Recap & Photos of “Punchin’ at the Paradise”Professional Boxing In The Bronx


Recap and photos by Taylor Hallman

Thursday night Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing presented an entertaining night of boxing at the famed Paradise Theater on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. DeGuardia’s show, before a enthusiastic Bronx crowd, was the first of five planned events in his “Punchin’ at the Paradise” fight series and was headlined by the Bronx’s own, welterweight Edgar Santana.

In his first fight since 2008 Santana was effective and quickly devastated Robert Jones (8-9-1 3 KOs)) of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Santana came on very strong in the second round knocking his opponent down with a heavy combination to the body topped by an big overhand right. A shaky Jones made it to his feet and was allowed to continue, but Santana swarmed Jones who retreated to the ropes, but Referee Murdaugh stopped the contest at 1:20 of the second round as the hometown crowd roared. Santana improves his record to 25-2-0 with 16 knockouts.

Middleweight Jason Escalera, a Golden Gloves Champion who lives in the Bronx, easily overwhelmed Mustafah Johnson (8-12-2 2 KOs) of Indianapolis who barely survived the first round after a series of huge rights rocked him. At 1:13 of the second round Escalera scored with a vicious right to the body which sent Johnson to t he canvas in pain. Referee Lee stopped the fight after beginning the count. Escalera is now 11-0 with 10 knockouts.

Emmanuel “Manny” Gonzalez, a former Bronx resident and Golden Glove Champion, made easy work of Jacob Thornton. The bout had barely started when the ringside doctor stopped this lightweight contest as Thornton(3-3-0 1 KO) was limping noticeably. The official time was 1:40 of the first round. Thornton was heard by those at ringside to exclaim “They wouldn’t let me wear my knee brace.” However, Gonzalez was landing heavy punches and had staggered Thornton before the stoppage. Gonzalez’s record now stands at 8-0 with 7 knockouts.

In another first round knockout Stivens Bujaj, now 4-0-0 with 3 knockouts, took only 52 seconds to destroy Chucky Dillard in their cruiserweight fight. Bujaj, another Bronx resident, came out smoking. A vicious exchange easily got the better of Dillard (4-7-1 1 KO) and Referee Murdaugh stepped in to end the bout.

Welterweight Stephen Owusu of the Bronx returned to the ring after an extended layoff to beat Juan Perez in his very tough pro debut. Perez was in trouble during the second half of the third round but was able to weather the storm. A bloodied Perez fought gamely against the seasoned and crafty Owusu lasting the scheduled four rounds, but lost in a unanimous decision. Owusu is now 7-6-0 with 4 knockouts.

Issouf Kinda, a welterweight who fights out of John’s Gym in the Bronx, stepped up his game in this his tenth fight, displaying some very effective punching power. Jorge Ruiz, a Cuban fighter, was knocked down in the second round, but continued after an eight count by referee Claudio. In the third round Kinda returned to delivering his effective jab and a strong straight right and the fight was stopped at 2:50 of the round moving Kinda to 10-0 with 5 knockouts.

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