Gotta squeeze in three sets of doubles in tennis at Overpeck Park, then rush off straight to BB King’s for “Broadway Boxing” on 42nd street, a 30 minute drive. Get there at just after eight, only missing Phil Jackson Benson’s W4 over Victor Paz at 168.
Walking in, there’s Juan Laporte who looks fantastic at 50. What a great fighter he was, going 15 rounds with Eusebio Pedroza and Salvador Sanchez in Featherweight title fights on national TV in the early 1980s. He also lost on points to Julio Cesar Chavez, Barry McGuigan in Belfast and Wilfredo Gomez. Gotta ask him his take on Manny Pacquiao. “Superman, that’s what I call him,” says the former WBC Featherweight champ. “You know why I call him Superman? Because he just keeps moving up and beating everyone. Superman!” Laporte then gets excited at the thought of Pacquiao and throws some quick punches. “So fast. Nobody can beat him right now.”
Once again, the promoter Lou DiBella has packed the house here as it’s virtually standing room only. The second fight is halfway over. Catch some of Keisher “Fire” McLeod-Wells W4 over Laura Gomez of Mexico. “Fire” is tall, thin and rangy and throws nice snappy punches and she has a exuberant fan base cheering her on by her moniker and holding up placards. I ask one supporter why she is called Fire? “I don’t know, she’s been called that forever.” Fire extinguishes Gomez and is now 3-1.
Next up is the talented Denis Douglin, an impressive looking junior middle from Morganville, NJ. “Momma’s Boy” has his mom in his corner. She is said to have taught him boxing and looks to have done a very good job of it. Douglin is tall, quick and throws nice long sharp quick punches. Chad Greenleaf (12-15-1) of Columbus, Ohio endures a beating and can’t survive the opener. Douglin, now 8-0 (4 KO’s) is a prospect to watch. Aside from his boxing skills, what stands out are his maturity and modesty. You like him instantly. I know it’s very early to tell, but Douglin is potential champion material.
Tor Hamer, the touted heavyweight is next. Last time out in December, the man from Harlem had it too easy winning in one round over an overmatched foe. This time, Alexis Mejias proves a much tougher nut to crack. Hamer establishes superiority early though with somewhat Tyson-like aggression and fast, powerful two and three-punch combinations. Mejias is bigger and maybe stronger but he can’t cope with the assaults and goes into survival mode. Hamer is built like a tank and in top shape and has a burning intensity to destroy. He does damage but the knockout doesn’t come tonight. Hamer, now 11-0 (8) is coming along nicely and could be a factor in the heavyweight division in two or three years. Not bad for a guy who started boxing in his 20’s. Mejias is now 10-4 (4).
The best fight of the night is Gabriel “Tito” Bracero vs. Winston “The Reaper” Mathis in a battle of unbeatens at junior welterweight. Tito Bracero has a very large and vocal support group backing him and the former Golden Gloves champ does not dissappoint. It’s all action and Tito is cut early by his right eye. But around halfway through it’s evident Bracero has the sharper, better combinations. Mathis, tough, game and feisty, begins to look more wild. Bracero is just a little better and wins on points 59-54 and is now 9-0. Mathis from Rochester is now 6-1 (2).
Former WBC Cruiserweight champ Wayne Brathwaite is here watching the action. Big Truck won by early KO on the Alexander-Urango card in Connecticut but his promoter King has not been able to keep him active enough to get any momentum going. Brathwaite looks in good shape, is recognized by fans for his memorable title fights at Madison Square Garden and Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. He is also on the Pac-Man bandwagon and says he thinks nobody can beat Manny Pacquiao now, not Mayweather or Mosley.
In the main event Joelo Torres (11-1-1) is unexpectedly stopped by Leo Martinez (14-12, 7 KO’s) from Columbus, Ohio.
In the house: Paulie Malignaggi, Steve Cunningham, Harold Lederman, Tommy Gallagher,judge Steve Weisfeld just back from working the Guzman-Funeka bout in Las Vegas, Thomas Hauser, Boxing Digest’s Sean Sullivan, ring announcer Dave Diamante who’s trying out his new signature Buffer line “The Fight is ON!” Lots of excitement and discussion about Jones vs. Hopkins in press row with most favoring Hopkins.