On Wednesday tonight before another sold-out crowd at NYC’s famed B.B. King Blues Club and Grill in midtown Manhattan, DiBella Entertainment presented a thrilling eight-bout card from top to bottom, featuring highlight-reel knockouts, upsets and all-out wars.
Headlining the card was the return of former featherweight world champion Elio Rojas (right in photo), who was making his much anticipated ring return after nearly two and a half years away from the sport. After eight gritty rounds, Rojas shook off the ring rust and outpointed the game Robert Osiobe by scores of 80-71 twice, and 79-72. Rojas dominated the heated action throughout, setting up combinations with a stiff jab and banging the body when in close.
The two often fought in close quarters, clinching and hitting each other in a dirty fight. A point was deducted from Osiobe, now 14-10-4 (6 KOs), in round five. With the win, Rojas begins his journey toward another world title while upping his record to 24-2 (14 KOs).
In a barnburner, Bryant “PeeWee” Cruz (left in photo) earned a six-round majority decision victory over Jose Morales. Cruz dictated the pace each round and had to carefully pick his shots against the game but extremely awkward Morales. Morales did his best to get himself out of trouble when Cruz hurt him, but the Port Chester resident hunted him down each time and dished out serious punishment. While one judge tallied a 57-57 draw, he was overruled by scores of 60-54 and 59-55 in Cruz’s favor.
Cruz elevated his record to 12-0 (6 KOs), while Morales fell to 7-6 (2 KOs).
18-year-old teenage phenom Junior “Sugarboy” Younan showed why he is one of the most talked about prospects in all of boxing, needing just 26 seconds to knock Marlon Farr out cold with two vicious left hooks. The super middleweight prospect Younan was a stud amateur before turning pro in November 2013 fresh off his 18th birthday. Through six fights thus far, Younan has yet to disappoint.
It’s not that Younan is just continuing to win, which is expected of him, but it’s the way Younan is winning that has been so impressive. Younan is a perfect 6-0, with five of his wins coming by way of vicious knockout, all within the first two minutes of the very first round. The Brooklynite, who was called a “Boxing Prodigy” by the NY Times when he was just 10 years old, looks to not only be world championship material, but a superstar in the making.
In an absolute war, Derrick Findley (left in photo) scored an upset eight-round unanimous decision over middleweight contender Lamar Russ. Russ was the busier of the two at the beginning, working behind his long jab and scoring with combinations from the outside against the hard-charging and much shorter Findley. When Findley would get in close though, he would unload huge shots that had the raucous crowd cheering with each landed blow. Not afraid to mix it up, Russ would fire back on the inside making for great two-way exchanges.
In the fourth round, Findley sent Russ to the canvas, and, although it looked more like a slip then a punch, Findley was credited with the knockdown nonetheless. Near the end of the round, a huge hematoma formed on the forehead of Findley that got worse and worse as the rounds progressed and had the doctors taking hard and long looks between rounds. Fighting through extreme adversity, the two continued to go to war.
In the seventh round, Russ was deducted a point for holding and, almost immediately as the round resumed, Findley landed a monstrous overhand right that dropped Russ to the canvas for the second time in the bout. Sensing he was down on the cards, Russ came out in the eighth and final frame and immediately began going toe-to-toe with Findley. Russ landed a huge straight right that visibly rocked Findley. With Findley reeling, Russ went in for the kill and the two traded bombs that stunned one another. The two-way war continued for the remainder of the round with the sold-out crowd in attendance standing in ovation.
Findley was ultimately able to hold on, winning by scores of 77-72, 76-73, and 75-74, to improve 21-13-1, 13KO’s, while Russ suffered only the second defeat of his pro career, dropping to 14-2, 7KO’s.
In a battle of junior featherweights, Rafael Vazquez (right in photo) survived a fourth round scare to stop Derrick Wilson in an absolutely thrilling bout. Wilson got off to a good start, displaying lightning quick hands that kept Vazquez on his toes. In the third round, a picture-perfect left hook from Vazquez dropped Wilson on the seat of his pants.
Wilson was in trouble, but luckily for him, there was roughly 10 seconds remaining in the round and he was able to survive. In the fourth frame, Wilson returned the favor, landing a vicious counter left that had Vazquez in trouble. The follow-up barrage sent Vazquez down hard, and the Brooklynite was in serious trouble.
The referee took a long look but allowed the action to resume. It looked as though Vazquez was ready to go and the referee was leaning in, but somehow Vazquez began throwing punches back and the two stood toe-to-toe exchanging bombs, with each tagging the other and sending the crowd into a frenzy. Picking up right where they left off in the fourth, Vazquez and Wilson met in the center of the ring and began trading bombs.
With the two exchanging, Vazquez landed a hard right hand followed by a huge left hook that had Wilson in trouble again. Sensing his opponent was in bad shape, Vazquez really poured it on and jumped all over Wilson, forcing the referee to call a halt to the contest at 1:20 of the fifth round of their scheduled eight-round contest. It was a great win for Vazquez, who improved to 12-1, 10KO’s.
In a great action-packed fight, the Bronx’s undefeated junior welterweight prospect Louis Cruz (right in photo) kept his perfect record intact with a hard-fought and exciting six-round unanimous decision over tough-as-nails Cameron Krael. Cruz was the busier of the two and landed beautiful combinations to both the body and head, but Krael, who was coming off back-to-back victories over previously undefeated opponents, hung tough and returned fire, making for great two-way action throughout. In the end, Cruz was awarded the well-deserved decision, winning by scores of 60-54, 60-54, 58-56, and improving his record to 9-0, 4KO’s.
Brooklyn’s light heavyweight prospect Travis Peterkin (left in photo) kept his undefeated record with a workman-like six-round unanimous decision over Lamont Williams. Peterkin controlled the action from the outside, behind a stiff jab, ultimately winning by scores of 60-54, 59-55, 59-55, to improve to a perfect 12-0, 5KO’s.
Opening up the card was DBE’s newly signed 2012 Olympian Jonathan Alonso (right in photo), who looked sensational in his pro debut, scoring a third-round TKO over Jose Gomez in their junior welterweight matchup. Alonso showed his entire arsenal, landing with monstrous shots both upstairs and down, systematically breaking down the outgunned but extremely game Gomez. In the third, Alonso really poured it on, trapping Gomez in the neutral corner and unleashing a barrage of shots. With Gomez covering up the referee rightfully called at halt to the contest, officially stopping the bout at 1:52 of the third round.
It was an impressive showing for Alonso, who promoter Lou DiBella has very high hopes for in the future.
Photo credit: DiBella Entertainment/Ed Diller