By Jeff Zimmerman
Super welterweight contender John “The Phenom” Vera (18-0, 11 KOs), now ranked #5 WBO and #7 WBA respectively, made a major statement in the main event in Dallas, Texas when he blasted out Sunday “Golden Child” Ajuwa (15-3, 12 KOs) within 3 rounds of their scheduled eight. The fight was promoted by Roy Jones Jr. Boxing in conjunction with Montoya Boxing at Dallas landmark Gilley’s, made famous by the movie Urban Cowboy starring John Travolta. It was also shown live on beIN Sports, the new broadcast partner of Roy Jones Jr. Boxing.
The star on this night, though, was Vera who just this week shot up the rankings and is nicely positioned for a big fight, if not a title fight, in the very near future. The southpaw from Fort Worth took a round to get warmed up, but once he did, it was all over for the African Ajuwa who was fighting for the first time in the U.S.
“I started off a little slow but I kind of needed that because I have been starting off really quick in my last fights going to wars and I just wanted go back to my boxing and calculate my opponent and get a great stoppage and that’s what we did,” Vera told Fightnews in his dressing room after the fight.
But once Vera got rolling it was lights out for Ajuwa. After an accidental head butt by Ajuwa to start the 2nd round, Vera took charge and landed a left hook followed up by a right hook that sent Ajuwa to the canvas. Ajuwa got to his feet and was quickly dropped again by double right hooks and somehow got back up as the round ended.
Vera started round 3 with a big right hand followed by three uppercuts that wobbled Ajuwa. Vera once again dropped Ajuwa with a big right hook as the bell rang ending the round. Ajuwa somehow beat the count, however he was hurt and fell into the ropes when the referee put his arms around him and waived it off. The time of the stoppage was 2:59 of the 3rd round for the TKO victory for Vera who remains undefeated with the win.
Ajuwa showed toughness and didn’t make his trek across the globe to just lay down, however he was outgunned in the Lone Star State by Vera.
“I knew he was a tough guy, I knew that for sure, but yea I felt it all the way down to the knuckle when I hit him so that’s a good shot, so I don’t know if he’s getting back up. But he got back up, give him his credit, he’s a tough guy.”
Vera, who is half Mexican and half Puerto Rican, would love the opportunity to fight Puerto Rican legend Miguel Cotto who has indicated he will retire after his next fight in December.
“I’m a young hungry person coming up, why not go for a fight of that caliber with a legend like that. I really admire Cotto. I admired his whole career so fighting him would be a dream come true.”
Vera also paid homage to the world champions he gets to spar with on a regular basis, like Errol Spence Jr. and Jermell Charlo, in his own backyard to ensure he’s ready to fight on a big stage.
“It’s wars every time we spar these guy, they can really punch, but not only can they really punch, they are really sharp, polished fighters. They don’t throw wild shots and all their shots count. They got power behind them. That right there just helps me with fights like this where I am fighting a little wilder fighter and I can see things a little better and their defense is a lot less than what an Errol Spence is.”
Vera added, “The sparring with them is great. I am very fortunate to be in the Dallas-Fort Worth area so I can get work with those great champions.”
Adrian Taylor vs. Ronald Mixon
In a rugged seesaw battle in the co-main event, light heavyweights Adrian Taylor (5-0, 3 KOs) and Ronald Mixon (8-2, 7 KOs) each had their moments over 6 rounds. Taylor came out in the first round snapping his jab and landed big shots to the body against the taller southpaw Mixon. Mixon slipped on the canvas and out of the ring momentarily suffering a nice long gash on his left shin, but it never bothered him as he got back in the ring and was ready to fight immediately.
Mixon adjusted and countered Taylor and caught him from time to time with head shots leveraging his long reach as Taylor continued to bully his way forward. Referee Neal Young was also very active as he constantly had to separate them inside as both guys were holding and trying to land shots at the same time. The 4th round was a big round for both fighters. Taylor came out strong and took the fight to Mixon early on and appeared to be in control when Mixon turned the tide and started landing big shots to the head of Taylor. In the end, Taylor escaped with a split decision, 58-56 twice and 56-58 as Taylor remained undefeated in front of his hometown fans.
Taylor was interviewed in the ring after the fight and had this to say. “We kind of under estimated him based on his tapes. I tried to get in the inside. I give myself a B- or a C- on this fight. He’s a good fighter and would love to fight him again.”
Ivan Dycheko vs. Aubur Wright
Heavyweight Ivan Dycheko (1-0, 1 KO), a 2x Olympic Bronze (2012, 2016) medalist from Kazakhstan, the home of GGG, making his pro debut wasted little time against the overmatched Aubur Wright (2-2, 1 KO) dismantling him in the very first round. Dycheko used several jabs to start the action before landing big left and right hooks to the head of Wright. Dychecko sent Wright to the corner after landing a double right hook and landed a few more shots before Referee Robert Chapa jumped into save Wright while still on his feet. The time of stoppage was 2:05 of the 1st round of the scheduled four.
Gabriel Flores jr vs. Donnie Reeves
Lightweight Gabriel Flores Jr. (4-0, 3 KOs) showed once again why he was the “youngest ever” to sign with Top Rank as he beat up the game but overmatched Donnie Reeves (1-1, 1 KO) in a round and a half. Reeves came to fight and although he doesn’t look much older than 15 and is therefore nicknamed the “Baby Face”, he did stand toe to toe with Flores Jr. while it lasted. Flores Jr. is only 17.
At the opening bell, Reeves came right at Flores Jr. and landed his best shot of the night on the chin of Flores Jr. That however only energized the charismatic kid from Stockton, CA who is still in high school. “Once he came forward with that fire intensity a big smile came to my face, I knew someone was here to fight finally. I haven’t been in a fight where someone came to fight. I respect him a lot because he went in there with confidence and came to win tonight so I respect him for that.”
Flores Jr. went to work and fired off big punches to the head and body of Reeves while Reeves only hope was to land a haymaker of his own but had no such luck. Flores Jr. showed great footwork as he moved around the ring and then in a flash would land a big double hook to the body followed by one upstairs that eventually reddened the face of Reeves.
After Flores Jr. bounced Reeves against the ropes with a few more hard shots, referee Neal Young had finally seen enough and stopped the contest. The official time was 1:26 of the 2nd round as Flores Jr. remained undefeated with the TKO victory.
Flores Jr. is ready to seek better competition but is happy how his young career is progressing.
“Oh yea, I am definitely ready, but I’m only 17, we are in no rush to move higher. This was only my 4th fight so I am in no rush to fight for a world title right now or anything crazy like that. I’m happy where I am at and I believe they will move me up as I go.”
Jose Rivera vs. Alberto Navarro
Lightweight Alberto Navarro survived a 1st round knockdown from a combination to the head and body by Jose Rivera, to then knocking out the favored Rivera in the 2nd round. Both guys were trading shots in the 2nd round when Navarro landed a powerful overhand right that rocked Rivera and put him on the canvas. Rivera survived the first knockdown but after getting knockdown again, the referee waived it off. Navarro earned his 4th win out of 19 fights and handed Rivera is first loss as a pro. The time of the stoppage was 2:15 of the 2nd round.
Edward Vasquez vs. Thomas Smith
In the opening bout at the famous Gilley’s in downtown Dallas, super featherweight Edward Vasquez (3-0, 1 KOs) pounded out a 4 round unanimous decision against Thomas Smith (3-6, 2 KOs). Vazquez used a heavy dose of left hooks to the head and body to slow down Smith who tried to counter at times and work off a jab but was unable to slow down the aggressive Vasquez. Vasquez suffered a nasty cut over his left eye in the 4th but allowed to continue and finished off the fight strong. The final scores read 40-36 on all cards.
*Although the legendary Roy Jones was not in attendance due to another commitment, there were sightings ringside of IBF welterweight world champion Errol Spence Jr., super middleweight Rob Brant who is scheduled to fight in the World Boxing Series next month in Germany and former fighter Tony Mack plus the trainer to all three Derrick James. UFC’s Rashad Coulter was in attendance as well as boxing and MMA cutman guru Jacob “Stitch” Duran who worked the corner for Gabriel Flores Jr.*
Photos: Lucio Quintero