This recent card at the Paradise Theater in the Bronx was thin, even by the standards of a forgettable club show. So I was surprised when I learned that Friday Night Fights would be broadcasting this Joe DeGuardia (Star Boxing) special.
But FNF has a thing for that night’s featured attraction, 27-year-old welterweight Delvin Rodriguez. The now 20-2-1 (12) sharpshooter either flattens his opponents or has the same done to him.
When he last appeared on ESPN2, in March, he was brutally stopped in the eighth by tough guy Jesse Feliciano. This wasn’t the first time Delvin kissed the canvas. In 2005, journeyman Christopher Henry dropped him hard in the first. Delvin came back in spectacular fashion that night, however.
He has all the offensive tools to be a true contender, but, unfortunately, the shaky whiskers of an also-ran. He’s a pleasure to watch when he finds his rhythm and puts his punches together. At 5’11’’, his hands are fluid and snappy, and he has a gift for twisting his shots at the point of impact and tearing flesh in the process.
But it might be that the Dominican-American with matinee idol looks just can’t take his own medicine. His manager, veteran Stan Hoffman, matched him fairly soft in his first comeback fight.
Keenan Collins, now 12-2-1 (0), looked pretty good on paper. But his zero KO’s is the figure one should pay more attention to than his 12 wins. It was no coincidence that this opponent is feather-fisted.
Still, Delvin fought cautiously in the first. He held his hands high and mainly worked the jab and studied Collins.
But if an emaciated Angelina Jolie connected with the perfect shot, she could fell Russell Crow. Collins was throwing the right with bad intentions. He was just as tall as Rodriguez and knew how to apply his leverage. He clearly knew his way around the ring.
In the second, Collins looked to test Delvin’s suspect chin. Nothing clean landed.
With 45 seconds left in the round, Rodriguez showed why FNF commentator Teddy Atlas was once so high on him. He put Collins on the rope and unleashed blistering hooks to the body and finished up top. Collins covered up for the 15-second salvo, and you could see the air coming out of his tires.
It’s almost impossible to tell exactly when the cut above Keenan’s left eye opened, but at the 10-second warning referee Eddie Claudio signaled the ringside officials that an accidental headbutt had occurred.
Claudio simply blew the call.
No one in the audience saw a clash of heads, and this was confirmed when I reviewing the tape closely. A missed right hand that briefly lassoed Collins’ head might have been the culprit.
Between rounds, the ringside physician examined the cut and deemed Collins unfit to continue. Because four rounds hadn’t been completed, the bout was ruled a no contest (NC).
Those closer to Collins’ corner than I was—Teddy Atlas being one—said trainer Marshall Kauffman was effective in lobbying the physician to stop the fight. Although the cut was bad, it’s conceivable the fight could’ve gone on.
Kauffman saw that his fighter was fading badly, was heading towards a possible knock out, and looked out for his best interests. That’s smart corner work, and he shouldn’t be criticized for that. The question is whether, or to what degree, the physician was influenced by Kauffman and others talking in his ear. In theory, the doctor must block out everything but the fighter’s condition.
Rodriguez’s team was livid. Various members of Star Boxing (of which Rodriguez is signed), including matchmaker Ron Katz, stormed the ring and admonished, among others, the Chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, Ron Scott Stevens.
This is the second controversial ending to a fight at the Paradise in ‘07 that Chairman Stevens has presided over. On January 25, Terrance Cauthen was stopped by Raul Frank with what appeared to be a headbutt (but was not ruled as such). Frank was initially declared the winner, but a week later the commission reversed itself and called the fight a no decision. In both instances, Stevens appeared flummoxed, in over his head, and not exactly a paragon of authority.
In the co-feature, cruiser Alfredo Escalera Jnr. won an eight-round UD (77-74, 76-75 twice) over Harvey Jolley of Detroit. Escalera raised is record to 15-0-1 (11) and Jolley fell to 6-5-1 (3).
Alfredo, the son of the great Puerto Rican super feather who reined supreme in the 1970s, is not chip of the old block. He got dropped with a hard right in the first, and fought lackadaisically for the remaining seven rounds.
He checked in at 198 pounds but looked like he could comfortably make light heavy or maybe even super middle if he cut down on the fried plantains. His inability to put his punches together or throw with accuracy was the result of poor conditioning more than anything.
A couple of 107 pounders in the walkout bout, Suzannah Warner and Eileen Olszewski, stole the show this night. They fought their hearts out for the four rounds in lasted. The judges awarded Eileen a MD (40-36, 39-37, 38-38), but it was a tough fight to call. It almost made up for the disappointing “main event” bouts.
Heavyweight Terrell Nelson won a four-round MD over Zack Page.
Welter Ray Robinson stopped Willie Diamond in two.
Jon Schneider stopped Wade Gilbert in three.