Jesse Hart and Joe Smith Jr settled their grudge match and got at little NABO light heavyweight gold to go with it. Smith enjoyed a surprising advantage in the crowd as New York came down to support their native son. Philly came out for Jesse Hart as well but it was a much more even split than one would’ve imagined going into the bout.
Smith was the bully for the majority of fight, backing up Hart and forcing him to fight off of his back foot. Combine this with Hart fighting one handed at an unfamiliar weight class made this a very tough fight for folks there to watch Hart in his quest to seek redemption for Bernard Hopkins. With an injured right hand, Hart was trying to jab and left hook his way to victory while retreating. Since he offered little offensive threat Smith Jr walked forward and swung power shots. He tagged Hart repeatedly, putting him down in the 7th round, and opening up a cut the doctors would check after that.
Hart ultimately survived, but it was a clear win for Smith Jr, who fought with incredible pace and toughness. He’s back in the title contention with a split decision win. It was that since judge James King didn’t watch the same fight as the rest of us, grading it 95-94 for Hart. The other judges scored 97-92 98-91 for Smith respectively. Smith is now 25-3-0 20 KOs and Hart drops to 26-3-0 21 KOs
Steven Nelson had stablemate Terrance Crawford on hand for his NABO super middleweight title fight against Cem Kilic and he impressed. Neither fighter did much defensively but Nelson was landing more consistently and had superior power. Down on the score cards Kilic tried to let his hands go but it resulted in more punishment being dished out by Nelson.
Kilic was sustaining damage and a big knot was forming on his cheek, and trainer Bud McGirt waived off the fight smartly as his fighter was beaten and only about to suffer more damage. Nelson gets the belt and a 16-0-0 13 KOs record while Kilic drops to 14-1-0 9 KOs
Jeremey Adorno, the younger brother of Jospeh showed some early jitters against the tough fellow up and comer Fernando Ibarra at super bantamweight. Then Adorno sent Ibarra to the canvas in round one and was relaxed and confident for the rest of the fight. He cruised to a unanimous decision victory.
He might not be considered as talented as his older brother but there is a lot to work with. If he keeps up with his winning ways then I can see his stock rising just as quickly. He’s 4-0-0 1 KO and Ibarra is 2-3-0.
Sonny “The Bronco” Conto faced off against Curtis Head. It was an easy ride for the Bronco. He showed up in incredible shape and Head looked as if he’d been to the buffet all fight week. Conto stunned him to body and dropped him and then again quickly forced Head to a knee, where he stayed for a quick TKO victory. Conto is 6-0-0 5 KOs and Head is 5-5-0 3 KOs
It’s time that Conto sees a step up in competition. He’s been training with Tyson Fury for the last few months now and is likely ready for a larger undercard slot. He deserves a chance to show his talent with someone who can move around the ring with him at least.
Chris Thomas is a Toms River New Jersey kid and had home ring advantage against Samir Barbosa, Just like that it was over. Thomas brought power from the opening bell and was reigning blows on an immediately turtling Barbosa. Referee Sparkle Lee stepped in quickly before any real damage was done, which drew some boos but would ultimately be a prudent decision just 47 seconds in. Thomas, the reigning NJ State super middleweight champion goes to 14-1-1 9 KOs and Barbosa to 37-17-3 26 KOs
Joseph Adorno was looking to capitalize on a big 2019, but Hector Garcia had other plans when it came to his own US debut. Adorno was impressive early, but Garcia pressured him and brought a relentless body attack and energy up from Tijuana with him.
Garcia caught up by the later rounds. With every good punch from Adorno came a smile and a goading to come to the inside and trade shots. Adorno fell for the baiting and paid for it. The fight resulted in a split draw and a crowd that showed agreement to the decision, and a desire for a few rounds more. Adorno is now 14-0-1 12 KOs and Garcia is 14-7-4 8 KOs
Shinard Bunch’s nickname may be “Scraap” but some unexpected scrappiness came from Dennis Okoth. Despite a rather mellow “Buffalo Solider” walkout, Oktoh was intending on surprising the rising prospect. He tired quickly though, as did Bunch. By the sixth round both men were throwing wild long punches, and Bunch was able to land enough to make Oktoh spit out his mouth piece, walk to the corner and retire with just 20 seconds left. Bunch immediately fell to the ground and was overcome with emotion and exhaustion.
Later, courtesy of boxing superwoman Michelle Rosado aka “Raging Babe” we found out Bunch was sick and Okoth was taken to the hospital on suspicion of broken ribs and a broken jaw. If Bunch can do that while sick, he’s got to be scary healthy. He’s got a few vicious KO’s already, and with his length and strength he could become a name in the welterweight division. With some more refinement to his game he’ll be on a lot of radars very soon. Bunch improves his record to 6-1-0 4 KOs and Okoth moves to 4-3-1 2 KOs
Xander Zayas was fighting with a heavy heart, as his home island of Puerto Rico was rocked by an earthquake just hours before. Top Rank’s teenage phenom had a game challenger in Corey Champion, who was always coming forward despite being outmatched. He moved well enough to give Zayas a look and maybe something to work on. Zayas looked fantastic though, as he’s quick, bloodied Champion and didn’t wilt under the pressure of an opponent who wasn’t going down. Zayas is 3-0-0 2 KOs and Champion is 1-2-0 1 KO.