American rapper Jay-Z’s first boxing venture went as anticipated.
In an environment perhaps reminiscent of HBO’s short-lived boxing series “KO Nation” in the early 2000s, performances by Hip-Hop stars signed to Roc Nation carried the broadcast between fights. It was a quintessential display of what Roc Nation plans to offer — new ideas — and that is something boxing so desperately struggles to grasp. They packed the Madison Square Garden, landed marquee names as sponsors, and booked the services of Michael Buffer at the mic for a small-time show with a big-time feel.
If nothing else, Roc Nation showed that they will not budge; they are prepared to integrate their own flavor to each and every event. After boldly signing grossly-inactive Super Middleweight champion Andre Ward, as well as buying out the entire Gary Shaw Productions roster, it will be interesting to see what happens when the dust settles for Roc Nation. For tonight, they made minimal investment and it looks to have parlayed with a great crowd and TV viewership.
With that said, we move onto the actual product of the night — the boxing.
The fights were less-than-extraordinary, despite the flashiness surrounding them. Well-known prospects Dusty Hernandez-Harrison, Tureano Johnson, Chris Van Heerden, and Andrew Hernandez took home defining victories to open up 2015. Seeing them in fitting match-ups was still enough to satisfy my limited expectations.
Hernandez-Harrison, a house fighter, was taken the distance by strong-willed but evidently crude opponent Tommy Rainone. Neither man could quite dictate the fight, but the taller Hernandez-Harrison kept Rainone guessing and searching for the openings he needed in the pocket.
Two judges rendered a shutout, 100-90, with the lone dissenter giving Rainone one of ten. This loss was his first in six bouts (5-0-1), while Harrison remained undefeated.
In the co-feature, Tureano Johnson dominated Alex Theran en-route to a stoppage after the seventh-round.
The Bahamian shredded his opponent, forcing him to repeatedly scurry to the ropes and shell up to avoid taking punishment. The punches really began to wear on Theran when he suffered the first knockdown of the fight in round four. That was followed up by a second in round five. As Theran hardly survived the round, the referee consulted the doctor for his recommendation.
Mercifully, the fight was halted due to an ankle injury. Theran had nothing left to give, even without such a deterrent. Johnson has now won three straight fights and pulls to 18-1 overall.
Off of the TV broadcast, Chris Van Heerden earned a hard-fought, ten-round split decision over previously unbeaten Cecil McCalla.
McCalla put forth a good showing in this defeat, but the scorecards were still quite difficult to follow. Kevin Morgan and John McCaie — both experienced officials in New York — had the bout 97-93 and 96-94 for Van Heerden. Ed Scunzio — who was imported from Rhode Island — scored the fight 99-91 for McCalla. Most observers felt the South African comfortably won the bout.
In a televised swing-bout, Dustin Fleischer stopped Frank Jordan in two rounds with an unrelenting body attack.
Andrew Hernandez won from off of the deck — literally — after 12-0 Jerry Odom let some punches fly after Hernandez took a knee. Odom was promptly disqualified and sent home with an unlikely defeat.
Kenneth Sims Jr UD 6 Christian Steele (60-54, 60-54, 60-54)
Eduardo Martinez UD 4 Rigoberto Miranda (40-36, 39-37, 39-37)
Wellington Romero KO 1 Lee Kreisher (1:24)
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