With Naim Nelson (10-0, 1 KO) out of his PA state lightweight title defense against Ryan Belasco (18-5-3, 3 KOs) due to injury, Travis Kauffman (24-1, 18 KOs) vs Arron Lyons (12-12-1, 9 KOs) was upgraded to the main event. Kauffman, the #13 ranked heavyweight in the world according to the WBA, had been off for half of a year and was heavier than ideal coming into training camp. But while his soft body did him no favors, he was mostly too slick for Lyons to figure out. Kauffman's skill overcame Lyons' will and it led him to an 8 round decision victory. The jugdes scored the bout 77-75, 80-72, and 78-74 all for Kauffman. Here's what Travis had to say about it when I caught up with him afterward:
Also scheduled to compete on this card was cruiserweight Kamarah Pasley, but it seems he was unable to secure an opponent. I saw him in attendance but didn't get the chance to get the details. For those who did compete, here's how their bouts went:
1) Khalib Whitmore KO1 Richard McCombs (0:51)
"Bigfoot" Whitmore jumped on McCombs immediately and pounded the body until McCombs folded. McCombs went down twice and couldn't beat the 2nd count. Yet, despite counting to 10 while McCombs was down, the referee later insisted that he was up in time and simply unfit to continue. Either way, KO or TKO, Dick performed so poorly that he was fined by the PA state commission. No lie. But I'd rather focus on the positive; so here's what the now 2-0 light heavyweight had to say about his own performance:
2) Damon Allen UD4 Sammy Omar Quinones (39-37, 40-36, 40-36)
In a hard fought battle of lightweight prospects the judges preferred Baby Dame's superior skills to Sammy's aggression and grit. Many in the audience felt the other way as they booed the decision, but it's not like the audience is always right. 40-36 might have been too wide, but 39-37 was perfectly acceptable. Quinones' last round was his best as Allen got a little sloppy and allowed Quinones to land the cleaner punches. Check out how Allen assessed his own performance:
3) Miguel Cartagena UD4 Eduardo Melendez (39-36, 39-37, 40-36)
Melendez's height and reach made things difficult, particularly in the 2nd half of round 1 and throughout round 2, but Cartagena's skills and determination carried the rest of the fight. Cartagena nearly knocked Melendez out in round 3 and although no official knockdowns occurred it was still arguably a 10-8 round. The pace slowed in the 4th as Cartagena methodically walked Melendez down with the jab and strung together 1-2 and 1-2-3 combinations, with the left hook going to the body. Here's what the unbeaten bantamweight thought about the fight:
4) Frank Santos DeAlba UD6 Luis Esquilin (59-55, 58-56, 59-55)
In the most brutal bout of the evening DeAlba's superior conditioning led him to a hard fought unanimous decision victory. It was bombs away for these 2 southpaws from the opening bell. DeAlba's pressure, consistency, and body work eventually wore Esquilin down, but not before his blood splattered over my notes, clothes, and phone. However, to be honest I can't be entirely sure whose blood it was as both fighters bled and landed great shots (Esquilin in the middle of the ring and DeAlba when Esquilin's back was on the ropes). When I caught up with super featherweight DeAlba after the fight he shared my sentiments:
5) Travis Kauffman UD8 Aaron Lyons (77-75, 80-72, 78-74)
The fight began with both fighters feeling each other out and looking to set up big shots. Kauffman established his jab early and worked in dynamite right hooks to the body (which he later told me is his favorite punch). Kauffman gave Lyons a boxing lesson and was making it look easy. But then Kauffman's conditioning caught up to him. His work rate dropped. He got sloppy. He became more stationary. This allowed Lyons to get close and he took advantage of it by digging the body. Naazim Richardson had to remind Kauffman late in the fight that the "jab starts it off," but he still needed to clinch to buy time between jabs. Some in the audience thought Lyons did enough to win, but I doubt even he felt that way. Lyons left the ring saying, "I trained 2 weeks for the fight," suggesting he'd have won if he had more time to prepare but simultaneously acknowledging the legitimacy of the loss.
In other news (during an intermission) Naim Nelson and Tevin Farmer got in the ring to promote a future meeting between the two. Both are 1-0 at the Valley Forge Convention Center and share wins over Victor Vasquez. Perhaps they'll headline the next "War at the Forge."
The full Valley Forge fight card can be streamed online via GFL.TV.