By: William Holmes
It feels like it’s been forever since ESPN Friday Night Fights has been to Atlantic City, but the local crowd did not disappoint the promoter Jimmy Burchfield or ESPN as Resorts Casino had a packed venue before the first fight even started.
The opening bout was between Kenneth Moody (2-3) and Vineland, NJ native Ismale Garcia (3-0) in the middleweight division. Garcia stung Moody with a couple of check left hooks early in the first round and Moody turned his back towards Garcia and covered up in the corner. Garcia unloaded combinations on Moody and the referee wisely stopped at 1:09 of the first round.
Undercards often feature some of the most exciting fights, and the second bout between Philadelphia native Korey Sloane (2-4) and Cape May native Josh Mercado (5-1) in the light welterweight division did not disappoint. Sloane was able to keep Mercado at bay with his longer reach and solid jab, but Mercado picked up the pace from the second round forward and tagged Sloane with several hard overhand rights. Sloane’s height may have hurt him at times as several shots appeared to be harder than they actually were. Mercado ended the bout with a flurry in the fourth round that may have caused two of the judges to score it a 10-8 round. The final scores were 39-37, 39-36, and 39-36 for Josh Mercado.
The first televised bout of the night was between Richard Pierson (11-2) and Farah Ennis (19-1) in the super middleweight division. Ennis is a Philadelphia native and he had a large contingent of fans in attendance cheering him on. It wasn’t the most exciting bout of the night, and Ennis clearly had the superior hand speed and landed the cleaner shots. Pierson remained in a defensive shell for most of the fight and appeared unwilling to let go with his hands. By the end of the fight, Pierson’s left eye and the bridge between his eyes was swelling up. Pierson ate most of Ennis’ jabs, was able to land a good right hand in the sixth round, but did not follow it up with any offense. There was little surprise when the scores were read 99-91, 98-92, and 98-92 for Farah Ennis.
The main event was between Hank Lundy (22-1-1) and Raymundo Beltran (25-6) in the lightweight division for Lundy’s NABF Lightweight title.
Lundy was the aggressor in the early rounds and landed the harder punches, but Beltran marched forward and seemingly walked through the jabs of Lundy. There was an excellent exchange in the fourth round which saw both Lundy and Beltran land vicious hooks at the same time and smile at each other. Beltran muscled Lundy around the ring in the middle rounds, but Lundy was able to solve Beltran’s style in rounds six to eight by staying effective with his jab and circling out of danger.
Lundy, however, sat on his laurels in the last two rounds and allowed Raymundo Beltran to come forward and trap him in the corner and by the ropes. It was a very close fight that could have gone either way, but the official scores were 95-95, 96-94, and 96-94 for the new NABF lightweight champion Raymundo Beltran.
On the undercard
Millville, N.J., middleweight Ismael Garcia (4-0, 1 KO) started the night with a bang, stopping Virginia Beach, Va., native Kenneth Moody (2-4-2) at the 1:09 mark of the opening round. Garcia caught Moody with a solid right hook, sending Moody retreating to the corner holding his right eye. With his opponent’s back turned, Garcia landed two more hooks to the body before the referee stopped the bout. Light welterweight Josh Mercado (6-1) of Cape May, N.J., put on a show in the second undercard bout, exchanging blows with Philadelphia’s Korey Sloane (2-5-1) over the course of four rounds to earn a 39-36, 39-37, 39-37 unanimous decision win.