WORCESTER, MA. — Promoter Jose Antonio Rivera has had himself a very busy rookie year in 2017. Last January, the former WBA welterweight champion put on his first hometown show, ten professional bouts headlined by 2015 New England Golden Gloves featherweight champion Irvin Gonzalez. Then in April, Rivera’s second card at the downtown Palladium featured a comebacking Matt Remillard in action. Both featured fighters grabbed wins while Rivera’s promotion kept rolling along to bigger and better things.
The first of such upgrades was realized on Saturday night at the squeaky clean DCU Center, formerly known as the Worcester Centrum.
North Hall to be exact.
Yes, this is where Sugar Ray Leonard was famously put onto his backside by journeyman Kevin Howard in 1984. Tonight it’s where a trifecta of Worcester homeboys scored big wins while two others came up short on the undercard at home while a Greek female heavyweight from New York almost picked up a vacant IBO championship in a sloppy but surprisingly entertaining brawl.
In the main event, 21 year-old featherweight Irvin Gonzalez, 7-0 (6), 126, Worcester, arguably the top prospect in all of New England not named Marvelous Mykquan Williams, out-gutted Raul Lopez, 10-3-1 (5), 126, Bronx, NY, in a barnburner. Gonzalez, a switch-hitter in the ring, throws nice long punches and he really lets his hands go. Unfortunately his defense is porous and his undersized but skilled opponent landed well with ripping hooks to the body and overhand rights.
This left Lopez open to counters from Gonzalez in heated exchanges. In the fourth, Gonzalez, 21, scored a flash knockdown during one of these dustups. “The left hook clipped his chin but he was kinda off-balance,” Gonzalez told TSS. The fast pace kept up throughout an extremely entertaining local prizefight. In the end, Gonzalez earned his seventh professional victory by unanimous scores of 76-75 and 79-73 twice. “I have a big fan base here and it grew tonight,” he said
RPE returns to the DCU October 28.
Ten rounds is a long time when two female heavyweights who really can’t hurt each other collide for a vacant IBO “world heavyweight” title. In the RPE co-feature, Sonya Lamonakis, 10-2-3 (1), New York, NY and Laura Ramsey, 10-7-1 (5), Winter Haven, Florida, wailed away on even terms until the final bell. At one point, Ramsey’s ponytail came loose and while her corner tended to loose hair, Lamonakis mouthed to the crowd from a neutral corner that it was getting in her eyes.
Neither boxer officially weighed in and rounds were two minutes rather than the usual three as for men. The unanimous draw decision (95-95 on all cards) was a surprise to the crowd.
It left me even more unsatisfied.
Lamonakis told TSS she was “disappointed” in the decision which she felt should have gone her way, claiming to have landed “cleaner, more effective” punches. If Lamonakis sounds educated it’s because “The Scholar” is a NYC educator. There is talk of a rematch but one never knows.
On The Undercard:
Heavyweight Bryan Daniels, 5-0 (3), Worcester, Mass, 203, teed off on Christopher Boykins, 1-9, Orlando, Florida, 206, early and often, scoring with bruising left hooks to the head and right hands to the body in the first round. After three knockdowns in the second, Boykins was done but boy did he show a ton of heart eating flush left hooks and other power punches. Daniels made a name for himself as a feared amateur who once boxed Boston Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Super middleweight Bobby Harris III, Worcester, Mass, 165, clearly the sentimental favorite local fighter on the card, made a successful pro debut outworking Rodrigo Almeida, 1-8, Woburn, Mass, 167, over four. Unanimous decision for Harris, winner by shutout 40-36 on all three cards.
Harris thanked a very appreciative crowd.
Super middleweight Neal Sullivan, 0-0-1, Worcester, Mass, 168, fought to a majority draw with cage fighter turned boxer Saul Almeida, 0-8-1, Framingham, Mass, 168. Almeida can’t box a lick but here he was beating the novice Sullivan to the punch, forcing him to take a knee in the fourth
Welterweight southpaw Derrick “Bad Boy” Whitley Jr., 2-0, Springfield, Mass, 149, came about as close to fighting his 49 year-old father and trainer Derrick “Double Impact” Whitley as he might have liked, outhustling 41 year-old ring veteran Shakha Moore, 12-23-3 (2), Norwalk, CT, 150 over four. Unanimous decision scores in favor of the winner were 40-36, and 39-37 twice.
Welterweight Adrian Sosa, 3-0 (3), 141 Lawrence, Mass, made short work of Zach Johnson, 0-1, New York, NY, 146, easily dropping him early in the first for the quick TKO at just :41 of the opening stanza. Sosa goes by “Tonka” and he’s not quite a truck but he’s a solid young pro.
Welterweight Wilfredo Pagan, 2-0, Southbridge, Mass, 143, ran into an opponent who wasn’t afraid to take his best punch and mix it up a little. Correction. Mix it up a lot. Anthony Everett, 1-6, Lawrence, Mass, 147, was game-but-outgunned for the first three rounds. In the fourth, he hurt Pagan and didn’t stop punching until “El Sucaro” was down from an accumulation of punishment. For some reason, no knockdown was called by referee Paul Casey. Pagan won a majority decision by scores of 38-37, 38-37, and 38-38. Worcester fight fans loved this one.
Welterweight Andy Gonzalez, 6-2 (5), Worcester, Mass, 149, was “upset” in a tedious six round majority decision by perennial opponent Antonio Chaves Fernandez 8-32-4, (2), Brockton, Mass, 151. The pair waited until the final ten seconds to finally throw some leather. I’ve seen Fernandez fight a dozen times. Tonight’s the first time I’ve seen him win. Scores: 58-56 twice and 57-57.
Photo credit: Emily Harney
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