By Bill Green at ringside
In the main event, 2016 Bronze Medalist, Nico Hernandez, thrilled his “Legion of Boom” hometown crowd, by capturing the vacant IBA Flyweight title.
As the bell rang to start the first, chants of Nico….Nico filled the air. Hernandez wouldn’t waste any time as he unleashed a powerful Tyson-esque body attack, that bruised and battered the sides/midsection displaying redness all over the body of the California challenger. Hernandez showed a little bit of everything as he switched to southpaw at times, used his jab, slipped and countered all the while displaying his trademark power that captured USA fans back in 2016 to fall in love with the Kansas native. Chants of Nico, Nico continued and Hernandez simply was like a shark stalking his prey, circling, firing and ultimately pouncing on Torres in rd five. Hall of Famer Steve Smoger had no choice to halt the fight and rescue the brave and short noticed replacement fighter Torres, who simply was taking too much punishment. Hernandez picks up the IBA vacant Flyweight title with a brutal and impressive 5th round TKO. Time of the stoppage was :55 in round 5. Wichita clearly has something special in Hernandez.
More details to come on a potential May return.
In the co-main event, welterweight Javonte Starks, a former Minnesota amateur star, hoped to shake off the ring rust and get back in the win column after losing two straight although versus quality opposition against the likes of Dylan Price. Rounds 1 and 2 saw Starks used his jab and sharp 1-2 left-right combinations to the plodding but durable journeyman Cesar Soriano, of Mexico. Sorriano a bit soft in the mid-section and quite possibly fighting above his natural weight class displayed a great chin, but simply wouldn’t let his hands go except for occasional furies to the body of the 6’1 Starks. Starks would abandon the jab in the 3rd and the two exchanged body attacks in a much more competitive round for Soriano. In fact, in the 3rd round, Soriano and Starks traded power shots with Soriano quite possibly getting the attention of Starks. The 4th and 5th rounds Soriano started picking up the pace and despite the plea for Starks’s corner to use the jab and stop going to war with the former FECARBOX Lightweight champion the fight remained close, While Starks held the pure advantages in skill, youth and athletic ability, he simply abandoned the game plan and fell into the trap of fighting Soriano’s fight and going toe to toe. The 6th had the crowd on its feet as both fighters knew they needed to win the round to secure a victory. Again, for every exchange by Starks, the sturdy chinned Soriano would roar back with solid combinations to the body to keep the round to close to call. The crowd loved this one despite their eventual boos as the judges’ scorecards read 58-56 for Soriano and 57-57 twice resulting in a majority draw.
Despite being the B side against the much more seasoned 3-1 Akeem Black of Milwaukee, pro debuting California jr middleweight Derrick Clayton took the fight right to the slow-starting Wisconsin native. Clayton would display superior hand-speed and win the exchanges. Black was wobbled badly in the first and again in the second. On both occasions, Black would courageously absorb punishment and come back with strong furies. However, Clayton appeared very hungry to finish Black to start the 2nd round. Clayton was willing to take 2 punches from Black in order to land his powerful game-changing left hook. Black would simply have no answer for the left hook and was eating plenty of them in a crowd-pleasing see-saw back n forth slug fest. During yet another heated exchange referee Kevin Champion suddenly waved the fight off with a mere second left in the round. Despite the crowd’s unhappiness to see more of the bone-crushing action, several at ringside supported the ref’s decision and effort to protect Black. We have our first upset of the night as Clayton improves to 1-0 (1) earning a 2nd round TKO. Time of the stoppage was a very rare 2:59. Black drops to 3-2(1)
Heavyweight Maurice “Freight Train” Byarm jumped all over Richard “Silverback” Carmack, pinning him against the ropes and teeing off against the 364lb former Mid West champion. Byarm would score to both the head and body at will. Carmack would try to time the barrages with an occasional wild counter but in the end simply too much firepower in return as he was dropped twice in the process. Referee Kevin Champion would call a halt to the opening bout at 1:34 into the 1st round. Byarm last appeared in the ring in 2012 and the comeback was successful as he now improves to 14-2-1 (10). Carmack drops to 15-13-1.
In the second bout of the night, former California amateur prospect Chazz Macias blasted out a very game Corey Roberts in a junior welterweight clash. Macias would stick the jab and land punishing left hook shots to Roberts. True to reputation, Roberts would fire back and even landed a nice counter right hand. Macias would take his time and look for opportunities. That moment came after a lazy jab from Roberts as Macias jumped in with a booming left hook that the Omaha native simply didnt see coming. Roberts would bravely beat the count but referee Jacob Villa would wisely wave off the fight :1:22 into the 1st win for TKO win for the now 1-0 Macias. Roberts disagreed with the stoppage but showed true sportsmanship by hugging his opponent moments later. Macias’s picks up his 1st pro victory and will move forward at 1-0. The MMA crossover boxer Roberts drops to 0-4.
Former local and Golden Gloves winner Jeff Sturm kept the theme alive as he tested the liver on fellow contestant Brian Clements in a junior welterweight clash. Sturm whom lost his father on Wednesday came out like a fighter fighting for a higher power. He would not let Clements out of the corner and threw wicked combinations to the body of a defenseless Clements. Clements had nothing in return and sunk to the canvas in pain as referee Jacob Villa stopped the bout 1:16 into the 1st rd. Sturm improves to 2-0 and remains a crowd favorite. Clements drops to 0-1-1.