By Phil Doherty at ringside
Photos: Rey Sanchez
Antonio “The Magic Man” Tarver (30-6, 21 KOs) made veteran opponent Mike Sheppard (21-16-1, 9 KOs) of West Virginia disappear with a fourth-round TKO in their scheduled ten-round main event on Tuesday night’s Golden Boy Promotions card at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. Tarver, who just celebrated his forty-fifth birthday this month, picked up an interim NABA title with the win in his first sanctioned bout at heavyweight since 2010.
It was slow going for the first couple of rounds as both big men tried to establish consistency early. Tarver found it first in the second with solid left hands in the form of left crosses and uppercuts. Tarver continued to shake off his seventeen-month long retirement and ring rust into the third round as he worked to Sheppard’s midsection.
In the fourth, Tarver gained purchase with a thudding left hand that caught Sheppard high on his forehead coming forward and plopping him on his butt. He beat the count from referee Sam Burgos but walked right into his second knockdown when Tarver flurried more combinations. The game veteran beat the count once more and pushed on and into a straight left and another chopping left that stunned him and put him on the floor for the third and final time.
Burgos jumped in and waved off the assault at the bell to end round four–with an official time of 2:59.
Undefeated bantamweight prospect Randy “El Matador” Caballero (20-0, 12 KOs) dazzled in his scheduled ten round co-main event against local fan favorite Jessy Cruz (10-5-1, 4 KOs) from the BB&T Center in Sunrise tonight.
Caballero, the twenty-three year old former amateur standout from Coachella California, weathered Cruz’s southpaw attack in the first round and picked his heavier shots carefully. Caballero landed a clean right hand to punctuate the first round, causing Cruz to exclaim: “Let’s go! Let’s go!”
Caballero obliged in the second with Caballero taking the aggressor role, forcing Cruz to back up and look for counter opportunities. For his part, the thirty-year old Cruz stayed busier and scored multiple right hooks to Caballero’s midsection and straight lefts upstairs. Unfortunately for Cruz, “El Matador” walked through his shots to land the more effective blows. In the third, Cruz started to mix in uppercuts but Caballero continued forward. the men locked arms in a clinch near the center of the ring and Caballero proceeded to throw Cruz to the canvas, earning a warning from referee James Warring. After action resumed, Caballero scored a big right to Cruz’s body and a low blow that Warring missed.
Caballero accelerated the pressure in the fourth round, muttering bad intentions under his breath as he pounded a left hook and clean straight right hand to close the round. Caballero brushed aside two of Cruz’s left hands in the sixth, waving Cruz in for more as he launched his own barrage. Cruz’s handspeed started to noticeably slow at this point and he circled to his right to regroup. Caballero lit him up with two left hooks to the head and a punishing right to the body. Caballero then issued forth a left to the head, right to the body combination that caught Cruz backing up and he fell grimacing to the canvas.
Cruz survived the standing eight count from Warring and walked gingerly to his corner.
Caballero sensed the finish in the seventh and pursued Cruz with big left hooks to the torso and skull. Caballero hurt Cruz with a right to the body, followed by two more shots that planted him to the deck once more. Cruz came back once again from the knockdown only to catch more punishment from the ever-advancing Caballero. Cruz relentlessly painted Cruz into a corner with his thunderous left hooks, forcing Warring to step in and halt the damage as the bell sounded to end the seventh round. Time of the stoppage was 2:59.
As Cruz left the ring he thanked fans for their support and expressed his wish for a different outcome, stating: “He was catching me good to the body. I’m sorry to the fans I couldn’t pull it off, it just wasn’t my night”
Caballero acknowledged his plan for Cruz’s attack, saying: “This is what we knew he was going to do, come out strong in the early rounds and once you start wearing him out with those body shots he starts running as you guys saw. This guy was tough man, he took all my punches. we knew he had a hard head so we thought let’s start working the body and wear him out we came prepared.
We trained with lefties–it’s sad that we lost Frankie Leal, he was like a brother to me and I dedicated this fight to him. He was going to be my sparring partner but sadly he passed away. I loved him to death and I know he was looking down on me so I thank him for that.”
Undefeated WBC #15 bantamweight Randy “El Matador” Caballero (20-0, 12 KOs) impressively broke down and stopped local southpaw Jessy Cruz (10-5-1, 4 KOs). Caballero dropped Cruz with a body shot at the end of round six. Cruz was down again in the seventh and the bout was halted later that round during Caballero’s follow up attack. Time was 2:59.
Light heavyweight prospect Thomas Williams Jr. (15-0, 10 KOs) marked a major milestone in his career with a ten-round unanimous decision victory against Yusef Mack (31-7-2, 17 KOs) of Philadelphia. Williams, the twenty-six year old southpaw from Washington DC, started cautiously against the savvy veteran, using footwork and picking his shots through the first round. By contrast the second round devolved into an all out slugfest with both men launching furious shots to each other’s body and head with Williams appearing to get the better of it.
Williams continued to get the better shots to Mack’s midsection but caught significant shots in return and both men settled in for a battle of attrition. Williams opened a cut over Mack’s right eye in the seventh, which Mack continuously pawed at, opening opportunities for Williams to score open punches on the gash.
Williams did extensive damage in the ninth, putting Mack in distress along the ropes with his merciless body assault and Mack stumbled to his corner, begging the question as to the wisdom of him continuing. He bravely answered the bell in the tenth and fough hard to finish the bout but Williams had done more than enough to earn the unanimous nod from all three judges by scores of 99-91 and 98-92 (twice).
Undefeated Cuban southpaw heavyweight Luis Ortiz (18-0, 15 KOs) proved once again nothing drives like “El Mercedez” as he scored an impressive first-round knockout against longtime veteran Alex Gonzalez (20-9, 10 KOs) of Puerto Rico. Ortiz started off with a stiff jab to keep the shorter man at a distance where he could land repeated chopping left hands. After backing Gonzalez to the ropes, Ortiz rained chopping left hands on Gonzalez’s head and quickly deposited him to the canvas. Referee James Warring started the count as Gonzalez searched for his legs, but was unable to beat the ten count. Time of the stoppage was two minutes of round one.
Undefeated heavyweight Dominic Breazale (8-0, 8 KOs) of Glendale California overcame a spirited first-round assault from Keith Barr (11-5, 3 KOs) of Jamaica New York to score a second-round TKO victory. Barr, who took the fight on just a day’s notice, came out swinging with overhand rights that got the bigger Breazale’s attention early. Breazale started to find his range with body and head combinations to start the second round and quickly had Barr backed up to the ropes, where he could land chopping right hands and hooks to Barr’s body. Breazale’s body attack took the steam out of Barr and he backed to the corner to try and catch his breath. Breazale would have none of it and he launched a blistering body and head attack, finishing with a left hook that slowly wilted Barr to the canvas and caused referee Sam Burgos to jump in and wave it off at 2:29 of the second round.
Southpaw welterweight Erickson Lubin (1-0, 1 KO) of Orlando notched a spectacular first-round TKO against Eric De Jesus (1-1, 1 KO) just 35 seconds into the first round of their scheduled four-round contest. De Jesus immediately felt Lubin’s power from the opening bell, getting backed into the ropes and setting up the wicked left hand that earned Lubin his picture-perfect professional debut victory.
Lightweight Albert Bell (3-0, 1 KO) maintained his spotless record by way of a four round unanimous decision victory against Puerto Rican Angel Hernandez (1-3) in the second bout of tonight’s Golden Boy Promotions fight series from the BB&T Center in Sunrise. Bell came out strong with double jabs and right crosses to press the action for most of the first round. His eagerness momentarily cost him as Hernandez snuck a left hand counter in between Bell’s two-punch combo to score a flash knockdown just before the first-round bell. Bell recovered quickly and beat the standing eight-count from referee Sam Burgos and proceeded to score repeated left hooks upstairs, causing swelling under Hernandez’s right eye to start the second round. Bell cruised the remaining rounds to earn identical scores from all three judges of 39-37.
Featherweight Dennis Galarza (1-0, 1 KO) made the most of the first round of his first professional fight tonight by way of TKO victory against Harold Torres (0-4) of Puerto Rico. The longer and quicker Galarza dictated pace and distance with a long solid jab to set up stinging left hooks on Torres’ head and body. Torres couldn’t muster much of a counterattack, prompting his corner to decline the invitation to continue after the first round bell sounded.