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Riot End New Jersey Show and Possibly Kills Arena!

Riot End New Jersey Show and Possibly Kills Arena!

North Bergen, NJ (October 25, 2014)
Written By: JR Jowett

It started out great and ended in disaster! The father-son promotional team of Andre and Alex Kut (KEA Boxing) ran a show on 10/25/14 at historic Schuetzen Park in N. Bergen, NJ, just across the mighty Hudson from The Big Apple.

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The cozy circa 650 hall was more than half full, with fans thoroughly enjoying good matches by matchmaker Zac “Zac Attack” Pomilio. The bouts were competitive and entertaining. The judges weren’t blowing the decisions. Ring announcer Henry Hascup, upon the playing of the National Anthem, advised the ignorant, “There’s an airport not too far from here, and if you don’t like it, get the heck out!” Little did he know what was in store from the unwashed element.

The show rolled through six bouts and into the co-feature final between Juan Rodriguez, Jr. and Greg Jackson. Strangely, little was happening in this bout, although you wouldn’t know it from the fans, who were on their feet and going crazy! At the end of round four, morons began battling in the audience. Some would later suggest it arose from the previous decision, which nonetheless was completely in order. More than likely, it arose from nothing worth fighting about, as is almost always the case when losers in life figure they can gain some much-needed self-respect by Pyrrhic victory. As popular HBO analyst Harold Lederman looked on aghast, chairs were flying, chandeliers smashed, and mayhem spread across one side of the ring and out the vestibule. Time stands still during such chaos, but it certainly seemed interminable, as one scuffle would be quelled only to have another erupt. Twenty minutes? Eventually, a sizeable contingent of police arrived, to put the kibosh on the Triumph of the Idiots.

This sort of nonsense adds a certain tang of adventure to the evening and provides a conversation piece. But in the long run, few venues survive such antics. Owners of facilities want no part of such liability and boxing doesn’t present a major or indispensable portion of virtually any public venue’s income. Shuetzen Park is a great little hall, a throwback to the intimate and atmospheric arenas that once dotted the boxing landscape but have now largely given way to casinos, suburban hotel ballrooms and high school gyms. Boxing has been a highlight at Schuetzen for a couple decades now, and its loss would be irreparable.

Oh, yes, the fights. Juan Rodriguez, Jr., 147, Union City, 12-1 (5), and Greg Jackson, 148, Phila., 3-1-1 (1), were four rounds through a scheduled six when the foolishness started. Unable to quell the disturbance, the decision was finally rendered at that point. Up to then, it was not a great fight, with Rodriguez notably unable to find a way in against the height and reach of the visitor. Nothing of note happened in the first. Jackson managed to pop a few lead rights against the southpaw favorite and seemed to edge round two. Rodriguez kept trying to walk him down in the third, and kept walking into right leads. In the final round, Rodriguez went back to circling away and evidently trying to egg Jackson on, a tactic that produced virtually no serious punches. At best, Juan may have “won” rounds one and four, making a draw not a bad call. Judge Al Bennett, indeed, gave him a shutout. But two normally reliable judges, Julie Elizabeth Lederman and John Poturaj, evidently opted for Juan’s attempts to “make” the fight, as Greg’s effort was largely defensive, and scored 39-37, giving Rodriguez a split decision win. Sammy Viruet refereed.

Noted writer Joyce Carol Oates, in her book on boxing, described it as “vicious, ghastly, and ugly.” For the sensitive, that may well have fit the co-feature six between Cory Cummings, 175, Balto./Newark, 18-7-1 (13), and Yusaf Mack, 178, Phila., 31-8-2 (17). Not highlighted by boxing technique, the contest was a grim struggle of physics and wills. But action-wise, it was a good fight, full of rugged trading, dramatic swings of momentum, and brutal, full-gong punching. No one was trying for points as both bailed out with lethal intentions on nearly every punch! The terms were dictated immediately by the muscular fireplug Cummings, who exploded out at first bell, bulled the sleeker Mack onto the ropes, wailed away with total abandon, and finally dropped him through the strands with a left hook under the ribs. The battering continued along the ropes, with Yusaf getting the worst of it but at times pulling away to get some room for his left hook, and jolting Cummings, who would stumble and come right back. Cory’s swings were so vigorous that he would pull himself off balance, and at one point stumbled down. Referee Viruet correctly ruled a slip, which nonetheless set up a howl in the already berserk crowd. Finally, Yusaf drove Cory back, got some room, and blasted a long right that sent Cummings reeling across the ring, held up by the ropes and not ruled a knockdown, as the bell ended the incredibly torrid session. Some tens don’t have half as many blows scored, and this was only round one!

Both looked spent already in round two, and the action would not again peak as it had in the opener. No wonder! Nonetheless, the contest continued a savage battle, with Cory working Yusaf relentlessly on the ropes despite at times getting hit with solid clean counters that nearly dropped him. In the third, action was still serious but had slowed, with Cummings seemingly no longer able to apply the physical pressure and Mack able to keep some distance. Cory suffered a cut right eye, and it appeared the contest may have turned. But the equally wilted Mack, while landing jolting blows, couldn’t mount the sustained effort required to overcome Cory’s determination. Cummings survived several long, smashing rights in round four, then regained his momentum, pinned Mack to the ropes again and finished strong. Cummings rejuvenated in the penultimate round, exploded out as he had in the first, and took the early going. But he couldn’t keep it up and Mack came back late in a wild dual rally with both combatants taking full swings. Yusaf got the better of this closing exchange, but Cummings landed enough to keep from getting blown out. Both kept trying in a brutal final round in which neither had enough left to pull the trigger but still had the spirit for the attempt. The unanimous decision went to Cummings, perfectly fair. Julie Elizabeth had 58-56, Poturaj 57-56, and Bennett 59-54. Really, in an all-out war of this magnitude, none of those scores were indefensible.

A six between touted Tyrell Wright, 225, Jersey City, 6-0-1 (4), and spoiler John Bolden, 220 ½, NYC, 6-9-1 (5), produced the usual heavyweight mauler, but also drama, competitive action, and a mild upset. The tall, lanky underdog used the jab and movement to get off to a fast start. But by the third, he’d stopped moving and the tanklike favorite was bulling him around on the inside, with Bolden drawing his first caution for holding from Viruet. This would eventually cost him the fight. The contest appeared to have settled into a pattern that would produce a hard-earned win for the favorite, but that all changed with one shot in round four. Probably thinking he had it under control, Wright got a little too frisky on the attack and Bolden brought up a counter left hook off the hip to send Tyrell back on his heels and down. John didn’t do a lot with the advantage, though, and nearly blew the obligatory two-pointer when he again had Sammy bawling him out for holding before round’s end. Bolden had little left in the final two and “fought” to survive, his tactic being mainly to hold. Finally, in the sixth, Viruet decided it was Popeye Time (“Enough is too much”) and took a critical point. It was a fair call, and saved the unanimous draw for the favorite. All cards were 56-56, a good job by the judges.

In a wild and sloppy but hard-fought four, Marlon Brown, 148, Brooklyn, 2-0 (1), scored a mild upset over popular Alex Serna, 146, Queens, 1-1 (1). Serna pressed throughout but couldn’t find the lanky tormentor, who stuck and moved. There was as much wrestling and mauling as boxing, with Marlon opening the contest up in the second with a bizarre knockdown. A cuffing left hook behaved more like a lever than a punch, spinning Serna halfway across the ring and down on all fours. Instead of going to a neutral corner as required by the rules, Brown charged the fallen foe menacingly. Referee David Franciosi shooed him back, but did nothing punitively. The contest was interesting though hardly orthodox, with Serna never able to track down his opponent to force a mid-range shootout. All scores 40-35.

A sensational four saw both fighters on the hook, both off the hook and going the distance, as Elvin Sanchez, 194, Paterson, 7-3-1 (5), outlasted Brad Austin, 186, Johnson City, TN, 10-14 (7), for a majority decision. The rangy visitor started well, working the jab, bloodying Elvin’s nose, and rocking him with a right. But late in round two, everything changed when Sanchez lashed back a left hook counter that sent Austin into a somersault. He came up on his feet and acquitted himself well thereafter. Elvin had Brad on the run in round three when he charged into a left hook counter and was rocked, but Austin couldn’t find the trigger a second time. Sanchez walked him down effectively in the final round, although jarred once by a right. Bennett scored 38-38, but the others tabbed 39-36, a good call.

Andrew Bentley, 130, Jersey City, 2-2, won about as he pleased in a lively four over hapless Micah Branch, 128, Cinc., 2-11-1. The quick southpaw favorite moved in and out smartly, picking his shots and making good use of straight left leads. Although he was never really in the hunt, the underdog gave good rounds and made the favorite work in an entertaining bout. All scores 40-36.

In a women’s scheduled four, Berth Aracil, 150, Yonkers, 2-0 (2), was much too much for house fighter Connie Viruet, 153, Hoboken, 1-1 (1). The southpaw Aracil was far too big and mobile for the stocky favorite, tattooing her relentlessly and whacking the body until referee Franciosi abruptly stopped it, at 0:44 of round two.

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