By Brad Snyder; The Undercard
Photos by Bob Ryder
Cornelius “K-9” Bundrage wants a third world title. The two-time World IBF champion just may have found the right promoter to make another run for it. Bundrage and promoter Langston “Lank the King” Hampton Jr., have been friends for a while, so it makes sense for this partnership to have formed. But K-9 Bundrage is no longer in his prime. This run at another title will have to be calculated. K-9 will have to be active to make this happen.
The only certainty that was talked about by promoter Lank (grandson of Don King) was that this show, on Sunday in Dearborn at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center, was going on the road after the fight. Bundrage’s first step in his next championship quest was against Juan Carlos Rojas (8-21-2 Draws, 7 KO’s).
The 6 Round welterweight contest, in front of celebrities and Detroit boxing alumni, started slowly. Early in the 1st Round, Bundrage landed with a right hook to the body. The shot, which echoed throughout the building, hurt Rojas. The middle rounds saw a patient K-9. He was very defensive and methodical with the jab. The 4th Round had K-9 landing an impressive left uppercut that put his opponent against the ropes. The last round was K-9’s most active, as he improves to (36-6, 20 KO’s) with a (60-54, 60-54, 60-54) victory over Rojas.
K-9, being a bronze medal winner on the show, The Contender, has always been a good guy for the sport of boxing. So, when that day comes for this boxer to hang it up, his presence will be missed in the square circle. Then we will have to enjoy him outside the ring as the good natured person he is.
The co-main event of the evening had James “The Equalizer” Ballard, Detroit, Mi, stepping up in level of competition. Ballard faced Rayco Saunders, Pittsburgh, PA, at the junction point of his early career in the light heavyweight contest. Saunders’ record does not stand out. But take a look closer to see a fighter who has only been stopped three times in his 30 defeats. He is a fighter that is still full of pride. And although, his last win was in 2013, he does not go into a fight any less than fully prepared.
Ballard looked sharp from the beginning. The first rounds had both fighters head to head firing short crisp shots to their opponent. Ballard would show soft touches with his jab off of Saunders’ head, then, quickly switch to powerful, fast body shots. The fight had very little clinching. Saunders did try to tie up Ballard, but James fired uppercuts to attempt to break the hold. Ballard, often, was able to throw five punch combinations with speed and force. The decision from all three judges was (60-54, 60-54, 60-54) improving Ballard to (9-0, 3 KO’s). Saunders fell to (23-31-3 Draws, 10 KO’s).
Saunders, afterwards, gave Ballard his due, stating, “His stamina impressed me, not going to say surprised. Everyone knows I will wear you down. Ballard, also, had the same power in Round 6, as he did in Round 1. I am impressed.”
Female bantamweight Jamie Mitchell (2-0, 1 KO) delivered speed and overhand rights that Letrall Solomon (0-1) could not deal with over two rounds. Mitchell wins by TKO at the 51 second mark of the 2nd Round.
Opening the night was heavyweight Curtis Head Jr. (2-1, 2 KO’s) defeating Ronald Carter Jr. (0-1) at the 1:21 mark of the 2nd Round by TKO.
The fights were promoted by Lank Promotions LLC. Matchmaker was Eric McGuire. [See image gallery at www.fightnews.com]