Saturday night, June 15, at the Valley Forge Casino was a long night of boxing that almost felt like a major waste of time until the main event. It's not that all the undercard fighters were boring, but the exciting ones all seemed to be involved in mismatches save a fight or two. But I'll cover those later. Right now let's discuss the scintillating main event, a rematch between Harry Yorgey and Julius Kennedy.
Three months earlier Yorgey defeated Kennedy via a controversial 6 round split decision. Personally I had the fight a draw but the momentum was with Yorgey in the later stages as Kennedy appeared fatigued. Common sense would suggest that a rematch with 4 extra rounds would see Yorgey dominate the 2nd half of the fight.
Common sense would be wrong.
Kennedy took a while to get started this time. Over the first 3 rounds I thought Yorgey out boxed him fairly easily. Kennedy had his moments but not enough to steal any of the rounds. Yorgey was superior defensively and offensively. He controlled distance and followed his promised game plan, not allowing Kennedy to dictate the tempo. It was a boxing clinic.
But then there was round 4, where Kennedy once again reminded everyone why his alias is Relentless. He pushed Yorgey back to the ropes, banged the body, and then split the guard using uppercuts. Yorgey intermittently won rounds from the 5th onward but it continued to be Kennedy's type of fight. Yorgey didn't dominate another round until the 10th, which ultimately won him the fight. The final scorecards (95-95, 96-94, 96-94) suggest that, going into the last round, Yorgey was ahead by 1 point on 2 cards and behind by 1 on the other. Personally I had the fight even going into the last round, though I do question my scoring of round 9 for Kennedy after a few of my post-fight discussions. One such discussion was with none other than the winner, and new WBF North American middleweight champion, Harry Yorgey:
Either way I thought the right man won, but it was certainly just as debatable as the first fight. What wasn't debatable was the winner of the co-main event, Tevin Farmer, who stopped Victor Vasquez in the 8th and final round. Vasquez didn't actually appear to be on unsteady legs when the ref stepped in but he was taking a lot of punches without throwing back. Farmer was too fast and tricky for Vasquez whenever he let his hands go, which from my vantage point happened in 6 of the 8 rounds. Vasquez is a more experienced fighter and a bigger man, but badly struggled to figure out Farmer. It was as if Vasquez didn't get any sparring with southpaws to prepare for this fight. Consequently Farmer is now the UBC international lightweight champion.
Details on the full card follow.
Javontae Starks UD6 George Sosa (58-56, 59-55, 59-55)
"Chico" Starks, calm and composed, shoulder rolled and slipped most of what "El Terrible" Sosa threw at him and easily boxed his way to victory. Sosa was the one loading up on big shots but Starks landed the shorter and cleaner punches. Four rounds to two for Starks is about as generous as any judge could be to Sosa, who had his moments in rounds 3 and 4 (especially 4, 3 was mostly just Starks doing less). Starks finished the fight throwing solid jabs, lead rights, and hooks to the body. This welterweight / junior middleweight prospect is now 7-0. He'll probably be a full-fledged junior middleweight by the time the world takes notice of his talents.
Antonio Duboise UD4 John Portillo (40-33, 40-32, 40-32)
Duboise, who I last saw win at the Philadelphia Golden Gloves 3 months earlier, made a fairly impressive pro debut by dropping Portillo 4 times en route to a wide decision victory. Portillo was down once in round 1, twice in round 2, and once more in round 4 (which appeared to be a slip). Duboise reminded me a lot of Rico Ramos in his approach. He's very skilled with good power and timing but is equally tentative. But hey, Ramos eventually became world champion regardless without ever snapping his bad habits. I think Ton(y) could do even more if he learns to trust his defense.
On another note Julian Williams, who fights this coming Saturday on ShoExtreme against Joachim Alcine, could be seen yelling instructions for his gym mate Duboise from a few rows back. Williams has been given good exposure as of late and will be among the best junior middleweights in the world with an impressive victory over Alcine.
Damon Allen UD4 Travis Thompson (39-37, 39-37, 40-36)
As a professional "Animal" Thompson was vastly more experienced but simply couldn't deal with Baby Dame's skills within the 4 round distance. Allen countered him with ease through 3 rounds but did have some shaky moments in the 4th when Thompson connected with 2 huge right hands. Overall Allen actually beat Thompson worse that round, which is why 1 judge gave it to Allen anyways, but Thompson took the punches better. After the fight Allen admitted that he was hurt but it wasn't anything he hadn't overcome in the past. You can catch that post-fight interview here. Ultimately Allen improved to 2-0 while Thompson fell to 4-10-2. The lightweight division is wide right open now and Allen is as good as green prospect I can think of.
Khalib Whitmore UD4 Lamont Capers (40-36, 40-36, 40-36)
There isn't much to say about this 4 round cruiserweight bout (closer to the light heavyweight limit) other than the fact that "Bigfoot" Whitmore dominated. Capers didn't seem to want to fight after he was hurt early in the 1st round. This was an impressive pro debut for Whitmore, but he's probably going to have a hard time getting fights being a skilled, southpaw, big man often praised by his trainer Nazim Richardson. Yea, he's that Bigfoot. Here's a picture of him celebrating victory...
Kamarah Pasley MD6 Jeremy Stauffer (56-56, 57-55, 57-55)
This fight began and ended as a snooze-fest, with good action in the middle rounds. It was a battle of 2 southpaw cruiserweights, Capers the body punching pressure fighter and "Black Magic" Pasley the head hunting boxer. After arguably losing both of the opening rounds Pasley found a sense of urgency when he lost a point for holding in round 3. Later that round he dropped Stauffer with a left uppercut on the inside. It was a rare 9-8 round. Pasley's momentum continued in the next 2 rounds but he slowly let it fade away, winning each round less impressively as he used the uppercut less and less. He may not have won the 6th round at all and clearly not on the judge's scorecard that had the bout even. He mostly jabbed and danced away in the final stages. Nonetheless Pasley edged out a majority decision, improved to 6-6, and picked up his first victory in 3 years. But where does the 38 year old Pasley go from here?
Todd Unthank-May UD6 Mike Wilmer (60-54, 59-55 [announced 59-54], 60-54)
The most interesting thing about this contest between light heavyweights was the prosthetic leg of Wilmer's trainer. "2 Gunz" Unthank-May easily won every round, if not impressively, although apparently 1 judge disagreed. Maybe that judge gave Wilmer the 4th since he closed well. The only thing I saw Wilmer succeed in doing during the fight was making Unthank-May look bad. And that's what fighters who do nothing but survive and intermittently counter-punch tend to do. Wilmer is also a southpaw, which Unthank-May didn't get any sparring to prepare for. But Todd was not one to make excuses; he was harder on himself than anyone. Nonetheless he's still unbeaten, now 7-0.
Frank Santos DeAlba UD6 Jamell Tyson (58-55, 58-55, 60-53)
Of all the undercard bouts I liked this one the most (which surprised me since both fighters were southpaws). The scorecards did not do the fight justice, particularly the one that had it a shutout for DeAlba. Personally I thought Tyson edged the fight, although I don't think anyone else on press row agreed with me. Tyson, however, did agree when I went back to the dressing room to ask him about the fight. He and his trainers would have been OK with losing a decision by a point or 2, but were outraged (and rightfully so) by the 60-53 card. Tyson did lose the 5th round 10-8 when he was dropped by an overhand left at the finish, but was busier fighter throughout. DeAlba didn't win rounds on better accuracy. He won them by having heavier hands and "ring generalship".
I suppose ring generalship (or at least how much should factor into scoring) is where my opinion separated from my fellow boxing scribes and the official judges, giving them the benefit of the doubt that they were not swayed by the pro DeAlba crowd reactions. DeAlba was the aggressor and his punches affected Tyson more than vice versa. Rounds 1, 3, and 6 were close enough to steal. But those who didn't give Tyson rounds 2 and 4 should be ashamed of themselves. His angles, activity, and versatility had DeAlba befuddled. Nevertheless, DeAlba improved to 8-1-2 while Tyson fell to 3-10-2. Tyson's a much better fighter than his record suggests, which DeAlba pointed out in his post-fight interview with Marc Abrams.
Tevin Farmer TKO8 Victor Vasquez (1:58)
As stated earlier Farmer was simply too fast and too skilled for Vasquez to deal with. I only gave Vasquez rounds 6 and 7 as Farmer appeared to be slowing down, but it may have all been a ruse as Farmer exploded in round 8 and "forced" the referee's hand. He broke down the fight for me when I interviewed him backstage; check that out here. Farmer's record now stands at a modest 11-4-1 but he's 2-0 in both of the fights I've watched in person, the former against Tim Witherspoon Jr. I was highly impressed each time. Fellow lightweight Naim Nelson, who defeated Vasquez is a thriller last year, was there to scout but Farmer said he's moving back down to super featherweight anyways. Naim told me he'd be game for a fight with Farmer, but I didn't bother to play matchmaker once Farmer made it clear that he's a natural super featherweight.
In other news, Danny Garcia joined the GFL commentary team as this bout got underway. I wanted to get an interview with him regarding his pending showdown with Lucas Matthysse, but I couldn't find him after the main event... I'm hearing Golden Boy wants to put that fight on the week before Mayweather-Canelo.
Harry Joe Yorgey MD10 Julius Kennedy (95-95, 96-94, 96-94)
I don't really have much else to say about the main event but I scored it 96-95 Yorgey, awarding him rounds 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10 with the 8th even. Rounds 5-9 were difficult to score but Yorgey closed the show with the precise, clean, and crisp shots. Yorgey landed the cleaner shots throughout but Kennedy made it a dog fight and landed the biggest bombs. Yorgey didn't mind one bit, calling himself a dog in our post-fight interview. Both fighters took each other's shots very well but once again it was Yorgey who emerged victorious. He's now 35 years old and 27-2-1 as a professional. Since snapping the unbeaten streaks of Jason LeHoullier and Ronald Hearns in 2008 and 2009 respectively, we've seen Yorgey on HBO getting stopped in 3 rounds by Alfredo Angulo and on Showtime getting stopped in 8 rounds by Jermell Charlo. But those fights came at junior middleweight. Yorgey says he's feeling strong at middleweight and is eager to get another opportunity on the world stage in the near future.
This event was broadcasted live over the internet courtesy of GFL.TV.