By Kurt Wolfheimer
Undefeated welterweight prospect Mike “MJ” Jones (22-0, 18 KOs) retained his NABA and NABO titles with a dominant but somewhat controversial fifth round knockout of Irving Garcia (17-5-3, 8 KOs) on Friday night’s boxing card in Boardwalk Hall’s Adrian Phillips Ballroom in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The nationally televised victory on SHOWTIME’s popular ShoBox series put the hard hitting Philly welterweight one step closer to a world title shot. “I want Andre Berto next, said Jones after the fight. “I think that is a fight that would be fight that the major networks would definitely want.”
Jones’ promoter, Hall of Famer J Russell Peltz, also spoke on the future of the rising welterweight superstar. “Mike really wants the Berto fight and If Berto wants it then that is what we will do,” said Peltz.
“There are several other options available if that does not happen such as a fight with the WBA interim champion Soulemane M’Baye, or Jesus Soto Karass. We would also welcome the opportunity to fight an IBF eliminator with Randall Bailey. Kathy Duva has also talked with me about a possible fight at the Prudential Center in Newark later in the year.
“I decided long ago that I would not be dictated by how I promote Mike Jones by the networks and other people who tell us how we should move him,” continued Peltz. “We are independent and do fights on a fight-by-fight basis.
“Mike is number two in the world and nationally known. What used to be a problem about getting Mike Jones fights on national television, turned out to be an plus, because Mike became a cause celeb as many writers wrote and asked why he wasn’t there.
“Nobody wants to fight Mike. We reached out to Alfonzo Gomez a year ago and they want no part of him. We called the people at Golden Boy about a fight with Saul Alvarez with no luck. I don’t want Mike to be one of these guys that sits around and waits for a fight on a network. He needs seasoning. I believe fighters only get better by fighting.
“We have a strong team in Doc Nowicki (co-manager), Jim Williams (co-manager and cut-man and a great fighter in Mike Jones, who will only get better and soon should be a world champion.”
Friday night was the night that the highly ranked welterweight sensation would possibly show his true form that us east coast residents have come accustomed to seeing in the early portion of his career. Jones knew the importance of this bout and proceeded with caution in the opening round. Both fighters were cautiously fighting on the inside which led to a few clashes of heads.
Jones seemed to find his rhythm in round two and started throwing uppercuts on the inside. “He kept bending over and my corner told me to throw the uppercuts,” said Jones. Garcia saw the clashes of head left some puffiness under the eyes of Jones and then targeted them with good left jabs.
Jones began to walk through the jabs in the third and popped left hooks and jabs while on the outside. Jones punches became heavier in mid-round and the crowd began to roar. Late in the round the heavy handed Philadelphian planted three straight uppercuts underneath which wobble Garcia.
Irving Garcia went back to jabbing in fourth but Jones seemed to be less bothered and continued with uppercuts. While inside, Jones dug a few spots to the body which seemed to take the air out of Garcia’s sails.
Mike was in control right from the bell in the fifth as Garcia continued to wear down from his body shots and wide array of heavy hooks and right hands. Garcia tried to fight back but Jones forced him to the ropes. Garcia covered as Mike bounced four consecutive uppercuts off his body. Garcia bent over and it appeared one more punch landed would end the bout. Jones obliged with a left uppercut but it went below the belt which sent Garcia to the canvas. Referee Randy Neumann ruled it a knock down and counted him out at 1:25 of the 5th round.
Though the punch may have been below the belt, it seemed clear to many of the writers at ringside was that a five minute period if they called it a low blow and resuming the bout would only have delayed the inevitable.
“I knew I had the fight when I went to the body because he made an umph sound and I knew he was hurt, “said Jones.
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The card promoted by Peltz Boxing also had its share of upsets, including a surprising ninth round stoppage of Antwone Smith (18-2-1, 10 KOs) by Lanardo “Pain Server” Tyner (24-3, 15 KOs) in the ten round co-feature.
The 23-year-old Antwone Smith of Miami Florida knew a good showing tonight could set him with a future SHOWTIME bout with Mike Jones if he could only get by rugged 34-year-old Lanardo Tyner of Houston, Texas. Both fighters were known for their unwillingness to take a backward step so the fight went right to a fight on the inside as each fighter took their turns with tight combinations.
Smith appeared to wrest control of the bout in round three as Tyner began to back up to gain distance which allowed the bang several good right hands as swept splashed from the face of the thirty four year old veteran.
In the fourth Tyner turned the table by being the busier fighter on the inside with brutal shot underneath. Antwone tried to open up with a few good combinations but Tyner picked his spots to bang away with heavy counters.
The fight began to change in the fifth as Smith began to back up for the first time in the fight. This allowed him to move from side to side and pick his shots which kept Tyner off balance. In mid round, Antwone connected with a nice leaping left hook. Tyner returned fire in the closing moments to make the round close.
After a close sixth round Tyner appeared to cut Smith in a slow seventh which forced him to box on the outside. Tyner was just busy enough.
Tyner pushed Smith to the ropes and appeared to hurt him with a series of blows in round eight. Smith went from ropes to ropes as Tyner continued to attack relentlessly. The left eye of Antwone Smith seemed to instantly swell from the onslaught. Smith appeared to have trouble seeing the shots coming from Tyner who continued to batter him. Smith was not done and fought back with a counter one-two combination, but Tyner just kept coming forward battering away.
Tyner sensed that Smith was in bad shape and went right after him in the ninth round. Smith was on the retreat and forced to the ropes. Tyner seized the opening and unleashed a powerful left hook which forced Smith to cover up. Finally a right hook to the body followed with a hook up top crumpled a bruised and battered Smith to the canvas. Referee Earl Morton appropriately called a halt to the proceedings at 1:15 of the ninth round.
A jubilant Tyner spoke about what made the difference in the fight immediately afterward. “My trainer told me it is there for you and you just have to go out and take it and that is exactly what I did. “
“I need the fight with Jones,” said Tyner. “I fought hard to get the victory tonight. He (Smith) said he wanted the fight more than, me but I guess he didn’t tonight.”
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What looked like a short night for hard hitting Philly welterweight Ardrick “The Hit man” Butler ended with a shocking and viscous second round knockout by the always upset minded Manuel Guzman of Lancaster PA.
The bout originally schedule for six was rushed out and moved to a four rounder to accommodate the ShoBox televised portion of the show.
It appeared that the change in rounds would not make a difference as Ardrick Butler immediately sent Guzman down with a right hand up top, just moments into the opening round. Guzman was able to get up and weather the storm. Butler let his guard down while on the attack and Guzman found his mark with a counter straight left. Butler looked surprised as he found himself on the seat of his pants but got up and boxed his way to the bell.
The knockdown in the first seemed to regain the confidence of the Lancaster PA native who began to swing with heavy right hands. The round was going back and forth as each fighter opened up the arsenals. Late in the round Guzman looked like he was going to go inside on the taller Butler, who then reached out as if to try and clinch. Guzman instead swung a devastating overhand right which landed flush on Butlers jaw and sent him to the canvas like a rock. Butler was out cold before he hit the canvas and there were a few tense moments before he rose to his feet and was placed on a chair. The time of the knockout occurred at 2:53 of the second round.
Manuel Guzman ups his record to 7-9-2, 2KO’s. Ardrick Butler loses for just the second time in his career, falling to 5-2, 2KO’s.
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Wilmington Delaware’s “Rockin” Ryan Belasco was able to rebound from two consecutive losses with a workmanlike six round unanimous decision victory over tough Philly veteran Kevin Carmody.
Belasco known in the area for his action packed fights had to grind this one out as Carmody was slick and kept the action at close quarters throughout the six round bout. Though the rounds were close Belasco appeared to be the stronger and busier fighter to capture at least five of the rounds on this writer’s scorecard.
All three judges saw the bout easily in favor of Belasco by scores of 60-54 and 59-55 x 2, for the unanimous decision victory. Ryan Belasco moves to a solid 12-4, 3KO’s while Kevin Carmody drops to a deceiving 10-13-3, 1KO.
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Jason “The Machine” Sosa proved up to his nickname as he wore down Clinton B. “Pretty Boy Douglas to capture the four round unanimous decision victory.
Sosa a Camden native came out bombing, but Douglas used his slick defense to try and fight on the outside with counters and left jabs. Clinton landed a nice right hand near the end of the round but Sosa wasn’t fazed.
Rounds two and three were all Sosa who pressed the action on the inside with body work and combinations. Clinton couldn’t gain the room to fight at a distance as many of his punches missed their mark.
Sosa continued to press throughout the fourth and clearly dominated the final round with non-stop pressure. All three judges saw the bout in favor of Jason Sosa by scores of 40-36 x 2 and 39-37 respectively. Jason Sosa up his record to 3-0-1, 1KO. Clinton Douglas drops to a respectable 3-4-2, 1KO.
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Unbeaten Bronx junior middleweight prospect Steven Martinez (5-0, 4KO’s) had to overcome a very determined Jason Thompson(5-7-1, 4KO’s) of Brooklyn before earning a well deserved second round technical knockout in the battle of fellow New York rivals.
It seemed like the old game of “six inches” in the early going as both fighters tried to gain control and each continually exchanged hooks to each other’s faces in toe-to-toe non-stop action. Martinez seemed to be getting the better of the exchanges as the round progressed, but a right hand caught him off balance and sent him to the canvas. The referee called it a slip and rubbed off the gloves.
Martinez turned up the heat in round two, digging in with heavy combinations and counters. Jason Thompson tried to return fire. It would be a big mistake as Martinez found the mark stunned him with an overhand right. Thompson stumbled back to the ropes. Martinez smelled blood and attacked with a fury and dropping him with a four punch combination. Ricardo Vera immediately stepped and called a halt to the bout at the 2:22 mark of the second round.
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Undefeated light heavyweight Anthony Caputo Smith looked like a fighter in the style of Rocky Marciano on Friday night, as he ducked his head low and relentlessly battered Walter Edwards over two rounds of their scheduled four round bout. The overhand right from Caputo constantly contorted the upright Walter Edward’s face and put him on the defensive.
The end finally came in round two as Anthony trapped the North Carolina native against the ropes and uncorked a big right hand. The brutal shot landed flush on the jaw of Edwards who fell back unto the second rope, which prevented him from hitting the canvas. Two more Caputo hooks to the body and referee Steve Smoger had seen enough and stepped in and called a halt to the carnage at 2:44 of the second round
Anthony Caputo Smith of Kennett Square, PA jumps to 5-0. 4KO’s, while Walter Edwards slides to 1-5, 1KO.
The nephew of Temple Offensive Lineman Stevie Caputo, will be back in action on August 27th at the Dover Downs Casino in Dover, Delaware against an opponent to be announced shortly.
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Cape May, New Jersey welterweight prospect Josh Mercado raised his 5-1, 2KO’s with a hard fought four round unanimous decision victory over tough Philadelphian Kywame Hill.
Mercado had trouble in the early going with the size and the activeness of Hill and was caught with several counters.
The Cape May New Jersey native regained his composure in round two and began to set down on his punches. Hill would not retreat and dug several body shots of his own. Mercado increased his punch output which slowed Hill considerably in the closing seconds.
In round three Mercado backed Hill up against the ropes and snapped a nice uppercut. Hill clinched and moved out of trouble. Mercado continued to press the attack but could not hurt the hard-nosed Philadelphian, who returned with a couple of hooks of his own to keep the round close.
The fourth and final round was close but Josh came on in the final minute with several big combinations. In the closing seconds of the fight, a Mercado left uppercut appeared to stun Kywame Hill who backed toward the ropes. Josh followed up with a big left right combination but the bell sounded to end round before any further damage could be inflicted.
All three judges saw the bout 39-37 in favor of Josh Mercado.
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Undefeated Camden, New Jersey welterweight prospect Miguel Corsino (2-0, 2KO’s) wasted little time in disposing Harrisburg PA Epifano Cosme Rodriquez (0-3) with a convincing first round technical knockout.
Corsino jumped on Rodriquez just moment after the opening bell sounded, flooring him vicious four punch combination. Rodriquez rose to his feet, but just moments later, two upper cuts landed flush and a left hook deposited a badly hurt Rodriguez to the canvas for the second and final time. Epifano rose to his feet, but was on unsteady legs. Referee Steve Smoger wisely waved the bout of at fifty eight seconds of the opening round.
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Journeyman super middleweight Rafael Jastrzebski (3-6-1, 1KO) spoiled the debut of Southwest Philadelphia’s Joe Dunn with a one sided unanimous decision victory in the opening four rounder of the evening.
Jastrzebski of Atlantic City, New Jersey had tested some of the up and coming prospects over the last several years with little success, but seemed determined right from the opening bell with constant pressure. Dunn’s strategy appeared to be to wait out the flurries and throw a couple hard counters as he felt out the journeyman. It would be a big mistake though as the Atlantic City native seemed to gain confidence with each passing minute that the fight went on.
Dunn seemed to tire from the constant flurries and by round three his mouth was open , as he swung wildly and went on retreat from the more experienced Atlantic City native. Jastrzebski behind a small local contingent of boisterous fans, just wouldn’t let up and poured it on throughout the third round as Dunn was caught constantly with his back to the ropes. Many at ringside were waiting for the referee to stop the fight but to no avail.
The southwest Philadelphian was tough though and even put up one last effort in the fourth and final round, but Rafael took his time and continued with his constant pressure. The flurries became just arm punches with little power as Rafael tired but Dunn was spent also, so the bout went the distance. All three judges gave every round to Rafael Jastrzebski by scores of 40-36 across the board.