A gash opened up on the middle of Jones’ forehead in the second after a clash of heads during a clinch. Jones finally got inside on Wilson in the third and went to work on the body. Wilson’s energy visibly was depleted as he began fighting hunched over in exhaustion. Jones came out with a mission in the fourth, determined to get the knockout. Unleashing flurries of shots on the defenseless and energy-less Wilson, the referee took mercy and jumped in to stop the bout at the 1:10 mark of the fourth.
Clarence Booth (3-1-0, 2 KOs), 143.4 lbs, scored a TKO win against Marcus Powell (1-1-0, 0 KOs), 146.6 lbs. Booth landed early and often, staying poised and accurate throughout. In the opening stanza, Booth bloodied the nose of Powell and opened a gash along the left eye. Booth continued landing at will, forcing the referee to call a halt to the action at 0:58 in the third round. Powell’s corner was getting ready to throw in the towel right before the referee did it for them.
In the opening bout of the night Sheldon Moore (4-1-1, 3 KOs), 157.4 lbs, won a split decision contest against Donald Clark (2-2-0, 1 KO), 157 lbs. Moore opened the bout the aggressor, landing a pair of flush rights to the head of Clark. Bad blood became apparent in the fight as both took to trading freely in the middle of the ring and opting out of trying to move away from punches. Moore allowed the fight to remain close, while he was able to land the more telling blows; he let Clark stay far more active than him. In a tale of effectiveness versus output, the judges saw the match differently with two scores of 39-37 for Moore (Brian Garry and Ged O’Connor) and one 39-37 for Clark (Don Balas), giving Moore a split decision victory.
Fight Night Productions returns to Tampa on September 14th at the A La Carte Event Pavilion.