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Abraham Nova Stops Castillo in the First

by: Paul Yates

Super-featherweight contender Abraham Nova scored an easy first round knockout over Luis Castillo last night at The Encore Boston Harbor casino. A single, straight right cross to the jaw dropped Castillo to one knee, where he remained shaking his head in pain as the referee tolled the ten count The time was 2:42. The victory represents Nova’s first successful defense of his NABA super-featherweight title and improves his record to 16-0, including 12 KO’s. Castillo, a native of Mexico, falls to 20-4 with 15 KO’s.

From the opening bell, the bout proved to be a mismatch. Although the 6’0″ Castillo enjoyed a significant height and reach advantage, it was immediately clear that he lacked the speed, agility, power, and skill to compete with a fighter in Nova’s class. The difference in physical strength was clear just from observing the pair, as Castillo’s frame appeared skinny — even frail — in comparison to Nova’s heavily heavily muscled back, shoulders, and upper arms. At one point Castillo backed Nova against the ropes and opened fire with both hands, but lacked the power to do any damage to the Puerto Rican born NABA champion. During skirmishing in center ring, Nova had no difficulty finding holes in his lanky opponent’s guard. Sensing Castillo’s vulnerability, Nova maneuvered the Mexican against the ropes and ended matters promptly with a fast, bazooka-like right hand.

Photo Credit: Emily Harney/Fightography

Nova is rated 6th worldwide by the WBO, and matches against world-class opposition will definitely come before the medium term future. So far, Nova has not been tested against high caliber fighters as a professional. In no way did tonight’s bout qualify as a measure of Nova’s potential against top flight opponents. Castillo was simply too far out of his depth to give Nova any kind of test. Therefore, Nova’s devastating performance tells us nothing that we did not already know about him. As for the weights, Nova scaled 129.6 lbs against 130 lbs for Castillo.

On the undercard, two other rising prospects scored impressive knockouts. Middleweight Carlos Gongora looked like a ferocious uncaged tiger as he blasted Alan Zavala into a first round TKO defeat. At welterweight, Brian Ceballo put on a brilliant display of speed, agility, and boxing ability in scoring a fourth round knockout over Luis Eduardo Florez.

Gongora, now 17-0 with 13 KO’s, jumped on Zavala from the opening bell. Spreading his feet wide and bending low at the knees, Gongora packed maximum power into all his left-handed punches. Zavala demonstrated quick foot movement on the retreat in addition to utilizing agile, fluid upper-body movement on defense, but Gongora had no trouble cutting off the ring and blasting the Mexican on the ropes. The end came when Gongora floored Zavala with a crackling left hook to the head. Zavala managed to beat the count, but looked badly hurt as he arose and the referee signaled the end at 2:05 of the round.

Billed as the “South American middleweight champion” upon entering the ring, Gongora is now ready to vastly upgrade the quality of his opposition. His next logical career move would be to face tough, experienced fringe contenders in order to pick up a WBA, WBC, WBO, or IBF regional belt, after which he will be ready to crash the world ratings. The Ecuadorian, who weighed 159.2 lbs., now lives in Boston and is definitely a fighter to watch: he is probably headed for high status in boxing. Zavala, who deserves respect for being a tough, competent clubfighter, weighed 157.6 lbs and his record falls to 15-4 with 13 KO’s.

Ceballo moved his record to 10-0, including 5 KO’s by flooring Florez with a single left hook to the body. The blow, which was preceded by a left-handed feint to the head, took the wind out of Florez, who fell to his arms and knees on the canvas. Florez never stirred as he was counted out by the referee, the ending coming at 2:33 of the fourth. Ceballo exhibited full control of the action throughout the fight, relying on lightning-quick speed of foot to evade his Colombian opponent’s occasional attempts to land power punches.

After an uneventful first round in which Ceballo proved his vastly superior speed and agility, the action picked up in the second. Ceballo, a former amateur standout from Brooklyn, became progressively more aggressive as he chased Florez around the ring. Constantly spearing Florez with blindingly fast left jabs , Ceballo never stopped initiating exchanges as he sought to find openings to throw power punches. Florez showed ring savvy by executing quick, sophisticated defense maneuvers, but he lacked the hand speed and coordination to land any punches against Ceballo. By the third round, Florez’s facial expression signaled fatigue and fading self-confidence. Still, the ending came very suddenly and unexpectedly.

The weights were 149.4 lbs for Ceballo against 152.6 lbs for Florez, whose record falls to 24-14, with 20 KO’s. The win was easy for Ceballo, as Florez is essentially a professional opponent who has served as cannon fodder in the past for big names like Miguel Berchelt, Regis Prograis, and Anthony Peterson. But still, considering the vast disparity in professional exposure (Florez has been fighting for eight years), the victory is a meaningful one for Ceballo at this early stage in his career. Without doubt, Ceballo is moving quickly and he should soon be pitted against tough fringe contenders in matches for regional titles. This writer believes that Ceballo will be rated among the world’s top-15 contenders with in the next one to two years.

In a welterweight bout, Khiry Todd of Lynn improved his record to 9-1 (7 KO’s) by knocking out Alex Duarte at 2:41 of the first round. A sudden right hand to the body forced Duarte to his hands and knees, where he was counted out at 2:41 of the round. Until the ending, Todd demonstrated superior speed and athleticism against his Brazilian opponent, who fought back aggressively but ineffectively. Duarte, now 14-8-1 with 6 KO’s, showed a rigid, slow punching style and consequently the fleet-footed Todd dodged his blows with ease. Todd, who weighed 147.8 lbs, exhibited speedy upper-body movement on the defense in addition to using his left jab effectively while on the attack. Duarte weighed 145.8 lbs.

James Perella, a former amateur star from Mansfield, scored a fourth round TKO over Argentina’s Jose Aubel in a welterweight fight. Most noteworthy about this fight was the vast height disparity between the two boxers: the 5’1″ Aubel appeared to be almost a foot shorter than the tall, lanky Perella. For most of the bout Perella, 147 lbs., easily dominated his muscular opponent, who looked like a weightlifter and fought out of a low, awkward crouch. However, Perella did not show the same level of efficiency that he has demonstrated in past bouts. The southpaw Aubel sometimes pierced Perella’s guard with slow, heavy lefts. Perella also missed with many punches, and despite landing his vaunted left-hook frequently, did not have an easy time putting his over-matched opponent away. Perella managed to knock down Aubel once in the first and again in the third, before pounding Aubel to the canvas again in the fourth. Upon being floored for the third and final time, Aubel complained that he had been hit behind the head, but the referee did not agree and waived the fight off at the 1:29 mark. Perella is now 5-0 with 4 KO’s; he weighed 147 lbs. Aubel, who fought valiantly and made the most of his limited ability, falls to 8-6 (7 KO’s) and weighed 146.4 lbs.

The card was rounded out by three other bouts, each scheduled for four rounds. At cruiserweight, James Perkins and Aaron Trecell Smith fought to a draw. The final scores were 39-37, 38-38, and 38-38. Perkins weighed 185.2 lbs against 186.2 lbs for Smith. Both fighters are from the greater Boston area, and were making their debuts. In a lightweight bout, Jonathan Depina stopped Michigan’s Robbie Thomas at 1:13 of round three. Depina, from Boston, weighed 134 lbs and his record is 1-0 (1 KO). Thomas, who is now 0-2 (no KO’s) weighed 137.2 lbs. In a free-swinging junior-middleweight bout between two debutantes, Brian Urday outpointed Greg Bono. The scorecards read 40-36, 39-37, and 39-37. Urday is from Whitman, and weighed 152 lbs. Bono, a Watertown resident, weighed 153.2

Tonight’s event was promoted by Murphy’s Boxing, and based on this writer’s estimate, drew a crowd of well over 1,000 fans. According to ringside talk, the promoter is rumored to have another event planned for this same venue in November.

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