By: William Holmes
ESPN Friday Night Fights was broadcast tonight from the Turning Point Casino in Verona, NY and was broadcast on ESPN instead of ESPN 2. The casino room looked packed and the first fight began immediately at 9:00 PM.
The first fight of the night was between Bronze Medalist Olympian Taras Shelestyuk (0-0) and Kamal Muhammad (0-0) in the junior middleweight division. Muhammad had a total of five amateur fights compared to the 210 amateur fights and Olympic experience of Shelestyuk. Muhammad works full time at Starbucks and his lack of experience showed in the ring. Shelestyuk knocked down Muhammad almost immediately with a combination to the body that forced Muhammad to take a knee. The fight continued and Shelestyuk trapped Muhammad in the corner and landed another combination to the body of his opponent. Muhammad again took a knee and the referee wisely stopped the fight at 1:39 of the first round.
The next fight of the night was between Jackson Junior (14-0) and Humberto Savigne (10-1) in the light heavyweight division. Jackson has spent most of his career fighting in Brazil and Savigne is a former Cuban national with a wealth of amateur experience.
Both fighters started off tentatively and Junior looked to have won the first round by simply being the aggressor. However, Savigne was setting traps for the and began to look comfortable with his range and had Junior wobbly with a straight right hand and then knocked him down in the second round. Junior was able to survive the second round but clearly lost the third round. Savigne continued to pick Junior apart with 1-2 combinations and knocked him down again in the fourth round with another crisp straight right hand. Junior was able to beat the count but once was again was knocked down again almost immediately afterwards. The fight continued but Junior looked a little shaky and was knocked down again from another straight right hand. The referee wisely stopped the fight at 2:17 of the fourth round giving Savigne the TKO victory.
Due to the quick stoppages of the first two fights boxing fans were treated to another televised bout. John Worthy (3-5) and Antoine Douglas (4-0) fought in the middleweight division. Douglas is a very young prospect who appears to have a very high ceiling. No knockdowns were scored in the four round bout, and Douglas was just took quick, too strong, and too active for John Worthy. In the end the judges scored it a clear victory for Douglas with scores of 40-36 on all three cards.
The main event of the night was between fast rising Brian Vera (22-6) and Donatas Bondas (17-3) for the NABO Middleweight title. Teddy Atlas felt that this fight would be more competitive than most analysts though beforehand, and he was right.
Bondas did an excellent job with countering the hard charging and ever aggressive Vera. Bondas did have blood coming from the bridge of his nose in the first round, but he continued to surprise Vera with counter right hands. Bondas looked to be tiring a little bit in the fourth round as Vera continued his high volume output and had Bondas going backwards. A cut opened up over Bondas’ left eye around the sixth round but it did not look to be bothering him that bad.
Bondas had his best round in the seventh round ad he connected with two crisp straight right hands that got the crowd on its feet. After the round was over there was some confusion as the referee claimed to that Bondas said he could not see so good out of his left eye.
The referee at that point stopped the fight after Bondas had his best round and gave Vera the TKO victory. Bondas and his corner protested the stoppage claiming they could continue, but the decision was already made. The crowd in attendance heavily booed the decision, and rightfully so.
Brian Vera won by a highly controversial 7th round TKO.
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