Monday, April 20, 2015

#RocNationSports #ThroneBoxing Ringside Report & Pix

Gassiev (L) moves in to finish Cora Jr (R)
Gassiev thumps Cora,
Robinson dominates Alimjanov in 
Roc Nation Sports' Second Time with The Sweet Science
By Alex Pierpaoli

On Friday night Roc Nation Sports, the promotional company formed by rapper Jay Z, put on their second boxing show with a seven bout card from the Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort & Casino in Mashantucket, CT. Cruiserweight Murat Gassiev bludgeoned Felix Cora Jr through 9 rounds in the Main Event televised live by Fox Sports 1. In addition to the fights, Rapper Casey Veggies performed several songs live, as part of Roc Nation Sports' efforts to offer sizzle and star power to advertisers and today's younger fans. A DJ and Hartford radio station Hot 93.7 radio personality Jenny Boom-Boom helped ring announcer John Vena with the introductions, musical interludes and ambience while Boom-Boom also fielded answers to trivia questions from the small but enthusiastic crowd. Strobe lights and songs aside, a fight card, after all, is all about that boxing and there was plenty of that.

Trainer Abel Sanchez, chief second for middleweight bad ass Gennady Golovkin, has yet another hard-punching action fighter from central Asia in the form of Vladikavkaz, Russia's Murat Gassiev. Scaling 197lbs, Gassiev gave veteran Felix Cora Jr, 198lbs, of Galveston, TX a major head and body thumping, reddening Cora's brow and the right side of his body. Gassiev pressured Cora Jr from the first, standing in front of him and punishing him with left hooks up high and down low. Cora Jr answered back in small bursts or single blasts that never seemed to bother Gassiev or slow him up. In the seventh, Ref. Johnny Callas got closer to the action with Cora under heavy fire when Cora surged and landed some of his best blows of the fight on Gassiev. But by round's end Gassiev was again
Ref Callas jumps in to rescue Felix Cora Jr from further punishment
landing heavily, adding big left uppercuts to the fusillade of blows he rained upon Cora. In the ninth, Cora's legs buckled after Gassiev slammed him with an overhand right. Cora slumped back into a neutral corner but didn't go down and didn't quite collapse into the ropes. Ref. Callas leapt between them as if to stop the fight or call a knockdown but second-guessed himself, stepped out and waved Gassiev back on. Again he blasted Cora with heavy shots he could not defend himself from and Callas jumped in to the rescue. It wasn't as picture perfect a stoppage as it might have been but it was certainly brutal and the glitchy way it went down brought a predatory grin to the face of Gassiev. Fighting for the first time since March of 2014, Felix Cora Jr. absorbed the most grueling beating of his career and dropped to 25-7-2 (14). Meanwhile, Murat Gassiev retained his IBF Inter-Continental Cruiserweight Title, improved to 21-0 (15) and undoubtedly won fans both on television and in person with his pressing, heavy-punching action style.

The televised co-feature pitted "The New" Ray Robinson, 145lbs, of Philadelphia, PA against Sherzodbek Alimjanov, 146lbs, of Washington DC in a ten-rounder. The southpaw, Robinson dominated Alimjanov, controlling him with straight punches early and throwing
Southpaw Ray Robinson jabs Sherzodbeck Alimjanov
harder and harder shots as the rounds wore on. After ten the scorecards told the lop-sided story at 98-91, 99-90 and 100-89 all in favor of Robinson who improved to 20-2 (9) while Alimjanov dropped to 22-3 (13).

Chris Gray, 152lbs, of Vero Beach, FL celebrated as if he won against Dusty Hernandez Harrison, 153lbs, of Washington, DC, but the reality was an entirely different story. Boxing from behind a high guard in a perpetual retreat, Gray fought in survival mode from the opening bell. Hernandez-Harrison pursued Gray and strafed him with looping rights to the head throughout, despite Gray's effectiveness in preventing many blows from landing cleanly. The crowd voiced their frustrations with the clutching and chasing often but after 8 the judges saw it the same way everyone but Chris Gray did, as a shutout. Three official scores of 80-72 all in favor of Hernandez-Harrison brought him to 26-0 (13) while Gray dropped to 13-20-1 (1).

In the first bout of the night Quick Nick Valliere, 163lbs of Tom's River NJ defeated Roberto Lopez, 166lbs, of Vineland, NJ by 4 round unanimous decision. Valliere barely looks his nineteen years of age but fights with the confidence and risk-taking of a more experienced pug. Valliere brought the fight to Lopez in the first and Lopez responded landing heavy blasts of his own which won him the first on two of the official scorecards. Although both men tired significantly through 12 minutes, Valliere dominated Lopez with solid right hooks to his head and guts throughout. At the finish the scorecards read 40-36 & 39-37 x 2 all in favor of Quick Nick Valliere who improved to 5-0 (2). Roberto Lopez slipped to 4-9-2 (1)

Khiary Gray-Pitts 158lbs of Worcester, MA needed just 61 seconds to dispatch Pedro Gonzalez 160lbs of Springfield, MA. Gray-Pitts extended his 1st round KO streak to four when he 1:01 of round 1. Gray-Pitts who scored a forty second TKO on April 3rd in Rhode Island, dispatched Gonzalez with a nasty left hook sunk under the short rib on Gonzalez' right side. Wincing on his knees for the full ten seconds, Ref. Johnny Callas counted Gonzalez out. Gray-Pitts climbed to 7-0 (5)while Pedro Gonzalez fell to 2-2 (2)

Sonny Fredrickson, 140lbs, of Toledo, Ohio defeated Ramon Ellis, 139lbs, of Philadelphia, PA by 4 round unanimous decision and would likely have stopped him had there been a few seconds left in the fourth and final round. Ellis absorbed a lot of punishment in the lop-sided bout and was badly stunned when the final bell sounded. All three judges scored it 40-36 in favor of Sonny Fredrickson, now 8-0 (5). Ellis dipped to 4-15-2 (2). Fredrickson said he'll be back in the ring in May or June in a 6 rounder. Had Friday's bout been scheduled for six it wouldn't have made it.

Wellington Arias Romero, 141lbs, of Newburgh, NY looked impressive versus Matt Doherty, 141lbs out of Salem MA, in the walk-out bout. Designated the swing, Romero said afterward he had been gloved up for almost four hours waiting on the TV network's green light to head to the ring. Since all the televised bouts went long, Romero-Doherty was saved for the end of the card, which is the double-edged nature of fighting the swing-bout, sometimes it makes TV and sometimes it's the walk-out. But Romero made the most of it and dominated his determined and awkward opponent. After four the scorecards were 40-36 x 3 in favor of undefeated Wellington Arias Romero, now 6-0-1 (3) while Doherty goes to 1-1 (1).

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