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 , August 5, 2005

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The Chin Checkers Handle Their Bidness



Although Lou DiBella’s Broadway Boxing is essentially a showcase for the young talent in his stable, during the “padding” stage of their careers before they graduate to better opposition and exposure on, say, ShoBox, it’s one of the best times you can have in the Big Apple with your clothes on.

Do you ever lament the disappearance of the old, seedy Times Square?  Do you like rubbing shoulders with scantily-clad, heavily perfumed women…and even greet the threat of violence when one of their possessive boyfriends, wearing a sleeveless Hell’s Angels leather jacket, growls at you?  Do you thrill to the sound of Irish soccer chants, when there’s not a field or stadium in sight?  Would you get a kick out of spotting the legendary fight guru Johnny Bos wearing a hat that might have been lifted from a member of P-Funk?

If you answered no to any of the above, I’m not sure you’re a real FightBeat reader, and you definitely wouldn’t have had a good time at the Manhattan Center last night.

There was a long undercard that had its share of highs and lows.  The highs were James Moore, a jr. middleweight from Arklow, Ireland, who battered his opponent until the fight was halted in the second, and looks like another John Duddy; and Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin’s most recent, spectacular first round KO.  (“Kid Chocolate” has a great gimmick.  He carries a bag filled with Hershey’s Kisses and tosses them into the crowd, once his gloves are off and his fallen opponent has been revitalized.)  The lows were an uninspired 10-rounder between cruiserweights for the New York State title, and an eight-rounder with no sparks between junior welterweights Emmanuel Clottey and Martese Logan.

But during these lulls fight fans had the option of taking in the sights outside the ring.

The crowd regained its focus when 172-pound Curtis Stevens made his ring entrance to L.L Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.”   His opponent, Jason Quick, looked the part of a bruiser but proved to be no test for the Brownsville bomber.  Say this for Quick, he never quit.  The 6’1’’ Adonis was under siege from the opening bell, as the short-armed, squat Stevens held a high guard and walked him down. 

Quick attempted to keep Stevens at bay with a jab that had all the authority and stiffness of overcooked spaghetti.  When the shorter man found his range a minute into the opening round, he uncorked a left hook that dropped the opponent on the seat of his trunks.  Those trunks had the word “Brave” stitched on the back, which is a fair description of the ex-Marine. Disoriented and on shaky legs, he attempted to collect himself and beat the ref’s count. 

When the action resumed, Stevens immediately followed with an overhand right that was no less kind than the previous punch.  He attacked the body as Quick desperately tried to hold.  Stevens slipped through his arms like a greased pig.  That the end was imminent seemed a foregone conclusion; the unsteady man’s hands dropped to his chest, his mouth gaped open, and his legs lost the function of movement.  But he managed to get off a few shots that bought him enough time to hear the bell ending the round.  He even stared down the Stevens before they retuned to their respective corners—his body may have failed him but his spirit was unbroken.

Early in the second, Stevens landed another vintage left hook to the head that had Quick doing a funny dance à la Zab Judah.  The schadenfreude crowd laughed.  Vicious two-punch combinations followed.  A third terrible left hook dropped Quick for the second time in the fight, and while he was down Stevens ended all hope of recovery with a right uppercut.  A semi-conscious Quick held on to the top rope while the rest of his body sagged to the canvas.  No count was necessary and the ringside physician was summoned on the spot.  The time of the second round TKO stoppage was 1:55.

Obvious comparisons to Mike Tyson will be made about Curtis Stevens, who improved to 8-0 (7 KOs).  Both are products of the Brownsville ghetto, share the same compact build, killer instinct, and have dynamite in their fists.  But the young Tyson had significantly faster feet and hands than Stevens, threw his punches in combination, and worked his way inside with an effective jab.  There’s no shame in falling short of a unique talent like that; not since Ali had a fighter so captivated the public’s imagination.

Stevens is, indeed, an exciting young fighter.  We simply won’t know how good he is until his promoters Lou DiBella and Damon Dash offer him a genuine challenge—hopefully sometime next year.     

Jaidon “The Don” Codrington may be one-half of the “Chin Checkers,” the other being Stevens, but he is the more polished product of the two.  He faced a sturdier foe than his other half last night, too.  Levan Easley is a tough customer with a 17-11-2 (8 KOs) record.  He has fought and lost to Vinny Pazienza, Randy Griffin, Eric Harding, and Scott Pemberton.  While he perhaps lacks the ability to beat the respectable opposition he’s faced, his mentality remains never say die. 

Easley came out guns ablazing, raking Codrington’s body and pounding his head, as the prospect went into a tight shell on the ropes for long periods of time.  Codrington used to wait out onslaughts this way as an amateur.  I recall him doing this against none other than Curtis Stevens in a thrilling 2004 Golden Gloves semifinals; the ref gave him a standing eight count, and it looked like the fight might get stopped before it barely started.  Although he was unhurt, this tactic didn’t help his cause any.

Last night it might’ve worked in his favor.  The 33-year-old Easley, who turned pro in late 1994, could have been given the first round 10-8.  But it was quickly apparent in the next round that he had spent all of his bullets.  His mouth hung open and his punches were neither fast nor furious.  A cut by his left eye, acquired in the first, didn’t help matters.  He plodded toward the fresh Codrington, but offered no jab and little head movement to dodge the incoming fire. Codrington got up on his toes and used the entire ring, floating like Cassius Clay.  There wasn’t much on his punches, but the older man had an empty magazine.  The two would go on like this for a while.

When Codrington sat on his punches, he threw them crisp, tight, and hard.  Easley told the kid his punches were a joke.  The damage to his skin tissue wasn’t.

The test for Codrington became how he would handle the mental drain of hitting a guy all night and have him go nowhere.  For a light-hitting boxer this is business as usual, but Codrington has KO’d all of his previous eight opponents in devastating fashion.

He passed the test easily.

At one point in the fourth round, the 21-year-old prospect must have thrown 30 unanswered punches.  Easley finally looked about to go.  He looked like a man caught in a hailstorm; he wasn’t ready to collapse but he wasn’t feeling lovely, either.   An avid fight fan standing next to me said, “This could be bad,” reminding me that the referee, Steve Smoger, doesn’t like stopping fights.  True to form, Smoger let this one continue as well.

Codrington didn’t bother to sit between rounds four and five.  Everything about his body language suggested he was ready to complete the night’s work and make party plans with his entourage.  He was winking to friends in the crowd—actually, he began doing that midway through the second, only now he was doing it like he had a tic. 

Easley was no more than a forward-marching heavybag in the fifth.  A smashing left hook upstairs caused him to stagger; another man would have been out cold.  The ringside physician benignly stopped the fight at the end of the round.  Codrington earned the New York State Super Middleweight Title.  Bigger belts possibly await him in the future.

Sadly, by the time the stoppage was officially announced, the Broadway Boxing crowd, which was as entertaining as anything that took place inside the ring, had departed.  Until we meet again.





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