By Kurt Wolfheimer
Photos: Stephanie Trapp/Showtime
Friday night before a raucous crowd of over 2,000 strong at the Convention Center in Monroeville, PA, local welterweight sensation “Lightning” Rod Salka (19-3, 3 KOs) captured the vacant WBC Interim Fecarbox lightweight championship, by dropping formerly undefeated Cuban knockout artist Alexei “Hurricane” Collado once on his way to a well-deserved ten round unanimous decision victory by scores of 96-94,96-93, 96-93. In the co-feature of the eight bout card promoted by Mike Tyson’s Iron Mike Promotions, former 2008 Olympic gold medalist, Felix Diaz (15-0, 8 KOs) squeezed out a razor thin split decision victory over Emmanuel “Bukom Jah” Lartei Lartey (15-2-1, 7 KOs) to capture the vacant WBC junior welterweight championship. In another special attraction, rising Sammy “The Who Can Mexican” Vasquez Jr.(14-0, 10 KOs), made quick work of formerly undefeated welterweight prospect Juan “The Beast” Rodriguez Jr.(11-1, 1KO), dropping him three times on his way to an impressive stoppage at 2:49 of the opening round. The card was televised nationally by Showtime.
Local welterweight sensation “Lightning” Rod Salka (19-3, 3 KOs) had his chance to put himself into the national spotlight and he did just that with an impressive ten round unanimous decision victory over 2006 junior world champion and formerly undefeated Cuban knockout artist, Alexei “Hurricane” Collado (18-1, 16 KOs) to capture the vacant WBC interim FECARBOX lightweight championship.
The local crowd favorite, Rod Salka of nearby Bunola, PA seemed to squeeze out the opening two rounds by slipping to his left and jabbing effectively. Both fighters began to up the exchange during a back and forth second round with some hard hooks. The Cuban knockout artist grabbed Salka and pushed him down to the canvas in mid round for the second time of the fight and was warned by Referee Garry Rosato for pushing down Salka’s head. Collado started to come on late by flashing his heavy one two combinations but Salka continued to out punch him. In the closing seconds of the round a chopping overhand right by Collado caught the face of the local favorite, but Salka returned fire with a hard one-two of his own. Both fighters were trying to dive in and get out with hard shots which resulted in an accidental head butt that opened a cut over Collado’s left eye. Just as the bell sounded to end the round, Collado caught Salka with a hard shot south of the border.
The fight changed in the third as Collado started to open up. Salka saw an opening and wobbled Collado with a hard left up top. The stunned Collado backed up with Salka in tow. Collado was forced to trade with his back against the ropes. Salka appeared to be the more accurate fighter as a left hook-right hand up top, dropped Collado to his knees. Salka came in for the kill and connected with two good right hands but Collado eventually regained his senses as the third round came to a close.
Each fighter took turns trying to gain the advantage in rounds three through five. Collado began to target the body, but Salka continued to counter well, while reopening the cut that happened in the second round..
Salka started to set down on his punches as he targeted the body late in the fifth. The heavy handed Collado went south of the border three times in the sixth round with no warning. The determined Salka would not give in, as he bounced around while finding strong counter hooks.
Collado’s power looked evident as he banged away to capture the sixth.
Round seven was a razor thin back and forth round as each fighter took turns landing hard combinations in the center of the ring. Collado’s power appeared to take the round though as Salka tired a bit.
Like a warrior, Salka wouldn’t quit and went on the attack in the middle of the eighth. Both fighters exchanged heavy flurries as the round came to an end.
Collado found his mark in the ninth round landing Sharp combinations, as Salka tired from the heavy punch output from the previous rounds .
A cut opened on left cheek of Salka. The man form Bunola, PA seemed to get reenergized as the home town crowd cheered his name. Collado’s power appeared to help him take the final round, but he seemed behind on the cards and looked downtrodden as the decision was about to be announced.
All three judges saw the bout in favor of “Lightning Rod Salka for the well-deserved ten round unanimous decision victory by scores of 96-93 x 2 and 96-94 respectively. The crowd erupted for the local favorite as the decision was announced.
Salka spoke on his game plan, that helped him capture the well-deserved victory afterward. “I felt like I was faster than him. I could beat him to the punch. I tried to get him to reach. He kept trying to load with the overhand right, so I started to lean in and catch It and caught him with some strong hooks to the body. I finally hurt him with the left hook to the head and came in with wide shots and landed a short uppercuts. I thought he was hurt and had to let my hands go and he took a knee. The game-plan was to be first and I did that throughout. Once I saw him only looking for his right hand, it made my fight easier and I just kept turning him. I listened to my corner and made sure I didn’t get caught from anything being lazy and he was only throwing single shots. I felt comfortable throughout and thought I only lost two rounds and I found it hard to believe that the scores were that close,” stated Rod Salka.
“I want the winner of Omar Figueroa (22-0-1, 17KOs) and Jerry Belmontes (19-3, 5KOs) and I will be at the fight next week. ”
Diaz edges Lartei Lartey
In the eight co-feature of the evening, unbeaten former 2008 Olympic silver medalist Felix Diaz (15-0, 8 KOss) squeezed out a workmanlike eight round split decision victory over Emmanuel “Bukom Jah” Lartei Lartey (15-2-1, 7 KOs).
The former Olympian looked comfortable in the opening round, switching in and out of the southpaw stance in order to land his more powerful shots in taking the opening round. Emmanuel Lartei Lartey uncorked a powerful left in the second and pushed forward. Diaz was rocked and backed to the corner as Lartei Lartey tried to fire away. Diaz slid across the ropes to get out of trouble and eventually gained his legs back.
Referee Rick Steigerwald kept warning Lartei Lartey for holding and constantly pushed his hands down while on the inside in an tempt to brake the clinches. The heavy handed Diaz was able to force the Ghanaian to the ropes. Diaz found his mark with a single heavy right hand as the fourth round came to a close.
Lartei Lartey was the cleaner puncher in the sixth and seventh, but whenever he tried to clinch, Referee Steigerwald slapped down his arm, allowing Diaz to land enough big shots to make the rounds close.
The eighth round was close also. Lartei Lartey’s corner screamed at him to let his hands go, but he couldn’t find enough energy or power to turn the tide and the fight went to the scorecard.
One judge saw the fight 77-75 for Emmanuel Lartei Lartey, but was overruled by the other two officials, who scored it 77-75 for Felix Diaz, giving him the split decision victory. Fightnews.com saw it 79-73 for Diaz.
“I thought the fight was not that close,” said a stunned Felix Diaz afterward. “He was a very tough guy with a European style that just kept coming. He had a style that was very difficult to fight against.
Vasquez Jr. makes quick work of Rodriguez
Heavy handed welterweight sensation Samuel “The Who Can Mexican” Vasquez Jr.(14-0, 10 KOs) put on the performance of the night, dropping formerly unbeaten Juan “The Beast” Rodriguez Jr. (11-1, 5 KOs) three times on his way to an impressive first round TKO victory.
Rodriguez Jr. entered the ring first, wearing a robe that said, “We didn’t come here to lose” as the crowd jeered him. The Arena exploded as the 2,000 plus fans rose to their feet when their local hero and two time Iraqi war veteran, Samuel “The Who Can Mexican” Vasquez Jr. from nearby Monessen, PA made his way to the ring.
Rodriguez looked dry as the bell sounded to open the first round. Vasquez looked confident as he came out targeting the body. It looked like Rodriguez was trying to feel his way into the fight, but he backed straight out of an exchange and was caught with a hard straight left-right hand combination on the button. The impact sent “The Beast” right to the canvas. Rodriguez would beat the eight count, but looked in trouble as he clinched while Vasquez bounced another hard four punch combination. Rodriquez landed two hard right hands before clinching again.
Vasquez looked like a Tiger pouncing on his trapped prey, as he unloaded five unanswered shots, which included a hard hook to the body which put Juan Rodriguez to his hands and knees. This time Rodriguez looked to be severely hurt as he barely beat the eight count. Rodriguez wouldn’t clinch and tried fight back and survive the round. Sammy Vasquez would not let him off the hook and trapped Juan in the corner with a hard body shot as part of a crushing four punch combination that sent Rodriguez Jr to his knees. Referee Gary Rosato had seen enough and waived the fight off at 2:49 of the opening round.
The raucous crowd exploded into deafening cheers as the hand of the Samuel “The Who Can Mexican” Vasquez was raised and he was declared the winner, upping his record to a perfect 14-0, 9KOs.
It was my home town and I was supposed to show them my skills, but they already know what I bring to the ring, said the confident Vasquez afterward. “I knew he was undefeated and a tough opponent. I saw a couple of fights of his and we worked on a game-plan. We executed the game plan and went to the body. I finished him with a body shot. You can always go to the body and eventually he will go,” said Vasquez.
“I want the world championship next,” said the jubilant Vasquez. “That is what we are here for!!!”
Lubin blows away Ramirez
Welterweight knockout artist Erickson “The Hammer” Lubin (5-0, 5 KOs) continued his perfect knockout streak intact by dropping Jovan “Negrito” Ramirez (3-2, 1 KO) four times on his way to his fifth straight knockout victory at 18 seconds of second round. Lubin was in control right from the opening bell with his heavy hands that had Ramirez hastily on the retreat. Lubin trapped him in the corner and sent the Mexican to his hands and knees with a sharp shot. Jovan Ramirez looked stunned as he got up and was backed into the very same corner seconds later. The heavy hands from the 2012 PAL national champion sent him to the canvas for the second time with a four punch combination. Lubin continued to dig away as Ramirez was caught in the corner. Finally Ramirez escaped the corner, but could elude the massive shots as he went down for the third time from an accumulation shots. Ramirez was able to survive the round, but it would not help as Erickson “the Hammer” Lubin hammered him to the canvas with a straight shot on the button. Referee Ernie Sharif knew he wouldn’t make it to his feet and waived the contest off at 18 second mark of the second round.
Jhonson dominates Dozier
2004 Cuban Olympic silver medalist Yudel Jhonson (15-1, 9 KOs) dropped Lenwood Dozier once in the first and then pounded his way to a one sided eight round unanimous decision victory over game, but outgunned Lenwood Dozier (9-6-1, 4 KOs). All three judges saw every round in favor of the talented former Olympian by scores of 80-71 x 3.
Undefeated super featherweight and former 2012 national Golden Gloves champion Albert “Prince” Bell (4-0, 1 KO) easily outboxed Micah Branch (2-10-1) over four rounds to capture a one-sided unanimous decision victory by scores of 40-36 across the board.
Kamouyerou draws with Jackson
Undefeated junior middleweight prospect Andreas Kamouyerou fought a back and forth phone booth style war with Malik Jackson. The fight was extremely close as each side had its moments and it went to the scorecards. One judge saw it 39-37 in favor of Andres Kamouyerou, while the second had it the other way, 39-37, in favor of Malik Jackson. The third official saw it 38-38 for the split draw. Andreas Kamouyerou moves to 3-0-1, 2 KOs, while Malik “Freaky Deaky” Jackson slips to a hard luck record 0-2-3.
Martin keeps Blue Chip status
In the opening bout of the evening, former US under-19 tournament champion Ryan “Blue Chip” Blue Chip” Martin (5-0, 3 KOs) squeaked out a razor thin unanimous decision victory over rugged lightweight Misael “Chico” Chacon (1-2) by scores of 38-37 x 2 and 39-36 respectively. Martin was deducted a point for pushing down Chacon’s head in the fourth, but his cleaner combinations when on the outside, seemed to sway the fight in his favor. Chacon kept it close with constant body work when inside.