The highly anticipated Opening Round of the ‘Jose Sulaiman World Invitational Welterweight Tournament’ produced a night of fireworks as fans at the KFC YUM! Center and those watching around the world on the SportsLive OTT service, BoxNation, and other international outlets were treated to a sensational night of world-class boxing presented by Evander Holyfield’s The Real Deal Boxing.
“It was a memorable evening of boxing with four valiant fighters moving on to the second round and a terrific undercard to compliment the opening round of the tournament,” said Holyfield. “I can’t wait to see how the next round plays out.”
In a resounding upset, #1 seeded Felix Diaz, (19-3-0, 9 KO’s), was beaten by #8 seeded Francisco ‘Chia Santana, (27-6-1, 12 KO’s) by majority decision in their ten-round bout. Scores were 95-95, 96-94, 98-92, 98-92 and 98-92 as five judges were used per the initiatives set forth by the tournament organizers. Santana proved to be the aggressor throughout the fight as Diaz was in retreat and unable to mount a consistent office. Santana may have fate on his side as he actually began the tournament as an alternate, and was elevated into the first round when Derrieck Cuevas was forced to withdraw a few weeks earlier.
Seeded #2 in the tournament, South Africa’s Chris van Heerden, (26-2-1, 12 KO’s), returned to battle with a dominant ten round unanimous decision over #7 seeded Germany’s Timo Schwarzkopf, (18-2-0, 10 KO’s). Scores were 98-92, 98-92, 98-92, 97-93 and 97-93. Van Heerden was sharp and extremely active, showing no signs of ring rust despite 18 months of having fights fall out.
Fighting out of Ghana, #3 ranked Fredrick Lawson, (27-1-0, 21 KO’s), scored a convincing 10-round unanimous decision over #6 ranked Baishanbo Nasiywula, (13-1-1, 6 KO’s) of China. Scores from the five judges were 99-91, 96-94, 98-92, 97-93 and 97-93. Lawson pressed the action throughout and landed the cleaner shots, but credit is due to Nasiyiwula who didn’t arrive into the country until Thursday afternoon after a 14-hour flight because of visa issues.
In the fourth quarterfinal matchup, Brad Solomon, of Douglasville, Georgia improved to 28-2-0, 9 KO’s), with a ten-round decision over Paddy Gallagher, (13-4-0, 8 KO’s) of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Gallagher scored a knockout in the first stanza, but Solomon was able to take control of the fight in the middle rounds enroute to a ten-round split decision with scores of 97-93, 97-94, 95-94, 95-94 and 96-93. Gallagher was winning the bout at the midway point as the scores were announced thanks to the tournament’s Open Scoring feature, and that was enough to push Solomon into an extra gear to mount an impressive comeback.
The semi-finals will feature Francisco Santana vs. Brad Solomon and Chris van Heerden vs. Fredrick Lawson. Real Deal Sports & Entertainment expects to formally announce the date and location in the next few weeks.
In a clash between tournament alternates, unbeaten Sergey Lubkovich (8-0, 6 KOs) won an ugly ten round majority decision over Karim Mayfield (21-5-1, 11 KOs). Four of the five judges scored it for Lubkovich.
Among the positive initiatives implemented in the tournament was the use of five judges for scoring which was a strong success in the tabulation for the victors. Additionally, the open scoring proved very beneficial to Brad Solomon who had suffered an earlier knockdown, leading to a surging come-from-behind victory. The use of instant replay also played a major factor to confirm that a cut suffered in the van Heerden/Schwarzkopf fight was due to a headbutt.
A wealth of undefeated and notable prospects fought on the undercard. Popular and undefeated female WBC International Super Featherweight champion Alycia Baumgardner (6-0, 4 KO’s), won a six round split decision over Kirstie Simmons, (8-4, 2 KO’s). Scoring was 59-55, 58-55 and 56-58.
Heavy handed cruiserweight Joshua Temple, (6-0, 5 KO’s) scored a first round knockout of Muhammad Abdullah, (2-1-1, 1 KO). Temple looked extremely confident and looks to be on the fast-track to stardom.
Top junior middleweight prospect JaNelson Bocachica headed to double-digit wins (10-0-0, 7 KO’s) with a violent first-round knockout (2:49) over Pablo Sanchez, (10-3-0, 5 KO’s). Bocachica is expected to be on The Real Deal Boxing’s June 9th event in Brooklyn for Puerto Rican Day in New York City.
In his long awaited pro debut, popular, former local amateur standout Trevis Burgos stopped undefeated and local cross-town rival Yunior Valdez (3-1-0, 0 KO’s) in the fourth (2:55) and final stanza of their welterweight clash.
Also fighting out of Louisville, junior lightweight Carlos Dixon, (3-0-0, 1 KO) dropped Aaron Hollis, (5-5-0, 2 KO’s), in the second round enroute to a six round unanimous decision in the junior lightweight division. The fan-favorite Dixon took a big step-up in competition and had the hometown on their feet the entire bout, dropping a resilient Hollis in the second and never taking his foot off the gas.