J.R. Jowett reporting from ringside: While eyes were focused on Brooklyn, Rising Star Prom’ns (“Cornflake” & Debra [sic] LaManna, with matchmaking help from Renee Aiken) kept the local scene humming in Atlantic City on 9/8/18. The revivified Showboat presents a somewhat eerie atmosphere, with large as yet unoccupied areas nonetheless garishly lit in anticipation of the casino revival expected from the changes in the sports betting law.
Meanwhile, the crowd nearly filled the circa 800-seat showroom with large overhanging balcony and ring elevated on stage, an engaging venue that reminded some of the gone-forever Blue Horizon. The card was a record-builder underneath, with all the heroes winning handily but none of the dives that were common before tough commissioners like Hazard and Sirb put the kibosh on that nonsense long ago. The evening was capped with a sensational main event in a local showdown for bragging rights that was hotly contested. Ray Ryan kept time, David Sarnoff announced, and a highlight was the return of popular Rick Glaser, doing ringside streaming.
After fans watched their favorites dutifully beat up on shmoos, there entered Antowyan Aikens, 165 ½, AC, 13-5-1 (1), to battle DeCarlo Perez, 168, 17-6-1 (5), over eight rounds for the NJ State Spr Middle crown.
Although actually from Egg Harbor, Perez was announced out of AC to add to the local drama. And it could hardly have proven more so! The tall and rangy Aikens, a slight crowd favorite, took the first round moving smartly behind a jab that kept DeCarlo at bay. But not for long! Action heated precipitately in round two. After Aikens missed a wild right, a counter left spun him into the ropes. The rest of the round was heatedly contested, with Perez dogging the mobile Aikens and managing to get a step closer to apply effective pressure.
The second and third were close, as Perez kept up pressure behind his own jab that often fell short but was enough to keep Antowyan on the move.
With action seemingly settled into a pattern in round four, the roof fell in…almost. DeCarlo’s attack was mounting, as he seemed to have Antowyan on the run, when Aikens dropped a straight right down the pike and the advancing Perez crumbled to the canvas like a puppet with the strings cut! The fight could have been over, but DeCarlo arose and regrouped well, managing to make the rest of the round bitterly fought and close. The fifth continued the heated battling, with Aikens trying to move and catch Perez coming in while DeCarlo tried to gain a step and fire the right. Antowyan kept his hands low and tried to fall away to his right when Perez fired, but he was nailed behind the ear and rocked, bringing up the already excited crowd. Perez poured it on while Aikens battled back, to the bell.
In the sixth, DeCarlo put over the same right to a ducking Aikens, and this time Antowyan’s knees gave out and though he tried to grab and hold, he collapsed to canvas. The fans were going crazy as Aikens circled desperately away, got nailed with numerous rights, but hung tough and battled out of the round. In the final two, both may have been a bit spent but the fighting was still tough and determined. The seventh was close, but with the fight possibly on the line, Perez finished with a strong eighth. Aikens was still punching, but possibly arm weary and flailing, while Perez was firing straight, solid inside blows. With so much seesaw action, the judges could easily have blown this one, but they didn’t! Lawrence Layton scored 75-74, Jimmy Kinney 77-72, and Al Bennett 76-74, unanimous for Perez! Earl Brown refereed.
The six between John Bauza, 139, N. Bergen, 11-0 (5), and returning Rashad Bogar, 139, Newark, 4-8-1 (2), was a bit disappointing. The promising southpaw Bauza, managed by Dino Duva, usually provides classy action. But the shifty Bogar, constantly moving away and rolling with punches, kept the fight from settling into a genuine contest…
except for a flash in the fourth when Bauza made his mark and brought up his fans. With the favorite circled into the ropes, Bogar tried the textbook move against a southpaw, the lead right. But Bauza quickly beat him to the punch with an inside shot that dramatically crumbled Rashad to the canvas. Yet in the ensuing wild scramble, with crowd up, both fired away but couldn’t find each other in the blur of punches. The contest remained a scramble of misses to the final bell, with Bauza gaining a unanimous shutout, 60-53, from Bennett, Jackie Atkins, and Anthony Lundy.
The undercard was composed entirely of fours. The show opened with a brutal, all-out slugfest between Travis Toledo, 172 ¼, Balto., 2-0 (2), and dangerous spoiler Tahlik Taylor, 175 ¼, Freeport, LI, 3-12-1 (1). The two exploded at first bell in total wild slugging with every punch marked for KO! Tahlik gained a short-lived advantage by tagging the aggressively charging favorite again and again. But the muscular Toledo was bent on destruction and refused to be denied. By round two, Tahlik was already wilting as Travis simply overwhelmed him on pure muscle in an abandoned street fight. Taylor was game but at last folded, from a left hook and then a second time, from a right to the ribs, with referee Harvey Dock calling a TKO at 2:02.
Despite acceptable parity in weights, somehow most of the favorites enjoyed a decided advantage in overall size. Such is good matchmaking. None was more apparent than in the debut of touted Ry’Shine Collins, 122 ¼, Phila., versus Lucky (“Lucky”?) Holt, 120 ¾, Hannibal, MO, 0-3. The hopelessly small underdog tried, but was badly hurt by a left underneath to the solar plexus, then pounded mercilessly until folding and flopping on canvas while Dock counted him out, at 0:51 of round one. Seemingly none the worse, Lucky merrily bounced around the showroom for the rest of the evening.
The most competitive of the fours was that between Jahmal Dyer, 133, Balto., 6-1 (4), and Marcos Lugo, 131, Vineland, 0-2. Dyer was decidedly bigger than the game underdog. Near end of round one and behind, Marcos tried to bore in, caught a left hook behind the ear, and folded to the canvas. But he arose and the bell got him out of the jam. Lugo attempted a wild rally to open round two, and was scoring until jarred by a right that cooled the attack. In round three, Dyer looked less than a world beater and gave ground. In the final session, the southpaw Lugo was vigorously attacking when Dyer, while reeling off balance, poked out an odd right that didn’t look like a great punch, but took the measure of Lugo, sending him down. Marcos arose on noticeably unsteady legs, but referee Ricky Vera allowed it to go on, with the game underdog pounded until his corner threw the towel, at 1:29.
By contrast was the bout between rangy southpaw Omar Salem, 165, Bklyn, 4-0 (1), and stubby Mike Anderson, 165 ½, Phila., 0-3. Omar, son of the “Egyptian Magician”, controlled a ho-hum opening round, after which Anderson quit in his corner, evidently claiming an injured right arm.
A decent contest, though on the crude side, was that between southpaw Kashon Hutchinson, 145 ¼, Reading, 4-5 (1), and Steve Moore, 144 ¼, Orange, 1-5 (1). Hutchinson set the pace, although there was a lot of ineffective missing and mauling. Still, Kashon scored enough clean shots to dominate into the third, when Steve tried to rally. Moore took an early edge purely on activity, then Kashon regained control before a late surge by Steve made a close round. Moore had nothing left in the fourth, though, and Hutchinson took the unanimous verdict, 40-36 from Lundy and 39-37 from Bennett and Atkins.
A good contest was won by Ryan Wilczak, 158, Scranton, 7-0 (3), over game but ill-equipped Alberto Delgado, 161, Roanoke, VA, 0-4-3. Wilczak was cautious and conservative, but had basic fundamentals down while Delgado did not. Nonetheless, Alberto pestered him with constant forward pressure though generally getting hit. By late third, his own movement and Ryan’s counters had Alberto slowing down and in fourth he had nothing left and Wilczak picked him apart to win 40-36 from Bennett and 39-37 by the others.
In a hard fought but decidedly sloppy contest, Nahir Albright, 140, Phila., 4-1 (1), outfought an unfocused Glenford Nickey, 140, Bklyn., 4-2 (1). What looked a promising match on paper quickly turned into spirited misses and wrestling. The switch-hitting Nickey missed wildly in the second, lunging off balance and getting tagged by a sweeping left behind the ear that had him holding desperately to stay on his feet. After that, Glenford did more surviving than attacking. Albright momentarily got a step of distance between them in the third, long enough to land a solid left-right that sent Glenford reeling into the ropes, holding him up. He was then spun to the canvas but referee Vera ruled a push. Albright won the unanimous verdict, 40-35 from Bennett, 40-36 by the others.
Isaiah Hart, 160 ¾, AC, debuted to cheers from local fans to face Dillon Kasprzak, 159, Phila., 0-2, in an explosive, entertaining contest. Again, the favorite was decidedly bigger than the foe, and immediately asserted control with a solid one-two. Action tamed a bit until late in round one, when Kasprzak ducked a right but Hart brought up a left to drop him hard. The underdog got up shaky but the round was nearly over. The fully bearded Kasprzak tried to get into the contest with a crackling exchange to start the second, but a solid left quickly wobbled him and Vera stopped it in just 15 seconds.