By Sam Geraci at ringside
Photos by Norman Ibarra – Hitz Boxing
In one of Chicago’s most anticipated pro debuts in sometime, amateur standout Semajay “The Truth” Thomas (1-0) of Chicago, IL, made his debut at welterweight by scoring a harder-than-expected unanimous decision over “The Future” Anthony Willis (1-4) of Battle Creek, MI, with scores of 40-36 twice and 39-35 on Friday night at Cicero Stadium in Cicero, Illinois. The event was presented by Bobby Hitz and Hitz Boxing Promotions who returned to the State after taking a short hiatus from Illinois boxing.
Much to the surprise of those in attendance, including Thomas, Willis survived round one and even appeared to be holding his own with his counter left hooks until the final fifteen seconds when Thomas scored with a barrage of dynamic left and rights that nearly sent Willis through the ropes.
Although Thomas dominated the second and wobbled Willis throughout the round, Thomas swung wildly with his held high and was caught with several solid shots, particularly left hooks, that a prospect with his promise should not have been caught with.
In the third, Thomas managed to carry the round with his movement, which set up his counter right. Toward the end of the round, however, Thomas appeared to tire.
To start the fourth, Willis backed Thomas to the ropes where both fighters fired wildly with their heads held and neither landing anything of significance. Willis pursued Thomas for the remainder of the round, as Thomas elected to backpedal in order to preserve himself while attempting to score from a distance. Toward the last thirty seconds of the round, however, Thomas was able to land several solid shots that might have stolen a close round.
After the bout, Thomas expressed that he intends to move down to 140 pounds and that he hopes to get back into the ring as soon as possible.
Despite winning the round and showcasing the world-class power and speed that has made him one of Chicago’s most talked about prospects in years, Thomas was not impressive in that he left himself open to counters and swung wildly throughout the bout. It is important to note that Thomas’s trainer, Nate Jones, was not in his corner for this bout.
Canas Decisions Coverson
In somewhat of a last minute switch and definitely a surprise, the junior welterweight bout between the always-exciting Antonio “Aztec God of War” Canas (8-1-1, 3 KOs) of Chicago, IL, and the always-game Greg Coverson Jr. (3-7-1, 2 KOs) of Detroit, MI, was moved from the main event to the co-main event. In that bout, Canas earned a workmanlike unanimous decision with two scores of 60-54 and one score of 59-55.
In the opening seconds of the bout, Coverson came out more aggressively than usual and backed Canas to the ropes to land a solid body shot. Shortly after, however, Canas unleashed his power and aggression and landed several dynamic body shots. As the round progressed, Coverson began to use his superior timing and defense to get Canas in position to land his crisp counters. Despite catching Canas with several clean shots, the power of Canas carried the round.
To start the second, Coverson again backed Canas to the ropes, but this time, was unable to land anything of significance. Toward the middle of the round, Canas turned the tide as he backed Coverson to the ropes and pounded him to the body. Throughout the second, despite effectively countering Canas with clean overhand rights as Canas jumped out of position, Coverson was unable to pull off the round because he was simply outmuscled.
In a round that Coverson appeared to do enough with his movement and uppercuts to get the nod, Canas rallied in the final thirty seconds of the third with thudding body shots as Coverson backed himself to the ropes to help absorb the blows. Canas’s burst to the body should have been enough to steal the round.
Although Canas appeared to become fatigued as the fourth progressed, his work to the body in the first minute of the round and a couple solid counter rights down the stretch carried the round.
Throughout the fifth, Coverson’s complete lack of punching power was the difference, as he out landed and outmaneuvered Canas but was unable to land anything to hurt him. That being said, in a close round, Coverson’s superior defense and ring generalship should have been enough to take a close round that Canas might have taken off.
In the sixth, Coverson continued to put himself in position to land but was unable to let his hands go, and even when he did, he was unable to land anything to stave off Canas’s aggression and blunt attack, which carried the round.
Navarro TKOs Bokhart
Welterweight Roy Navarro (3-0, 2 KOs) of Chicago, IL, scored a brutal TKO at 1:16 of the first after landing a thudding right hand to the body against William Bokhart (1-11) of Mishawaka, IN. Navarro punished his late sub to the body with left and rights, scoring his first knockdown with a left hook to the body and his second, which ended the bout, with a right uppercut to the body.
Navarrete TKOs Strickland
In the first bout of the evening, bantamweight fan favorite turned junior lightweight for the evening, Fidel Navarrete (2-0-1, 2 KOs) of Highland, IN, scored his second consecutive first round stoppage after sending Brian Strickland (0-3) of Indianapolis, IN, to the mat with a left hook upstairs. Navarrete pressured a timid Strickland throughout the round while breaking down his opponent with right hands to the body. Navarrete scored two knockdowns with right hands to the body before landing the left hook that lead to the TKO at 2:34.
“Night of the Rising Stars” is the first in a series of smaller shows that are intended to build fighters for Hitz Boxing’s larger series, “Fight Night at the Horseshoe,” which returns on September 13, with a terrific headlining bout between super middleweight Mike “Hollywood” Jimenez (11-0, 8 KOs) and Derrick “Superman” Findley (20-11-1, 13 KOs).