By: William Holmes
Ovation Hall at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, NJ played host to two of the three bouts televised on HBO Boxing After Dark and featured an IBF Super Bantamweight and IBF Middleweight Championship bout.
The crowd was sparse at the start of the opening bout between Jonathan Maicelo (19-1-0) and Jose Alejandro Rodriguez (19-11) in the lightweight division. The bout started off as a lackluster affair, as both fighters were having trouble finding their range with their punches, but Maicelo was doing a better job at landing his shots. A head butt caused a cut over Rodriguez’s left eye early in their fight. By the tenth round it was clear that Maicelo was far ahead on the cards. He connected with a straight right hand to the temple of Rodriguez that sent him reeling backwards. Rodriguez took a knee and failed to answer the ten count.
Jonathan Maicelo won by KO at 0:22 of the tenth round.
The next bout of the night was between Thomas Dulorme) (18-1) and Frankie Figueroa (20-4-1) in the junior welterweight division. Dulorme was once a highly touted prospect, until he got stopped by Luis Carlos Abregu in October of last year. However, he might have regained some of his lost hype with his performance tonight.
Dulorme hurt Figueroa in the first round with a right hook to the hip of his opponent. The referee ruled it a low blow and gave Figueroa some time to recuperate, but it was obvious from the first round on that Dulorme was by far the more powerful puncher.
Dulorme scored a knockdown in the third round with a clipping right hand. He continued to press the action against the overmatched Figueroa and scored another knockdown in the fifth round. He was also deducted a point for a low blow.
Dulorme began to really load up on his punches by the sixth round and was battering Figueroa from corner to corner. The end came in the eight round when Dulrome had Figueroa hurt by the ropes and was unleashing unanswered combinations on his hurt opponent. The referee stopped the bout at 0:47 of the eighth round.
Yordenys Ugas (14-1) and John Williams (11-2-1) met next in the junior welterweight division. Ugas won the Bronze Medal in 2008 for Cuba and on paper Williams looked like a fighter that Ugas should have got out of the ring quickly. However, for some reason, Ugas appeared content to outpoint Williams instead of going for the kill. He coasted through this fight and was never in serious trouble. He was deducted a point in the final round for a low blow, but still won by a comfortable margin with scores of 98-91, 98-91, and 99-90.
The final undercard bout of the night was between Joel Brunker (26-0) and Mike Oliver (25-4) in the featherweight division. The undefeated Brunker represented Australia in the 2004 Olympics, and he was visibly the bigger fighter inside the ring. Brunker used his size advantage to crowd Oliver and keep the fight in tight. He wore Oliver down with a constant body attack and never gave Oliver room to breathe. Brunker did suffer a bad cut over his left eye in the fifth round, but he did enough to win the fight.
The final scores were 78-74 on all three scorecards.
The first televised fight in Atlantic City on HBO was between Jhonatan Romero (23-0) and Kiko Martinez (28-4) for the IBF Super Bantamweight Championship belt. Unfortunately, Ovation Hall at the Revel Casino was barely half full by the time of the start of this fight. A few local fighters on the undercard may have helped fill the venue.
Those who were in attendance, however, were treated to an incredible upset and an action-packed fight. Martinez came out like a man on fire and attacked the body of Romero, which opened up a few solid shots to his head. Romero was stunned by Martinez’s relentlessness in the opening round.
Romero did much better in the second round, using his jab and footwork to keep the charging Martinez at bay, but Martinez was not deterred. Martinez continued to charge forward and throw non-stop punches to the body and head of Romero, wearing the latter fighter down. By the fifth round, Romero had a bad cut over his left eye, but that cut was caused by a head butt.
In the sixth round, Martinez came out aggressive again and was chasing the backpedaling Romero all over the ring. Martinez continued to impose his will and battered Romero. Romero was crumbling in the corner when the referee stopped the bout at 2:40 of the sixth round, giving Martinez a big win.
The main event in Atlantic City was between Daniel Geale (29-1) and Darren Barker (25-1) for the IBF Middleweight Championship.
Darren Barker was the first man to come out and he had a surprisingly vocal contingent supporting him in Atlantic City. Daniel Geale had someone dress up in an aboriginal outfit and play what can only be described as a native flute as he came out into the ring.
This fight was an evenly matched and many rounds were extremely difficult to score. Geale came out with a bounce in his step and was moving in and out of Barker’s range effectively in the first round. Barker, however, adjusted in the second round and began to use his reach to box on the outside and land solid punches.
Geale came out in the fourth round firing at the body of Barker while Barker began to load up on his right hands. Barker connected with two good uppercuts in the fourth and Geale landed a low blow. The middle rounds were extremely tight and action-packed. Geale did score a knockdown in the sixth round with a body punch to the solar plexus that Barker later said left him “completely winded.” Barker barely beat the count, and then had to hang on as Geale frantically tried to close the show. Amazingly, before the round ended, Barker had recovered well enough to score with some hard shots of his own.
Barker recovered well from the knockdown and may have had his best round of the night in the seventh round. By the eleventh round, Barker had blood streaming down his left eye and both fighters were landing their fair share of hard punches. Geale likely won the last round, but nobody in the crowd knew who the judges would score it for.
Michael Buffer announced the final scores as 114-113 for Geale, 116-111 for Barker, and 114-113 for Barker. It was a hard fought victory, but a well deserved one, as the classy Darren Barker becomes the new IBF middleweight champion.