|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY September 13, 2013||
Story by John DiSanto
Eric Hunter had another bout with bad luck Friday night at Harrah's Chester when an ill-timed knockout blow left Mike Oliver flat on the canvas in round one. The problem with the picture-perfect knockout was that the punch landed while referee Benji Esteves was attempting to move in after Oliver had slipped to the canvas. With Esteves, stepping between the fighters, Hunter let fly a lethal left hook that cruised over the referee's shoulder and crash-landed on Oliver's chin. The visiting featherweight smashed to the canvas with his arms stretched above his head. He was knocked out cold, and Eric Hunter was disqualified for the illegal blow at 50 seconds of the opening round.
The decision to disqualify Hunter was a bitter pill for Eric, who once again appeared to be just one win away from landing a major bout. The loss left Outlaw 17-3, with 9 KOs. Oliver added the NABA-US featherweight belt to his collection and returned to Hartford, CT 26-5, 8 KOs.
The controversial ending ruined what figured to be a good matchup, as well as another chance for Hunter to display his skills, and rise to the next level. But instead the fiasco left Hunter back in the quicksand of his frustrating career.
To be clear, the entire incident felt much more like a No Contest to me. The KO blow was thrown in the heat of battle after Oliver rose from the floor and lunged toward Hunter (after bouncing off the ropes). Esteves was slow to move in, as Oliver got up, and Hunter let loose with a punch.
However, Hunter was not an innocent bystander. He should have know better than to throw a punch after his opponent was getting up from the canvas. It is customary for the referee to wipe the gloves of any fallen fighter, whether he went down from a punch or from a slip. Hunter has been in the sport since childhood, and would have been wise to keep his cool.
Of course that is easy to say - especially for us non-boxers. The whole thing happened so quickly, and after just 50 seconds had elapsed in the bout.
I'm no rules expert, but it appeared to me that the fight ended from an accidental foul in round one. That shouts No Contest to me, not Disqualification.
Team Hunter plans to protest the result.
"That's my belt," Hunter said in the dressing room after the fight. "I trained so hard for this, and they took it away from me again. The man was coming at me. What am I supposed to do, stand there and let him hit me?"
What I wish Hunter had done is step back from the action, let the moment pass. Then he could have knocked Oliver out legitimately a round or two later. It seemed to be in the cards, and Hunter obviously had the power to end the fight.
But what do I know?
One thing is for certain, whether or not the result is overturned, Hunter needs to get back in the ring as soon as possible, rather than stew in frustration. This was a heart-breaker for him, but he needs to stay active and fight on. He is an excellent fighter. If he can get back on track, I believe his day will still come.
In the 8-round co-main event, Hasan Young had a brilliant coming out party against rugged veteran Julio De Jesus. This fight was touted as a crossroads battle, with the 22-year old Young in deep with a dangerous 38-year old.
The fight lived up to those expectations beautifully. De Jesus kept the danger imminent, but Young stayed out of trouble in the briskly-paced bout between a bull and matador.
Young used a nice jab to control the distance and pace, while De Jesus tried to bring the fight into the trenches.
In round two, De Jesus blinked hard after a left-right by Young found his left eye. When he turned toward my side of the ring, a heavy stream of blood from the eye was obvious. The cut added urgency to De Jesus' strong rushes, but Young always had the answers. Hasan got hit, but never fell into the trap. He just kept moving in and out, punching all the way.
In round four, a hard body shot by Young hurt De Jesus, and slowed him to a crawl. Then a left hook-right uppercut combination put the hard rock De Jesus on the deck. The proud pro got up, but Young battered him until the bell. Julio staggered back to his corner.
In the fifth, De Jesus came back strong, determined not to let the young buck finish him. But Hasan delivered a wilting attack to both the head and body, while De Jesus fought back hard. It was the closest round of the fight, but Young took it, just like all the others that came before, with his volume of punches and better accuracy.
At the end of the fifth round, De Jesus again staggered back to his corner. Moments after he plopped on his stool, referee Hurley McCall stopped the battle on advice from the ringside physician. There was talk of the cut and how it was limiting De Jesus' sight, but Julio was a battered and beaten warrior.
It was a terrific fight that promoter Joey talked about doing again sometime in the future.
Hasan Young, 4-1-1, 2 KOs, verified his promising future with the win. We can look forward to many more memorable performances from the Germantown boxer as his young career develops.
Chester native De Jesus slipped to 8-4-3 with 4 KOs. Chances are we'll see him again too. He loves the sport and will probably press on, even though it's not his primary line of work.
There were three 4-round preliminary bouts to open the card.
Cherry Hill's Anthony Prescott (above, black trunks) won a unanimous decision over a debuting Virginian Carlos Moore in a welterweight bout. Prescott improved his record to 2-2-1, 1 KO, by being aggressive and outworking the more passive Moore. Judges Dewey Larossa and Dave Greer called it a shutout, 40-36, while judge John Gradowski saw it 39-37 for Prescott. My scored agreed with Gradowski's.
Free swinging welterweight Josue Rivera won by first round TKO over Jesus Barbosa. Rivera jumped out to a fast start, and Barbosa responded with his own punches. But a hard body shot by Rivera stunned Barbosa before a series of chopping right hands pounded him on the ropes. Rivera kept up the one-armed assault until referee Hurley McCall stepped in and stopped it. Many of Rivera's landed, many did not, but Barbosa failed to fight back, leaving the referee no choice but end the fight. The time was 1:48.
This was the second straight knockout win (and thrill ride) for Rivera, who started his career with two early knockout losses. Barbosa's record fell to 4-4 with 3 KOs.
Featherweights Joshua Arocha (above, black gloves) and Richard Irrazary fought to a 4-round majority draw. I had Arocha up by a round, but the close fight could have gone either way. Both fighters took their turns punching. Irrazary landed the cleaner blows, but Arocha was more active. Perhaps a draw was the right call.
Judges Larossa and Gradowski had it 38-38, while Greer scored 39-37 for Arocha (same as me).
Harrah's Chester (or Harrah's Philadelphia, as some like to call it) was rather full, if not completely sold out. Joey Eye returns to the same venue with more boxing on November 15th.