I went to Lou DiBella’s Broadway Boxing card at BB King Blues Club & Grill in New York for two reasons. One, because I’m intrigued by Tor Hamer, a young, unbeaten, American heavyweight prospect I’ve seen on ESPN2, previous Broadway Boxing cards that aired on SNY, and read about on this very blog. Two, because I had never been to a club show in New York City before and I felt it my duty as a hardcore boxing fan to rectify that.
While satisfied on both counts (though with some very slight reservations on the first), what will likely stand out in my memory was the atmosphere of the show. While I won’t say it was the best fight atmosphere I have experienced personally (I live too close to the Prudential Center for that), it was easily the best club fight atmosphere I’ve experienced. The New York crowd was basically everything I wanted a New York crowd to be: enthusiastic, engaged, diverse, and occasionally hilarious (especially the gentleman who maintained a shouted running commentary on the fights that was amusing enough to not be irritating; the highlight being his calling Hamer’s opponent’s swollen eye a “pimple” and imploring Hamer to “pop that pimple”).
All that, plus Paulie Malignaggi, probably the most “Noo Yawk” New York fighter out there right now, briefly addressed the crowd before the Joelo Torres fight. He received a rousing ovation (along with numerous “You got robbed!” shoutouts) as he implored the crowd to force a rematch with Juan Diaz. He also said, roughly, that he wanted to show Juan Diaz how New York treats out-of-towners, which I found interesting because it could imply that Paulie is not against unfair hometown decisions but he is only against unfair hometown decisions that go against him. I could have interpreted him wrong, but I wonder.
The card itself was solid, filled with young fighters mostly facing game (though not necessarily skilled) opposition. I’ll break them down below, but I just want to take a moment to plug my own boxing blog, 3 Minutes of Hell.
That’s it. Just a moment. On to the fights.
Tor Hamer UD.6 Theron Johnson – As I said, I was here to see Hamer. He earned some brownie points before the opening bell by coming to the ring to the opening theme from Batman: The Animated Series, a favorite show of mine. He then delivered a solid, if not spectacular, performance. I saw nothing that would prohibit him from potentially developing into a top heavyweight. He was aggressive and active from the outset, using his movement and jab to get inside the taller Johnson and throwing hooks in combination when he got inside. Hamer showed good power in his left hand as he stunned Johnson repeatedly with hooks and a nice hybrid hook/uppercut in the fifth round. His greatest asset is his impressive athleticism and his intelligence and he combined those qualities to great effect.
It was smooth sailing for Hamer until he met adversity in the sixth round, when Johnson landed a counter left hook followed by what looked like a push to knock Hamer to the mat. I thought it would be ruled a slip but the referee ruled it a knockdown and began his count. Hamer did not look hurt and he maintained his composure to close out the fight. The “knockdown” tightened the scorecards (they read 58-55 and 57-56 twice) but did little else as Hamer was more off-balance than hurt.
Hamer improved to 8-0 and went six rounds for the first time, gaining valuable experience against a bigger fighter (Johnson weighed in 20 pounds heavier than Hamer at 240 lbs.). He is obviously still raw and, at 26, he is young enough and smart enough to fine-tune his skills. At times on the inside he was sloppy with his punches, a shortcoming he needs to work on because, as a smaller heavyweight, he will need to fight on the inside against bigger fighters.
Despite his knockout record, I also wonder how big a puncher Hamer really is. Although I liked his left hook, I thought it was closer to “sharp” than “heavy.” Johnson was stopped in the second round of his only other loss, though that was to a much bigger fighter than Hamer. I liked Hamer’s left hook but I think the jury is still out on his power.
Regardless, I will continue to track the development of Tor Hamer, interesting American heavyweight prospect. I think I just like typing that.
Joelo Torres TKO.1 Washington Hago – Sometimes fights are won before the bell rings; this felt like one of those times. Joelo Torres was escorted to the ring by an entourage featuring Juan Manuel Lopez and had fans in the stands wearing t-shirts with his image on them; Hago preceded him accompanied by only his trainer, sporting a t-shirt that was probably white once upon a time and is now a color that can only be described as “rag.” Hago sported a weird stance that looked like he was trying to shoulder roll but left him leaning helplessly back into Torres’s punches. Less than two minutes into the fight, Torres scored two knockdowns (neither of which looked particularly brutal) and Hago’s corner threw in the towel. On a night of well-matched fights, Hago stood out as a particularly weak opponent.
In the other fights, Luis Del Valle stayed unbeaten, stopping the mustached Robert Guillen in the fifth round in impressive fashion. Guillen was a very rugged, determined opponent but Del Valle knocked him down in the second round and nearly again in the fourth round before a series of punches forced the stoppage in the fifth. I wouldn’t mind seeing Del Valle again… Gabriel Bracero dominated tough Melchor Guillen, sweeping the scorecards for a unanimous four-round decision… Eddie Irizzary scored a monster second-round knockdown and fended off the roughhouse tactics of Felix Flores to take a six-round decision… Heavyweight Ahmed “Prince” Samir earned a four-round decision to maintain his unbeaten record against Clarence Tillman but he did not earn much love, holding as much as he hit and dancing away from his opponent for the last twenty seconds of the fight… While I wanted to stick around to see former Olympian Argenis Mendez, I simply couldn’t given the train schedule and my work schedule. I was hoping find and post the result for you but it is not on boxrec or anywhere else, so I will check again tomm… later this morning and post it when (and if) I can.
[UPDATE: Argenis Mendez defeated Anthony Napunyi by TKO in the fifth round]