Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports put their stamp on Madison Square Garden Friday night with an adrenaline fueled boxing event featuring a mini-concert by rapper Fabolous. The eight-bout card showcased the Roc Nation’s boxing stable, with especially strong performances from 20-year old welterweight Dusty Hernandez-Harrison, Freddie Roach trained welterweight Chris Van Heerden and Bahamian middleweight Tureano Johnson. The music mogul Jay-Z recently added #2 pound-4-pound ranked middleweight Andre Ward to his list of 20+ fighters that he acquired in a takeover of Gary Shaw Productions.
The Garden was flush with celebrities in most directions when the third bout of the evening sounded off between welterweights Chris Van Heerden and Cecil McCalla for the vacant I.B.F. international welterweight title. Despite a title being at stake, the bout was only scheduled for 10-rounds and McCalla, 149.6 Lbs. was almost three pounds over the welterweight limit of 147 Lbs.
From the outset, the South African southpaw Van Heerden, 22-1-1, 11 KO’s, was the aggressor as the quick right-hander McCalla, 20-0, 7 KO’s, moved and counterpunched. The Maryland fighter McCalla, 29, was game throughout but Van Heerden, 27, was bigger, stronger and busier. Their were many good exchanges in this scrap with Van Heeren usually getting the better of McCalla. Most of the time Van Heerden was trapping the slickster McCalla on the ropes and raking him with vicious bodyshots. Final scored read: 97-93 Van Heerden, 96-94 Van Heerden and an absurd 99-91 for McCalla by dubious judge Ed (somebody please fire this guy) Scunzio. Chris “The Heat” Van Heerden has sparred many rounds with both Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez and proved that he is a legit top-15 contender with the potential to be a world champion.
In the co-feature middleweights Tureano “Reno” Johnson and Alex Theran dueled for the W.B.A. international title in a scheduled 10-rounder. Johnson, 17-1, 12 KO’s, mauled the light-framed Theran, 17-1, 9 KO’s from round one with his suffocating pressure and avalanche of leather. The Colombian southpaw known as “El Principe” Theran, 24, ran for his life but was chased down with ease by the brawling switch-hitter Johnson, 30. Theran never tried to stand his ground and was subsequently damaged on every part of his anatomy by the hard charging Bahamian. The always available Johnson caught a few pieces of shrapnel in battle, but never blinked at one of Theran’s punches. After getting dropped in the 4th and 5th rounds, the youngster from Columbia quit on his stool for the second time in three fights (time to find a new occupation perhaps?). The exciting Johnson is a made-for-TV fighter but his career might not last long if he doesn’t learn how to slip punches better.
The main event pitted Long Island southpaw Tommy Rainone, 22-6-1, 4 KO’s, against Washington D.C. righty Dusty Hernandez-Harrison, 25-0, 13 KO’s, but the performance by rapper Fabolous could have been dubbed as the true headliner. Fabolous looked every part of a “Don” as he ripped off verses in his fur coat, with matching hat inside the ring. For about 15 minutes most of the 17,000+ in attendance were jumping out thier seats (My Lituation! My Lituation!) to the talented musicians anthems. After the mini-concert, the main event was a bit of a disappointment as the light-punching Rainone, 35, ran, grabbed and did just about everything but throw punches. The young gun Harrison, 20, walked through anything the Italian offered up and punished the smaller fighter late in the fight. The fight could have been stopped from the 7th round on as the bigger, stronger and meaner Puerto Rican Harrison bashed Rainone along the ropes. Final scored read: 100-90 twice and 99-91 all for Harrison who took home the paperweight W.B.C. Continental America’ss Welterweight belt (where do they come up with these titles?). “The Beltway” Boricua Hernandez-Harrison has nice upside with good fundamental skill and heavy hands, but he needs to step up against better opposition.
The 45-year old businessman Shawn Carter aka. Jay-Z is supposedly worth upward of $700 million bucks, which means that he wields enough power to challenge boxing’s three big fish: Al Haymon, Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya. Roc Nation’s first show was a success with a nice blend of glamour, glitz and violence. It appears that Jay-Z and Roc Nation Sports are here to stay which could mean trouble for Haymon, Arum and De La Hoya.