Young fistic stars Bryan, Vargas and Diaz shine in North Bergen.

By Mike Indri - Retired Boxers Foundation - NORTH BERGEN, NJ – Pound for Pound Promotions showcased their growing stable of talent-laden prospects and while the youngsters proved their worth with impressive victories the real winners Wednesday night were the boxing fans that crowded themselves into the Schuetzen Park ballroom for the exciting eight bout fightcard.

“They are all really promising fighters,” proudly exclaimed promoter John Lynch. “The best part about it is that they are all such nice kids!”

I doubt many of the fighters facing off against his highly touted crew would agree with the long time Union City attorney, who started promoting fights earlier this year.

The show began with local favorite Noriko Kariya battling it out with nineteen year-old Californian Ava Knight, in a rare female bout. Trailing on the scorecards after four rounds of the scheduled six rounder, Kariya was boxing well but absorbing several clean power shots from the taller, well-skilled fighter. Early in round five Knight crushed Kariya with a huge right hand, sending the stunned Canadian-born bantamweight crumbling backwards onto the seat of her pants. Momentarily debilitated and obviously hurt, the gutsy Kariya valiantly tried to get to her feet but could not, getting counted out by referee Sparkle Lee at the 20 second mark of the fateful fifth round. A tremendous showing by Knight, who stays unbeaten at 4-0-2 (3 KO’s) with the knockout victory, while the likable Kariya now stands at 9-3-1 (2 KO’s).

Former amateur standout Victor Valenzuela was given all he could handle against North Carolina native Jason Rorie, yet managed to squeeze out a close four round unanimous decision win. Valenzuela peppered his feisty foe from Winston-Salem early in the bout; clearly winning the first two rounds, then gave away his obvious reach advantage when he stopped controlling the action and allowed himself to get out-fought in the last half of the fight. The twenty year-old Rorie felt his effort should have yielded no worse than a draw, “No way I lost this fight” the disappointed super featherweight was heard saying as he left ringside. All three judges scored it 39-37 for the Passaic fighter, now 4-0 (1 KO). Rorie slips to 1-1-1 (1 KO).

North Bergen’s own Danny McDermott brought the crowd to their feet with his spirited four round unanimous decision victory against an out-gunned Dorrell Martin, from Baltimore. Looking sharp in his emerald green “Evolution Apparel” designer boxing trunks, the gritty McDermott also fought sharp and stung his bewildered opponent with nasty right hands throughout the first three minutes. An apparent unintentional head butt opened a cut, which would require stitching afterwards, atop McDermott’s forehead early in round two and this only incensed the free swinging 131 pounder. The popular fighter delighted his large group of followers as he manhandled Martin, now 2-5, sending the 25 year-old Maryland boxer to his fourth straight loss. All three judges saw it 40-36 for McDermott, who improved to 5-1-1 (2 KO’s) and never looked better.

Traveling from Ohio to make his pro debut, light heavyweight Rodell Boler was unfairly overmatched and never stood a chance against Union City prospect Jason Escalara. Getting pounded over the first two rounds of the proposed four rounder, Boler was in bad shape starting off round three and getting damaged by Escalara’s vicious body attack. After drilling the beaten Buckeye with a big left hand to the head referee Earl Morton smartly jumped in at the 1:58 mark to call a halt to the one-sided bout, giving Escalara his third kayo win in as many fights.

Talented Jr. Welterweight Jeremy “Hollywood” Bryan made short work of Sam Gibson, stopping the Elkhart, Indiana native in the first round of their scheduled four round contest. Displaying a strong, stifling left jab, Bryan nailed Gibson with a crisp overhand right which dropped Gibson to the canvas in a hurry. Gibson beat the count of referee Sparkle Lee but claimed he had injured his ankle in the knockdown and was unable to continue at 2:05 of the first stanza. Bryan, a two-time national golden gloves titlist, stays perfect at 5-0 (3 KO’s)and appears to be a true blue chip prospect, while Gibson will have to limp back to Indiana at 1-2 (1 KO).

Bobby Rooney, Jr. ended a 13 month ring hiatus with his six round split decision win against Philadelphia light heavyweight Zeferino Albino. Dropping Albino in round one with a looping right hand, the popular Bayonne fighter started strong then wilted towards the middle of the fight. Albino, now 3-6-2 (1 KO), is a better fighter than his record shows, yet was unable to put forth the effort when the fight was on the line late. Rooney delighted his loyal throng of fans with the win and improved to 7-2-1 (3 KO’s). Judge Al Bennett scored it 58-55 for Albino, while both Pierre Benoist and Hilton Whitaker had it 58-55 for the winner, Bobby Rooney, Jr.

Bronx resident Ronny Vargas continued on his winning ways with another dominant performance against a lesser fighter. Facing James Denson, a loser in two of his last three bouts, Vargas had little trouble establishing command early and taking advantage of his height and reach. The long armed Vargas banged away to the body and head of his Akron, Ohio opponent and added bruising uppercuts to the body which quickly put Denson in survival mode. More bludgeoning work in round two had the mismatched twenty five year-old fighter all but out and the non-stop Vargas attack forced Denson to take a knee midway into round three. With referee Earl Morton looking on closely Vargas continued with his scorching body attack which drove the hapless Denson, now 3-3 (2 KO’s), to the canvas where he would not even think of getting up before Morton’s count of ten, at 2:39 in round three of the scheduled six round Jr. Middleweight bout. To his credit, Vargas did what he had to do and registered knockout number six in climbing to 8-0.

While the first seven fights provided plenty of action and excitement, the best was saved for last.
For the seven plus minutes the scheduled six round Jr. Featherweight fight between Jorge Diaz and Giovanni Figueroa lasted both fighters fought as if their lives depended on it and served notice to the three judges that they could leave at any time; their scorecards would not be needed.

Diaz, blessed with fast and heavy hands, came out looking to tag his willing Puerto Rican foe but wound up on the receiving end of a quick exchange which surprised the New Brunswick native who stumbled back and had his glove brace the canvas, which was rightly ruled a knockdown by well respected referee Earl Morton. Turning it on for the remainder of the round, Diaz finished strong. The reckless approach by Diaz leaves the tough as nails twenty year-old open too much but also makes Diaz a wrecking machine as the 123 pounder destroys the body of Figueroa who almost appreciates the thudding headshots he receives at the end of round two. As the game Figueroa appears all but done coming out for round three, the crowd cheers their approval for the best these two gutsy young fighters have been giving. Diaz prevails and drops the wounded Figueroa to the deck twice and continues to whistle menacing left hooks to the head of his now dizzy opponent, forcing Morton to jump in and stop the “fight of the night” at the 1:45 mark of the third round. Diaz stays perfect, 6-0 (5 KO’s), while Figueroa slips to 3-2 (2 KO’s) and also should be proud of his effort and performance.

NJ Boxing Hall of Fame President Henry Hascup further enhanced the Pound for Pound fightcard with his stellar job behind the microphone, serving as ring announcer.

Mike Indri can be contacted at

Article posted on 02.08.2008

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