Bryant Jennings, USBA heavyweight champion, made hist 1st title defense tonight and will likely advance in the IBF ratings. But even if Jennings is America's best hope for the heavyweight division, there's certainly no rush to challenge the ever dominant Wladimir Klitschko anytime soon.
Temple's McGonigle Hall proved to be a lively fight spot Saturday night as Philadelphia's Bryant Jennings defended his USBA heavyweight title against Bowie Tupou. I can't speak for the ratings the show got, but from onsite appearances Main Events, Peltz Boxing, BAM Boxing Inc, and Goossen Tutor put together another successful installment of NBC Sports - Fight Night. Promoter Britney Rogers, founder of BAM, estimated that at least 1500 tickets were sold. But when people got knocked down / out, it definitely sounded like more. Then again this did take place in the heart of North Philadelphia, and North Philly fighters went 4-0 on a card of 9 total bouts. The last North Philadelphian to win was none other than the headliner, Bryant "By-By" Jennings.
Main Event: Bryant Jennings KO5 Bowie Tupou
After a fairly dreary opening 2 rounds (which Jennings clearly, and safely, won) the fight got interesting when Tupou landed a big overhand right that sent BY to the canvas. The general feeling ringside and in the crowd is that the knockdown was official, but I later learned it was ruled a slip by the referee. In either event Jennings was clearly dazed by the shot (which he acknowledged in his post-fight interview) and Tupou was given a brief window to finish him off. Ultimately, Tupou failed. Jennings closed the 3rd round strong and remained in control all the way up to the 5th round ending, via a terrific right uppercut.
Jennings threw a series of hooks to both sides of the body before coming up the middle with the uppercut. Tupou was laid flat out but somehow managed to almost beat the count. Fortunately the Tongan warrior quickly regained his senses and walked away shortly after losing them. And while he was doing that, Jennings remixed a few Jay Z lyrics in his post-fight interview with Chris Mannix. Mannix threw Deontay Wilder's name out there to see if Jennings would bite, but Jennings doesn't have him on his radar.
Co-Main Event: Eric Hunter UD10 Jerry Belmontes
The co-main event of the evening was a fight of 3 parts. It began by "Outlaw" Hunter dominating "The Corpus Christi Kid" with left hooks and eventually scoring a knockdown off one of them in the 2nd round. Belmontes, however, got up, smiled, and turned the fight around in the 3rd by making it a dog fight. Belmontes used his size advantage and Bernard Hopkins like tactics to make the fight as uncomfortable for Outlaw as possible. The jab was there for Outlaw all day but he only used it sparingly early on. But eventually the fight turned again as Belmontes slowly wilted from the 5th round onward. Once Belmontes stopped applying heavy pressure and making it ugly, Hunter easily out boxed him and picked him apart. Hunter's defense improved and Belmontes' output dropped.
By the 8th round Outlaw was fully into his rhythm as he danced with is upper body in between punches to entertain his home crowd fans. Belmontes' only hope to win was to make it a war, but he took his foot off the gas. After the fight he told me that he mentally broke down. Perhaps he did, but Outlaw definitely landed enough punishing shots to the head and body to make any normal man fade. Outlaw talked tough when I interviewed him at the final presser, and he delivered on this night. After this upset win expect to see Hunter on TV again soon.
Angel Luis Ocasio TKO2 Esteban Rodriguez
A left hook to the body dropped Rodriguez at the end of the 1st round and follow up shots in the 2nd round put him down twice more. Rodriguez simply could not take Ocasio's body shots and the referee rightfully waved it off.
Jason Sosa TKO2 Isaac Suarez
Suarez was hurt at the end of the 1st round by Sosa's combinations and was pounded into the ropes by them in the 2nd round. Suarez took a knee and beat the count but was unable to continue. This was an odd 1st fight back for Suarez after not fighting for over 3 years.
Joshua Arocho UD4 Alex Barbosa
This was technically an upset but you wouldn't guess it by looking at it. Arocho was just the better fighter, period. Barbosa fought much of the bout unsure of himself and had very little to offer offensively. He honestly should have already had a loss on his record in his previous bout against Arthur Parker.
Todd Unthank-May UD4 Taneal Goyco
Oddly enough the rematch of a fairly 1 sided beat down turned out to be one of the most intriguing bouts on the card. Unthank-May was dropped by the very first punch Goyco threw, an overhand right, but battled back and swept the last 3 rounds on all the judges' cards to pull out a 38-37 victory. Goyco and Unthank-May however have very divergent opinions on who actually won the rest of those rounds.
Jesse Hart UD4 Steven Tyner
Like all "Hard Work" Hart opponents before him, Tyner went down. Unlike the rest of them Tyner got back up and never went down again. Thus the knockout streak of undefeated prospect Jesse Hart, now 5-0 with 4 KOs, has ended. Hart made "no excuses" but cited an injured hand in the 2nd round (video). Later in the evening I was able to verify how swollen it became.
Anthony Burgin UD4 Kenneth Brown
Burgin shut out and brutally beat down Brown despite scoring no knockdowns in the process. Brown fought much of the bout purely in survival mode. Burgin, an amateur standout, was clearly too much too soon for Brown to take in his pro debut.
Hasan Young TKO1 Josue Rivera (3 knockdowns)
Random Fighters in Attendance:
Aside from BJ Flores and Steve Cunningham, who contributed to the NBC Sports commentary team, several fighters with big future plans were on scene such as Tyrone Brunson, Jamaal Davis, Tomasz Adamek, Garrett Wilson, and Gabriel Rosado.