By Kurt Wolfheimer
Saturday night at the Duburns Arena in Baltimore, Maryland middleweights put on a slugfest that will be remembered as one of Maryland’s best fights of the decade as Jesse “The Beast” Nicklow (20-2-2, 7 KOs) barely outlasted Scott “Cujo” Sigmon (8-2, 3 KOs) in capturing a well deserved ten round unanimous decision victory that was just seconds away from going the other way. In the actual main event undefeated junior middleweight prospect James “Keep’em Sleepin” Stevenson (13-0, 10 KOs) won a less then crowd pleasing tactical ten round unanimous decision victory over a very defensive minded George “War time” Rivera (11-5, 4 KOs). The five bout card was promoted by Jake Smith’s Baltimore Pro Boxing.
The action for the middleweight war began months before on January 31st at Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington Maryland when Virginian Scott Sigmon, fresh off his victory over Ariel Espinal took the microphone with a Hefty bag in hand and offered to clean up Maryland by taking out the trash. He then proceeded to say the first piece of trash he would take was Jessie Nicklow. Though Nicklow was not in attendance, his friends were and to his aid stepped fellow boxer Mike “The Persecutor” Paschall who asked if he had a bag for him also. Paschall then went into the ring and said he apologized to the fans and he respected Sigmon, but that Nicklow was not there and it was not right to attack him without him being present to defend himself. Word got around and the fight was on.
Nicklow, a natural junior middleweight moved up in weight to fight the bigger Sigmon. To further the feud, Sigmon failed to make the contracted weight at the weigh in, further infuriating Nicklow. The Maryland native went on the offensive and taunted Sigmon who slapped him in the face. Nicklow swung at him, which resulted in a small scratch on Cujo’s face, further heating the feud. Later as was reported by Scott Sigmon’s promoter Joe Hensley, Sigmon’s car windows were smashed. Hopefully the police will catch the criminal(s) who did this, and justice gets served.
The crowd was electric as both fighters made the way two the ring. Each fighter had several hundred fans on hand to root them on.
Nicklow opened up underneath early in the opening round underneath with a couple big left hooks which backed up Sigmon. But Sigmon was game and pushed Jessie against the ropes with a couple wide combinations. Nicklow closed the round with a big counter left.
As the early rounds progressed Nicklow looked the stronger of the fighters as he continually banged away on the inside. Sigmon was caught opening up with a counter left the temporarily stopped him in his tracks. Nicklow’s corner knew it was a ten round fight and urged him to relax and box, but Jessie would have none of it and backed Sigmon into the corner with a four punch combination to the head and body. Scott Sigmon was not hurt though and seemed like he was willing to take all Nicklow could give and catch him in the later rounds.
Nicklow continued to push “Cujo” to the ropes where he could wail away in the middle rounds. However, you could see him beginning to tire from his heavy punch output. Sigmon looked in better shape and his wide shots were slowly finding their mark more often. A small cut appeared on the right eye of Sigmon. Both fighters traded furiously in the closing moments with heavy combinations as the crowd rose to their feet to root their fighters on.
The heavy punch output had finally appeared to tire Jessie who began to drop his hands and back away and box. Sigmon tried to push the attack and actually hurt Jessie with a one two combination late in round six. Nicklow immediately returned the favor and halted Scott Sigmon in his tracks with a lighter one-two of his own.
In round seven, “Cujo” pressed the attack, as Nicklow was barely avoided many of the heavier hooks from the heavy handed Virginian. Nicklow appeared to regain his second wind and returned heavy fire. With just thirty seconds to go in the round. Sigmon uncorked his best punch of the fight, a big left that wobbled Jessie. Nicklow ducked out of the way and tried to bang body in an effort to slow Sigmon down. In the final ten seconds, both fighters again went for broke, trading furiously with heavy combinations until the round came to a close.
Nicklow changed his attack and went to the body in round eight. Cujo sensed Jessie was tired and tried to push the attack with some wide sweeping shots. Both fighters appeared to be completely exhausted. A right hand from Nicklow bloodied the Virginians nose and his right eyelid was bleeding again.
Both Traded heavy flurries in round nine, which took a lot out of each fighter. Jessie refused to give way and continued to stay on the inside. Sigmon appeared to have more in the gas tank and tried to land a big couple of combinations but Jessie barely was able to avoid the shots.
The fight appeared to be in Nicklow’s favor, but he wouldn’t give quarter as both fighters looked to land the telling shot in the first half of the round. Nicklow’s gas tank finally reached empty and he went on retreat. Sigmon grabbed him and he fell to the canvas from exhaustion. Sigmon saw his opportunity and swung away in the final twenty seconds with all his might. Nicklow looked to be in big trouble, but Sigmon just couldn’t land the final shot as the bout went to the scorecards.
All three judges saw the bout in favor of Jessie Nicklow by scores of 99-91, 97-93 and 96-94.
A Special Surprise from Nicklow.
A gracious Jessie Nicklow had one more rabbit to pull out of his sleeve. He thanked everybody and then asked his girlfriend to enter the ring. Jessie took the microphone and said that he couldn’t have done this without her and then got down one knee and proposed marriage. She happily accepted and it would have provided a great ending to a wonderful night of boxing.
There was however the ten round main event of the evening billed for the East Coast Junior middleweight championship between undefeated knockout artist James “Keep’em sleepin” Stevenson and Virginia fan favorite George “Wartime” Rivera
The fight was a tactical chess match over the first three rounds as Rivera stayed on the bicycle, circling around the ring and keeping Stevenson from unloading, with stiff jabs and tight defense. James had his moments, but only one or two shots at a time as he piled up the points.
Stevenson looked frustrated by the tight defense of “Wartime” and began to force the action in rounds four through six. Rivera would make the rounds close though with a couple of short uppercuts mixed in with the left jabs.
In the seventh round Stevenson unloaded a nice uppercut, but Rivera was able to get off the ropes and out of trouble. Rivera was spun around and was off balance, bent over the ropes, when Stevenson made an inferred sexual grinding motion behind him as Rivera was waiting to be turned around by the referee. It seemed to create a spark in the audience as both fighters rabid fan bases began to argue. Rivera continued to frustrate him as Stevenson with short upper cuts on the inside and to take the final minute of the round.
Round eight sparked the rival fans flames when a Stevenson slipped below the border and put George Rivera on the floor for several minutes. A huge fight broke out on one side of the arena and time was taken to break up a very volatile situation in which a few punches and chairs were thrown. Many props need to be given to the security at the venue for acting quickly and stopping what could have accelerated into a highly dangerous situation. After a few moments the fight in the ring was resumed, with Rivera, who was winning the round before the low blow, pressing forward with short shots behind his tight defense for the second round in a row.
The five minute rest seemed to also light a fire to the man nicknamed “Keep’em Sleepin as he stepped up his attack and continually forced Rivera backward with heavy combinations, which turned the fight in his favor during the final two rounds. James Stevenson closed the show with a five punch combination in the corner. Rivera was able to get out and with a counter right and make it to the final bell.
All three judges saw the bout in favor of James Stevenson by score of 99-92, 98-93 and 96-94 for the unanimous decision victory. Stevenson ups his record to 13-0 with 10 KOs while George Rivera slips to (11-5, 4 KOs).
Undefeated knockout artist Emanuel “The Transformer” Taylor was taken the distance for the first time in his career, scoring a six round majority decision victory over Doel Carrasquillo.
Carrasquillo looked in tip top shape and pressed the attack in the opening two rounds with hooks and straight lefts. Taylor made the rounds close with counters, which caught an already off balance Carrasquillo and pushed him back a step, making the shots look more damaging then they were
Taylor upped his attack in round three and caught the iron chinned man from Lancaster, PA with heavy four and five punch combinations, but he just smiled and motioned Emanuel to bring it.
The hard hitting man from Edgewood, Maryland tried to end it in the fourth as he backed Carrasquillo up into the corner with a blistering four punch combination. Carrasquillo not only brushed it off, but even punched himself in the face twice to show he could take the best Taylor could give.
Both fighters went back to boxing in the fifth. Carrasquillo was the busier fighter, but Taylor made the round hard to call with a couple of nice counters. Carrasquillo did follow up most of those counters with right hooks.
Taylor went back to the one thing Carrasquillo couldn’t match in the sixth round and that was his quickness. Taylor constantly snapped Doel’s head back and kept him off balance until the final bell.
One judge saw the bout 57-57 (as did Fight news), but was overruled by the other two who scored it 58-57 and 59-55 respectively, giving Emanuel Taylor the majority decision victory.
“White Lightning” tested.
Unbeaten Alexandria, Virginia welterweight prospect Todd “White Lightning” Wilson (7-0, 1 KO) was severely tested, having to get off the canvas to capture a hard fought unanimous decision victory over Salisbury, Maryland’s Dontre King (1-7-1).
Wilson was overaggressive in the opening round and his punches were wide, which allowed king to score well up the middle. King gained confidence and as he countered Wilson and wobbled him backward with a straight right on the button. Wilson tried to fight back but another right on the inside put him on the canvas. Referee Gary Camponeschi ruled it a slip and picked him up and wiped off his gloves, even though he was on unsteady legs. Dontre tried to finish the job but his power was diminishing and his punches were wider. Wilson seemed to be getting his legs as he clinched. Finally bouncing away, Wilson swung a left but both combatants’ feet got tangled and he fell into the ropes. While sitting on the middle rope, King immediately hit him with a right and he fell partially through the ropes and touched his glove to the canvas to get back in the ring. This time Camponeschi ruled it a knockdown.
The effort put forth by King in the opening two rounds tired him and Wilson gained the advantage in the third as he tightened up his combinations. King looked dead tired in the fourth as both fighters continued to wail away in a back and forth slugfest. Wilson had gained his second wind and was landing cleaner shots. In the closing moments, he sealed the victory with a left on the button which sent King to the canvas. King was able to rise to his feet, but neither pugilist could land anything before the final bell sounded. All three judges scored the bout 38-36 x 3 for the unanimous decision victory in favor of Todd Wilson.
Kisner pummels Johnson.
Unbeaten Glenn Burnie Maryland prospect Nick Kisner moved to (2-0, 1 KO) with a three round beat down of heavyweight Kevin “The Journeyman” Johnson (3-4, 2 KOs) of Edgewood Maryland.
It was clear just minutes into the fight that Kisner had the quicker hands as he dissected Johnson with pinpoint combinations and foot movement. Johnson tried to open up with a few big right hands, but when he did, Nick forced him to be more defensive pinpoint counters. In round two, Kisner switched to southpaw and unloaded several big lead lefts which rocked Johnson. Immediately Kisner seized the moment and unloaded twelve unanswered shots. The only thing that slowed the onslaught was that Kisner tired and his mouthpiece fell from his mouth, which forced a stoppage. Late in the round, Nick mixed in body shots and a couple of big right hands. Johnson looked like a battered and bewildered fighter as he left the corner for round three, with his right eye swollen and moving slowly. Kisner resumed the onslaught. Johnson looked like a moving heavy bag, as he continued to receive heavy punishment without anything coming back in return. Referee John Gradowski had seen enough and finally called a halt to the bout at 2:45 of the third round.
Nick Kisner at the age of nineteen, continued his improvement as a pro with the one sided victory, though his size makes him more suited for the cruiserweight division.