By Brad Snyder-The Undercard
Photos: Bob Ryder
The Arnold Sports Festival has put on some great boxing cards in the past. This year’s will be hard to top, as Troy Speakman’s Promotions, Team Tory Promotions, and Winner Takes All Promotions produced one of the most exciting events at the 2018 Arnold Classic.
Unbeaten heavyweight Jermaine Franklin (16-0, 13 KOs) put on a finale that was like any fireworks display, much better at the end. At the Hollywood Casino in Columbus, Ohio, he faced a stiff test in Ed Fountain (12-4, 5 KOs) with both trying to climb the heavyweight ranks.
Franklin was able to fire lead rights from the orthodox position in the 2nd Round. But a strong 3rd Round by Fountain forced Franklin to pick up the pace. Fountain got stunned in the 4th from a left, as Franklin began to outwork his opponent. In the 8th, Franklin showed why he is considered dangerous. Unloading body shots and combinations to the head, Franklin left Fountain grimacing on the ropes. After the first knockdown, Franklin continued his assault while Referee Kamal Hasan watched closely. Hasan was forced to stop the fight after the second knockdown at the 1:32 mark of the 8th Round. Franklin’s 8th Round was as impressive as you will ever see. His ability to turn it on at any given moment will have him on the heavyweight radar for years to come.
Skender Halili won the NABA-WBA Title with an exciting bout that required the judges to decide the winner. Halili faced Jamie “The Pitbull” Walker, a local Columbus fan favorite, who had a tough week with the loss of a friend earlier in the week. The wildly entertaining bout had both boxers landing big shots in the 1st. Skipping the feeling out process, Halili was able to catch Walker at the end of the 1st with a left to stun him. Walker returned the favor, by landing his big shot in the 3rd. The big sweeping left marked another great finish to a round. Rounds 4 and 5 produced non stop action. In the 6th, Halili developed a cut over his left eye. In the later rounds, following the round bell, both fighters acknowledged each other with fist bumps and nods of their heads. This pace continued to a 10th Round decision. In the end, the judges scored the bout (98-92, 98-92, 97-94) for the UD victory for Halili. The win improved the Junior Middleweight to (16-2, 13 KOs), as Walker, who left everything he had back in that ring got his first loss, dropping him to (8-1-1, 3 KOs).
Antonio “Wee Wee” Urista (10-2, 2 KOs) scored his most impressive win in his career with a UD (58-56, 58-56, 58-56) closely contested bout against Damar Singleton (9-2-1, 5 KOs). The 6-Round middleweight battle produced exciting rounds, but it was Urista’s hard lefts and fighting through holding that allowed him to receive the judge’s nod. The only shame of the fight is that it wasn’t 8 Rounds, with the crowd and media wanting to witness more of this great fight.
The Cruiserweight NABA-WBA Title was on the line for the rematch of Brian “The Bull” Holstein vs. Nick Kisner. The previous fight had Kisner winning, but was entertaining enough for a rematch. Holstein, a 3x Ohio State champion, was never able to compete with the hand speed of Kisner. The battle would go all 10 rounds leading the judges to score the bout (98-91, 97-93, 96-94) all in favor of the champion Kisner. The rematch improved Kisner to (20-4-1, 6 KOs), as Holstein, who has been such a great fighter for the Arnold Classic over the years, falls to (13-8-1, 7 KOs).
Travis Jerig (3-2) won a MD victory over super middleweight Ty Parks (3-5, 2 KOs).
DeAndre Ware (10-0-2, 7 KOs) kicked off the evening with a 1:51 1st Round KO victory over Cory Dulaney (5-7-1, 1 KO). Dulaney hit the canvas twice in the super middleweight bout.
The matchmaker for the evening’s card was Troy Speakman.