By Boxing Bob Newman at ringside
Bradley Farmer’s Bull Battles Boxing and Family Ties Promotions put on a 5-bout card in the Cincinnati suburb of Harrison, Ohio on Friday night at The Blue Note Events Center. “Freshman Contenders” was headlined by Cincinnati’s undefeated welterweight Quashawn Toler and entered the record books as the first fight card of 2020 anywhere in the world.
Welterweights Quashawn Toler (Cincinnati) and “Cassius” Clay Collard (Las Vegas, by way of Cache City, Utah) saved the night in terms of drama, action, excitement and quality boxing.
Toler was the draw on this night, entering the ring with a gaudy 9-0, 7 KOs record, to Collard’s more pedestrian 4-2-3, 1 KO mark. But records can be deceiving, as the saying goes.
Right from the get-go, Collard proved he came to fight and could fight. Midway through round one, he caught Toler on the ropes and hurt him badly with a hard right. A follow-up series of blows had Toler reeling and his die-hard fans screaming for him to keep his hands up and get off the ropes. Movement by Toler and seemingly unthinkable patience shown by Collard, let Toler off the hook and survive the round.
Things settled into a give-and-take pattern, with Collard getting the better of most exchanges. Round four saw each man hurt, Collard first from a series punches on the ropes, and after he tired from rallying, Toler was stunned again as he tried some extreme rope-a-doping, leaning way over the loose, top strand, trying unsuccessfully to avoid Collard’s overhand rights. Collard would be undeterred though, pressing the rest of the way, with a granite will as well as chin, fending off any miracle comeback Toler tried to muster. Judges Joe Heckel and Michelle Blevins both saw it 58-56 while Robert Pope tabbed it 59-55, all for the visitor “Cassius” Clay Collard, who now moves to 5-2-3, 1 KO. Toler drops his first decision to fall to 9-1, 7 KOs.
It should be noted that Collard represented the first opponent in ten fights for Toler with a winning record and it showed. Having fought opponents with a combined record of 14-108-3, and going four rounds only twice in those previous nine wins, left Toler gassed and despite some apparent rings skills and speed, unprepared for an opponent with resolve and fortitude.
In a cat & mouse affair, Welterweight Charles Stanford (Cincinnati) played the cat, while Youngstown’s Danny Rosenberger played the elusive mouse. With thirty seconds to go in the opening round, Rosenberger lured Stanford into a counter right, stunning his foe and opening the door for a flurry that had Stanford on the ropes to end the round. This pattern continued, with Stanford chasing and swinging, while Rosenberger was elusive and saving the countering flurries toward the end of the round, in an apparent attempt to steal them. It didn’t work as Stanford edged a majority win by scores of 38-38, 40-36 and 39-37 to pull even at 3-3, while Rosenberger falls to 6-9-4.
In a laughable yet sad Super Featherweight encounter, Leando Banks (Cincinnati) let Andrew Kaufman (Columbus) come out and wing away in a flailing, amateurish manner. Then Banks decided to fight off the ropes, dropping Kaufman with a counter. Referee Ken Miliner decided to give Kaufman a chance, but a ripping left to the body dropped him to the canvas, writhing in agony. Miliner didn’t bother to count, ending matters at 1:12 of the opening stanza. Banks now moves to 2-1, 1 KO, while Kaufman keeps the streak perfect at 0-2, both losses by knockout.
In a Super Middleweight Mutt & Jeff battle, lanky southpaw Latiss Norman (Cleveland) and short, muscular Ryan McIntosh (Harrison), had the partisan fans on their feet over four rounds. Norman exhibited a classic, hands down countering style, while McIntosh bull-rushed throughout, either unwilling or unable to heed his corner’s calls for jabs and combination punching. Norman was on the deck twice in the fourth- once from a push and the second from a slip. In the first unanimous decision of the night, the judges saw it 39-37 and 40-36 twice, for the hometown kid Ryan McIntosh, now 3-4, 1 KO, while Norman falls to 4-6, 2 KOs.
In the opening bout of the night, Super Lightweights Ronnie Jordan (Cincinnati) and Mark Slyter (Kansas City, KS) went at it in a style that resembled wrestling, more than boxing. There were no take downs, nor legit knockdowns for that matter over the four round distance. It wasn’t until the final stanza that Jordan landed some telling blows to the head of the durable Slyter. It was enough for Jordan to eke out a majority decision by scores of 38-38, and 39-37 x 2. Jordan moves to 5-9-1, while Slyter falls to 2-8