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Kauffman Dominates Wilson in Bethlehem

(Travis Kaufman)
(Travis Kaufman)

By Jason Pribila, ringside in Bethlehem:


Boxing fans in Southeastern PA braved the elements to enter the cozy Bethlehem Sands Events Center to support heavyweight prospect Travis “My Time” Kauffman (28-1, 20KO). Kauffman of nearby Reading, PA was set to face Washington’s Vincent Thompson for a regional belt and more importantly the chance to continue to rise in the WBA’s rankings.

 

Thompson was Kauffman’s tenth opponent since he suffered his only career loss. In September, 2009 Kauffman started fast, faded early, and was stopped by Tony Grano in four. Kauffman has gone 9-0 since then, but Thompson would be only his second opponent that did not have double digit losses on his resume.

 

Thompson traveled across the country to face a local fighter who was fighting in the main event of a card that was promoted by Marshall Kauffman, Travis’ father. As he walked by press row he unleashed a flat-footed combination that at least led us to believe he was entering the ring with the hopes of pulling an upset.

 

Those hopes faded shortly after the opening bell rang.


Kauffman began the bout trying to establish his jab against Thompson, who fights out of the southpaw stance. After a few near head clashes, Kauffman turned southpaw and landed a pair of right hooks to carry the opening frame.

 

It was clear that Kauffman had a huge advantage in the power category. Thompson made him miss several times, and began to taunt him by calling him slow. Unfortunately for Thompson, insults don’t register on the judges’ cards. Even though Kauffman was not landing at a high percentage, he was the much busier fighter and he found success when he went to the body.

 

At this point in the fight Thompson already seemed to be in survival mode. His strategy seemed to be an ineffective version of Wladimir Klitschko’s jab and grab. When Kauffman got off first, Thompson just simply grabbed.

 

Kauffman dominated the middle rounds. He began to land his overhand right, and rip body shots before Thompson could again hold. Again, Thompson’s only offense was to be offensive. When he would get hit with a punch he would mock Kauffman’s power, rather than trying to answer with leather.

 

As the fighters came down the stretch it was clear that Thompson had no chance of winning. Unfortunately, it was also clear that he was not going to allow himself to get knocked out. There was no longer a need to take notes, and laptops remained open only to record the official scores.

 

Two of the three judges scored the fight a shutout (100-90), while a third found two rounds to give Thompson (98-92).

 

Following the fight Kauffman posted on his Facebook page that he was happy with the win, but admitted it was not fan friendly.

 

“My opponent did what he had to do to survive,” Kauffman wrote. “It was a boring fight cause he held the entire time, but I did what I had to do to get that win.”

 

Kauffman is correct that this was an important win. However, it is equally important that he gets back in the gym and looks for an opponent who will test him. The rounds were important, and he seems to be committed to being a fighter year round. Anyone who was able to train outdoors during the winter weather we’ve been experiencing has me convinced.

 

There are a number of American heavyweights who are jockeying for position to be the next to challenge Klitschko. More importantly, there are finally American heavyweights who seem hungry and committed to the sport. Kauffman has the amateur experience and size to compete with any of them. It is up to him and his team to pick the opponents who will not only challenge Kauffman, but those who will also propel him to the consciousness of network executives.

 

As for Thompson and any other fighter who signs to be in a main event. When your goal is no longer to win, please do me a favor and remain on your stool. Writers have deadlines, and more importantly there are fans in the arena that may have never seen a live professional boxing match. You owe it to your sport to try to leave a positive impression so that those who opened their wallets will be willing to do so again in the future.

 

The main support of the evening came from a fighter who is quickly becoming my favorite to cover from ringside. Miguel Cartagena (11-0, 4KO). “No Fear” is a 21 year old bantamweight from Philadelphia who turned pro in 2009 after winning both the US National Championship and the National Golden Gloves Championship.

 

On Saturday night Cartagena turned back rugged veteran Felipe Rivas (15-16-2, 9KO) after six action packed rounds. Sure Rivas entered the ring with a .500 winning percentage, but he has been in the ring against the divisions best. He lost a split decision to Ivan Calderon in 2011, and he also went the distance with Giovani Segura in 2004.

 

Rivas entered the ring unimpressed with Cartagena’s amateur credentials and he also seemed to have “no fear” of Cartagena’s 3 career knockouts. Rivas got Cartagena’s attention early when he landed a pair of shots down the middle. Cartagena, mature beyond his years, remained calm. He began to use his feet and he began to punish Rivas by ripping left hooks to the body.

 

Things got testy in the second round. Cartagena landed a shot on the belt line. Rivas turned his back to complain, and Cartagena landed a punch as Rivas’ back was turned. The veteran dropped to a knee in an attempt to buy time and perhaps a point. Action continued. Rivas landed single shots, and Cartagena would answer with a combination. Rivas landed his last punch of the round a few seconds after the bell.

Cartagena controlled the third round from a distance displaying his pin point accuracy.

 

Cartagena lost a point in round four for again hitting Rivas with his back turned. But he controlled the rest of the round to make up the point. Cartagena assumed complete control in round five. Rivas became stationary and Cartagena busted him up. The Puerto Rican-American changed his speed as he put his offense on display. He would touch Rivas to the body before firing a fastball down the middle.

 

The fighters returned to their corners after the sixth round ended. Suddenly referee Benjy Esteves waved off the bout. We were told that Rivas had injured his hand/wrist, but Rivas later returned to ringside to show his hand was not broken.

 

If the stoppage was questionable, it only seemed to prevent Rivas from absorbing six more minutes of punishment. He will continue to serve as a gate keeper at the bantamweight division.

 

Prior to the fight Cartegena’s manager Marc Cipparone of Club 1957 Management talked about the importance of this victory. “This is a big fight for Miguel. He is coming along very nicely and he is gaining the interest of a lot of big promoters who have interest in him now. With a good performance, we expect to be signing with one of them in the near future.”

 

Cartagena has the skills, confidence, and persona to be a big star. It will be interesting as he climbs the ranks to see if he remains true to his boxing skills or if he allows himself to become a Philly fighter. Much like decorated amateur Teon Kennedy, who at times would abandon his boxing skills in order to stand toe to toe.

 

As for Cipparone, he has put together a nice stable of fighters. In fact, Kennedy recently signed to join fighters Eric Hunter and Tevin Farmer.

 

In other bouts:

 

Frankie De Alba improved to (11-1-2, 4KO) systematically broke down the game Chazz McDowell (6-4-1) en route to an 8 round decision. McDowell had his moments by landing sharp combinations on the inside, but De Alba was just too strong. He committed to the body to slow down McDowell. Late success upstairs caused McDowell’s eye to swell. The final bell rang and Official Scores were read: 80-72, 79-73, 79-73 in favor of De Alba.

 

Sammy Quinones used a 5 pound weight advantage to beat up and break down a determined, but out-gunned Benjamin Burgos (1-6). By round four Quinones was hurting Burgos with each punch he landed before the bout was mercifully waved off at 2:11 of round four.

 

Khalib Whitmore easily won the award for best ring entrance. The soulful sounds of the Jackson 5 filled the arena which caused veteran cornerman Brother Naazim Richardson to work on his two step on the way to their corner. Whitmore, 29, of Philadelphia scored his fourth stoppage in 5 professional fights. This one came came when Antonio Liles (1-5) crumbled to the canvas complaining of an injured rib. The bout ended at 1:11 of round two.

 

Lightweight Christian Molina (1-0) won his pro-debut against Dominic Goode (0-2) via 4 round decision. Molina used a wind-mill approach to score a knockdown and several head shots against the taller Goode. The bout was entertaining even though neither fighter showed anything resembling technique.

 

In the opening bout of the evening, Lonnie Jackson Jr. improved to (4-1-1, 1 KO) by outpointing Robert Ramos in a four round lightweight bout. Jackson scored two knockdowns en route to a shutout victory of 40-34 on all three cards.

 

Jason Pribila is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of American. He could be reached for questions or comments at pribs2000@yahoo.com and followed on twitter.com @PribsBoxing.



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