By Kurt Wolfheimer
Friday night at Cedar Gardens in Hamilton Township New Jersey, two world class professional fighters successfully pushed forward in the comebacks. In the main event of the seven bout card promoted by Nedal Promotions, former world title challenger Omar Sheika (30-9, 21 KOs) easily pounded his way to a third round stoppage of rugged light heavyweight Jim “Steel Chin” Strohl (27-9, 21 KOs). The co-main event was a tactical battle as former 1996 Olympian Bronze medalist, Terrance “The Heat” Cauthen (35-6, 9 KOs) boxed and counter punched his way to an eight round split decision victory over tough junior welterweight prospect, Cleotis “Mookie” Pendarvis (10-3-2, 4 KOs).
Sheika, who was always known for his exciting bouts which made him the “2003 and 2004 ESPN “Fighter of the year” continued his quest of another world title shot with his third straight stoppage in his comeback, stopping Jim Stohl in the third.
In the opening round, Strohl tried to keep Sheika off balance with multiple soft combinations behind his jabs. Sheika found his spots though and began to pound away with sharp jabs and right hands of his own.
The work done by Sheika late in the opening round slowed the punch output of Strohl, who was fighting on the retreat. As the round went on, Sheika caught the outgunned Strohl with thudding hooks to the body and two and three punch combinations up top. Strohl constantly retreated to the ropes and corners where Sheika battered him at will. As the round came to a close, the lefts up top by Sheika had opened a cut over Strohl’s left eye.
Strohl looked battered but like his nickname “Steel Chin,” he came out for the third and continued to fight while taking hellacious shots. Unable to box his way out of the corner, he chose to stand and fight. This would be a big mistake as Sheika unleashed a big left, which appeared to stun the wide open Strohl. It would not stop the iron will of Strohl though, who retreated along the ropes as he tried to flurry back. Sheika knew that this was his moment and uncorked five heavy bombs up top, all of which bounced off the face of the near defenseless Strohl. Referee Lindsey Page had seen enough and stepped in and saved the steel chinned warrior unneeded further punishment. The time of the TKO was 2:01 of the third round.
“He was a tough guy, but I know that once I have a guy hurt, he is finished,” said the jubilant Omar Sheika afterward.
In the co-feature, Former Olympian bronze medalist Terrance Cauthen continued on his comeback trail with a tactical split decision victory over fellow southpaw junior welterweight Cleotis Pendarvis.
Pendarvis appeared to be the stronger puncher in the early going and leaped in as he bounced single hooks and left hands of the bronze medalist. Cauthen, known as “The Heat” seemed to time opponent’s advances in the second and third rounds with well placed counters and jabs.
The hand speed of Cauthen continued to win the battle on the outside in rounds four and five with movement and superior hand speed. Pendarvis did have a moment late in the fifth with a heavy three punch combination on the inside, but Cauthen stepped out of punching range and went back to boxing on the outside.
Round six moved back on the inside and was a back and forth battle between the two pugilists. Cleotis stopped the action in mid-round with a low blow which Cauthen walked off the pain during the referee’s timeout. Terrance seemed to take the round in the final moments with four quick unanswered lefts on the face of the flustered Pendarvis as the bell sounded to end the round.
Cauthen surprised Pendarvis with a right hand on the button. Pendarvis felt it and was leery of getting caught with counters, so he had to pick his spots to dive in on the inside with a few leaping rights. Cauthen would clinch as Pendarvis pounded a few hooks to the body. Cauthen, after the break, would go back to lighter two and three punch flurries, which kept his opponent off balance.
Pendarvis went for it whenever he could in the final round with big hooks up top as he dove inside. Cauthen was a slick boxer though and moved out of trouble and boxed his way to the final bell.
One judge surprising had it 77-75 for Cleotis Pendarvis, but was correctly overruled by the other two judges who saw it the other way 79-73 and 77-75 to give the split decision victory to Terrance Cauthen.
With the win, Cauthen moved one step closer to his dream of a world title. His fights may not be the most exciting, but he continues to take fighters out of their game and successfully wears them down round by round.
In hotly contested four round junior featherweight battle, Benjamin Ortiz made the most of his professional debut, using his superior punching power and aggressive bodywork to capture the unanimous decision victory over fellow Puerto Rican Francisco Ortiz (1-1) by scores of 39-37 across the cards.
Philly Lightweight Rami Ibrahim scored an impressive second round stoppage of Glassboro New Jersey’s Marcus Smith. Ibrahim was all over the New Jersey native right from the opening bell with countless combinations. Smith survived the opening round and tried to fight back well on the retreat in round two, but Ibrahim continued to attack with a fury. In the middle of the second round, Ibrahim caught Smith right on the button with a picture perfect left hook. Smith wobbled backward then fell into the ropes and down to the canvas. Marcus rose at the count of four, but was on unsteady legs which forced Referee Earl Brown to call a halt to the bout at 1:02 of the second round. Rami Ibrahim moves his record to (3-8-1, 1 KO), while Marcus Smith remains winless at (0-3).
In a battle of Philly cruiserweights, it was strength versus speed, and in this one speed won as Charles Hayward captured a four round unanimous victory over Rashawn Scott. Hayward was wary from the big overhand rights in the opening round, but seemed to settle down and began to win with short flurries on the outside. His left jabs continually set up right hands which snapped back Scotts head in round two. Rashawn Scott’s big shots slowed as Hayward peppered him throughout with counter rights in throughout rounds two and three. The final round was all Hayward, as he boxed effectively while staying out of danger until the final bell sounded. All three judges scored the bout 40-36 in favor of Charles Hayward, who ups his record to (4-2, 1 KO). Rashawn Scott falls to (2-4).
Trenton New Jersey super middleweight Alando Swain won for the first time as a pro, capturing a convincing four round unanimous decision victory over Khalil Farah. Swain’s heavy hands had the game but outgunned Farah on his heels for most of the fight. All three judges saw the bout in favor of Alando Swain by scores of 40-36 x2 and 39-37 respectively. Alando Swain evens his record at (1-1) while Khalil Farah drops to a respectable (6-5, 1 KO).
In the opening bout of the evening, Atlantic City New Jersey junior welterweight Osnel “Prince of Darkness” Charles outworked winless Ramon Ellis of Philadelphia PA over four rounds to capture the unanimous Decision victory by scores of 39-37 across the board. Osnell Charles’ record zooms to (3-2) while Ramon Ellis falls to (0-6).