By: William Holmes
ESPN Friday Night fights was broadcast from the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City, NJ. Javier Fortuna was scheduled to face Miguel Zamudio for the Interim WBA Featherweight Championship but was overweight in the weigh ins last night which forced the main event to be a non-title bout. Fortuna also had to forfeit ten percent of his purse to Miguel Zamudio.
Surprisingly the undercard was not filled with local talent and the ticket sales may have suffered as a result. The showroom was half filled at the start of the undercard but fight fans slowly started to trickle in before the start of the televised card.
The first televised bout on the card was between John Jackson (15-1) and Cerresso Fort (16-0-1) in the junior middleweight division. Fort is an undefeated fighter from Minnesota who was taking a big step up in competition by taking on the talented John Jackson.
Both fights came out very aggressive, but Jackson was able to avoid the power shots of Fort and pick him apart with his combinations. Jackson felt the power of Fort in the first round and it was evident that he did not fear it. His punches were straighter, crisper, and harder than the broad shouldered Fort.
Jackson at times switched to a southpaw stance, and hurt Fort several times in the fight. He stunned him in the second round with hard uppercuts, stumbled him in the eighth round with vicious hooks, and unloaded on Fort in the final round in an attempt to finish the fight. Fort to his credit never went down and lasted all eight rounds. The final scores were 77-75, 79-73, and 79-73 for John Jackson.
The main event of the night was between Javier Fortuna (21-0) and Miguel Zamudio (25-1) in the featherweight division. Since Fortuna failed to make weight only Zamudio could emerge as the champion if victorious.
Fortuna came out like a man possessed and immediately blitzed Zamudio and knocked him down with a perfectly placed left hand to Zamudio’s chin. Zamudio got back up but Fortuna did not give him any chance to breathe and immediately pounced on his opponent. Another brutal left hand connected and instantly knocked Zamudio out cold.
Zamudio was out for several minutes and the paramedics had to come inside the ring and place him on a stretcher.
Javier Fortuna won by KO at 1:08 of the first round.
The last fight of the night was between Jonathan Batista (13-0) and Emmanuel Lartei Lartey (15-0) in the welterweight division. Batista is from the Dominican Republic and Lartei Lartey is from Ghana, and both fighters have yet to taste defeat.
Batista fared better in the first half of the fight and was able to stay out of the range of Lartei Lartey and land an occasional counter. Lartei Lartey however picked up the pace in the second half of the fight and began to find a home for his straight left hand and threw more combinations. It was an incredibly close fight and neither fighter was seriously hurt or in trouble.
The judges scored it 59-55, 59-56, 60-54 for Emmanuel Lartei Lartey, even though must on press row scored it a draw.
The first bout of the night was between Anthony “Juice” Young (7-0) and Rafael Montalvo (2-3) in the welterweight division. Young was the only local fighter on the undercard and he had a large and vocal contingent in the crowd. Young started the fight off strong and was very effective with his combinations and lead straight right hands. However, he appeared to tire in the third round and Montalvo was starting to do well by fighting off the ropes. The end came in the fourth round when Young buckled Montalvo with a straight right hand and finished the fight with an unanswered combination. The referee was probably too quick to stop the fight, but Young did have Montalvo hurt by the ropes. Young won by TKO at 1:02 of the fourth round.
Deano Burrell (6-1) and Vernon Alston (5-4) met next in the lightweight division. Burrell is a southpaw and he was clearly the better boxer of the two. He easily avoided the punches of Alston and picked him apart from the outside. By the fourth round Burrell began to turn up the heat and started to hurt Alston with his straight left hand. He staggered Alston in the fifth round with a three punch combination and knocked Alston down in the sixth round with a perfect short right hook. Alston was able to beat the count but was clearly hurt and took more punishment before the referee stopped the fight at 2:42 of the round 6.