SALEM — While undersized Lawrence, Massachusetts heavyweight Alexis Santos (16-1, 14 KOs) was quietly getting prepared for a rematch against 6’7″ Daniel “The Mountain” Martz in the locker room of New Hampshire’s Rockingham Plaza race track, Anthony Joshua (16-0, 16 KOs) was across the pond in London, England taking advantage of a suddenly wide open heavyweight division. Joshua knocked out American heavyweight champion Charles Martin on Saturday afternoon in the second round to claim the IBF crown. It’s a newcomer success story that the 26-year-old Santos would like to duplicate. The soft-spoken but palpably violent Santos took an important step in that direction on Saturday night in the Live Free or Die State, registering a seventh round knockout of Martz to pick up the vacant IBO International heavyweight title before a raucous crowd of Santos fanatics.
There was a lot of holding (and trash talking) in the early going while Martz tried to use his size and Santos tried to close the gap to do damage on the inside. They both enjoyed some success but excessive holding marred the action. Martz ignored vulgar taunts from the pro-Santos crowd and he patiently pecked away with the jab and follow-up right hands. Santos kept himself, and his crowd, in the fight with a determined body attack that paid key dividends. In the sixth, Santos hurt Martz with an overhand right and pursued him like a man possessed. A wicked left to the body in the sixth had Martz holding on and backing up. In the seventh, Martz could no longer keep Santos off of him. The end came at 2:02 when Steve Smoger counted to ten with Martz down from exhaustion and body pain. The 6’0 Santos, who tipped the scales at 218.5, improved to 16-1 while Martz, from Clarksburg, West Virginia, weighing 242.8, fell to 14-4-1 (11 KOs).
After the fight, Santos said he’ll fight anybody and fears nobody. That’s the right attitude. Martz was coming off a first round knockout loss to Kiwi heavyweight prospect Joseph Parker, 18-0, last December. He defeated Santos by TKO in 2014 at the House of Blues in Boston. Santos was down in the first round and he injured his right knee in the third, causing that bout to be stopped.
In the co-main event, featherweight Luis Orlando Del Valle, 21-2 (16), from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, impressively knocked out Josh Crespo, New Haven, Connecticut, 6-3-3, (2) in the second round of a scheduled eight. Del Valle was walking Crespo down early in the first, landing long right hands with ease. In the second, Crespo ran into a perfectly timed right cross that buckled his knees. Another hard cross sent him crashing face-first to the canvas. Crespo tried to rise but he pitched forward before crashing again. With Del Valle looking on anxiously in a neutral corner, Crespo beat the count but he was hurt and defenseless. Crespo’s trainer Brian Clark got up on the ring apron and signaled for the referee to stop the fight, which he did at 2:17.
In a super middleweight contest, Russell “The Haitian Sensation” Lamour, 13-2 (6), from Portland, Maine, got back in the win column after a second decision loss to New England rival Thomas Falowo last November, beating Borngod Washington, Queens, New York, 3-18 (1), by knockout. Lamour got tagged more than expected in the first round but that only served to wake him up. Lamour was back in total command in the second round, scoring a knockdown that Washington got up looking rather lame from. In the third, Lamour trapped his hurt opponent in the corner and wailed away until he collapsed. Referee Steve Smoger called an immediate halt at 1:38.
Joseph Perez, East Hartford, Connecticut, 12-3-2 (3) had an easy night at the office against hapless Paul DeSouza, 0-10, Sommerville, Massachusetts, chasing him around the ring while doing enough damage to bring about a merciful stoppage at :46 of the second round. DeSouza is a cage fighter who needs to stay out of the boxing ring.
Casey Kramlich, Portland, Maine, 3-0-1 (1), scored a second round TKO over Jason Kelly, Dorchester, Massachusetts, 5-1 (3). Kelly showed the effects of a bad beating to the body and he was looking for a way out late in the second round. Kelly’s corner then stopped the fight, a wise decision considering the defeated body language of their brave boxer.
In the lid-lifter, Jaba Khositashvili, 1-0 (1), Georgia, made an impressive pro debut against Greg Thomas, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, (1-8), scoring three knockdowns in the first round before referee Dave Greenwood stopped the mismatch at 1:37.
Venue: Rockingham Park
Promoter: Big Six Entertainment
Matchmaker: J. Russell Peltz
Ring Announcer: John Vena
Attendance: 1,000 (approximate)
Boxing writer Jeffrey Freeman grew up in the City of Champions, Brockton, Massachusetts from 1973 to 1987, during the marvelous career of middleweight champion Marvin Hagler. Freeman then lived in Lowell, Massachusetts during the best years of Irish Micky Ward’s illustrious career. A member of the RingTV expert writer prediction panel for four years, Freeman is also editor-in-chief of KO Digest, a social media outlet for the sweet science. Known affectionately as “KO” by friends and readers, Freeman covers boxing for The Sweet Science in New England.
TSS Ringside Report From Salem, New Hampshire by Jeff Freeman / Photo by Pattee Mak