LOWELL, MASS — This is a boxing town. Fights happen all the time here. Several broke out on Saturday night at the venerable Lowell Memorial Auditorium during a Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) fight card promoted by DiBella Entertainment in association with Boston's Murphy's Boxing.
This is a very good thing. Televised on NBC Sports Network, PBC's revolutionary ringleader Al Haymon continued his strategic takeover of boxing here, producing prizefights in a city best known for “Irish” Micky Ward of Gatti Trilogy fame and Dickie Eklund of Crack Street infamy.
When recent attempts by Chicago Fight Club Promotions to promote boxing in the Mill City city fell flat at this venue and at the nearby Tsongas Arena in 2012 and 2013 respectively, it was obvious that change was needed in Lowell's professional boxing scene.
That was then. This is now.
Give Lowell boxing fans good fights (with body punches in bunches) featuring local fighters they can cheer for and that's just what they did while Dropkick Murphys tunes blared through the sound system.
A fun brawler named “Spike” from Cork, Ireland on the undercard doesn't exactly hurt either.
With Sugar Ray Leonard calling the punches from ringside in the same building where he once competed as an amateur, the stage was set for fight night.
In the main event, welterweight Danny O'Connor, Framingham, MA, 26-3, 10 KOs, 146.2, was knocked out cold in just 41 seconds of the first round by a counter right hand from Gabriel Bracero, Brooklyn, NY, 24-2, 5 KOs, 146.8, a punch that sent O'Connor down and out for what could've easily been the 2015 Knockout of the Year.
O'Connor, fighting for redemption from a 2011 decision loss to Bracero, never got untracked and his swift defeat was rightly seen as a huge surprise by everybody in attendance. Nobody was expecting a knockout in this fight, least of all one like that from Bracero. O'Connor made it to his feet after the brutal loss, but where he goes from here is anyone's guess. Said the victorious Bracero, “I was depressed after my last loss. This is a dream come true.”
Bracero's trainer Tommy Gallagher, amazed by the power display, spoke of an Adrien Broner fight on the horizon for his charge.
In the co-main event, super bantamweight knockout artist Jonathan Guzman, Lawrence, MA, 20-0, 20 KOs, 121.6, beat up Danny Aquino, Meriden, CT, 17-3, 10 KOs, 121.6, scoring a ninth round stoppage to keep his twenty fight KO streak alive.
Coming off the biggest win of his career against Ryan Kielczweski last April on ESPN Friday Night Fights, Aquino was down from a sweeping left hook in the second round and down again in the same frame from a cuffing right to the chops inside. Aquino battled back into the fight in the third round but the writing was already on the wall for the native Mexican. Too much speed and too much power from Guzman. Aquino was walking himself straight into his own defeat and Guzman was glad to oblige him with skillful precision. In the ninth, Aquino was again dumped to the canvas from a hurtful barrage of punches and referee Jackie Morrell put a stop to it at 1:19. Aquino didn't like the decision to end the fight but going the distance was the best he could've hoped for.
Ryan “The Polish Prince” Kielczweski, Quincy, MA, 24-1, 7 KOs, 125.8, got a roaring reception before (and after) his televised bout against Rafael Vazquez, Brooklyn, NY, 16-2, 13 KOs, 126. The popular local featherweight is a crafty boxer with a tight defense and he put those skills on display from the outside early against Vazquez, a durable if not particularly creative fighter. Using his young fresh legs in a 22 foot ring, Kielczweski gave the New Yorker a lot of different looks as he gradually dialed in the left hook to the head and body. When Vazquez would lean to avoid punches, Kielczweski chopped away with right hands to the side of the head. In an excellent sixth round, Kielczweski stood in the middle of the ring and punished his tiring opponent before taking his best in return. In the eighth, the “Polish Prince” poured it on when Vazquez suddenly appeared to gas out. At the end of the round, a cut appeared around the left eye of Kielczweski and the ringside doctor took a close look at the slice in the corner before the ninth round. Just like that, Vazquez had new life in the ring and he went for Kielczweski's injured eye with every punch he threw. The pair wailed away in the tenth after giving an appreciative crowd a competitive fight worth standing up to cheer for. Kielczweski was rewarded for his exciting effort with a unanimous decision. Official scores were 97-93, 97-93, and 96-94. Said the winner, “I knew Vazquez could punch and I avoided it for the most part but then he rocked me in the tenth round. I didn't know where my feet were, it was great.”
Undercard Bouts: In the evening opener, lightweight Fernando Saucedo, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 57-6-3, 10 KOs, stopped Carlos Fulgencio, Santa Domingo, RD, 19-17-1, 12 KOs, in the second round of a scheduled eight rounder at 1:23. Dropped along the ropes and draped on them for support, referee Arthur Mercante counted out Fulgencio and then gave him a pat on the head for a good effort.
Super featherweight Titus Williams, Elmont, NY, 3-0, 2 KOs, 131.2, abused a defenseless Arthur Parker, Pennsylvania, 1-14-2, 1 KO, 134.6, with a variety of outside shots to the head and body of his game but undertrained opponent. In the second round, Parker went down in a corner under assault to the midsection and it was there that he took a full count from referee Jackie Morrell at 1:04.
Middleweight Gary “Spike” O'Sullivan, Cork, Ireland, 22-1, 15 KOs, 172.6, wore “WAR” on his boxing trunks and war is what he waged on David Toribio, Miami, FL, 21-16, 14 KOs, 174.2, from the opening bell, dropping his overmatched opponent twice in the first, once with a jab. O'Sullivan quickly attacked a still hurting Toribio in the second round, dropping him in a corner with more punches downstairs. Time of the knockout was :28 of the second round. I spoke to Spike afterwards and the plan according to him is to fight Chris Eubank Jr. next and then hopefully Gennady Golovkin in the near future. Dream big Spike, dream big.
Junior lightweight Steve Ormond, Dublin, Ireland, 19-2, 10 KOs, 139, wore out Michael Clark, Columbus, OH, 44-14-1, 18 KOs, 140.6, to the body at 1:49 of the very first round, scoring two knockdowns before busy Lowell referee Jackie Morrell counted to ten.
Heavyweight Adam Kownacki, Brooklyn, NY, 12-0, 10 KOs, 261.2, pounded out an eight round decision over Rodney Hernandez, Modesto, CA, 8-3-1, 1 KO, 240, in a slow motion slugfest. All three judges had it 78-74 for Kownacki, who goes by “Baby Face.”
Lightweight Patrick Hyland, Dublin, Ireland, 31-1, 15 KOs, 128.4 defeated a game David Martinez, Albuquerque, NM, 18-8-1, 3 KOs, 128, by technical knockout at :17 of the eighth round.