This nine-fight card promoted by Lou DiBella was something of a slog at nearly five hours. But the 10-round main event between junior welterweights Gabriel Bracero and veteran DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley was worth the wait.
Bracero entered the ring 18-0 (3 KOs) and Corley had been on an endless losing streak to similar up and comers. The man who once hurt Floyd Mayweather Jr. and had Cotto on Queer St. went 27-19-1 (22 KOs). Corley, 37, has picked up where Emanuel Augustus left off; skilled, talented, and just faded enough....
Tonight, “Chop Chop” flipped the script. Early in the first the southpaw found a home for his overhand lead left. Bracero probably missed more shots in that round than he did in his first 18 bouts combined.
In the next round Bracero’s right eye was cut from that same overhand lead left. Later in the round, a right hook to the chin put him down hard. He looked done, but beat the count and was lucky to have the bell sound 10 seconds later.
Bracero was still groggy in the third. Rather than attack, Corley was still and minimalist, like a cobra sizing up its prey. He landed that same left again and put him down for the second time. Bracero beat the count but was on rubbery legs when he walked back to his corner.
Corley conserved his energy and cruelly measured the 30-year-old in the fourth. He got caught again in the next round and would have fallen out of the ring if the ropes hadn’t caught him. Bracero’s legion of fans from Sunset Park, Brooklyn, were in hysterics at this point. Luckily, he had vet Tommy Gallagher in his corner; he’s seen it all and behaves that way. If he was freaking out, he hid it very well. His calm must have been reassuring to the fighter who had never been dropped and hurt repeatedly.
The sixth was another rocky one for Bracero, but he got settled in the seventh. While Corley’s still fast hands can short-circuit anyone, he’s never been the best finisher. He let Bracero of the hook. Corley is amazingly well-preserved but his age reveals itself over the duration of a bout. He wastes nothing because he can’t afford to do otherwise.
To Bracero’s credit, he never folded. He collected himself and fought on even terms from the seventh on. He was even awarded a dubious knockdown in the eighth.
Between that lame knockdown and the seemingly close rounds towards the end, I feared the judges might not do the right thing and give Corley his win. (I didn’t start out jaded, boxing made me that way.) Thankfully, the UD scores were 96-90, 94-92 twice.
Popular light heavyweight Seanie Monaghan upped his record to 12-0 (7 KOs), but the near customary knockout never came and victory did not come easily. Opponent Billy Bailye of Bakersfield, CA, put on an unforgettable performance. It wasn’t so much how he fought but how he behaved. He may not know what chutzpah means, but he’s got plenty of it. He clowned and taunted the hometown kid and absorbed an enormous amount of punishment with a devil may care attitude over the eight scheduled rounds. Despite losing by scores of 80-71 twice and 79-72, he won the crowd over—even if Monaghan fans won’t admit it. He did a little bit of everything: buzzing Monaghan in the first, getting dropped by a right hook to the head in the second, and galvanizing a crowed that was half-asleep before this beer-bellied character appeared. Bailey fell to 11-14-1 (4 KOs).
Junior featherweight Luis Del Valle is one of the better pro prospects to come out of New York and was an excellent amateur who won multiple NY Golden Gloves. Yet he mysteriously flies under the radar, getting nothing like the pub that little guy Gary Stark Jr. once got. That should change this year, as he now goes 15-0 (11 KOs) and will undoubtedly get some TV time. But there’s nothing flashy or charismatic about him. He’s just a fine boxer who does everything well. That’s not always enough. He did enough Saturday to handily beat trialhorse Jose Angel Beranza by UD: 80-72, 78-74, and 79-73. Beranza goes to 34-22-2 (26 KOs). While he’s lost to a who’s who, he’s never an easy out and represents a stern test for any prospect taking a step up.
Israeli cruiser Ran Nakash proved too much for Derek Bryant. Nakash, a volume puncher who grinds on the inside, may be the sleeper of this oft-disrespected division. Many feel that his sole loss against German champ Marko Huck could easily have been judged a draw. There was no questioning his UD victory (78-73 all three cards) tonight. Nakash now goes 26-1 (18 KOs). After spending his career as a smallish heavyweight, Philly’s Bryant dropped down but still fell to 20-7 (17 KOs).
Junior middleweight Boyd Melson won a UD 6 by scores of 60-54 on all three cards. He goes to 8-0 (4 KOs) while his opponent Sean Rawley Wilson fell to 6-6 (1 KOs).
Heavyweight Sonya Lamonakis went punch for punch with Carlette Ewell over six rounds. At times they looked like mirror images of each other. The judges agreed, giving them a draw: 58-56 for each and 57-57. Lamonakis remains undefeated at 6-0-1 (1 KO). Ewell seemed very pleased with the decision and is now 15-7-1 (9).
Junior welters Danny McDermott and Terry Butterbaugh fought to a six-round draw. McDermott is now 8-3-2 93 KOs). Butterbaugh now goes 6-6-3 (3 KOs).
Heavyweight Thomas Hartwick of Dublin, Ireland went to 4-0 (2 KOs) in winning a UD (40-36 on all three cards) over Richard Mason, 0-4.
Welterweight Alex Perez opened the night’s marathon car with a TKO2 over Josh Sosa. Perez is 15-0 (9 KOs). Sosa now goes 10-2 (5 KOs).
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV