By Bob Caico and Tracy Morin at ringside
Photos: Boxing Bob Newman
Super lightweight knockout artist Cletus “The Hebrew Hammer” Seldin (24-1, 20 KOs) stopped six-time world champion Zab “Super” Judah (44-10, 33 KOs) in the eleventh round on Friday night to claim the vacant NABA title in the Event Center at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
From the opening bell, Seldin concentrated on the body and was doing so effectively. In the third round at the 10-second clap Seldin landed an overhand right that had Judah wobbled but the bell negated any follow-up. The next round Seldin again went to the body and spent the majority of the round in close. The fifth round was all Seldin as he put his head into Judah’s chest and ripped at the body.
The middle rounds slowed as Seldin’s punches were landing but not with the same steam. Judah’s was relegated to occasional combinations. The eleventh round started with Judah obviously slowed from the body attack and Seldin starting to regain steam. After the “Hebrew Hammer” lost his mouthpiece, he went on the attack and hurt Judah with combinations to the head. Seldin jumped at the chance and battered Zab against the ropes until referee Charlie Fitch had no choice but to stop the fight. Time was 1:40.
Seldin now is the NABA champ, while Judah at 41 years old must decide his future.
* * *
In the co-main event, David Papot (22-0-1, 3 KO), a France native making his U.S. debut and James McGirt Jr. (27-3-2, 14 KO), whose father “Buddy” McGirt is being inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame this weekend, batted to a ten round draw in a bout for the WBO International and WBA Intercontinental middleweight titles.
McGirt benefited from a height and reach advantage, using both to jab from a distance at the outset, and bloodying Papot’s nose by the second round. The measured, tactical pace suited McGirt well, but after a few rounds to warm up, Papot upped his intensity–by the fifth, coming forward more aggressively and landing lefts against his fellow southpaw opponent, often trying to pin him to the ropes and tee off, leading to a cut above McGirt’s right eye in the 6th (ruled by ref Benjy Estevez as caused by a headbutt). In return, McGirt upped his own output, firing back and trying in round 8 to stay off the ropes, use his legs and keep the fight in the center of the ring. Round 9 hosted the most sustained action by both men, as they took turns coming forward, moving back and trading shots, riling up the crowd. Still, neither man had the necessary power to put his opponent in serious trouble; Popot shook his head after every combination landed by his opponent, whose punches seemed to lose some steam as the fight wore on, while McGirt seemed fairly unaffected by even clean left hands that sent the sweat flying. Though the 11th was quieter, Papot was back on the attack in the 12th and final round, chasing McGirt and landing lefts.
With the back-and-forth adjustments and divergent styles causing a bit of a seesaw affair, the judges’ final scorecards varied: Glenn Feldman had 117-111 for Papot, Tom Schreck scored 115-113 for McGirt, and John McKaie scored the bout even, 114-114–a split draw.
* * *
Lightweight Lavisis “Red” Williams of Rochester, NY returned to the ring after a 40 month layoff and scored a unanimous eight-round decision over Mario Alfano of Rome, Italy. Williams lost his unbeaten record on national TV in February 2016 to O’Shaquie Foster and has not been in the ring since.
The 27 year old southpaw used his jab, footwork and boxing ability to keep the charging Italian from sustaining any consistent offense. In the fourth round a clash of heads opened a cut over Williams’ eye that was looked at by the doctor but was not serious enough to cause any problems.
Williams continued to box on the outside with his right jab and left crosses scoring consistently. As the fight went on “Red” seemed to gain more confidence and shake off any un-noticeable ring rust. The undefeated Alfano tried to keep the pressure on but could not catch up with Williams.
The cards were read at 78-74, 78-74 and 77-75 for Williams who improves to 9-1-1, (3 KOs) while Alfano loses his O to go to 13-1-1, (3 KOs).
* * *
Alcibiade Duran Galvan (3-0, 2 KO), who goes by Roberto Duran Jr. in honor of his legendary father and is trained by former champion Vinny Paz, took on fellow undefeated Jonathan Pierre (3-1) in a four-round welterweight match that went the distance.
The fight often felt like a battle of the jabs; though Duran constantly pressed forward, he didn’t let his hands go much or cut off the ring, as Pierre was allowed to slick his way around the ring’s perimeter, using his legs and defensive skills to avoid much damage. However, though Pierre was clearly committed to his own jab, throwing it often to head and body, he wasn’t busy enough in the power punching department.
In a bout that offered up stretches of both fighters waiting more than punching, a brief heated exchange at the end of the third round saw both landing power shots, only to settle back into status quo for the fourth. Ultimately, with little sustained action or aggression on either side, it wasn’t surprising the judges’ scorecards were split: Tom Schreck scored for Pierre, 39-37, overruled by Don Ackerman and Glenn Feldman, who gave the nod to Duran, 39-37.
* * *
Jr. Middleweight Wendy “Haitian Fire” Toussaint of Huntington, NY defeated Lucius “Bull Dog” Johnson of Compton, CA by unanimous six-round decision. The bout was a cautious battle with Toussaint throwing more faints and poses than combinations. At times it felt like Toussaint was content on boxing and working on his defense than engaging.
In the fifth round Toussaint landed five consecutive right hands to start the round and it seemed he was going for the kill. Johnson weathered the storm and they fell back into cautious mode.
In the end the rights hands and overall ring generalship was more than enough to score a shutout from the three judges. The “Haitian Fire” remains undefeated and goes to 10-0 (4 KOs) as the “Bull Dog” drops to 4-6-1 (3 KOs).
* * *
In a cruiserweight bout scheduled for four rounds, Eric Abraham (6-4, 3 KO) and Alex Vanasse (4-1, 4 KO), both southpaws who at times switched stances, started out cautiously. With neither fighter often landing more than one punch at a time in the first two rounds and both seemingly looking to counter, the crowd stirred with impatience.
But in the third stanza, Abraham–who has played prospect-spoiler in the past–stunned Vanasse with a right hook as they engaged, then promptly followed with a flurry of punches, backing the hurt fighter to the ropes and around the ring until he went down in a neutral corner. Though Vanasse beat the count, he was clearly unsteady and practically defenseless; Abraham closed the show with a three-punch combo that crumpled Vanasse, putting him down and out.
Though he remained on the mat for a time, he was quickly attended to and, for safety, carted off on a stretcher, though he confirmed he was okay as he was wheeled away. Meanwhile, Abraham, coming off a TKO loss in his last fight, was able to rebound with a brutal, highlight-reel knockout.
* * *
The IBHOF weekend continued in Canastota, NY and fans took the short jaunt to the Event Center at Turning Stone Resort Casino for some professional boxing.
The opening six-round welterweight bout was between Boubacar “Boubie Trap” Sylla of Cincinnati, OH against Marquis “The Hawk” Hawthorne of Waco, TX. What turned out to be a very entertaining and competitive contest, Sylla remained undefeated by taking a unanimous decision.
Hawthorne (7-11) kept the pressure on and scored with several right hands. Sylla remained composed and used his jab and combinations to keep Hawthorne away. The decision was booed as the fans felt Hawthorne deserved at least a draw. In the end the three judges were unanimous with scores of 59-55, 58-56 and 58-56 giving Sylla a now double-digit in wins at 10-0 (7 KOs).