By: William Holmes
The Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is a favorite destination for NBC Sports Networks Fight Night Boxing Series. The venue was packed with fans by the start of the first fight. The televised broadcast with a bout between local favorite Ronald Cruz (17-1) and Raymond Narh (25-2) in the welterweight division.
This was Cruz’s first fight since he suffered his first loss of his career against Antwone Smith in September of 2012. Despite the loss Ronald Cruz is still extremely popular in Bethlehem and the crowd greeted him warmly as he walked into the ring.
The enthusiasm in the crowd was through the roof for the opening bout. Narh’s supporters were singing nonstop while Cruz’s supports loudly cheered every punch that he landed. Narh was the visibly taller fighter and started off very active with his jab while Cruz stayed in his peek a boo defense and was hesitant to throw.
Cruz landed his first significant punch in the second round with a short left hook but Narh threw a multitude of combinations that forced Cruz to stay in a defensive shell. Narh was hurt in the third round after Cruz landed a short left hook that sent the fighter from Ghana backwards.
Narh was slow to get off his stool for the beginning of the fourth round but he was able to regoup and come back strong. His counter uppercuts began to land and his punch output was vastly greater than Cruz. Cruz came forward, slowly, while showing no angles making it easy for Narh to land counter combinations. By the ninth round Cruz had blood streaming from his eye but he landed a huge overhand right that buckled the knees of Narh. Narh regrouped and ended the round strong with combinations near the ropes.
Cruz needed a knockout by the last round to win but was unable to. The judges scored it 96-94, 98-92, and 100-90 for Raymond Narh.
The next bout of the night was an IBF Light Heavyweight Eliminator bout between Cornelius White (21-1) and the Russian sensation Sergey Kovalev (20-0-1). Both White and Kovalev looked to be in tremendous shape.
Sergey Kovalev started off the first round aggressively firing combinations and hurt White early with a left hook. Kovalev jumped on him in an attempt to finish the fight early but White was able to survive. In the second round White was able to land his jab a few times but he ate some very hard straight left and rights. White showed tremendous heart just by staying on his feet.
At the beginning of the third round White was blowing snot out of his nose and it appeared to have been busted. Kovalev knocked White down early with a jab but some hard shots at the defensive White set up the knockdown. Kovalev immediately jumped on White and knocked him down sharp left hook. White was able get back to his feet but was on very wobbly legs. Another hard jab by Kovalev knocked White down and this time the referee rightly waived off the fight.
Sergey Kovalev remains undefeated and earned a shot at the IBF Light Heavyweight belt. with an impressive third round TKO at 1:42.
The main event of the evening was between undefeated Philadelphia heavyweight Bryant “By-By” Jennings (16-0) and Andrey Fedosov ( 24-2). Jennings is one of the prized American prospects in the heavyweight division and his potential appears to grow every time he steps inside the ring.
It was apparent that Jennings has put on a considerable amount of muscle since he’s last been inside the ring. Fedosov attacked the body early on and was able to dig in some hard hooks to the body early on. Jennings kept his jab in the face of his opponent and played rope a dope along the ropes.
Fedosov hurt Jennings in the third round with a rising left hook. Jennings responded by landing a hard right uppercut left hook combination that stunned Fedosov. Jennings jumped on him and landed combinations with his back against the ropes but Fedosov showed an ability to take a punch and keep on fighting.
Rounds four and five featured Fedosov continuing to land hard hooks to the body while Jennings sticked and moved. Fedosov was beginning to eat some hard punches and his left eye swelled up badly during the sixth round. At the end of the sixth round the ring side physician advised that the fight be stopped giving Jennings another victory.
Bryant Jennings wins by 6th round TKO in a tougher than expected fight.
Undercard Quick Results:
Hasan Young (3-1-1) defeated Ariel Duran (7-5-1) in the light welterweight division by decision with scores of 60-54, 60-55 and 59-54.
Jerome Rodriguez (4-0) defeated Treysean Wiggins (3-1) by a 2nd round TKO at 1:38 in the light welterweight division.
Bill Marks (1-0) defeated Randy Easton (0-2-1) by decision with scores of 38-38, 39-37, 39-37 in the heavyweight division.
SWING BOUT: Arturo Trujilo (1-0) knocked out Anthony Watson (0-1) in 0:29 of the first round.