By Sam Geraci at ringside
Photo by Scott Romer
In the main event of CBA Promotions “Friday Night Fights in Indianapolis,” Army veteran and local middleweight fan favorite Eric “The Juggernaut” Draper (6-6, 2 KOs) of Indianapolis, IN stopped Keon Johnson (8-7, 4 KOs) of Indianapolis, IN, at 2:59 of the sixth round in front of a sold out crowd at the McGowan Hall—Knights of Columbus.
Johnson controlled the opening round with his jab and straight right while Draper attempted to pressure Johnson against the ropes in order to land the harder shots. Towards the end of the first, Johnson began to hold in order to subdue Draper’s attack. To start the second, Draper continued to pressure while Johnson was reduced to holding. Towards the middle of the round, Draper dropped Johnson with a quick combination upstairs in the center of the ring. While Johnson was able to beat the count and claimed that he was pushed, from that point one, it became clear that Johnson was weary of Draper’s power. Towards the second half of the round, Draper nearly sent Johnson through the ropes with a two-punch combination. Although Johnson again beat the count, he was devastated for the remainder of the round and was forced to hold in order to survive. Within the first thirty seconds of the third, Draper caught Johnson with another clean right that knocked out his mouthpiece and sent him flailing around the ring.
Johnson fled throughout the round and clinched whenever Draper was able to close the distance. Towards the end of the third and throughout the fourth, it became clear to the combatants and those at ringside that Johnson’s in ability to absorb Draper’s right hands and his complete lack of punching power were going to result in a stoppage. In the fifth, Draper came out determined to land the jab and effectively landed five jabs to open the round. After the first minute, Draper began to follow the jab with a straight right hand that landed every time he threw it and caused Johnson’s nose to bleed. With about a minute remaining in the round, Draper landed a quick straight right that sent Johnson to floor, but Johnson was able to argue that he was pushed. To close the round, Draper landed several powerful left and right hooks in a final flurry that almost floored Johnson again.
To start the sixth, Draper continued to stalk Johnson while landing the straight right. With Johnson forced to bring up his guard to defend against the jab and straight right, Draper wisely attacked the body with left hooks. Despite being dazed and bleeding from the nose and mouth, Johnson attempted to fight back but was ineffective as Draper simply walked through his arm punches. Despite Johnson’s attempts to keep Draper at bay, with about 45 seconds remaining in the round, Draper landed several stiff jabs that dazed and blinded Johnson before landing a crisp straight right that sent Johnson crashing to the mat. Although Johnson showed heart in stumbling to his feet, his corner wisely tossed in the towel at 2:59 of the sixth.
In the only bout of the evening that went to the scorecards, gritty veteran Mustafah Johnson (9-16-1, 2 KOs) of Indianapolis, IN, outworked the always-crafty Anthony Bowman (10-42-2, 2 KOs) of Jackson, TN, over six hard-fought rounds at 157 pounds to score a unanimous decision with three scores of 58-56. In the first, with the crowd behind him, Johnson attempted to pressure Bowman but Bowman’s slick shoulder roll and ability to land looping rights carried the round. In the second, Johnson imposed his will to break through Bowman’s crafty defense by attacking the body and then landing some solid right hand shots upstairs. While Bowman still managed to land several flashy looping rights, Johnson’s activity and bodywork carried the round.
Towards the end of the second, instead of throwing the looping right after ducking Johnson’s shots as he had done throughout the first, Bowman began to play to the crowd by posturing after each of Johnson’s misses. Round three was give and take throughout with Bowman landing the cleaner shots, especially the left hook to the body and the looping right, while Johnson was the aggressor and might have done enough to steal the round with a flurry in the last ten seconds. Round three was a very difficult round to score, but it appeared that Bowman did enough to carry the round. In the fourth, Johnson’s activity carried the round and the right hand leads that Bowman was slipping throughout the first and second began to find a home.
Towards the end of the fourth, Bowman clearly looked fatigued. Despite Johnson’s success, whenever Bowman threw more than two shots followed by the right hand, he always scored big with the right; Johnson had no defense for Bowman’s looping rights. In the fifth, Johnson came out determined to double the jab and to pound Bowman’s body. Throughout the fifth, Bowman’s lack of conditioning and punching power showed as Johnson battered him with jabs, lead rights, lunging left hooks, and thudding hooks to the body. In addition to getting caught with everything that Johnson was throwing, Bowman appeared to have lost his swagger towards the end of the fifth and was simply trying to survive. The fifth was a big round for Johnson and towards the end of the round it appeared that he was on his way to a stoppage. With the fight on the line in the sixth and final round, despite Bowman’s lack of conditioning and the beating he took towards the end of the fifth, Bowman came out determined to land his looping rights again to pull off the upset. Johnson, however, outworked him throughout the round and was able to turn Bowman, who was now fighting on heart and instinct alone, after landing scoring with two and three punch combinations. Johnson’s conditioning and ability to absorb Bowman’s punches were the difference in the round. Both fighters showed that they still have enough in the tank to serve as a solid tune-up for a veteran or a good test for a rising prospect.
In the third bout of the evening, light heavyweight Ray Lucies (2-0, 2 KOs) of Lafayette, IN, stopped Albert Harkins (1-4, 1 KO) of Battle Creek, MI, in the first round. Lucies countered Harkins to the body throughout the first before unleashing a series of left and right hooks that sent Harkins crashing to the mat.
In his pro debut, heavyweight Shaun Seymore (1-0, 1 KO) of Hamilton, OH, showed enough speed and strength to force the corner of Robert Mendoza (0-5) of Frankfurt, IN, to throw in the towel after just 27 seconds. After the bout, Mendoza’s trainer informed Fightnews that he had a responsibility to protect his fighter and that despite the audience’s dissatisfaction it was obvious that Seymore was just too strong for his fighter.
In the first bout of the evening, junior middleweight Joe Hughes (3-0, 2 KO) of Indianapolis, IN, stopped Aaron Lucky (0-4) of Anderson, IN, in the second round after scoring three knockdowns. After weathering Lucky’s early storm to begin the first, Hughes controlled the round with his double jab and leg movement. Towards the end of the first, Hughes also began to counter with a left hook to the body. To start the second, Lucky again attempted to storm Hughes but his aggression was thwarted by Hughes’s beautiful counters to the body. Hughes scored three knockdowns in the round before referee Kurt Spivey called a halt to the bout at 1:52. The first knockdown was a counter chopping right; the second was a left hook to the body that caught Lucky off balanced; and the third was a combination of hooks upstairs that sent Lucky crashing to the floor.
After the event, boxer turned promoter Cedric Johnson shared his thoughts on the night’s action.
“These guys all worked hard and the fans were all riled up. Indianapolis hasn’t had fights in about four years, and we are happy to be the ones bringing it back. We are looking forward to returning with another show in February.”
When asked if he had any plans to return to the ring, Johnson smiled and stated, “Boxing is in my blood, and I always stay in great shape. The fans might see me on one of my cards in March.”