While the weather outside may have been unseasonably chilly and wet, the action inside the venerable Schuetzen Park Hall in North Bergen, New Jersey kept over 600 rabid boxing fans quite comfortable on Thursday night.
Totowa-based Main Events put together the third in a series of promotions at the stately edifice that featured some of the most promising young boxers in the area. The main bout of the evening featured the World Boxing Association’s 13th-ranked featherweight, Jason Litzau, against Nepal’s Debind Thapa in a ten-rounder. Right from the beginning it was obvious that the taller Litzau would give the diminutive southpaw fits, spearing his awkward but willing foe with a sharp left jab that repeatedly knocked Thapa off balance. The 25-year-old Litzau put on a virtual boxing clinic in the opening round, landing thudding left hooks to the body, then going back upstairs to punish Thapa with the jab, some nice left hooks and the occasional right uppercut. Near the end of the round Thapa lost his footing, grabbed Litzau around the hips and pulled him to the canvas with him. It would be his best offensive showing of the night.
Round two found Thapa–who, to his credit, never took a backwards step in suffering Litzau’s onslaught–wing some wild overhand attempts to keep Litzau at bay but to no avail. The ‘American Boy’ kept up the intense pressure and finally landed a beauty of a left hook to the head that put Thapa down on both knees in the corner. Thapa took the fatal ten-count from referee Harvey Dock, never attempting to rise, and who can blame him? Goes into the record books as a knockout at the 3:00 mark of round two.
Litzau showed plenty of poise, speed and killer instinct against an opponent in this one and will continue to make noise in the 126-pound ranks in the months to come. Asked afterwards what is next for him the incredibly confident Litzau told us: “Main Events; Las Vegas, July 14th maybe. No more Schuetzen Parks, man.”
Litzau’s pre- and post-fight raps sometimes make one recall a vintage Vinny Paz, and tonight he did not disappoint. When asked about the toughness of Thapa, Jason responded by saying that “everybody shows up for the American Boy. If (an opponent) loses to me, a blond-haired, blue-eyed kid, he’ll be called a pussy.”
The undercard bouts featured three first round stoppages, making for an entertaining if abbreviated night of fisticuffs. In the opener, Newark’s Alex Perex, 147½ , improved to 5-0, 4KO’s with a first round (1:21) blitz of one Michael Pittman, 146½, Bridgetown, Barbados. Referee: Harvey Dock.
Paterson’s talented welterweight Henry Crawford, 150, continued on his undefeated route by stopping tough Californian Roberto Nava, 151, at the end of round four of a scheduled six. The entertaining tilt saw Crawford come out with a furious assault that had Nava quickly covering up against the ropes. Nava landed an answering right that rocked Crawford and made him think twice about going for a quick stoppage. Rounds two through four saw Henry use his superior height and reach to real advantage, stabbing Nava with long lefts and rights to the face, then tying him up in close. He finally lumped up Nava’s face enough to cause Roberto’s retirement after the fourth session.
Allen Litzau, older brother of headliner Jason, was victimized in his eight-rounder with Florida’s Terry Lantz in their semi, losing a majority nod that should have two of the three judges rushing to book ophthalmologist appointments tomorrow. Litzau, 126½, seemed to have his way with the unpolished Lantz, also 126½, beating him repeatedly to the punch and using his superior boxing skills to parry his wild rushes while countering with some effective shots–especially to the body of Lantz. Judge Paul Venti saw it a 76-76 draw; Shafeeq Rashada had it wrong at 77-75 Lantz; while Emil Conforte mystified with a 78-74 scorecard. Litzau drops to 10-2, 6KO’s, while the upset victory raises Lantz to 10-5-1, 6KO’s.
Lyndhurst, NJ’s super middleweight hopeful Wayne Johnsen, 166½, had quite a few vocal fans in attendance tonight, most wearing red tee-shirts bearing the motto: “How Big is YOUR Johnsen?” Well, he may as well have been ten feet tall for the quick work he made of Alabama’s Bradley Thompson, 164. After a moment or two of feeling each other out a Johnsen right sent a seemingly unmotivated Thompson down for a six count. He arose and showed a bit of spark by smacking Johnsen with a pretty good right of his own. The spark was doused shortly thereafter as Johnsen caught him with a sharp left/right that put Thompson down again, causing referee Dave Franciosi to call a halt to the proceedings at the 1:22 mark of the very first round. Johnsen’s record stands at 12-1, 7KO’s while Thompson drops to 15-10, 10KO’s.
Former amateur standout Jerson Ravelo, 166, Newark, continued to rehabilitate his career as he blasted Barbados’ Ricardo Kellman, 166, out in 2:44 of the opening round. Ravelo, plagued throughout his brief career by an assortment of injuries, as well as an upset loss to Mexico’s tough David Lopez back in April 2004, looked nothing short of sensational in the brief workout. A cobra-like left stung Kellman right out of the gate, and Ravelo followed up with a hammering right lead that quickly had Kellman kissing canvas, even though it looked more like a slip. Another big right resulted in an unquestionable knockdown, but the game Kellman arose again only to be met with a torrent of punches that sent him horizontal once more, prompting a stoppage at the 2:44 mark. Referee: Franciosi.
Ravelo goes to 17-1, 12KO’s with the win while Kellman drops to 5-3, 3KO’s. Jerson has reeled off four straight wins since the upset loss to Lopez, stopping three of his opponents in less than one round. His fluid movements and heavy hands will make him a tough match for any super middleweight in the world today. If his conditioning is good–and he looks to be in terrific shape–look for him to crack into the top ten before the year is out.
In attendance tonight were former champions Pernell ‘Sweetpea’ Whitaker and Mark Breland, as well as current WBC light heavyweight king Tomasz Adamek. Former two-time world heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson, who died earlier in the day, was honored with a final ten bells before the main event.
All in all, it was a great night of boxing in front of a knowledgeable and avid crowd. Local support for the fighters was strong, the many bars inside the hall did a land-office business and everyone generally went home happy. Kudos should go out to Main Events for rekindling the interest in the sweet science in New Jersey by putting on these ‘Red Ink Specials.’ Kathy Duva, Carl Moretti and Donald Tremblay and Co. may not be getting rich on these promotions, but the long term should show great dividends as they help cultivate the careers of some of the finest prospects around today.
(Photos of Main Events' Back to the Future III can be seen in the TSS Photo Galleries)