Boxing Brooklyn Style in Manhattan
There was a fight card at the Hammerstein Ballroom last night and while the ambiance and attitude of the event was decidedly Manhattan, the fighting was straight out of Brooklyn.
The evening featured dinner and cocktails, a silent auction, a fashion show, a Texas hold-em tournament for charity, and a pair of Brooklyn bombers, Curtis Stevens and Dmitry Salita.
Salita, a junior welterweight inching closer to contender status, and Stevens, an explosive super middleweight prospect, each scored second round knockouts. The opposition was modest - out-of-town opponents with .500 records - but the results were emphatic.
There was a time when all it would take to fill the ballroom was Salita and Stevens headlining the show. That the additional events were needed is a commentary on the state of boxing and, perhaps, a glimpse at the kind of multi-faceted entertainment packages that will become commonplace in this millennium.
But back to what is old school: Salita and Stevens.
Stevens was accompanied to the ring by world welterweight champion and fellow Brownsville resident Zab Judah. But because of Steven's size and power, the comparisons to another Brownsville fighter - Mike Tyson - are inevitable.
Much like Tyson, Stevens was on a seek-and-destroy mission. He stalked Ray Darden (8-9 from Detroit) and dropped him four times en route to a second-round TKO. The first knockdown was the result of a slip or a push but the second was courtesy a straight right hand that landed like a battering ram. The knockdown sent Darden into a defensive posture as he circled the ring for much of the remainder of Round 1.
Once again, Darden went down early in Round 2 and it seemed this time that a body shot may have dropped him. Darden recovered and kept his hands high and his elbows tucked tight to his ribs. He understood, as did almost everyone else, that each time he let his hands go, Stevens was going to hurt him. Finally, about midway through the second round, Darden threw a combination. He got brave but it was a mistake. Stevens instantly dropped him with a left hook. Although Darden was up quickly, the bout was stopped by the referee. The stoppage did seem premature but it seemed only a matter of time before Stevens - now 6-0, all knockouts - ended the fight. Trust me; it was better for Darden that it ended this way.
A fashion show filled about 15 minutes between the two main bouts as long-legged models walked on the outskirts of the ring in lingerie. It seemed an unlikely segue to the main event, which featured Salita, an Orthodox Jew.
There is nothing quite like Salita entering the ring to Hava Nagila. All evening the crowd swayed and bopped to the rap music that accompanies most fighters today, but as Salita made his way to war, the crowd clapped and cheered to Hava Nagila.
In Salita's corner, along with Jimmy O'Pharrow, was Hector Roca. The ring announcer did not miss the chance to introduce Roca - the man who trained Oscar-winning Hillary Swank for "Million Dollar Baby" - before actually introducing Salita.
At the bell, Salita was all business. His jab was sharp and early on he got Darrelle Sukerow's attention with a crisp right cross. Sensing that Sukerow was vulnerable, Salita shot another right, this time a bit wider and dropped Sukerow in the center of the ring. Sukerow (11-13 from Edmonton, Canada) was able to survive the round, but wouldn't survive much longer.
Salita (21-0, 14 knockouts) dropped Sukerow with a beautiful right-left combination. The right-hander straightened Sukerow up and the left hook dropped him. The Canadian was on the canvas and the bout was stopped after the referee reached the count of 4.
Other results from the card: Apollo Welch W4 Jenkins Alvarez; Danny Rivera TKO 2 Esteban Cordova; Jonathan Tubbs W6 Kendall Gould and Francisco Figueroa KO 1 Ike Ezeji.