By: Lou McLaughlin -ringside – Boxing returned to West Orange, N.J. at the Richard J. Codey Arena (formerly South Mountain Arena) this past Friday night June 14 after an absence of 20 years. The bouts were brought by Greg Cohen Promotions and Gabe LaConte’s First Round Promotions. Gabe LaConte has been a force in New Jersey boxing for decades. Gabe was inducted last year into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame for his many years work as a promoter in the Garden State. Three of the fights were telecast live by ESPN.
The evening’s opening about was in the welterweight division four rounds featuring Shakur Jackson of Newark, N.J. 1 (1KO) -0-1 No Contest taking on Michael Pickett 1-5 out of South Bend, Indiana. Evident immediately was Jackson’s superior reach and jab. Pickett tried to come forward behind a peekaboo cover but was catching rights to the head over his guard and left hooks to the body under his guard. Towards the round’s end Pickett was losing forward momentum as he could not effectively get inside. The second round had Jackson ripping body shots that doubled Pickett over and he retreated to the ropes. On the ropes Jackson continued to go to the body and a series of right hands to the head prompted referee Randy Neumann to stop the contest at 2:03 of the second round.
Undefeated heavyweight Tyrell Wright (2-0, 1 KO) of Bayonne, New Jersey put on a thrilling show against Moses Marshall (0-1-1) of Springfield, Massachusetts in a scheduled four rounds. Wright was put down early in the round but got up and showing superior hand speed started working the body. In the second round Tyrell opened with left hooks to the body. He dropped Marshall three times in the second round with combos to head and the body and again referee Randy Neumann stopped the contest at 2:03 of the second round.
Rickey “Paterson Boy” Edwards (2-0, 2 KOs) finished off Larry Yanez from Miami (3-5-2) at 2:27 of the first. Edwards opened up fast and furious from body to head and simply overwhelmed Yanez with referee Sparkle Lee stopping the contest.
Atlantic City’s Lavarn “Baby Bowe” Harvell (13-0, 7 KOs) took on Paul Vasquez (9-4-1, 3 KOs) in a six round light heavyweight contest. It should be noted that Vasquez donates all of his purses to medical charities. Vasquez came out in the first trying to bull in and tie up Harvell wanting to make it more of an inside brawl. Harvell responded by putting Vasquez down with a left hook. This round was target practice for Harvell as he teed off towards round end. The second and third rounds found Vasquez trying to jab and come forward to fight inside. Harvell continued trying to keep him on the outside with his jab. By the end of the third round Vasquez’s left eye was swelling. The fourth and fifth rounds had both fighters trying to dig to the body. The fourth round would be considered Vasquez’s best round. The sixth and closing round had Harvell relying mostly on his rapid left jab and lateral movement to pile up points. Both eyes of Vasquez were swollen and his punches had no steam. At round’s end Vasquez rallied furiously but it was a case of too little too late. The fight was scored for Harvell 60-53, 59-54 and 58-55.
After the fight Harvell commented” that was a tough guy, the toughest guy I have ever fought. Going forward I will continue my conditioning and training”. His trainer Abdur Rahim Muhammad said “I think it was a top grade performance but we have more work to do and we look forward to getting out there and doing it.”
Anthony Gangemi (4-0, 3 KOs) Mine Hill, N.J. fought Anthony Prescott from Cherry Hill, N.J. (1-2-1, 1 KO) going the distance for the first time in his career. It was a contest in which each fighter had his moments and the scoring was close. Gangemi received a majority decision with scores of this 38-38 even and 40-36 and 39-37 Gangemi.
The co-main event was a crossroads fight for both junior featherweights Jorge “King” Diaz (17-2, 10 KOs) of New Brunswick, N.J. and Yenifel “El Rayo” Vicente (25-1-2, 17 KOs) for the vacant the WBC FECARBOX title. FECARBOX refers to Federacion Centroamericana de Boxeo Profesional–a Central American sanctioning body of the World Boxing Council in a scheduled 8 rounds. The fight opened with Diaz taking punishment to the body and being backed up to the ropes in the first round. After a head snapping jab from Vicente Diaz appeared to wake up and started to work his opponent’s body. Through the second round Diaz had the faster hand movement but Vicente Posen last the heavier hands and was throwing clubbing hard rights to the head and body of Diaz. The third round was Diaz’s best round with Diaz showing good upper body and head movement and ducking under Vicente’s punches. In the fourth round Diaz was put down by a right uppercut but rose only to be caught overwhelmingly against the ropes with referee Benji Esteves stopping the contest at 2:02 of the fourth. The day after the fight he stated in a telephone interview “There’s not much to say other than I got caught with a good shot. Everyone did their job my new promoters got me the opportunity, my coaches did their jobs, the fans showed up and showed their support. Only person who didn’t deliver was me. Second strike full count, hopefully I can get one more shot. Thanks to everyone.”
The 12 round main event featured undefeated bantamweights Juan Carlos “Baby Pacquiao” Payano of Santiago, Dominican Republic (14-0, 8 KOs) against Jundy Maraon from Sominot, Philippines (15-1-1, 12 KOs). A unique aspect of the bout was that both contestants were southpaws. The first round was a feeling out around with both men pawing with jabs. Towards the end of the round both started to mix it up more. In the second round Payano started to catch punches and a head butt caused a cut over his right eye. Between rounds the ringside physician checked the cut in the corner. Payano came out more urgently in the third but was holding and hitting and trying to protect his injured orb. The fourth and fifth rounds had Payano loading up his shots. Left and right combos were rocking Maraon’s head. In the six round both guys seem to slow down a bit though Maraon kept trying to land a heavy shot. In the seventh Payano opened fast and pinned Maraon on the ropes and a left hook to the head drove Maraon to the canvas at the 39 second mark of the round. Maraon was removed by EMT on a stretcher and taken for medical evaluation.