It took 9 months longer than originally expected, but Isaiah Steen (16-0, 12 KO) and Kalvin Henderson (14-1-1, 10 KO) finally faced each other in the ring.
Things started off lively, with hard exchanges and nice activity from both men in the early rounds. Steen’s corner was ordered to tape up his dreadlocks after round 1, and it seemed like we might be in for some wacky, explosive fun.
There was some big action in round 3, where Steen and Henderson took turns landing heavy punches and hurting each other. But, Steen started taking control midway through, landing nice power shots in Round 7 without Henderson responding as effectively as he had earlier in the fight.
Henderson didn’t get much work done in rounds 6 through 8. Steen then largely coasted his way to the finish line, doing little himself in the final two rounds. But the judges all agreed he’d done enough, awarding Steen a very reasonable unanimous decision on two 97-93 cards and one 96-94.
SPLIT DRAW-10 - Janelson Figueroa Bocachica and Shinard Bunch
Janelson Figueroa Bocachica (17-0-1, 11 KO) escaped the co-feature with a VERY generous draw. It wasn’t a fireworks show, but Shinard Bunch (15-1-1, 13 KO) fought a cool, controlled fight from start to finish in the biggest test of his career.
Bocachica started slow, then shifted to aggression with limited success. Bunch fought very calm and composed, imposing his style instead of reacting to the better-known ShoBox veteran Bocachica.
That style initially involved a lot of holding, but a few firm warnings from the referee forced Bunch to adjust midway through the fight. Bocachica saw more success in the second half as Bunch relied more on turning and slipping punches to avoid a point deduction. But Bunch never really lost control of things or seemed to be in serious jeopardy.
Bocachica didn’t look overwhelmed by talent, but he definitely struggled with the style matchup. At least, that’s how it looked to me, as I scored it 98-92 for Bunch. One official judge saw it heavy in favor of Bunch, too. But, the final word from Nebraska was a split decision draw on cards of 97-93 Bunch, 96-94 Bocachica, and 95-95 even.
Martino Jules UD-8 Aram Avagyan
The opening fight of the night was not exactly a beautiful showcase of technical skill. Aram Avagyan (10-1-2, 4 KO) rang the scales 3 pounds heavy and seemingly came in on a mission to show how fast he could wrap up and shove Martino Jules (11-0, 2 KO) against the ropes in a tiny ring.
Avagyan’s approach was not pretty, and ultimately wasn’t successful, either. Jules weathered a lot of bull rushes from Avagyan, scoring on the counter and generating combinations when he could.
In the 8th and final round, that lean-and-shove approach cost Avagyan dearly. Avagyan got clipped by a short counter while moving in leaning forward, and took a knockdown that was more his own fault than because of the power or timing of Jules.
Final word from the judges was a unanimous decision for Jules by scores of 77-74, 78-73, and 79-72. Bad Left Hook took the middle path, scoring it 78-73 for Jules.