By John Unland
Clint Calkins (Calkins Sports Productions) and Jesse Gomez (Alien Boi Boxing) brought another exciting night of boxing to the Rhythm City Casino in Davenport, Iowa on Saturday night. This was their second show at the venue and the standing room only crowd did not leave disappointed. They have been putting on the only regular show in Iowa for the past several years and it was nice to see a sold-event thanks in large part to an exciting and much anticipated main event.
Super welterweights Stephen Edwards of Davenport and Limberth Ponce of Rock Island, Illinois headlined the evening in a sometimes ugly but highly entertaining bout that featured contrasting styles and two equally vocal and loyal fanbases.
Ponce is widely considered the best boxer in the area and is a much more technical fighter than Edwards who is more of a brawler, but came in with an undefeated record. There has been talk of this fight happening for a little while now and both fighters deserve credit for not only taking the fight but for putting on a great show.
As expected Edwards came out aggressive from the opening bell and tried to keep Ponce off balance with a constant barrage of punches. He had some success in the first two rounds as Ponce could not effectively time the hard charging Edwards, and while Ponce was never hurt he was also unable to counter and sustain any offense of his own. In the third round Ponce was able to keep his distance and worked behind a solid jab to keep Edwards at bay. Ponce threw some combinations but mostly worked from the outside and frustrated Edwards who kept trying to get inside. Things started to get ugly in the fourth as Edwards started to hold and the fighters were constantly getting tied up and separated by the referee. At times along the ropes it looked more like a wrestling match which at first favored Edwards but Ponce was able to start getting the upper hand by landing a shot or two before Edwards could tie up. Edwards was warned repeatedly for holding but was never deducted a point.
While the fourth and fifth rounds were close and hard to score the sixth was all Ponce. He once again found his range and was able to land the occasional combination. Edwards was able to land some sporadic punches until mid-round when Ponce landed an uppercut clean under the chin of Edwards who stumbled about three feet backwards but somehow stayed on his feet. Edwards recovered nicely and was able through a few punches in return, but mostly went into defense mode the rest of the round. Ponce appeared to win the last two rounds with his counterpunching and his ability to keep Edwards from landing anything of significance. It appeared to be a close fight, so it was surprising all three judges scored it 79-73 for Ponce. With the win Ponce improves to 17-3 and picks up the Iowa State Jr. Middleweight Title. Edwards suffers his first defeat and falls to 10-1-1. Both fighters should see their stock rise after this one, and Edwards asked for a rematch, so we may see this one happen again.
Middleweights Tipton Walker Jr. of Benton Harbor, Michigan and veteran Demetrius Walker (8-25-2) fighting out of Kansas City started of the evening with an entertaining four rounder. Walker Jr. (5-0) dominated the fight with a stiff jab, a relentless body attack and constant pressure that kept Demetrius on the ropes for most of the fight. Demetrius was able land some hard right hooks to get off the ropes, but he could not account for the speed and punch output his opponent. Walker Jr. got credited with a knockdown in the second when he almost put his opponent through the ropes with a big right hand and another in the third when Demetrius took a knee and an eight count from a vicious shot the ribs. Walker Jr. kept his distance in the fourth to avoid a desperate right hook from Demetrius, but he still did enough to win the round and picked up the 40-34 decision on all three scorecards.
Andre Espeut of Cedar Rapids scored a somewhat surprising stoppage of Ted Muller in the third round of their light heavyweight tilt. Muller who turned pro back in 1997 and was coming off of a two year layoff just did not look sharp in this one. He was able to land some combinations and get the better of some exchanges but was missing with a lot of his shots and this left some openings for Espeut to come back and do some damage with combinations of his own. The first two rounds were close, but probably went to Muller, and the third started off all Muller as it looked like he was going for the knockout. Espeut was able to weather the early storm and as Muller missed badly with some big shots he countered and scored a knockdown. Muller beat the count but never fully recovered and the referee waved it off shortly after when he did not have an answer for Espeut’s follow up. Espeut is now 5-7 (4 KO) while Muller moves to 20-17-3.
Super lightweight Joe Perez of East Moline stopped late sub Anthony Crowder (1-12) of Des Moines at 2:59 of the first round. Crowder stunned Perez early with a straight jab that had him backing up, but he failed to capitalize on his opportunity and Perez went to work on the body of Crowder. Crowder was down twice from body shots and went for the knockout after getting up the second time, but the flurry had no effect on Perez who put Crowder down for the third and final time with another body shot. Perez is now 14-3-1 (10 KOs).
The fourth bout of the evening was the area’s first female bout in about 25 years. It featured local MMA fighter Kristine Ion-Rood and Illinois native Julie Guiste. Both women were making their professional debuts and this fight was a fun one while it lasted. Ion-Rood wasted no time in going straight to the head of the taller Guiste, who kept her guard a little low. Every punch that Ion-Rood threw was hard she kept up her attack the entire fight. For her part Guiste was not afraid to throw back and she was definitely game, but she could not match the power and intensity of Ion-Roon. Guiste took a standing 8 count towards the end of the first round and while she looked dazed she finished the round and answered the bell to start the second. The second round was more of the same with Ion-Rood coming straight ahead and Guiste backing up but answering with huge shots of her own. Ion-Rood appeared to punch herself out about halfway through the round, but that wasn’t the case as she simply overwhelmed Guiste with her punches. Guiste looked out on her feet and took some heavy shots when the ref stepped in at 1:51 of round two. It was an impressive debut for both women and Ion-Rood will be one to watch as she starts her career at 1-0 (1 KO). Guiste showed some skill, but just ran into too tough of an opponent in her debut and is now 0-1.
The super lightweight co-main event of the evening featured two local fighters in Shawn West of Davenport and durable veteran Lionel Jimenez of Moline. West, a converted MMA fighter, was able to set the pace early and work behind a solid jab to keep Jimenez out of range. Jimenez kept coming forward but could not get through the jab of West in the first round and he ate a lot of punches for his trouble. West was able to set up his combinations and land fairly cleanly while easily winning the round. Jimenez started to have some success in the second round as he was able to get inside start landing some 3 and 4 punch combinations of his of his own. West was still able to land with his jab and was able to punch his way out of trouble but Jimenez would not go away and kept coming forward. West started switching to a southpaw stance and was able to land some left hooks that had some effect on Jimenez, but he refused to back down and even though he took a lot of punishment he was able get inside and some nice work at times. West went to the scorecards for the first time in his career but he picked up the 40-36 decision on all three cards to improve to 3-0. The well traveled and well respected Jimenez falls to 5-26-1.
Heavyweights Wade Bruins and Alfredo Cervantes met in a 4 round walk out bout to end the show. Cervantes returned to the ring after last fighting as a welterweight in 2001. Cervantes fights out of Sterling, IL and was looking to raise money and awareness for Huntington’s disease. His wife suffers from the disease so at 46 years old and 237 pounds he decided to make a comeback. His opponent Bruins tipped the scales at 550 lbs. and at 6’6″ he dwarfed the much smaller Cervantes. Bruins was just too slow to do any real damage to Cervantes and Cervantes was able to work upstairs over the guard of Bruins. Bruins was bleeding badly from his nose and at the end of the second the doctor examined him but let the fight continue. Cervantes was able to land punches almost at will, one or two at a time using a stick and move approach. Cervantes cruised to a 40-36 decision and upped his record to 2-5-1. Bruins starts his career with a loss and is 0-1.