ST. THOMAS, USVI — In front of a nearly sold-out crowd at Antilles School’s Mark C. Marin Center Saturday, 340 Boxing’s John Jackson, Julius Jackson and Samuel Rogers dominated in the “Boxing in Paradise VI” ring — posting big wins in what could be their final fight together in the territory.
Two knockouts and a harrowing eight-round fight to the finish for John Jackson is what the crowd left with, but for the boxers, Saturday’s event was nothing short of heroic, as each had to push through everything from injuries to last minute opponent changes.
When the fight was first announced in July, Rogers (14-0 with 8 KOs) was set to take on Missouri’s Bryan Baue, but a switch in the card had him facing off Saturday against Puerto Rico’s Eduardo Adorno with little-to-no time left to learn more about his opponent’s fighting style.
But that appeared to make no difference in the ring Saturday. Rogers’, who climbed in around 10:19 p.m., had time to knock Adorno out (making him fall four times in two rounds), give a speech and complete media interviews by 10:36 p.m. According to the judges’ decision, Rogers won by way of knock out 1:26 into the second round.
“I didn’t know who I would be fighting until the very last minute,” Rogers said after the fight. “He even told me in the locker room tonight that he was going to knock me out — but that didn’t matter. I came out mentally prepared for anything — this is what I’ve been training for and there wasn’t anyone in the world that could have beaten me tonight.”
For Julius “The Chef” Jackson, Saturday’s fight was more about showing his home crowd how much he has grown as a fighter over the past few months. Jackson’s opponent also changed recently, switching from Trinidad and Tobago’s Joel McRae (9-3-1 with 4 KOs) to North Carolina’s Julius Fogle (17-8 with 11 KOs).
Jackson landed some early shots during the bout and knocked his opponent to the knees right before the end of the first round. The bout was called shortly after, leaving Jackson the winner by way of knockout.
“I felt good, strong and fast, and I wanted to show all of our fans out there that I’ve taken it to the next level,” Jackson said after the fight. “I didn’t go wild — I stayed calm and kept my composure. We knocked heads for a minute, and usually after someone gets hurt, I go after them hard, but tonight, I waited until the time was right.”
When the fight was announced months ago, John Jackson was the only 340 boxer without an opponent, but he appeared as the main event Saturday against journeyman Tony Hirsch — sparring partner for international boxing champion Andre Ward. Jackson had a medical issue that couldn’t be taken care of before the fight, but his coaches said afterward that he was able to push through successfully.
The bout went the full eight rounds, but when the dust cleared, Jackson was declared the winner by unanimous decision: 79-73, 77-75, 78-74.
“He was a good fighter, but I was able to use my jab, and after I got him good a couple of times, I started to gain power,” Jackson said after the fight. “I feel good that we pulled through and I thank God for the win.”
340 Boxing Manager Jose Rosario said later that Saturday’s fight spoke volumes about how each boxer has continued to develop and grow, both physically and mentally.
“I’m very proud of how all three performed,” Rosario said. “Our boxers continue to move up the ladder, showing the world what they are made of and exactly what kind of talent we have here in the Virgin Islands.”
Saturday’s fight also paid tribute to boxing legend Emile Griffith, who passed away late last month. 340 Boxing was presented with Griffith’s fighting robe and gloves by Griffith’s son Luis R. Griffith, who said he hoped the gift would help inspire local boxers to reach for their hopes and dreams and “find achievement in boxing.”