November 17, 2013

KO Digest Ringside Report - Kielczweski wins, boxing back in Maine

The Polish Prince picks up a title in Portland
PORTLAND — For the first time in more than twenty years, professional boxing returned to Portland, Maine last night at the historic Portland Expo. A lively crowd of nearly 3,000 fans packed the venue which from the inside looks and feels a little like the Atlantic City Convention Center, just smaller and in Maine, not New Jersey. Portland Boxing Club President Bobby Russo and promoter Al Valenti worked hard to provide a night at the fights that local fans would be sure to remember and they didn't disappoint. Special guests Robert Duran, Micky Ward, Tony DeMarco, and Vinny Pazienza were in attendance and they helped to give the card a big time feel. The night featured a mix of professional and amateur USA Boxing that was headlined by undefeated junior lightweight Ryan "Polish Prince" Kielczweski from nearby Quincy, MA who picked up the IBA Americas title with a hard fought decision win over southpaw Jose Hernandez.

On the same night that Massachusetts standout Edwin "La Bomba" Rodriguez was fighting World Super Middleweight Champion Andre Ward across the country in California, several up and comers from the New England region were in action closer to home to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that boxing is by no means dead or dying and also that it's alive and well in Maine, a state with a very rich boxing tradition. To get a sense of the history at the Expo, consider that Sugar Ray Robinson, Henry Armstrong, and Willie Pep all fought in the building during their careers.

In the Main Event, junior lightweight Ryan "The Polish Prince" Kielczweski, 129.6, Quincy, MA, controlled the early portion of his scheduled 8-round IBA Americas title fight with a busy jab and straight right hands that kept his Mexican opponent Jose Hernandez, 130, Atlanta, GA, off balance and ineffective. Kielczweski began loading up on the left hook and wide uppercuts in the middle of the fight, perhaps looking to score another big one-punch knockout like he did in his most recent fight on ESPN Friday Night Fights. When the pair would trade at close quarters, Kielczweski held the advantage and when they boxed, the Prince was able to make things quite a bit easier on himself. Kielczweski got on his boxing bicycle and went to the body often in the seventh and eighth rounds and he cruised to a unanimous decision win to pick up his first championship belt, the IBA Americas title. Official scores were 78-74, 80-72, and 80-73.

Kielczweski talks to KO Digest 
The popular Polish Prince improves to 18-0, 4 KO's while former USBA featherweight champion Hernandez falls to 11-11-1, 5 KO's.

KO Digest caught up with the winner at ringside after the fight to get his assessment. "I felt sharp. Hernandez was game, he kept coming forward. He went eight rounds with Mikey Garcia. He stopped a guy that was 15-0. I guess I took the safe route tonight and just outboxed him. I could have done a lot more. I countered too much and didn't press the action enough or throw multiple punches enough," said the joyous but self-critical Kielczweski.

On The Undercard:

Middleweight Russell Lamour, 160, Portland, ME, got all he could handle from the surprisingly rough and tough cage fighter Deivison Ribeiro, 159.8, Tampa, FL, who was making his pro debut in a boxing ring. Toe to toe exchanges highlighted the first half of the fight and both fighters had their moments when the leather was flying fast and furious. Lamour wisely slowed the pace in the fourth round and he then relied on his superior boxing skills and amateur pedigree to carry him to a decision win. A left hook had Ribeiro holding on in the fifth and in the sixth, Lamour landed just about every punch in his arsenal but could not put his game opponent away. Scores were 59-55, 60-54, and 60-54 all for Lamour who improves his record to 6-0, 3 KO's. The consensus in pressrow was that Lamour didn't look as good as he did last July when he stopped Rhode Island's Joey Gardner in six rounds. The 30 year old "Haitian Sensation" remains a work in progress but he's certainly worth keeping an eye on.

In a 4-round bantamweight bout, Jorge Abiague, 119, Portland, ME, won a unanimous decision over the professionally debuting Leonel Garcia, 120, San Juan, Puerto Rico, by scores of 40-35, 39-36, and 40-35. Garcia seemed to have no answer for Abiague's left hook and he was tagged with it pretty regularly throughout the fight. The winner goes to 4-0.

The Cannon wins big in his home state
In the pro opener, junior welterweight Brandon "The Cannon" Berry, 143.6, West Forks, ME, had his way with Paul Souza, 147, Sommerville, MA, for three one sided rounds before the fight was stopped in the third with Souza taking a shellacking. Berry established the jab early in the fight and then ripped brutal left hooks to the body and head of his debuting opponent, who lost a point for the second of two illegal spinning backfists.

In the third, Berry scored a knockdown off a vicious left hook, uppercut combination and a follow-up barrage from "The Cannon" brought the stoppage at 1:45. Berry goes to 4-0, 3 KO's and he looked infinitely better than he did in his last fight in September in New Hampshire where he struggled with Jesus Cintron before Cintron was disqualified for borderline low blows.

Popular welterweight, US Marine Jimmy Smith, 152.6, Biddeford, ME, got in the win column as a pro for the first time tonight with a dominating first round TKO over the winless Robert Brando, 152, Hyannis, MA, who was knocked down in the first round and then trapped in a corner where Smith relentlessly pounded his wounded opponent to the head to bring about a well timed referee stoppage at 2:30. Smith's record is now 1-1, 1 KO while Brando is now 0-5.

Robert Duran enjoys the action from ringside
In The Amateur Ranks:

Open class middleweights Jason Quirk, Scarborough, ME, and Joe McKenna, South Boston, MA, got fans ready for the pros with an entertaining bout won by McKenna via 3-round decision.

In a very entertaining amateur bout to open the night, open class heavyweights Justin Kennie, Saco, ME, and Joel Bishop, Clinton, ME, traded punches for three hard rounds, much to the delight of the capacity crowd. Bishop's nose was leaking all over the ring but the Mainer showed true grit and he was rewarded with a close decision win as well as the honor of being named "outstanding boxer" of the night by USA Boxing.

Images and Words by Jeffrey Freeman