By Kurt Wolfheimer at ringside
Saturday night, before a near sellout crowd at the Valley Forge Casino Resort, rising middleweight “Lightning Harry Joe Yorgey (27-2-1, 12KOs) overcame a strong willed “Relentless” Julius Kennedy (7-6-1, 3KOs) to capture the WBF North American middleweight belt via a ten round majority decision victory. The fight had stunning back and forth action and is already being billed as one of the Pennsylvania fight of the year candidates. The co-feature of the evening saw flashy Tevin “The American Idol” Farmer (11-4-1, 2KOs) capture the UBC Inter-continental title with an eighth round TKO of fellow Philadelphian Victor Vasquez (16-8-1, 7KOs). The nine bout card promoted by Marshall Kauffman’s Kings Promotions was a marathon of sorts, with eight bouts going the distance, while the ninth only missed the distance by one minute, giving the local boxing fans a solid fifty four rounds of boxing action.
The main event of the evening was redemption for middleweight “Lightning” Harry Joe Yorgey who is now beginning to show that which made him a junior middleweight contender as he out-boxed and out-punched spirited slugger “Relentless” Julius Kennedy over ten rounds to capture the vacant WBF North American middleweight title.
Both fighters entered the bout in tip top shape, knowing how close their original bout was, with Yorgey pulling out the split decision victory.
Julius Kennedy’s record was a less then spectacular (7-5-1, 3 KOs) as he entered the ring, but his record very deceiving. He has taken on only one fighter with a losing record and his last five bouts fighters had a solid combined record of 79-8-5, 34KOs at the time he faced them. Kennedy is a heavy handed fighter that had only been stopped once in his career and he doesn’t shy away from anyone who wants to step into the ring with him.
It was a huge fight for Yorgey, as he looked to continue on his path to a world title. Yorgey looked to be in at the best shape of his career since his fights with Ronald Hearn and Jason Lehoullier. Sporting eight pack abs and a much increased stamina, Yorgey looked prime and ready as he waited for the opening bell to ring.
Yorgey was confident in the opening three rounds, using his excellent footwork and sharp jabs to allow him to step in and out of the pocket. Yorgey mixed in short combinations and good body work in the second and third rounds as Kennedy looked to bang the one or two big shots that would change the fight. Kennedy was game and tried to get inside as the 3rd round progressed. Yorgey actually showed his will as he pushed Kennedy back while both are on the inside, which he never did in the first.
The fight changed a bit in the fourth as Kennedy snapped Yorgey’s head back with a hard uppercut. It looked like Yorgey looked to take the round off as Kennedy banged away at the body late. It was the first round Kennedy had taken in the fight on this writer’s scorecards.
Yorgey went back to movement and the jabs in the fifth. As the round progressed each fighter tried to gain ring control. Kennedy began to let his hands go on the inside with good body work. Yorgey fought back and landed the fewer but cleaner shots. It would not deter the man from Windsor Hill MD and he whirled a few haymakers up top which bounced off the gloves of Yorgey. To smaller lefts did get through the Bridgeport PA native’s sold defense. Kennedy was crafty though and he would hit Yorgey hip with and shot and went south of the border on the former world title challenger. Yorgey recovered quickly from the low blow and snapped bristling five punch combination as the round came to a close.
Kennedy pushed Yorgey to the ropes in the sixth round and found a spot for his powerful but wide overhand right. Yorgey rolled with the punches which looked worse, but lessened their impact. Kennedy stepped up the pace and banged way while on the inside to easily take the round.
Yorgey seemed to get the better of the spirited exchanges in round seven. Kennedy was busier but the Bridgeport native was on his toes and boxed well while on the outside. The tape on Yorgey’s glove became undone and he had to go to his corner to quickly re-tape it. Kennedy caught Yorgey with a big a heavy shot up top before he was ready to continue, but it did not deter him as he continued to out box Kennedy late to make the round hard to call. Kennedy landed one big shot in the closing moments and then tried to clown at Yorgey as walked to his corner.
The hometown crowd began the Harry!! Harry,!! chants, which seemed to spur him on as he let his hands go late in the eighth. Kennedy looked tired even though he tried to stick his tongue out at Yorgey, but a short return shot sent the mouthpiece to the canvas. Referee Benjy Estevez stepped in immediately to put the mouthpiece back in even though there was no lull in the action. In the final ten seconds of the round, Yorgey took control with a sharp five punch combination. This time Kennedy would not talk trash between rounds.
The fight went back on the inside in the ninth as Kennedy tried to reestablish his ring generalship by muscling and outworking Yorgey. This time it was different story as Yorgey’s hard right hands were finding Kennedy cleanly. Yorgey began to push him back again even gave Kennedy a good overhand right.
The tenth and final round started with two big right hands up top from Kennedy. Yorgey would not back down though and began to back Kennedy up with hard straight rights. Kennedy tried to go back to the body, but Yorgey’s rights were doing damage and the Maryland slugger slowed as the round progress. Yorgey opened up in the closing fifteen seconds with a picture perfect ten punch combination that had Kennedy stunned as the bell sounded to end the fight.
The bout went to the scorecards. Surprisingly one judge saw the bout even at 95-95 even but was overruled as the two other officials scored the bout 96-94 in favor of Lightning Harry Joe Yorgey.
Though the scores didn’t show it, Yorgey proved that he is ready again to make a run for another world title fight with a very solid showing against a tough fighter.
“I knew I was ahead,” said Yorgey. ” I clearly won the first five or six rounds. The ninth round I won big and I almost took him out in the tenth. I should have done that in the eighth and I probably would have gotten him out of there. Kennedy is a tough guy. In both fights, I hurt my left hand on his head.
The victory gives Yorgey his first belt at the middleweight limit and moves him one step closer to his world title aspirations.