New York – The Broadway Boxing show on Thursday night was less a fight card and more a homecoming for New York-based promoter Lou DiBella and his undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor. DiBella returned to his roots and for the first time had the opportunity to celebrate the recent victory over Bernard Hopkins with his public.
During the show's intermission, DiBella climbed into the ring as a dozen or so fighters were introduced from the crowd. They saved the best for last, as DiBella personally introduced Taylor and called him into the ring. The promoter made one promise to the crowd, stating that Hopkins would get knocked out in the December rematch.
In addition to Taylor realigning the middleweight division with his decision over Hopkins, he managed to exact a measure of revenge for his promoter. DiBella had once been Hopkins' trusted adviser and helped the Philly fighter gain entry into Don King's middleweight tournament. The result was the biggest win of Hopkins' career, a TKO over Felix Trinidad. Shortly thereafter, Hopkins left DiBella and a bitter feud was born. So far, DiBella is 2-0 against the fighter, having already won a libel suit against him.
“This is probably my most gratifying moment in boxing,” said DiBella. “I had done a lot for Bernard Hopkins and then got stung by a cobra. To have developed Jermain Taylor from his pro debut to five years later to win the undisputed middleweight title against the guy who screwed me, it was a beautiful thing. Payback's a bitch.”
Taylor and Hopkins will fight a rematch in December and the new champion and his promoter are confident of the outcome.
“I don’t think Bernard is getting any younger or any braver,” said DiBella. “I don't think he's punching any harder. I love Jermain in the rematch.”
“I'm looking at the rematch as if I will control the fight,” said Taylor. “I have to control the fight. He will do his things, he'll fight dirty. But I'll control the fight more. I'm going to be aggressive and let my hands go more.”
It was a whirlwind week for Taylor, who arrived in New York on Tuesday and was a nonstop guest of the city. He met with former President Bill Clinton (both are from Arkansas) at Clinton's Harlem office, he had a private reception at the world famous Gallagher's Steak House, appeared on NBC's Today New York, ESPN's Cold Pizza, he did color commentary on the Broadway Boxing card and was a guest on ESPN2's Friday Night Fights.
“It's beyond everything I thought it would be,” said Taylor. “I walk down the streets of New York and people treat me well. It's a change for the better.”
When asked what the highlight of the week was, Taylor said it was his meeting with Clinton.
“This is just the highlight of my life,” he said. “This whole thing is like a big dream.”
DiBella, and his new partner Damon Dash, remains the only consistent promoter in New York City. His Broadway Boxing cards have been a staple in the Big Apple as he attempts to move along some of his young prospects. While he has a core of New York-based fighters ready to break into the Top 10 – Dmitriy Salita, Sechew Powell and Paulie Malignaggi – he showcased the next wave on this card. Most notable were Curtis Stevens (TKO2, Jason Quick), Emmanuel Clottey (W8, Marteze Logan) and Jaidon Codrington (TKO 5, Levan Easley).
Comeback. Ringside at Broadway Boxing was former world bantamweight champion Junior Jones, who after three years of inactivity, returned to the ring the next evening in Yonkers, New York. “I started missing it. I started see Barrera, Morales, all these guys doing well. I wanted to get back into it. I beat Barrera twice. My goal is to take it slow, work my way back , win one more world title and then retire for good.”
When I suggested that most comebacks are ill-advised once a fighter reaches a certain age, Jones, said, “What age is that? I’m only 34. I still have enough in the tank. When I’m, 36, 37, should I be fighting? No. So I’m not going to waste these years.”
Jones is being trained by Yoel Judah at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. Jones already resurrected his career once, when in 1996-97 he scored wins over Barrera for the world 122-pound title. He then suffered consecutive TKO losses to Kennedy McKinney and Erik Morales. He has a record of 50-6 and retired back in 2002 after losing a decision to Ivan Alvarez.
Comeback, Part 2. Former middleweight champion Vito Antuofermo was back in the ring. This time as a trainer. He was giving all the instructions as Pat Nwamu upset unbeaten prospect Hino Ehikhamenor for the New York State cruiserweight title over 10 rounds. With the news that baseball’s Rafael Palmiero testing positive for steroids, Antuofermo was anxious to talk about what fighters from his era may or may not have been taking steroids. To be continued.
Nice Touch. Antuofermo and the entire Nwamu team wore t-shirts that said, R.I.P Al Gavin.
Irish Eyes Were Smiling. John Duddy was on hand to watch stablemate James Moore (also from Ireland) win his pro debut via second-round TKO over Gabriel Garcia. Duddy was just coming off a TKO win against Pat Coleman on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights on July 22. “He was strong and durable,” said Duddy of Coleman. “I’m really pleased and I was glad to get the event. I thought it was what it was supposed to be, a good test and some good experience for me. He had the heart of a lion and he took some good shots. To be taken serious in this sport, you can’t be just blasting guys out in the first round. I saw some mistakes and I’ll be working on not making those mistakes again.”
Of his stablemate, Moore, Duddy said, “I thought the [opponent] was awkward, but once James starting landing his body shots it slowed the guy right down. I thought it was a tremendous effort for his pro debut.”
Broadway Boxing is back at the Manhattan Center on August 25, with Salita, Powell and Malignaggi all fighting for DiBella.