By Kurt Wolfheimer at ringside
Photos: Tom Casulli
Professional boxing returned to the South Mountain Arena in West Orange, New Jersey this past Friday for the first time in eighteen years as GH3 and Greg Cohen Promotions presented an explosive eight bout card with local and international flavor. The ten round main event of the evening featured a battle of undefeated southpaw bantamweights as former two-time Dominican Olympian Juan Carlos Payano (13-0, 7 KOs) battled it out with explosive Jundy “Pretty Boy” Maraon of the Philippines (15-0-1, 12 KOs). When the dust settled, it was Payano who rose off the canvas to score the explosive knockout on the card nationally televised on ESPN2Friday Night Fights. In the eight round co-feature of the eight bout card, fellow Dominican Yenifel Vicente (25-1-2, 17 KOs) captured the vacant WBC FECARBOX junior featherweight title with a pulsating fourth round technical stoppage of local favorite Jorge Diaz (17-2, 10 KOs) of nearby New Brunswick, New Jersey.
The main event of the evening featured a pair of hard hitting featherweights looking to make a name for themselves by securing a signature victory over a fellow up and coming contender.
Payano entered the ring with extreme confidence, having an extensive amateur career and Olympic experience. In the other corner stood hard hitting former WBO Asia Pacific bantamweight title holder Maraon.
The fight opened with Payano stepping in and out of the pocket with a nice two-punch combination. Maraon looked to shake of eleven months of inactivity and appeared to start slow, but seemed to be coming on as the opening round came to an end. A cut was opened above the right of Payano and it looked like it came from an accidental head-butt.
The cut continued to bleed in rounds two and three as Payano carefully circled to his left and set traps for Maraon, who would get caught with a few counters as he leaped in. Maraon continued to press forward though looking to land a big shot and turn the tide.
Payano seem to be lengthening his points lead in the third, using his faster combinations to control most of the round. It all changed in the closing moments of the round as Maraon finally landed a big left on the chin and Payano wilted to the floor in a delayed knockdown. He rose to his feet as the bell sounded to end the third.
Maraon immediately went after his hurt opponent in the third but Payano landed a sharp straight left on the button slowed his advances.
Payano quickly regained his senses as round four finished and boxed well, slipping in and out with quicker combinations. Every time Maraon lunged in, Payano would slip and clinch, preventing him from landing anything of note.
Maraon changed his tactics a bit in the sixth as he targeted the body on the inside, but he abandoned the jab, which allowed Payano to time most of his shots.
Payano stepped up his attack in the opening seconds of the seventh round by pressing forward with a nice left hook followed by a combination. Maraon seemed to be defensive. Payano shot two quick lefts as Maraon backed up and turned away. This left a split second opening and Payano would not let it slip away, as he uncorked a deadly left up top. Maraon spun to the canvas like a corkscrew. Referee Randy Neumann reached the count of ten as Maraon continued to lay face first on the canvas. The official time of the knockout was 39 seconds of round seven.
After a few minutes Maraon was able to be put on a stool, but as a precautionary measure he was taken out on a stretcher to an ambulance to get a CAT scan according to the emergency personnel who took him out.
Vicente stops Diaz for FECARBOX title
In the eight round co-feature of the evening fellow Dominican Yenifel Vicente captured the WBC FECARBOX title with a fifth round stoppage of local favorite Jorge Diaz of nearby New Brunswick, New Jersey.
The fight lived up to its’ expectations right from the opening bell as Vicente went after Diaz with sharp combinations. Diaz had to shake off some ring rust of over sixth months and looked to box effectively in the early going. The fight change late in the opening round as Diaz backed up Vicente with a hard counter. Diaz went on the attack as Vicente backed to the ropes. Vicente forced him off though in the final seconds of the round with a short right of his own.
Vicente continued to be the aggressor in round two. Diaz seemed to hold his own as he circled to his left and boxed looking for a good counter.
The action went to the inside early in the third as Diaz tried to chop away at the body of the Dominican who had come in overweight and had to lose several pounds in the last week. Vicente did not look like the weight loss had affected as he stood up to the body assault.
Round three seemed to begin as a battle of wills as both fighters tried to gain ring supremacy. Diaz was busier on the inside, but Vicente began landing sharp uppercuts that snapped up the head of his aggressive opponent. Diaz countered with a wide hook which forced Vicente to take a step back, but he would not really retreat. Both began to trade and Diaz’s hooks were wide. Vicente saw an opening and shot a bristling right hand through the guard of Diaz. The shot found its’ mark and Diaz dropped to the canvas. Diaz rose to his feet and beat the eight count. Vicente immediately jumped on him as he desperately tried to get his legs underneath him. The barrage continued and a short right Diaz in bad shape against the ropes. Vicente let off another two shots before Referee Benjy Estevez Jr. stepped in to call a halt to the contest.
The official time of the TKO was 2:02 of the fourth round.
Vicente ups his record to 25-1-2 with 17 knockouts and captures the WBC FECARBOX title while Diaz loses for just the second time of his career, falling to 17-2 with 10 knockouts.
Unbeaten welterweight Anthony Gangemi (4-0, 3 KOs) was forced to go the distance for the first time as a professional in capturing a close four round majority decision victory over Anthony Prescott (1-2-1,1 KO). One judge saw it even at 38-38, but was overruled by the other two officials who saw it in favor of Gangemi by scores of 40-36 and 39-37, giving him the well-deserved four round majority decision victory.
Hard hitting heavyweight prospect Lavarn “Baby Bull” Harvell (13-0, 7 KOs) dropped Paul Vasquez (9-4-1, 3 KOs) once in the opening round, but was forced to go the distance in order to capture a hard fought six round unanimous decision victory by scores of 60-53, 59-54 and 58-55.
Rickey “Paterson Boy” Edwards (2-0, 2 KOs) needed only two minutes and twenty seven seconds to finish Larry Yanez (3-5-2) in the opening round of their scheduled four round lightweight contest. Edwards finished the show with a perfect three-punch combo that stood a stunned Yanez up against the ropes. Referee Sparkle Lee stepped in to prevent any further damage calling a halt to the contest at 2:27 mark of the first round.
Unbeaten heavyweight Tyrell Wright (2-0, 1 KO) had to get off the canvas in the opening round when Moses Marshall (0-1-1) landed a surprise hook up top. Wright returned the favor dropping his opponent three times in the second round. The last knockdown coming from a sharp left upstairs which dropped Marshall in the corner. Referee Randy Neumann stepped in and called a halt to the proceedings at 2:03 of the second round, giving Wright the TKO victory.
In the opening welterweight contest, Shakur “Thunder” Jackson (1-0, 1NC, 1 KO) captured his first victory of his career with a second round technical knockout of Michael “Indiana Boy” Pickett (1-5).
Jackson slowed Pickett down in the first with good body work. Jackson’s body shots were the key as he took control in round two backing his opponent towards a corner with two thundering hooks underneath. Pickett covered as Jackson let go with five unanswered shots up top. Pickett’s corner had seen enough and stepped up to the ring apron, forcing Referee Randy Neumann to call a halt to the contest at 2:03 of the second round.
In the walkout bout of the evening, talented middleweight prospect Antoine Douglas (8-0, 6 KOs) dropped “King” Ibaheim King (11-9, 5 KOs) once in the opening round and then battered him throughout en-route to a fourth round stoppage.