By Phil Doherty
Photos by Sam Cohen and Reynaldo Sanchez
Pugilistic Promotions promised “one hell of a card” for last night’s fourth installment of the Badia Spices Friday Night Fight series at the Magic City casino. That is exactly what they delivered. Promoter and current Florida Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Ramiro Ortiz rejoiced with partner and former FBHOF inductee Enrique Encinosa following the conclusion of the main event. The card provided eight highly competitive bouts in front of the largest and loudest crowd to date despite the cooler temperatures. Ortiz and Encinosa gave credit to Richard Dobal’s exceptional matchmaking; which proved yet again boxing is on the rise in South Florida.
Nigerian-born IBO Latin American middleweight champion Eromosele “Bad Boy” Albert (23-4-1, 12 KOs) successfully defended his title against Lester “El Cubanito” Gonzalez (11-3-1, 6 KOs) in the main event.
The bout quickly turned into a bloody, brutal battle of wills as Albert tried to break down the rugged Cuban-born southpaw.
Albert launched wicked right hooks to Gonzalez’s body throughout the first two rounds to set up his combinations upstairs. Gonzalez hardly blinked while returning fire with straight lefts and uppercuts then spinning away from the advancing Albert. Albert’s corner, including trainer Orlando Cuellar screamed at him to close the distance and work inside to chip Gonzalez apart.
Gonzalez started to score with right hooks in the third round; finding chances to counter Albert’s relentless barrage. Albert redoubled his attack in the fourth; grunting heavily with each furious shot as Gonzalez stood toe to toe leveraging left uppercut counters. The fight moved into the proverbial “phone booth” with each man refusing to yield ground to the other.
Gonzalez continued to come on in the fifth with right hooks and left uppercuts. Two solid left hooks from Albert backed up “El Cubanito” who started breathing heavily from the inhuman pace. Albert maintained the torso thumping on Gonzalez with left and right hooks downstairs. Both fighters furiously exchanged as the bell ended the fifth.
Inevitably as the opposite-footed fighters tired, their heads came together in the sixth. Albert complained to referee Frank Santore; who told him to keep punching. Seconds later another incidental clash of heads tore a nasty gash on the bridge of Gonzalez’s nose. Albert sensed an opportunity to take advantage and unloaded a three punch combination at the bell.
Gonzalez frenetically attacked to start the seventh with a big scoring left hand. Albert responded with more right hooks to the body and Gonzalez slipped awkwardly on the sponsor logo advancing towards him. The “Bad Boy” pushed through the fatigue and found purchase with a left hook-right uppercut combination that slowed Gonzalez. Not to be outdone, Gonzalez fired a big straight left of his own that excited the passionate pro-Cuban crowd. Albert showed his warrior heart one more time with blistering 3-punch hooks and uppercuts to gas the bloody Gonzalez at the close of the round.
Following the yin and yang nature of the affair, Gonzalez started the eight with a huge left hand upstairs to try to reclaim the momentum. Albert worked digging hooks to “El Cubanito’s” midsection and right uppercuts to the head. Gonzalez mustered another assault to score left uppercuts of his own but Albert replied with another head and body combination. With blood flowing freely from a possibly broken nose, Gonzelez returned to his stool breathing heavily through the mouth.
He would not return for the ninth.
Albert acknowledged his difficult, determined opponent’s effort as he left the ring, stating to trainer Orlando Cuellar: “He came to fight.”
Albert’s assistant trainer Trevor McKenzie told Fightnews at ringside the plan was to “keep the pressure on Gonzalez and outwork him.” Albert added: “He was a tough guy. I kept trying to get inside; sometimes it’s good to listen to your corner.”
When asked if he thought Gonzalez was breaking down during the action, Albert replied with a mix of confidence and awe: “He had to break down.”
The “sandman” visited the ring to begin the undercard as referee Sam Burgos delayed commencement of combat to clear sand from the canvas.
Prophetically, the sandman would return to put several fighters “to sleep” as well.
The first fight featured the professional début of young Cuban super featherweight Leduan Barthelemy from the fistic Barthelemy clan. It was a knockout performance as his opponent Shane “The Irish Man Tenney” (0-3) vainly tried to jump inside the range of the lanky southpaw. Tenney kept jumping in to land something meaningful while Barthelemy adjusted the range of his right hook.
He found it at 2:23 of the second round with a perfectly timed counter hook to catch a lunging Tenney on the button. Although referee Sam Burgos waved it off it didn’t appear Tenney would beat the count.
Puerto Rican junior welterweight Chris Velez (2-0-1, 2 KOs) upheld his knockout guarantee to stop game Nicaraguan-born Alejandro Artola (0-3) by TKO at 1:54 of the second round. Velez came out with guns blasting behind a strong jab and hurtful power shots to break down the brave Artola.
Velez knocked Artola’s mouthpiece out with a left hook followed by a big uppercut and right hand, which was enough for referee Frank Santore to stop the beating. Velez’s trainer disclosed his fighter trained himself for most of his career since the age of 8. Sadly, Velez recently mourned the passing of his father. (His mother died when he was 15.) Thankfully, the boxing future looks brilliant for this dynamic Miami resident.
The fight of the night possibly belonged to Ricardo Hernadez (5-0, 1 KO) and Jessy Cruz (3-3, 1 KO) for their four-round bantamweight contest. However, with the level of competition so high, it’s difficult to pick one bout above another. Both men gave it all with furious assaults for three minutes of every round to earn the other man’s respect; evidenced by the touching of gloves to end the second and third rounds. An incidental head butt opened a cut over the southpaw Cruz’s right eye in the third round but didn’t prevent him from continuing. Withering attacks from both warriors continued right to the final bell.
Judges awarded Hernandez the majority decision, and you could understand the scorecard of one judge who saw it a draw (38-38). However, another judge scored it 40-36 for Hernandez; which didn’t seem to acknowledge the early success Cruz achieved. Hernandez’s trainer Jorge Rubio confirmed the game plan was to attack Cruz’s body, which yielded dividends during previous sparring between them.
In contrast to selecting the fight of the night, the knockout of the evening (and possibly the year) easily belonged to Cuban light heavyweight Yunieski Gonzalez (3-0, 3 KOs). Heavily tattooed former kickboxer Chris Kahn (0-1) found himself heavily tattooed in his pro boxing début against the stalking Gonzalez.
Gonzalez pursued his prey in deliberate, cold-blooded fashion with heavy right hands and punishing left hooks to start the action. Kahn immediately understood the danger as he circled to his left to regroup and figure a way to slow Gonzalez. When that failed, Kahn began to clinch in the second round. Gonzalez launched uppercuts to keep Kahn honest and open for the left hook to follow. Kahn’s reddening face snapped back from a left hook and right uppercut from Gonzalez that served as appetizer for the main course to come.
Firing a lead right and left jab, Gonzalez unleashed a terrifying straight right hand to momentarily freeze Kahn as his legs awkwardly collapsed below him; rendering him completely unconscious on the way to the canvas. The time was 2:30 of the second round but physicians spent several more moments attending to the prone fighter. Fortunately, he was able to leave the ring under his own power.
Gonzalez’s power reminds promoter Ortiz of former heavyweight legend George Foreman. It seems an apt description, although Sonny Liston also comes to mind when witnessing Gonzalez’s brooding, menacing demeanor in the ring.
One thing is for sure, it just became a bigger challenge for matchmaker Richard Dobal to find quality opponents for him.
Former lightweight Puro Pairol (3-0-1, 1 KO) scored a unanimous decision victory over veteran Jean Petit-Homme (5-20-4, 3 KOs) in a junior welterweight bout marred by repeated clinches. Pairol couldn’t seem to find sufficient space to effectively attack Petit-Homme; who looked to smother the Cuban’s aggressiveness. However, judges saw it unanimously for the attacking Pairol.
Cuban heavyweight Glendy Hernandez (5-0, 2 KOs) kept his undefeated record intact against Bahamian Jerry Butler (8-10-1, 8 KOs) in their six-round contest. The fight seemed to match an immovable object (Butler-at almost 290 lbs.) against an irresistible force (Hernandez). Hernandez fired one and two punch shots at Butler for most of the bout until the final round, when he poured extra mustard and punches on his obstinate opponent. Judges scored it unanimously for the Cuban.
The final undercard bout highlighted middle brother Rances Barthelemy (10-0, 8 KOs) against late substitute Anthony “Psycho” Woods (7-16, 3 KOs) in a six round junior welterweight battle. Barthelemy scored early and often as he literally chased Woods around the ring for most of the first two rounds. Barthelemy danced forward towards Woods with glee; firing hooks to the body and head.
Having no real answer for the aggressive, power punching Cuban, Woods got on his bicycle and circled the ring repeatedly looking for a way out.Unfortunately there was none as Woods failed to answer the bell for the third round.
The quality of the match ups and the raucous, rollicking nature of the growing crowds leaves no doubt Pugilistic Promotions is working “Magic” in Miami.