By Craig Wick at ringside
At the UIC Pavilion in Chicago Friday night, Jessica McCaskill (5-1, 3 KOs) claimed the vacant ABO Intercontinental Lightweight Championship by easily defeating Natalie Brown (6-3, 4 KOs) Stone Mountain, GA, via second round TKO. Outside of the first minute of the fight, in which Brown was able to land some cheap right hands, the fight was all McCaskill. Early in round two, a combination to the head dropped Brown along the ropes, and any hope that this one would see the full eight went out the window. Brown beat the count however with legs resembling a petty officer’s first liberty call in Subic Bay, she was in no condition to evade McCaskill’s follow-up flurry, which ended the fight at the 1:22 mark.
Afterwards, McCaskill took the microphone and after the obligatory fan and sponsorship ‘thank you’s,’ called out Irish Olympian and current pro, Katie Taylor. Ambitious for sure but obviously premature. McCaskill would do well to first seek out a rematch with Katonya Fisher, who as many recall defeated McCaskill a year ago in this very same building, knocking her down in the process.
An expected all Chicago super lightweight shoot-out between Ramiro “El Lobito” Carrillo (12-0, 7 KOs) and Antonio “Aztec God of War” Canas (10-2-2, 4 KOs) ended in disappointing fashion after Carrillo suffered a severe cut over his right eye as the result of an accidental headbutt, prompting the ringside physician to pull the plug only 2:27 into the opening round. Sadly for the fans, this one was just heating up when it abruptly ended in a no-decision.
In an April 28th Warriors card, also at the UIC Pavilion, Gavino Guaman (5-2, 1 KO) out of River Falls, WI, came in and derailed previously unbeaten Josh Hernandez with a stunning 1st round stoppage. Hernandez and his camp, adamant that the stoppage was premature, railed hard for a rematch and Guaman willingly obliged. Tonight, both super featherweights put on a war for the ages, giving no quarter, however when it was over, Hernandez (6-1, 5 KOs), despite being dropped twice (rounds 1 and 4) somehow stormed back with a vengeance and turned the tables, dropping Guaman with body shots in round five, with a right hand to the head early in round six, and ending it moments later with flurries to the head while Guaman was on the ropes taking a lathering. An absolute classic, with kudos going to Hernandez for not only taking the fight, but winning it, and Guaman for giving everything he had in a losing effort. A trilogy, anyone?
Yousif Saleh (5-0, 2 KOs) Chicago, took a unanimous decision over Tommy Bryant (3-11-3, 1 KO) Naples, FL, after four rounds of super featherweight action. Bryant raced out at the bell like a jackrabbit on Red Bull, crudely attempting to crowd Saleh against the ropes. It worked initially, however for the remainder of the fight Saleh worked somewhat effectively from the outside, repeatedly catching Bryant coming in with lead right hands. No knockdowns in this one and neither fighter was ever in trouble.
In a bantamweight “attraction” that languished to the end, Chicago’s Shawn Simpson (6-0, 2 KOs) was too fast, too smooth, and too good for 44-fight veteran, Sergio Najera, taking a unanimous decision after six (59-54 and 60-54 twice). Simpson’s hand and footwork were too much for the plodding Najera, whose sweeping right hands had all the speed of sorghum syrup.
In a brutal lightweight slugfest, Chicago’s Nick Brindise narrowly took his pro-debut, defeating relentless Donte Bryant (1-1, 1 KO) Aurora, IL, by split decision after four. The fight was phone booth warfare throughout, however a knockdown by Brindise late in round one, courtesy of a nifty right uppercut to the chin of Bryant, carried two of the judge’s scorecards, 38-37, with the third seeing it 38-37, Bryant.
Vernon Brown (6-0, 5 KOs), a local talent fighting out of Andrew Zak’s Journeyman Management stable, marched right through Albuquerque, New Mexico’s, Shaun Lee Henson (2-5, 2 KOs), in a welterweight contest scheduled for six. The southpaw Brown landed two straight left hands to the head of Henson as round one drew to a close, and a ripping hook to the body clinched matters, with Henson electing to remain in his corner as round two began. Official time of the stoppage was announced as .01 of the second.
Fight Night Finales – The Illinois State Athletic Commission has seemingly initiated new protocol when it comes to fighter safety and I can’t say that I’m completely onboard. This involves fighters who suffer a knockdown in which they beat the count. At this time, referees typically look directly at, and may even question the fighter, in an attempt to ascertain severity of impairment. If the boxer responds satisfactorily and is deemed coherent, the gloves are wiped and battle resumes. Recently, however, IL refs have taken it a step further: Once the fighter rises, they are now instructing them to turn and walk one way before issuing an ‘about-face’ and having them walk back in the opposite direction. Presumably this is to monitor the boxer’s gait but it sure seems that the fighter who caused the knockdown is suddenly at a handicap here. By not being able to quickly capitalize on their opponent’s distress, due to the added time involved now with all this marching around, their opportunity can quickly evaporate. We’re all for fighter safety, however field sobriety tests should be issued by law enforcement in tavern parking lots, not by referees in boxing rings.