By Bob Caico at ringside
Turning Stone Resort & Casino hosted an eight bout card during the IBHOF weekend Friday night. The main event of ten rounds proved to be anti-climactic as super lightweight Regis Progais of Houston, TX overpowered Joel Diaz, Jr of Palmdale, CA. The southpaw Progais hammered Diaz with left hands in round one that shook Diaz on more than one occasion. Ten seconds into round two a straight right hand dropped Diaz that may have been a slip. Progais jumped on his opponent and landed left hand after left hand dropping Diaz three more times in the round. The last knockdown caused referee Mark Nelson to stop the one sided contest at 2:55. Progais called out Broner and Crawford claiming to be the bully of the division. He certainly bullied Diaz to improve to 20-0 with 17 KOs as Diaz loses his zero and drops to 23-1.
The Semifinal battle of eight rounds between Steve Rolls of Toronto and Demond Nicholson of Laurel, MD was a barn burner. In the first round, Nicholson landed a nice overhand right that angered Rolls who followed that with a right to the body and a left to the head that dropped Nicholson. Rolls could not follow up as it came at the end of the round with Nicholson on shaky legs. The second round saw both fighters tentative and no damage was done. In the third round, Nicholson landed a beautiful combination that got him right back in the fight. The fourth round was all Nicholson as he landed a left uppercut that lifted Rolls off the canvas. Nicholson dominated the last 45 seconds of the round with thunderous right hands. Rounds five and six seen back and forth action with both fighters looking to take control. First Rolls would back Nicholson up but Nicholson would land nice combinations of his own. Round seven started the same way as the previous two but Nicholson landed a hard jab followed by a left hook that shook Rolls who fought back gamely with hard rights of his own. The final round was even but towards the end when Rolls landed a wicked left hook that probably won him the round. The closeness of the fight was reflected in the scores, 77-74 twice for Rolls and 77-75 for Nicholson. Rolls remains undefeated at 16-0 while Nicholson drops to 17-2-1.
Jon Fernandez of Bilbao, Vasco, Spain opened the TV portion of the show from Verona, NY with a dismantling of Juan Reyes of Bell Gardens, CA. Fernandez consistently dropped the right hand in round one that caused a swelling and cut under Reyes left eye. Round two was no different as Fernandez hit Reyes with every right hand thrown be it a straight, counter or uppercut. A final right hand floored Reyes backwards and his head hit the canvas violently. Fernandez ups his record to 13-0 with his 11th straight stoppage. Reyes who was stopped for the first time in his career painfully slides to 14-4-3.
Kerman Lejarraga of Bilbao, Vasco, Spain made his first appearance in the United States a quick one as he dispatched Jose Abreu of San Juan, PR at 2:04 of round two in a scheduled eight. A right uppercut stunned Abreu and Lejarraga pounced with a flurry of rights and lefts that had his opponent reeling around the ring. The Spaniard cornered his opponent along the ropes and unleashed a barrage of punches that forced referee Mark Nelson to call a halt to the contest. Lejarraga who is rated #5 as a welterweight by the WBA improves to 22-0 with his 18th knockout while Abreu suffers his first KO defeat and drops to 13-2.
The only bad news for super welterweight Charles “Bad News” Conwell (3-0, 3 KOs) was that he didn’t score his third straight one-round knockout. From the first punch he threw, a left hook to the eye, the 2016 Olympian dominated his bout against Jeffrey Wright (4-7-1) of Liberty, IL. Conwell at 19-years old looked like a seasoned veteran as punched his way to a second round stoppage in the six-round fight. A right uppercut followed by a left to the body floored Wright who was obviously hurt. A straight right hand to the body dropped Wright again and the bout was stopped at 57 seconds of round two. The impressive showing by the Cleveland, OH boxer made Lou DiBella remark, “He is doing things at 19-years old that are un-believable, he is the most talented and mature youngster I have ever seen.”
Light heavyweight Francy Ntetu of Quebec, Canada had only three knockouts in his previous 17 fights but looked like a power puncher tonight when he stopped Brian Holstein of Westerville, Ohio in the fourth round of their scheduled eight. In the third round Ntetu registered a knockdown after hurting Holstein with a right hand and they both stumbled causing Holstein to fall. Holstein was noticeably tired as he came out for the fourth round and was stunned early from a Ntetu right hand. A perfect right-left combination to the head dropped Holstein and referee Charlie Fitch immediately waved the bout off at 1:54. Francy’s record now stands at 17-1 while Holstein drops to 12-7-1.
Super middleweight Nick Brinson of Albany, NY scored a methodical six-round TKO over Jaime Barboza of San Jose, Costa Rico. A big right hand by Brinson at the bell in round two started the damage that would lead to the beat down. A left hook to the body stunned Barboza in the third round and Brinson followed up with combinations to the head and body for the remainder of the round. Brinson continued the assault through round five over the tiring Costa Rican. The ringside doctor hesitated in allowing Barboza out for the sixth and final round but Barboza’s pleading won him the chance to continue. Brinson however had other ideas and a quick multiple punch combination forced referee Benjy Esteves to stop the fight at 1:24. Brinson improves to 19-4-2 with his ninth stoppage while Barboza slides to 19-12.
In the opening bout at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, NY cruiserweights Damien Lewis of Niagara Falls, NY and Lawrence Gabriel of Syracuse battled to a majority draw. Gabriel had at least a six inch height advantage but did not use it to his advantage. Lewis easily worked his way inside with left hooks to the head and body and right uppercuts to the jaw. Gabriel had the advantage in jabs and right hand counters but could not keep Lewis at bay. Scores were 39-37 for Lewis (same score as Fightnews) and 38-38 twice. Lewis remains winless at 0-4-1 while Gabriel stays even at 1-1-1.