By: William Holmes
Usually a legitimate title fight will be the main event of any card, but when one of the fighters on the card is Manny Pacquiao, the other title fights get moved to the undercard. Tonight featured three title fights, and two of them featured fighters from Philadelphia.
The first bout of the night was between Philadelphia native Jesse Hart (0-0) and Manuel Eastman (0-1) in the middleweight division. Hart came out a song by The Roots, a music group out of Philadelphia, and his walk out lasted longer than the actual bout. Hart busted Eastman with a straight right hand and a powerful combination while Eastman was trapped in the corner, and the referee called a stop the fight at 0:33 of the first round. It may have been an early stoppage, but nobody was in the crowd to voice their disapproval.
Andrew Ruiz (1-0) and Taylor Larson (0-2-1) clashed in the second bout of the night in the junior welterweight division. Ruiz scored a first round knockdown, and cruised the rest of the bout to an easy decision. The official scores were 39-36, 40-35, and 39-36.
The undefeated Mikael Zewski (14-0) scored an impressive KO victory over John Ryan Grimaldo (8-1) in the welterweight division. Zewski landed early jabs, and had the obvious height and reach advantage over his opponent. Zewski picked up the pace in the third round and unleashed a body head combination on Grimaldo in the center of the ring. Grimaldo wound up taking a knee, and didn’t rise up to beat the count of ten. Zewski remained undefeated with a KO at 0:59 of the third round.
Filipino Ernie Sanchez (12-3) fought Wilton Hilario (12-2-1) in thefeatherweight division. Sanchez looked to be the much smaller opponent, but he applied constant pressure on Hilario and would not back down. He looked like a smaller and right handed version of Pacquiao at times in the ring, as he attacked with reckless combinations. He landed several hard body head combinations on Hilario several times throughout the
The first title fight of the night was between Guillermo Rigondeaux (9-0) and Teon Kennedy (17-1-2) for the WBA Super Bantamweight Championship. Many, including this writer, though Kennedy would give Rigondeaux a tough fight. Rigondeaux however proved to be the extremely better boxer than Kennedy. Rigondeaux southpaw attack was Kennedy’s undoing, as Rigondeaux landed several brutal left hands. Rigondeaux knocked Kennedy down once in the first round, twice in the second round, once in the fourth round, and again in the fifth round before the referee mercifully stopped the fight. Rigondeaux is a monster, and is truly an elite boxer.
Mike Jones (26-0) was the favorite heading into his bout with Randall Bailey (42-7) for the IBF Welterweight Championship. Bailey came out in a black mask with a backpack carrying two axes. The bout start off slowly, incredibly so. They felt each out in the first round, and then the second round, and so on and so on. The crowd was largely booing the inaction throughout most of the fight. Jones however was the more active fighter and was leading in the scorecards until the 10th round. Bailey knocked Jones down with a straight right hand in the 10th, but Jones was able to bounce back up to his feet. Bailey came back stronger in the 11th round and blasted Jones with a right uppercut, and Jones was unable to get back to his feet. Randall Bailey became the new IBF Welterweight Champion with a stunning upset at 2:52 of the 11th round.
The final fight on the undercard was between Jorge Arce (60-6-2) and Jesus Rojas (18-1-1) in the featherweight division. It started off like a typical Jorge Arce fight, as both boxers came out firing. Arce was able to knock Rojas down in the first round with a solid right cross, but Rojas made the rest of the first round very competitive. The fight ended suddenly in the second round when Rojas landed a painful combination. It was a head-butt, low blow, left hook behind the ear combination. Arce went down, but since all three shots were illegal, it was not a knockdown. Arce however was hurt and was complaining of loud booming sounds and trouble with his equilibrium, which caused the ring side doctor to stop the fight. Arce and Rojas will have to meet again as it was ruled a no contest at 0:09 of the second round.
Rojas called Arce out after the fight, and accused him of being a coward for being unable to continue.