Jersey Fight Journal #1: Sweet revenge for Jorge Teron… A heavyweight statement from Kevin Johnson… Lots of love for local fighters

May 17, 2009 – By Scott Kraus - Television and the Internet are essential for fight fans to keep track of the boxing action around the world, but nothing compares to the thrill of going to a fight in person. Whenever the stars align, I will attend fights in the New Jersey area and relay my experiences in the Jersey Fight Journal.

On Friday, May 15, I trekked down to the gambling capital of the East Coast, Atlantic City, NJ, to take in the ESPN2 Friday Night Fights card at Harrah’s Resort featuring unbeaten heavyweights Kevin Johnson and Devin Vargas in the main event, presented by Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing. The following is a chronological report of my night at the fights..

7:15 PM – As I approach Atlantic City, a dense fog envelopes the city, reducing car headlights to pinpoints of white-gray light against an endless gray screen. I brace for pirate ghosts/ghost pirates but arrive at Harrah’s without incident. John Carpenter has made me far too paranoid.

7:30 PM – After retrieving my tickets from the box office I find my seat easily as a handful of early arrivals file into the arena with me. Although I have been to many fights before, this is the first time I splurged for top seats. I am happy with my decision even before the fights start as I enjoy an outstanding view of the ring from the third row behind the blue corner. My excellent view enlightens me to the fact that this card is nowhere near beginning, despite the fight card listing the first bout at 7:30. Various fight officials mull around the ring and I debate whether to get something to eat.

8:00 PM – Here we go! I have plenty of time to scarf down a hot dog and get back to my seat before veteran Bruce Seldon enters the ring. He faces Gabe Brown in a heavyweight bout. Brown’s nickname is “Big G,” which is akin to calling the earth “Big E.” The ringside announcer lists Brown’s weight at a whopping 359 pounds and that seems conservative. In short, he is a big, big man.

8:15 PM – The beautiful Harrah’s ring card girls, one blonde and one brunette, are a welcome respite from the Gabe Brown jiggle. I am especially smitten with the blonde-haired girl with the stunning smile.

8:25 PM – Seldon opens the fifth round aggressively after attacking Brown’s soft belly for the first half of the fight. The referee steps in and awards Seldon a TKO at 2:25 of the round, marking Seldon’s 40th professional victory. Seldon lives and trains in Atlantic City and receives a warm reception for his performance. He grabs the microphone and addresses the crowd, thanking us for the support and angling for a rematch with Kevin Johnson, who fights in the main event. That is unlikely, though depending on what happens in the main event he could fight Devin Vargas, his scheduled opponent on this card before an injury to Monte Barrett, Johnson’s scheduled opponent.

9:00 PM – Another long wait between fights before the beginning of the ESPN2 Friday Night Fights broadcast. Although the logistics of televised bouts are understandably difficult, the pace of the card so far has been too choppy. Jorge Teron and Aldo Valtierra are set to rematch their bout from last December, in which Valtierra handed Teron his first career defeat. Teron has a noticeable size advantage and I instinctively imagine Teddy Atlas cautioning Teron to stay on the outside and use his jab.

9:20 PM – The fighters both provide good action but Teron is clearly doing the more effective work, controlling the action with his jab and landing some big uppercuts when Valtierra gets inside. Valtierra is aggressive but mostly ineffective, unlike the early rounds of their previous encounter.

9:50 PM – Teron wins decisively on the scorecards, 96-94, 97-93, and 99-91, in a fun, tough fight. The tall, lanky Bronx resident showed improvement from his last match with Valtierra and made all the necessary adjustments to earn a clear unanimous decision. Teron is still young and has room to grow. He has good size for a lightweight and a decent jab, but he will need to continue his development to become a contender. Valtierra has a lot of heart, but simply lacks the skills to compete against top-tier fighters.

10:00 PM – My neighbor in the third row is a Toledo, Ohio resident named A.J., attending his first live fight with his wife, Amber. He knows Devin Vargas, who fights in the main event against Kevin Johnson, from the gyms in Ohio when Vargas was a star amateur. His enthusiasm is infectious. As the ring announcer introduces Johnson and Vargas, A.J. tells me that Vargas’s nickname in Toledo was “Lumpy.” Johnson is indeed the more physically imposing of the two fighters.

10:15 PM – Vargas is the aggressor in the first two rounds, pressing Johnson and landing some combinations against the ropes. Johnson fights at a very measured pace, but his punches look to have bad intentions. The first two rounds belong to Vargas.

10:20 PM – After a furious flurry by Vargas to start the third round, Johnson begins to find his rhythm. He strafes Vargas with straight rights and left hooks, and a straight right drops Vargas at the end of the round to ignite the crowd and reduce A.J. to quiet concern.

10:35 PM – Vargas continues his aggressive pace and lands some good punches in round four, but Johnson’s measured assault takes a toll. Johnson drops Vargas again in the fifth and a sense of desperation grips Vargas, who looks to have a problem with his ear. As Johnson tees off on Vargas in round six, Vargas’s corner throws in the towel to prevent further damage. Johnson earns an impressive knockout win and establishes himself as a contender in the heavyweight division. He has a very good jab, composure in the ring, and solid size for a modern heavyweight. He needs to continue to fight better opposition, and after this statement performance, he should be ready to see how he stacks up against a top-ten heavyweight contender.

11:30 PM – Two swing bouts follow the main event, a four-round cruiserweight fight between John Lennox and Robert Brown and a six-round light heavyweight fight between Chuck Mussaccio and faded former junior middleweight titlist Carl Daniels. Neither fight is particularly noteworthy, but the crowd response to New Jersey fighters Lennox and Mussaccio is definitely notable. Most of the crowd stuck around to cheer on the local favorites to add an enjoyable atmosphere to the fights. Both Lennox and Mussaccio rewarded the crowd’s loyalty and enthusiasm with victories. The point cannot be reiterated enough: local fighters make better crowds, better atmospheres, and better fights.

After an entertaining night of fights, the long ride home from Atlantic City does not seem so imposing. As long as the pirate ghosts/ghost pirates stay in the fog, I look forward to the next Jersey Fight Journal.

Article posted on 17.05.2009

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