|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY December 18, 2013||
It didn't take long for the chasm in class between Glen Johnson and Bobby Gunn to emerge during their cruiserweight fight in Bethlehem, PA, on Wednesday night. Johnson remained at least one step ahead of the plodding Gunn, landed at will, and coasted to an easy unanimous shutout decision. The would-be WBU title fight, neutered to just 8-rounds and peeled of its championship laurels a day or so before the fight, was the main event of a five-fight card at the Sands Bethlehem Casino Resort.
The two fighters fought evenly for most of the first round before Johnson, the wily old former champ, trapped Gunn in a neutral corner and landed a strong combination that simultaneously rattled the rugged Gunn and allowed Johnson to pull out the round. It was the closest, Gunn came to winning a round.
Beginning in round two, Johnson outclassed his opponent the rest of the way. The action heated up in round three, with Gunn tossing a few heavy shots, but still Johnson did more than enough to stay in the lead. Gunn was warned for using his head during the round and later lost his mouthpiece when Johnson drilled him with a hard right. Unfortunately, these were the fight's biggest highlights.
The rest of the night played out without drama. Each remaining round stuck to the 44-year old Johnson's script of controlling the action with his superior abilities.
Leading up to the fight, much was made of the former champ's age and first foray into the cruiserweight division. However, Johnson vs. Gunn would have been the same fight even if Johnson was 54 years old and dipping his toe into the heavyweight division. The only important factor in this one was the difference in the fighters' pedigree. Despite his late substitution, Johnson looked in shape and still effective.
All three judges, Julie Lederman, Pierre Benoist and John Poturaj scored the contest 80-72 for Johnson, 53-18-2, 36 KOs.
After the fight, Bobby Gunn, 21-6-1, 18 KOs, announced his retirement from the boxing ring. It was the most dramatic and interesting part of the fight. Gunn is a tough and sincere warrior who will be remembered for those qualities.
In the co-feature, undefeated Philly prospect Miguel Cartagena remained that way with a one-sided but flat performance against Mexico's Eduardo Valanzuela. Cartagena took the 6-round decision by unanimous verdict. The score was 59-55 on three official cards.
Cartagena swept through the rounds using his jab and sizing his opponent up for heavy right hands. However like in his last outing, the young Philly star took far too many punches and made the fight much more difficult than it ever should have been.
This is not a good pattern.
Although Cartagena was winning, Valanzuela was emboldened as the fight went on, having more and more success landing punches. At times, the pair would go to war, trading hard shots and exciting the crowd. To his credit, Miguel kept the edge in most of the exchanges. However, his performance raised questions about whether this golden prospect is advancing or just spinning his wheels.
I don't think Valanzuela, just 5-4-1, 1 KO, had any business being in the ring with Cartagena, yet there he was standing at the final bell. He even won that last round. Cartagena should not even give these inferior fighters a chance once the bell rings.
It was a solid victory for Cartagena, now 10-0, 3 KOs. I also scored it 59-55. However, the fighter who was such a spectacular talent in the amateurs, no longer appears to be improving with each of his professional fights. In fact, in his last two bouts, he's looked rather ordinary. Cartagena is anything but ordinary, which means something isn't working.
Perhaps Cartagena is adjusting to his new trainer, or maybe he's just been matched too lightly in his first ten bouts and is starting to fight down to the level of his poor competition. In any case, he needs to start stepping it up.
Heavyweight Mark Rideout, Philadelphia, had to settle for a majority 6-round draw in his fight with Eric Newell, Bethlehem. Rideout seemed to do enough to win the bout, but after fading in the second half of the fight, left the door open for Newell to make something happen.
Newell finished strong and impressed judges Benoist and Poturaj enough to get a 57-57 draw on their cards. Judge Julie Lederman scored the fight 58-56 for Rideout. My score mirrored Lederman's. The fight was Rideout's first blemish, 4-0-1, 1 KO. Newell went home 7-2-2, 5 KOs.
In the most electrifying fight of the evening, Williamsport, PA heavyweight Randy Easton pounded Philadelphian Dante Selby to the canvas twice en route to a first round knockout victory. The entire fight lasted less than a minute.
The first knockdown came courtesy of a looping right hand by Easton. Selby sank to the floor from the blow, and Easton teed off two more punches at the fallen fighter. Referee Shawn Clark stopped the action, reprimanded Easton, and penalized him two points for the infraction.
When the action resumed, Selby was still buzzed. A moment later, a huge Easton left hook found the mark, and Selby went crashing to the canvas. Referee Clark stopped the fight without a count and called it a KO at 53 second of round one.
Fight fans got exactly what they like from a heavyweight fight - big guys, landing heavyweight punches. Easton improved to 2-2-1 with 6 KOs. The loss was Selby's first, 2-1-1, 0 KOs.
In the first bout of the night, Pottstown's Travis Thompson posted an impressive win over Julius Leegrand of Ohio. Thompson took control in round one, and never looked back. He outworked Leegrand and hurt him just before the bell.
Thompson resumed his relentless attack in the second, landing a strong right hand that stopped his opponent in his tracks. There were some heated exchanges, but Travis kept pressing and punching all night. He outworked Leegrand over four straight rounds and won the unanimous decision by perfect 40-36 scores on all three official scorecards.
Thompson upped his record to 5-11-3, 3 KOs, and Leegrand fell to 4-2-1, 1 KO.
The crowd was fairly small for the event. Perhaps the absence of Gunn's original opponent, Roy Jones Jr., kept fans away.
The fight was promoted by David Feldman's XFE Promotions. Don Elbaum was the match maker. The fight was taped by GFL.tv, and will be available on demand at that website.
Shawn Clark refereed all five bouts, and judges Julie Lederman, Pierre Benoist and John Poturaj scored them.
A number of boxing celebrities were in attendance, including Larry Homes, Al Cole, Harold Lederman, Hank Lundy, Gabriel Rosado, Eric Hunter, Tevin Farmer, Teon Kennedy, Travis Kauffman, and trainers Pepe Correa and Billy Briscoe.