February 22, 2014

KO Digest Ringside Report - Glen Johnson wins in Rhode Island

CES Rhode Warrior
TWIN RIVER CASINO - Most boxing fans probably thought that 45 year old former IBF light heavyweight champion Glen Johnson was retired but it turns out he's not. Known as the "Road Warrior" of boxing, Johnson has earned a favorable reputation with fans for his crowd pleasing style in the ring and for his good natured demeanor outside of it. Best known for his one punch knockout of Roy Jones Jr in 2004, Johnson has met with mixed results since but he did beat fellow Jones conquer Antonio Tarver in his next fight before losing a rematch to Tarver in 2005. Since that time, Johnson's resume reads like a who's who of boxing with big fights against the likes of Chad Dawson, Tavoris Cloud, Carl Froch, Lucien Bute, and most recently George Groves. It was after the 2012 decision loss to Groves that Johnson announced his retirement from boxing to the delight of fans who were more than happy to show their appreciation for a beloved warrior who lived up to his own words after beating Jones Jr when he said, "I'm not the best, I'm just somebody who's willing to fight the best."

Johnson flew under the radar in 2013 and most boxing fans were blissfully unaware of the fact that he fought twice in "comeback" bouts, first in April against somebody named Junior Ramos in the Dominican Republic where Johnson stopped his overmatched opponent in the second. Then in December, Johnson defeated Bobby Gunn by eight round unanimous decision in Pennsylvania. It's now evident that Johnson can no longer beat the best but he remains willing to fight them, and that is why fans still pay good money to see him fight against more or less hand picked opponents while Johnson tries to maneuver himself into one or two more big fights, most notably a rematch with 49 year old current IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard "The Alien" Hopkins - a fighter no stranger to advanced age.

With Johnson in the main event, CES Classic Entertainment and Sports put on and entertaining night of boxing in spite of the fact that it was originally supposed to be former World Welterweight Champion Ricardo Mayorga making an appearance and not Johnson. When a promotional contract squabble with Don King derailed Rhode Island casino fans of the chance to see man smoke a cigarette in the ring, Johnson, Clarendon, Jamaica, 180, was brought in to entertain fans and he did his job. Too bad the matchmaker didn't. Johnson's CES opponent was Jaime Velasquez, Pawtucket, RI, 180, 11-6-2, 6 KO's. Incredibly, Velasquez had not fought since 1999 and he last won a fight in 1998, when Johnson was a spry 29 years of age. That was during the Clinton Administration for anyone keeping score at home.

Johnson waits for referee Lupino to step in
After a battle of jabs in the first, things opened up in the second and Velazquez was fighting on even terms with the Jamaican Gentleman to the surprise of many. Johnson's class started to take over in the third and fourth, walking Velazquez down, rocking him with left hooks and educated right hands while his opponent's stamina began to betray him. Referee Joey Lupino stopped the fight at 1:59 with Velazquez helpless and unable to defend himself. Johnson improved to 55-18-2, 37 KO's. "I was a little off in my timing," Johnson told KO Digest after the fight. "He was a tough guy. It was good. My goal is to be world champion again. Hopkins is number one on my chart because he's the guy that beat me a long time ago [1997] so I'm looking to avenge that loss." 

Toka Khan rips to the body
In The CES Classic Co-Feature: 

Toka Kahn Clary TKO2 Carlos Fulgencio - Top Rank prospect Kahn Clary, Providence, RI, 127, was a house of fire, wearing out Carlos Fulgencio, 128, 19-13-1, 12 KO's, Miami, FL, in the first round with ripping left and rights to the head and body. By the second, Fulgencio couldn't take it to the body any longer and Kahn scored three knockdowns with an overwhelming attack downstairs before the referee waved the fight over at 1:10 with Fulgencio on the canvas. Kahn looked impressive and goes to 10-0, 7 KO's. The 21 year old prospect fights again soon in Vegas, and he is one to keep a very close eye on.

On The Undercard:

Thomas Falowo WDQ3 Jaison Palomeque - Coming off a tough decision loss in his last fight seven months ago to Chris Chatman, "The Souljah" showed some ring rust early before his jelly belly opponent got tired which allowed Falowo a chance to start walking Palomeque down, which he did, scoring a knockdown in the second. "I caught him on the button with a straight ring on the inside, and he went down." At the bell to end the round, Palomeque, 159, Cartagena, Columbia, 14-8-1 9 KO's, wobbled back to his corner on unsteady legs. After a delay in the corner to argue with the ring doctor, they finally let Palomeque come out for the third but he was dog tired when he was disqualified for a blatant knee to the abdomen at 1:57 of the round. Falowo goes to 11-2, 7 KO's but can't take much satisfaction in a win like that.

Falowo, 164, a hard working full time pharmacy tech from Pawtucket, RI talked to KO Digest at the CES afterparty about his strange night in the ring. "Mentally it was a little difficult getting back in the groove of things. My conditioning wasn't a problem but I felt a little different. I wasn't hurt by the knee but I was shocked and it caught me off guard."

CES Home Sweet Home
KJ Harrison-Lombardi W4 Antonio Fernandez - Brockton's wispy Fernandez, 157 lbs, 4-15-2 seemed to control most of this sloppy fight with a left jab while his more colorful opponent did his best to get inside and punch to the head and body. Only problem was it didn't look like Lombardi, Providence, RI, 161 lbs, 5-0-1 knew exactly what to do when he got inside and Fernandez was pretty elusive when he did get tagged cleanly. Fernandez looked to be in better shape and KJ was sporting a soft midsection while Fernandez had ripped six-pack abs. In the end, KJ did the better pro work. CES's own Shelly "Shelito's Way" Vincent was ringside dogging out KJ before and during the fight, there being something about him she just doesn't like. Official Scores: 40-36, 40-36, and 39-37. 

Alvin Varmall Jr TKO3 Andre Ward - Opening bout, cruiserweights. Not that Ward was pesky with jabs and right crosses but Varmall, LaPlace, LA, 2-0, 2 KO, 198,  ran through him like Mike Tyson, busted up his left eye and finished him off with a barrage of punches punctuated by a left hook in the third round to go to 2-0 , 2 KO's. Ward, Washington DC, 198, 1-2-4, 1 KO was game and he made his man work in there but he just couldn't keep Varmall off of him and he could hardly see him through that nasty left eye.

KO Digest Ringside Report by Jeffrey Freeman

Photos Courtesy of Pattee Mak