Toka Kahn Clary Picks Up Easy Win; Napoleon-Espinoza Retains Title
By: Robert Aaron Contreras
The main event well underway, the bell clanged to end the ninth round and that soft lull hung above the ring—that fleeting moment when both fighters simultaneously stop, their oscillating arms suddenly at a standstill. Toka Khan Clary turned away from his opponent and toward his daughter in the crowd. He blew her a kiss. This night was theirs.
With the the esteemed Freddie Roach in his corner, Clary (27-2, 18 KO) was too sharp and too fast for his opponent Irvin Gonzalez (12-1. 9 KO), winning across the board by scores of 99-91, 99-91, and 98-92. After the fight, Roach chimed in with his summary of the fight.
“He was in and out,” Roach said. “A couple rounds he took off and let the guy steal a couple. But he fought a great fight. Speed is a great asset.”
The win earned Clary the NABA super featherweight title, just a makeshift regional strap but at least made his presence felt in the 130-pound class, leaving the featherweight ranks behind for good.
“I want to thank God and my family. I want to thank Freddie and the whole Wild Card team,” Clary said after the fight. “Gonzalez is tough. I’m happy I got the win… I sill got a six pack, I’m staying here—126 be killing me.”
Clary’s gameplan was clear. He secured the center of the ring, getting off punches before Gonzalez knew what hit him. Gonzalez was too limited to keep up with Clary’s fencing work, consistently pawing out a southpaw jab before spearing a left cross down the middle.
With the approach, Clary built up an early lead and carried it across the finish line. Gonzalez had infrequent opportunities to bang up close. But after some brief exchanges in the middle part of the fight, Clary became more patient in the latter half and by this point had Gonzalez’s timing down. When the Massachusetts resident plowed forward, Clary changed levels and tossed an overhand left across his man’s chin.
The rest of the way, Clary’s pressure had Gonzalez on the ropes: sticking out a right hand and following it up sweeping right and left hooks. Sometime in the tenth round, the ref had to separate the choppy smothering going on but there was no doubt who the fight belonged to.
Clary has now won back-to-back fights—both under Lou DiBella’s promotional banner—including eight of his last nine since a shocking KO defeat in 2016 to Pinoy sparkplug Jhon Gemino. He has been dealt just one more loss since then, a points defeat last year to Kid Galahad in what was a title eliminator.
Still only 27, his trek to a world title at 130 pounds is now underway.
Alicia Napolean-Espinoza def. Schemelle Baldwin by fourth-round TKO
Alivia Napoleon-Espinoza (12-1, 7 KO) is still the WBA champion after defending her title over Schemelle Baldwin (3-1-1, 2 KO), routing the challenger in four rounds.
The super middleweight champion since a decision victory over Hannah Rankin, “The Empress” Espinoza extended her winning streak to five straight and showed off her punching power in the process.
To Baldwin’s credit, with just four fights under her belt, she immediately took the center of the ring in the opening frame. She looked slick, sitting behind her shoulder ala Floyd Mayweather, but Espinoza’s stickler of a jab closed distance and rattling left hooks easily gave the defending champion the round.
Espinoza took control early in the second round, opening with a long body jab. She hooked off her jab well, stepping to her left almost simultaneously to avoid return fire. It would become clear that attrition is her game, boxing wonderfully to start before eventually forcing her opponent to succumb to her imposing physicality.
As such, Espinoza’ really poured in on in the third and fourth rounds. At 1:30 of the fateful fourth round, punches clinked off Baldwin who could not muster up any offense of her own and referee Al LoBianco waves things off, stepping between the lioness and her prey.
Napolean-Espinoza continues to be a real attraction in the Tri-State area, competing between Queens, Brooklyn, New York, and now Connecticut.
Another Connecticut favorite in Helen Joseph, by way of Nigeria, also triumphed over her competition. Joseph (17-3-2, 10 KO) pitched a shutout over six rounds, winning 60-53 three times over, defeating a young Hungarian by the name of Martina Horgasz (5-4, 4 KO). She is now unbeaten in her last six bouts.
Toka Kahn Clary & Sacred “Diamond” Downing Win at Boardwalk Hall in AC
By: Ken Hissner
Real Deal Sports & Entertainment along with Mis Downing with matchmaker Kevin O’Sullivan presented a ten bout card Saturday night at the Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, NJ, over USA CBS Sports Network.
In the Main Event Liberian Featherweight southpaw Toka Kahy Clary, 25-1 (17), of Providence, RI, defeated Emmanuel “Venanzo” Dominguez, 22-7-2 (14), of Agumscalientes, MEX, 10 rounds for the WBA-NABA Featherweight title.
In the opening round the taller Dominguez edged out the heavy favorite Clary. It would seem to be the last round that he would win. Though the aggressor, Dominguez was met with right crosses from the smaller southpaw Clary landing them to take the round. In rounds 3 through 6 Clary had his way staying one step ahead of Dominguez.
In the seventh through the tenth and final round Dominguez made a fight of it but seemingly never quite doing enough to take a round.
Judges scores were 98-92 twice and 97-93 with this writer having it 99-91. Benjy Esteves, Jr. did his usual good job as the referee.
In the co-feature of the evening this bout filled in for 3 scheduled bouts that fell through.
Russian Cruiserweight Alexey Egorov, 5-0 (4), of Obninsk, RUS, destroyed Luther Smith having him down twice and halfway through the ropes causing Referee David Fields to stop the onslaught in the first round.
Welterweight Greg Outlaw, 5-0 (2), of Bowie, MD, brought many fans with him from home as he stopped Dan Murray, 3-2 (0), of Lanoka Harbor, NJ, at 1:47 of the second round in a scheduled 6.
In the second round referee Ron Bashir had seen enough after the first knockdown. By the second one he wisely waved it off.
The long awaited professional debut of Super Bantamweight Sacred Downing, 1-0 (0), of Trenton, NJ, finally took place. There wasn’t a lot of action but Downing dominated for 3 rounds. In the fourth round a nasty cut above the left eye of Hart’s stopped it in a scheduled 4. Downing was an Olympian who had won many titles and is now a pastor. All 3 judges and this writer had it 40-36.
Welterweight southpaw Poindexter Knight, 5-0 (2), of Philadelphia, PA, defeated a game Jean Carlos Sepulveda, 0-1-1, over 6 rounds.
Judges scores were 40-36 twice and 39-37 as did this writer score it. Ron Bashir was the referee.
Super Lightweight Daiyann Butt, 1-0 (0), of Haverford, PA, won an easy 4 round decision over Samuel Forjoe, 0-3, of Ghana and Bronx, NY.
Forjoe seemed content just to go the distance. The much taller Butt used an effective jab and hit him with everything but the kitchen sink. One had to wonder about his lack of punching power. The Referee was Sparkle Lee.
Bantamweight Alejandro Jimenez, 2-0 (0), of New Hope, PA, won a hard fought decision over Dallas Holden, 1-3 (0), of Atlantic City, NJ, over 4 rounds.
Judges had it 39-35 twice and 40-34 as did this writer. Ron Bashir was the Referee.
There were many boxers there with the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame inductions being on Sunday. The press sat so far back they had to send in pigeons since we couldn’t hear the scores.
Diaz wins by decision; Clary Upset
Diaz wins by decision; Clary Upset
By: James Cullinane
Featherweight prospect Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz of Puerto Rico improved his record to 18 – 0 (11KO) winning a unanimous decision over Raul Hirales (22-6-11, 11KO) of Mexico in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing sponsored “Solo Boxeo” at the Osceola Heritage Park Exhibition Hall in Kissimmee, Florida on Friday night.
Diaz, promoted by Top Rank and a stable mate of WBO Latin American Lightweight Champion, Felix Verdejo, was headlining his first card and did not disappoint the predominantly, Puerto Rican crowd.
Diaz landed sharp, clean body shots and combinations throughout the fight and was never in trouble against Hirales, one of the toughest opponents he has faced to date.
As the fight progressed Hirales was able to land some clean shots to the head of Diaz, but each time he did, Diaz countered effectively with crisper, harder combinations that stifled any momentum Hirales hoped to build. Diaz worked harder and more effectively each round, never leaving the outcome of the fight in doubt.
Both fighters came out slugging in the eighth and final round with Diaz finishing strong to seal the victory.
Earlier in the night, in a stunning upset, previously undefeated, Top Rank featherweight, Toka Kahn Clary (19-1-1, 13 KO), was knocked out in the first round by Jhon “The Disaster” Gemino (15-7-1, 7KO).
Clary, the more aggressive fighter from the start, showed glimpses of his speed as he flicked his jab at the shorter Gemino. But Gemino was a quick study and midway through the opening round countered one of Clary’s jab with a perfectly timed, overhand right that cracked Clary across the chin and dropped him to the canvas.
Clary was unable to get off the mat and was still clearly dazed long after the referee counted him out. Gemino leapt for joy in his corner as he was declared the winner at 1:30 into the first round. A huge underdog coming into the fight, this was by far Gemino’s biggest victory as a professional.
In the most entertaining fight of the night, Super Lightweight, Julian “Hammer Hands” Rodriguez (14 – 0, 10KO) outslugged Brazilian Claudionei Lacerda (17-16-1, 12 KO) in an eight-round thriller, eventually winning by unanimous decision.
Rodriquez, also a Top Rank fighter, almost suffered the same fate as Clary as Lacerda came out swinging and dropped Rodriguez to a knee with a crunching left to the body early in the opening round. Fully intending to end the fight, Lacerda followed up after the mandatory eight with a wild flurry that Rodriguez was able to fend off with good defense.
As Lacerda slowed his attack, Rodriguez, a former Golden Gloves Champion (141 lbs) from New Jersey, was able to climb back into the fight with several hard lefts that rocked Lacerda. The action went back and forth for the remainder of the round and set the tone for the rest of the fight.
Fully recovered from the knockdown, Rodriguez came on strong and clearly won the second and third rounds by connecting with several, hard combinations that hurt Lacerda.
Though outmatched, Lacerda showed great heart and stayed in the fight with his aggressive counterpunching in the fourth. In the fifth round, Rodriguez stunned Lacerda with a hard right to the head, but Lacerda still would not quit, coming back and having perhaps his best round in the sixth.
In the seventh, Lacerdo hit Rodriguez with a clean, uppercut that shook Rodriguez, but only momentarily. “Hammer Hands” then turned it on to finish the round strong, punishing Lacerda with a series of strong lefts to the body and head. The eighth and final round was more of the same as Rodriguez and Lacerda gamely mixed it up.
Rodriguez landed a hard, right to Lacerda’s chin midway through the final round that hurt Lacerda and excited the crowd, but he was unable to finish the tough Brazilian and the outcome was left to the judges.
A physical fight with lots of clinching between exchanges, both fighter’s faces were red and swollen at the end of the bout. The final scores were 77-73, 78-72, 78-72 all in favor of Rodriguez.
The final Top Rank fighter on the card, Jean Carlos “Chapito” Rivera (8 – 0, 5 KO), was dominant in his victory over Raul Chirino (7 – 3, 3 KO) of Miami.
In his one round of action, local, Orlando boxer and fan-favorite, Rivera beat Chirino high and low, bloodying Chirino’s nose and pounding his ribs. A crisp uppercut after a body shot midway through the round forced Chirino to take a knee for a mandatory eight count.
More punishing body blows by Rivera, one of Top Rank’s most highly regarded prospects, and Chirino had the fight taken out of him. He barely survived to the bell ending the first round and was unable to answer the bell for the second. The win kept Rivera’s professional record a perfect eight wins against no losses.
2014 Golden Glove (152 lbs) winner Sammy Valentin (8 – 0, 6 KO) of Tampa, FL defeated Gledwin Ortiz (4 – 2, 3 KO) of the Bronx, NY with a 3rd round knockout in a competitive, back and forth fight. Valentin caught Ortiz with a hard right on top of the head that dazed Ortiz midway through the third, then followed with a flurry of lefts and rights, culminating with an upper cut that dropped Ortiz to the mat. Ortiz beat the count, but was still wobbly, forcing referee Frank Santore to call off the fight.
Jonathan Irizarry (2 – 0, 2 KO) of San Juan, Puerto Rico overwhelmed Nolasco Tomas (0 – 2, 0 KO) scoring a knockout 1:32 into the first round to score his second consecutive knockout victory to begin his professional career.