Promoter Lou DiBella was grinning ear to ear at the conclusion of his last Broadway Boxing show for 2006. Three of his better prospects—Curtis Stevens, Edgar Santana and Jaidon Codrington—all came away with wins. But why shouldn’t they have? Let’s not forget, these aren’t really fights, they’re showcases.
The boxers from the blue corner, where DiBella’s guys are always placed, rarely lose a round, much less a fight. And yet flukes do happen. As controlled an environment as the promoter and his matchmaker Joe Quiambo try to make it, sometimes unforeseen events do occur. Such was the case four months ago, on July 20, when a blown-up jr. middle journeyman named Marcos Primera clipped undefeated super middle Curtis Stevens on the chin, rendering him unfit to continue.
Stevens’ first fight back after the humiliating loss would be against Primera. As expected, Stevens swept most of the rounds (he dominated the majority of the action the first time they met) and left everyone with the impression that the tough and brave Primera might’ve landed a birthday punch last time out.
Judges scored the bout 78-72, 79-72 and 80-72. Stevens improved to 14-1 (11) and Primera dropped to 20-16-2 (13).
Don’t be fooled by his record, the tall, lanky Primera is more meets the eye and certainly better than his record indicates. While he has lost to a who’s who of welters on up, he is also a dangerous puncher who has starched US Olympian Dante Craig when he was still a promising prospect and Carlos DeLeon Jr., now a top prospect at super middle.
Primera stood right in front of Stevens with his left arm dangling at his waste. He offered his shoulder and flanks to the power punching fireplug. He is at home in the pocket, with a heart rate doesn’t seem to go above 80. Round after round Stevens pounded the body and searched in vain for the melon’s sweet spots. Primera rarely returned fire, excluding sneering and whispering unpleasantries in the prospects’ ear.
Still, the tension was thick. The Colombian opponent was so arrogant and exuded a definite confidence, as if he had the kid’s number. I don’t think he ever did, but it was a good ploy. To his credit, he back up the mini-mesomorph and threatened him with some furious, albeit telegraphed, bombs.
Yet Stevens is more than meets the eye as well. He’s not some simple banger. Most of his devastating KO’s are well-timed counters coming in twos and threes. He’s been boxing since he was a child, and has as deep an amateur resume as you’ll find. He’ll go rounds if he has to and was careful not to punch himself out. He needs little work in the way of his hands. His jab is stiff. His punches are short, compact, varied, and arrive in combinations. Because of his proper punching form and stocky frame, it’s difficult finding openings on him.
There’s much he still doesn’t do, however. If he did, I would be beating the drum for him to avenge his stablemate Codrington’s loss sometime next year. But unlike the young Tyson of the mid-80s, Stevens doesn’t demonstrate nimble, quick feet. If he dipped and slid around his man, created angles, used his short stature to his advantage, moved his head more…if only!…he’d be sensational. If not Baby Tyson, then maybe Little Qawi.
Jr. welter Edgar Santana was billed as the night’s main attraction, but I’m not sure why? He was matched with a lightweight, Meacher Major, who I doubt even Johnny Bos has heard of. Major, who hails from the Bahamas, fought and lost to a green Edner Cherry in 2002 and Lamont Peterson last year, but the other 13 guys he’s been in with are no one of note.
Santana did what he had to do, getting rid of major at 2:53 of the 3rd. He softened up Major with constant hooks to the body and dropped him early in the third with a short overhand right. Major beat the count but retreated to the ropes, where Santana flurried until the ref halted the fight. Santana’s Puerto Rican fan-base from Spanish Harlem were as ecstatic as the fighter himself; his last two bouts were desultory 10-round decisions.
Word is on February 17, Santana will make his debut on HBO’s Boxing After Dark, possibly against Dmitriy Salita. If this fight were to happen, there’d be plenty of intrigue to build it up. They share the same promoter and come from the same city, and used to be stablemates under trainer Hector Roca. Both fighters have since left Roca, but during the time they were with him, they sparred daily and Gleason’s and made camp to together in the Poconos. While Santana is the better puncher, and Salita the better boxer, the latter once knocked out the former in sparring. (Santana’s people won’t comment on the matter—which I’m sure will come up a lot between now and then—but trust me, my sources are good.)
It appears that neither the fans nor Jaidon Codrington himself have gotten over the heinous KO he suffered at the hands of Allan Green just over a year ago. Although the super middle has now beaten four opponents since that loss, including this night’s opponent Johnny Brooks—TKO at 2:53 of the 2nd—he’s no longer the fighter he once was. That’s not all bad, mind you.
Former titlist Joey Gamache, one of the more lucid boxing minds you’ll ever encounter, observed how Codrington no longer fights with the abandon and youthful exuberance he once did. Now he fights “like an experienced vet who knows how unexpected things can go wrong in the ring,” said Gamache. Something has been irrevocably lost, but other things have been gained, too.
“I’m not saying he can’t go on to become a champion,” continued Gamache, “or at least live up to his potential, whatever that may be. Look at what Terry Norris accomplished after he was KO’d by Julian Jackson. Everybody is made differently. And how they match Codrington and build his confidence back up will be of equal importance. Right now I see a guy still searching, finding himself. ”
Whether the prospect can ever get over that loss won’t be known until he’s matched tough. Sometime in 2007, one imagines DiBella will decide to roll the dice. On this night, he had a virtual punching bag in front of him. The new Codrington took two rounds to dispose of what once wouldn’t have lasted 45 seconds. He looked slower than in the past, and was almost too loose, as if he’s trying to convince himself (and us) that his swagger’s back. That may not be the case, but he had enough to force Brooks’ corner to throw in the towel after their bloody charge had sustained enough damage to the body and head for one night. Codrington moved to 13-1 (11). Brooks fell to 5-5-1 (3).
Prenice Brewer of Cleveland, OH, is a gangly lightweight whom his friends call “Little Roy.” Like his idol, Roy Jones Jr., Brewer speaks a mile a minute and has the hand speed to match. He dropped Markel Muhammad with a left uppercut that no one saw, especially Markel, who got up but couldn’t shake off the cobwebs. A right hook ended the night, forcing a TKO stoppage at 53 seconds of the first round. Brewer, now 2-0-1 (1), was matched against a very rugged, game opponent in his pro debut earlier this year and had to settle for a draw. No matter, this guy has the amateur pedigree (National Golden Gloves Champion in 2005) and is still just a minor. He’s one to watch.
I don’t mean to be insulting when I say bantam Noriko Kariya is good for a girl. A Jersey City resident via Toronto, Canada, she could show any male on this card a thing or two about the sweet science. None other than Buddy McGirt, who came out to support her, looked impressed. Noriko can dip and slide with the best of them, never crosses her legs, always keeps her hands up, throws punches in bunches and does just about everything correctly. Although she can’t break an egg, it’s a pleasure to see such a well-schooled boxer ply her trade. After six rounds, she moved her record to 6-1-1 (1) in taking a UD (60-54 twice, 59-55) over a tough but outclassed Elisha Olivas of Denver, CO. Olivas fell to 5-5-1 (3).
In a four-rounder, 150-pounder Jamelle Hamilton upped his record to 3-0 (2) by decisioning Ken Dunham, 1-1 (1), of Charlotte, NC. Scores were 39-37 twice for Hamilton and 39-37 for Dunham. Hamilton is the younger of jr. middle contender Sechew Powell. He’s also trained by the same Brooklynites that have produced most of the promising NY prospects you’ll find today—Curtis Stevens, Luis Collazo, Gary Stark, et al.—the Starrett City crew. Hamilton was a reticent puncher this night, doing a lot of waiting and posing. It’s too early to tell what the future might hold for him.