|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - December 08, 2015|
PBC came to the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, NJ Tuesday night for a nationally televised trio of fights. The main event was a scheduled 10-round junior featherweight bout between rising undefeated prospect Juan Dominiguez and tough vet Yenifel Vicente. However, Philly fans either made the one-hour trip to Trenton (or tuned into Fox Sports 1) to see cruiserweight Garrett Wilson take on his own undefeated opponent, Keith Tapia, in the evening's 10-round co-feature.
We all got a quick glimpse of Tapia back in September when he bowled over the usually durable Anthony Caputo Smith in Atlantic City in a single round. Tapia looked good that night, but none of us were certain that the Puerto Rican could take a shot, or win a fight that didn't come easily. Enter Wilson.
From the opening bell, Garrett charged Tapia with his bullish style and launched bomb after bomb at the rising prospect. Wilson landed a big right hand in round two that wobbled Tapia. By the end of the round, Tapia was bleeding from a slit over his left eye.
However, every time Wilson landed, Tapia fought back well, landing his own hard punches that kept Wilson cautious. As usual, Wilson kept coming, but he had to be careful. Tapia drilled Wilson with a right uppercut in the second that buckled his knees.
Five minutes into the fight, we had an all-out war filled with back-and-forth exchanges, see-sawing momentum and loads of drama.
Wilson was especially strong with his overhand right and brutish left hook, while the much taller Tapia used uppercuts - both left left and right versions - as his most dangerous weapon.
The two brawled away taking turns scoring and threatening to bring the fight to a sudden close. After four rounds, the score was even on my card with the boxers swapping every other round. It was thrilling to watch.
However beginning in round five, Tapia generally took control of the bout and remained the fresher fighter throughout the second half. Wilson was always dangerous, but his energy slowly faded and his threats became less frequent.
In round nine, Tapia caught Wilson with a right uppercut and then unleashed a series of punches that had Wilson hurt. Wilson toughed it out and kept chasing Tapia, despite his fatigue. He always does.
After ten full rounds, Tapia was the clear winner and all three judges awarded him the decision. John Stewart scored it 97-93 and Lawrence Layton and Robin Taylor saw it 99-91. My card was 98-92 for Tapia.
Tapia, of Saturce, PR, extended his undefeated streak to a good-looking 17-0, 11 KOs, and more importantly proved that he can truly fight and take a tremendous shot.
"It was my toughest fight so far," Tapia said after the bout.
Wilson fell to 16-10-1, 9 KOs, and ended his three-bout winning streak. The fight opened the TV show.
The main event of the evening pitted undefeated Brooklyn-ite Juan Dominguez against Miami-based Dominican Yenifel Vicente in another 10-roundeer. Philly fans remember Vicente as the rugged foe that lost to Eric Hunter in a fight for the USBA featherweight title almost two years ago.
Vicente may have been matched as "the opponent" against Dominguez, but it didn't take long for him to prove that he was a dangerous vet who was in Trenton for more than a payday.
Vicente won the first two rounds and even added an extra point to his lead when Dominguez was penalized for hitting low, after several warnings from referee Earl Brown.
In round three, Vicente stormed out of his corner and kicked up the pace a notch or two. Suddenly he launched a single looping right overhand bomb that crashed against Dominguez' head and sent him crashing to the floor. The undefeated fighter lied on his back motionless, clearly out cold.
Earl Brown stopped the fight immediately without a count and called it clean KO at 20 seconds of the third round. The medical team rushed into the ring and attended to the fallen fighter. Dominguez, 19-1, 13 KOs, was carried him from the ring on a stretcher.
Vicente, 28-3-2, 20 KOs, made a major statement and as a result, should get plenty of play in the junior featherweight division.
In between the Tapia and Vicente bouts, an 8-round middleweight contest was also broadcast live to the TV audience. Immanuewel Aleem (15-0, 9 KOs), Richmond, VA, won an entertaining 8-round split decision over Columbian Carlos Galvan (11-4-1, 10 KOs). Aleem used a sharp right hand as his prime weapon, but both fighters threw tons of punches and gave it everything they could.
Many of the rounds were closely contested, but Aleem's punches were clearer and more frequent. Judge John Stewart and John McKaie both scored the fight 77-75. Stewart favored Galvan and McKaie had Aleem the winner. Lawrence Layton broke the tie with his 78-74 score for Aleem. My card was also 78-74 for Aleem.
In the off-TV portion of the show, former light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson (33-4, 18 KOs), New Haven, CT, returned to the ring after a 14-month layoff to defeat Flint, MI's Shujaa El Amin (12-9, 6 KOs) by 10-round unanimous decision.
Dawson appeared fully recovered from the shoulder surgery that had sidelined him for so long. He controlled the entire fight, winning every round while his opponent did little more than survive. El Amin talked his way through the entire fight, but offered very little offense. The fight was slow moving and completely lacked drama. All three judges scored the slow-moving bout 100-90.
"Two or three more fights and I'll be ready for any of the top guys," Dawson said after the fight. "Not Kovalev yet, but after two or three fights, I'll be ready."
In opening bout, junior featherweight Jordan White of Baltimore made a successful pro debut with a 20-second knockout of Jose Roman (0-4) of San Juan. White dropped Roman with a single left hook and the Puerto Rican took the full ten count. It was his fourth loss by KO.
Philadelphia light heavyweight Christopher Brooker (6-1, 4 KOs) stopped Zach Kelley (5-13, 5 KOs) of Earlsboro, OK, at 32 seconds of the sixth and final round. Brooker led throughout and hurt Kelley to the body in round five. Brooker poured it on and nearly had him out, but Kelley survived the round. At the start of the sixth, Brooker again landed well to the body, hurting Kelley once more. Brooker swarmed his opponent with a volley of shots until referee Earl Brown stepped in to stop it.
In a four round heavyweight fight, Dan Pasciolla (6-1), of Brick, NJ defeated Philadelphia's Corey Morley (0-1-1) by unanimous decision. All three judges scored the one-sided fight 40-36.
In the 6-round walkout bout, welterweight Alex Martin (11-0, 5 KOs) won a unanimous decision over Cameron Kreal (8-9-2, 1 KO) to remain undefeated. The official judges all had Martin ahead 60-54. The fight was originally scheduled for eight rounds but was cut to six at the last minute for time considerations.
The live crowd was sparse at the Sun Center, with at most 600 fans in attendance at the King's Promotions event. Clearly the emphasis for this one was firmly placed on the Fox Sports 1 broadcast.