By Brian Grammer and Clint Rosser at ringside
Photos: Bob Barton
Ji-Hoon “Volcano” Kim (24-7, 18 KOs) showed why he is an ESPN fan favorite, as he erupted for more than 1200 punches in a 10 round lightweight contest showcased on ESPN Friday Night Fights’ main event. Kim won a unanimous decision over WBO #2 contender, Alisher “Ali” Rahimov (23-1, 12 KOs) in a contest that had the near capacity crowd at the Ameristar Casino and Spa on the St. Charles, MO riverfront.
Rumble Time Promotions in conjunction with Banner Promotions put on a 8 fight card as part of the kickoff to the Memorial Day weekend, with the main and co-main events being shown live on ESPN.
Kim put on a masterful display of endurance, averaging an astonishing 122 punches thrown per round, landing at a 24% clip, more than doubling his opponent’s output.
In round one, it appeared that Rahimov might make a short night of it as he began by landing a couple of crisp, short right hands followed by a stinging 1-2 combination. An accidental headbutt soon followed and the action was stopped momentarily by referee Jay Nady so that he could survey the damage. This would be a recurring theme through the contest as both fighters had a tendency to lean forward a bit and head clashes were inevitable. Upon resumption of the action, Kim appeared to be awakened and landed several combinations, ending the round with a solid uppercut to Rahimov’s chin.
The action continued in round 2 as both fighters settled into the frenetic pace that they would maintain throughout the contest, both landing combination after combination that was difficult for this writer to keep up with. The action was stopped only by a warning by Nady to both fighters for measuring.
Round three started with a thumping right cross from Rahimov to Kim’s ear that sent the South Korean fighter stumbling to his right. Kim immediately retaliated by firing combinations to his opponent’s head and body, slowing any counter from the Uzbek fighter. But, at the 10 second warning, both fighters again let their hands go, with Rahimov scoring the more telling blows.
Rahimov continued to pick up the pace in the fourth. After receiving a hook from Kim just after the opening bell, Rahimov pinned Kim against the ropes and began to beat him with combinations. Kim weathered the storm, spinning out of the situation and then keeping the Uzbek fighter at bay with quick, tapping jabs, until popping him with a solid right hand. The fighters then closed the distance between them, fighting shoulder to shoulder for close to a half minute, neither fighter giving the other any room to maneuver. Two right hands from Rahimov were countered by the South Korean with a tremendous 10 punch combination that brought the St. Charles crowd to their feet, cheering on the competitors. Rahimov ended the round with a right uppercut and left hook that seemed to take a bit of the starch from Kim.
Round five started a little slower, both fighters trying to establish the jab. Kim lands an uppercut to Rahimov’s belly. Inexplicably, Kim waved Rahimov to him, seemingly daring his opponent to come forward and exchange with him. The action then continued non-stop as they leaned in against one another and fired combinations. Rahimov doubled up the left hook, first to the body and then to the head, staggering Kim. A lead right hand from the Uzbek fighter stunned Kim further, but as Kim maintained through the contest, a good offense is the best defense as he retaliated with a right uppercut that lifted Rahimov’s head. Rahimov then went over-the-top with an overhand right, but is countered by a 4 punch combination that slowed his attack. A solid left hook from Kim at the bell seemed to stun Rahimov and again the crowd was roaring their appreciation for the warrior’s effort.
Rahimov started the sixth with a solid right hand. The fighter’s head come close together as the punch lands and Kim staggers backward toward his corner, claiming a headbutt. Although the fighter’s had come together many times up to this point, referee Nady seemed a bit skeptical about this one, however and reluctantly called time to give Kim a chance to recover. The brief rest seemed to energize Kim quite a bit as he came from the timeout firing, landing a hook and right hand on Rahimov, then a power jab from Kim drove his opponent into a corner, covering up. Rahimov popped Kim with a jab that only briefly slowed the attack as Kim a solid hook to Rahimov’s ear and then tripled up the hook to up and down Rahimov’s head and body. As the action continued hot and heavy, Kim dropped another four punch combo and finally another hook to the body that seemed to have Rahimov reeling to end the round.
A double jab from Kim was effectively countered by a Rahimov right hand at the beginning of round seven. Kim fell into a right hand from Rahimov and then the Uzbek fighter dropped another right hand that clipped Kim’s temple. Rahimov continued the onslaught landing a solid overhand right to Kim’s head and then another to his opponent’s eye. This round the action seemed to slow, which benefited Rahimov.
Rahimov continued the onslaught to start the eighth, shaking Kim with a solid right hand. As Rahimov continued the pursuit, Kim held his ground and popped Rahimov with a really good right hand. Kim followed up his attack with double hooks to the body and then one to his opponent’s chin. Rahimov pushed the South Korean into a corner with a combination of rights and lefts and his head, but Kim spun out of the predicament and bulls Rahimov into a corner of his own. The action is stopped again as Kim pitches forward, holding his midsection, claiming a low blow to the referee. As the action resumes, it appeared that Kim might be in trouble as Rahimov fires a crisp four punch combo to Kim’s head and ribs, but Kim is able to fight off of the ropes with both hands flying, sending the big crowd at the Ameristar into a frenzy. Kim’s defense continued as the offense, with Rahimov being held at bay by Kim’s two fisted attack. A short right hand from Rahimov slows the onslaught a bit, but it is immediately resumed as both fighters let their hands fly from the ten second warning to the bell.
Big shots from both fighters land as the ninth round begins. A left hand from Rahimov sent Kim reeling into a corner, but the South Korean retaliated with left hook that momentarily freed him from his predicament. But then, suddenly, Rahimov pounds his opponent against the ropes with a huge right hand. Kim continues to fight, popping Rahimov with a couple of left hands, but receives two rights in return that had the crowd thinking that Kim may be in trouble. Kim continues to fire back and two crisp left hands push the Uzbek fighter against the ropes. Both fighters are tired as they headed back to their stools.
A respectful touch of gloves started the tenth and final round and the crowd shows their appreciation with a standing ovation for a wonderful display of courage by both fighters.
A nice right hand clips Rahimov’s jaw but he is able to counter the shot with a left to Kim’s body followed by a right to the head. A right hand followed by a couple of hooks sends Kim against the ropes and the crowd anticipated an abrupt finish to the contest. Another left hand sent a reeling Kim against the ropes where a 5 punch combination followed. A chopping right from Kim slows the attack and then Rahimov is stumbled by a stinging left hand from the South Korean fighter. With his head down, Rahimov bullies Kim against the ropes, but wasn’t able to get much done. As the clock ticked down the final seconds, both fighters found themselves in the center of the ring, firing their remaining bullets at the other with both hands, the crowd on its feet, roaring their approval.
The judges seemed to prefer the more active Kim, as they gave him the unanimous decision victory on cards of 96-94, 98-92 and 97-93. Fightnews scored this all-action affair 97-93.
In the co-feature, “Vicious” Vince Thompson (11-0, 2 KOs) was not so vicious, with a workmanlike victory over local product and now Cleveland, OH resident, Joell “Joe Slick “ Godfrey (14-7-1, 6 KOs). Not much action in this contest as both fighters were content to pose and feint for long stretches during rounds.
In the first, Thompson was able to land a couple of long, overhand rights to the side of Godfrey’s head while Godfrey was content with trying to avoid as many shots as possible and counter what did come at him.
The second did not provide much better action, as Thompson was able to land a few telling blows on his opponent, namely a couple of left hooks to the body. Again, Godfrey was satisfied with trying to throw counter punches back Thompson, but the opportunities were few and far between.
In the third, Thompson was able to put together a couple of combinations that seemed to rattle Godfrey a bit. An uppercut that started for Thompson’s midsection ended a bit low, forcing referee Mike England to stop the action and give Thompson a few moments to recover.
Thompson began to let his hands go a bit more freely in the fourth, finding the range several times. Godfrey’s ability to slip these punches began to become more evident in this round as Thompson began to pile up more and more connects to Godfrey’s head and midsection.
More of the same in the fifth as Thompson started the round letting his hands go in combination, keeping the sedate Godfrey from mounting any kind of offense whatsoever.
Joell decided to ramp the action up in the sixth popping Thompson with a couple of good 1-2’s to start the round, but as the clock wound down, so did the activity of both fighters.
Between rounds six and seven, both corners got into their fighter’s ear and urged them to increase the output and both seemed to listen. As the bell tolled to start the seventh, Thompson fired up a lunging left hook to Godfrey’s ear and then another 1-2 snapped Godfrey’s head back sharply. A right to Thompson’s midsection followed up with a very crisp 3 punch combo that worked both the body and head, seemed to energize Godfrey a bit. A left hook late in the round that fell upon Thompson’s ear completed what was the best round of the night for Godfrey.
Both fighters started winging punches to start the eighth and final round. From the lack of output coming from both in the previous seven rounds, it seemed that both had a lot left in the tank and they were going to use it. Godfrey found a home for several hooks in the round, while Thompson was able to get off a couple of “shoeshine” combinations, that were impressive to see, but did little damage.
The judges were unanimous in their decision for Thompson on scores of 80-72, 78-74 and 78-74. Fightnews scored the bout 78-74 for Thompson.
On the non-televised portion of the card, WBC #3 light heavyweight Ryan “The Irish Outlaw” Coyne (20-0, 8 KOs) continued his undefeated career with a crowd pleasing 8 round unanimous decision victory over a tough and rugged Julius Fogel (15-8, 10 KOs).
Coyne, making a return to his hometown of St. Charles, MO, had an enthusiastic crowd backing him. This contest, which the TV viewers on ESPN were not able to watch, kept the crowd on their feet as both fighters were willing to trade back and forth.
Coyne opened the fight with a lead left hand and was immediately slowed by a couple of lead right hands from Fogel. Fogel was able to follow up the attack with two more lead right hands and then a sharp left cross that had Coyne wondering what he had gotten himself into. “Julius is one tough customer. I didn’t underestimate him going into this contest.”, Coyne remarked after the fight. A couple of stiff jabs from Coyne bought him some distance as he stunned the big righthander from Cary, NC. But Fogel was able to pick up the attack again as he was able to land a couple of 1-2 combinations toward the end of round.
The action picked up where it left off as in the second round Coyne was able to pop his opponent with a couple of clean, crisp right hooks. Fogel was able to counter with a right uppercut but was stopped by a straight right hand by the rated light heavyweight. Both fighters traded lead power hand punches, but a couple of right uppercuts from the “Irish Outlaw” drove his opponent into a corner and Coyne abused Fogels ribs with power shots from both hands.
The third round was a carbon copy of the second as both fighters traded leading punches from their power hands, following the theory that the straight punch from the back hand is the path to victory when facing an opponent who is your mirror image. Coyne went to the body more consistently in this round as well, hoping to slow his opponent in the later rounds. Fogel countered the attack late in the round by getting Coyne into a corner and peppering him with combinations, but “Outlaw” was able to find his distance and return the favor, again dropping his attack to Fogel’s body with both hands.
The withering body work that Coyne did in the early rounds began to pay off, as in the fourth, Fogel continued to attack with combinations, but the punches lacked much steam and Coyne was able to weather the attack well. Coyne came back with a vengence, driving his opponent to the ropes with solid punches from both hands and then slamming Fogel’s head up into the air with a powerful left uppercut that had the crowd buzzing through the rest period between rounds.
Coyne opened the fifth with more blistering body work. Fogel showed his toughness as he was able to withstand the attack and then drive his opponent into a corner, slamming his right hand into the forehead of the former cruiserweight contender. Coyne was able to turn the tide to his favor again, though, as he kept up the body attack, lacing Fogel with powerful right hooks to the ribs and straight left hands into his midsection.
The sixth picked up where the fifth ended with Coyne slamming two straight left hands into Fogel’s face, but the North Carolina fighter continued to show his resiliency firing off a 6 punch combination, although the starch was missing due to the punishing body attack of his opponent. A seemingly devastating right uppercut from Coyne was handled well and Fogel countered with a left hook followed by a straight right and then another hook. At the ten second warning, Coyne stole the remainder of the round by firing six straight left hands at his opponent, leaving Fogel reeling back to his corner.
As the bell rang for the seventh, Coyne was fully in control as Fogel’s punches were without any power and Coyne was able to walk right through them landing two left hooks followed by a crunching left hand that had his opponent against the ropes. A right uppercut followed by six more left hands caused Fogel to slump against the ropes, sliding down them on his way to the canvas. Just then the ten second warning clapped, and at the count of eight from referee Jay Nady, Fogel was able to regain his feet. Coyne was unable to follow up as the bell then sounded to end the round.
The hometown fighter’s crowd was on its feet, sensing a stoppage victory for its hero as the bell rang for the eighth and final round. Fogel showed immense courage by coming out his corner throwing lead right hands that found their mark on Coyne’s face. The fighters then traded right hands until two left hooks were followed by another crushing hook to Fogel’s chin that sent the North Carolina fighter to the canvas again. Fogel was able to regain his feet once again and Coyne kept up the attack all the way to the ten second clap, when Coyne dropped Fogel again with a right hook. Fogel was at his feet by the eight count, and Nady, knowing that the round was about to end, let Fogel finish the fight on his feet as the bell rang to end the contest.
After the contest, Rumble Time President Steve Smith expressed his exasperation in not having this contest on the broadcast. “We went to ESPN with this bout as the co-feature, but there was some concern that this might be a blowout matchup. Fogel came here tonight to fight and I think that the results of that dedication showed on Ryan’s face this evening. Coyne has been inactive for a while and needed to get in front of that worldwide audience to show what kind of fighter he is.”
Official scores for this fight were 79-70, 79-70 and 80-69. Fightnews scored the bout 79-70 for Coyne.
Samir Simpson-Bey took control of his fight with Nick Fannin early in the 2nd round of their scheduled 4 round junior lightweight contest, knocking out Fannin with a quick left hook to the jaw. After a tentative first round where both fighters were firing wide left hooks, Simpson-Bey caught Fannin with a solid left hook at the bell. Both fighters came out swinging in the second. Fannin staggered Simpson-Bey with a left hook, driving him into a corner. Simpson-Bey regained his footing, forced Fannin into a corner and popped him with two quick hooks, dropping Fannin. Referee Mike England started a count, but then quickly abandoned it and called Fannin’s corner into the ring. Time of the knockout, 1:07 in the 2nd round.
Cruiserweight Ian Warren stayed undefeated with a unanimous decision victory over Mitchell Harris (0-2) in this four round contest. Warren controlled the action throughout the contest by keeping up a steady jab and following it up with heavy right hands. A solid body attack slowed the persistent, but underpowered Harris as Warren was able to double up shots consistently, keeping Harris at bay. Warren ran his record to 2-0 with one knockout with the 40-36 scorecard from all three judges.
Heavyweight Tex Trimegistus (1-0) won his pro debut from Brandon McCrary (0-1) with a third round knockout. Trimegistus, an MMA fighter, dominated the action by continually catching McCrary leaning with crisp right hands. The end of this contest came late in the third round as Tex was able to mix up his attack, firing to both the head and midsection of his opponent with both hands. A straight right hand ended the contest as McCrary dropped straight down to his knees. McCrary was able to get up at the count of eight from referee Mike England, but upon his command to follow him to the middle of the ring, McCrary was unable to do so and England waved off the remainder of the contest. End of the fight came at 2:20.
Chris Rapa (6-0, 4 KOs) won a four round majority decision over welterweight Steve Kollin (2-2, 2 KOs) by the scores of 38-38, 40-36 and 40-36. Rapa, who has fought as high as super middleweight, seemed to have a little difficulty with Kollin. Rapa has shown considerable power in his previous contests wasn’t able to put away the tough Kollin. Rapa let his hands go landing many combinations to Kollin’s head and midsection, but the tough part MMA, part boxer Kollin was able to counter at times with a stiff right countershot of his own. Conversely, Rapa did showcase a better left hand in this contest, where he had previously been a right hand heavy fighter.
St. Louis product, Leon “III Generation” Spinks had a bit of a difficult early going in picking up his second professional victory, winning a unanimous decision victory over journeyman Cheron Spain (3-5). Spinks was a bit tentative in the first two rounds of this contest, not letting his hands go, content with bobbing and weaving away from most of the punches fired at him by Spain. Occasionally, Spinks would let a counter left hand go when the opportunity presented itself, but those were few and far between. In the fourth, however, after a sequence in which Spinks actually bobbed his head adroitly between the ropes, a right hand from Spain caught him on the chin and that seemed to spur the “III Generation” into gear. A straight left hand midway into the round caught Spain flush on the jaw and sent him spiraling to the canvas. After an eight count, the bout continued and Spinks again found the target with a dazzling right hook that sent Spain again to the mat. Another right hook seemed to stun the Iowa native a third time, yet he was able to counter the shot with a right hand that kept Spinks off of him for the last few seconds of the fight. Scorecards read 40-34.