by Cliff Rold
A battle of unbeaten southpaw Bantamweights delivered fireworks in the main event Friday night at the South Mountain Arena in South Orange, New Jersey. Dropped in round three, 29-year old Juan Carlos Payano (14-0, 8 KO) of Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, came off the floor to seize control before lowering the boom on 28-year old Jundy Maraon (15-1-1, 12 KO) of Sominot, Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines, in round seven.
Both men came in below the division limit of 118 lbs., Payano at 116 ½ and Maraon at 117. The referee was Randy Newman.
A brisk first round saw an early hint of drama when what appeared to be a clash of heads opened a cut over the right eye of Payano. Each man was doing his best to land heavy stiff prior to that, and continued to do so in the second with Payano a step ahead based on greater speed.
Late in the third, Payano found himself in big trouble. With the blood dripping from the eye, Maraon landed a hard right and left to send Payano reeling along the ropes. A right to the body landed for extra affect as Payano was already on his way to the deck. Payano beat the count and went back to the corner with a dazed expression.
Round four began with Maraon trying to test the legs of Payano and eating a hard, stunning counter attack for his trouble. Payano settled down and boxed well, snaring the fourth and next two rounds just by getting off and landing first more often. To his credit, Maraon stayed in range, right hand low, looking for big shots. Maraon’s activity level was just too slight.
In the closing seconds of round six, Payano rocked with Maraon with a big right hand, buckling his knees. It was a hint of things to come. Unleashing an attack in the seventh, Payano forced Maraon into a shell. The Filipino turned his head away from the assault and never saw the left come over the top, striking him high in the head and sending him in a heap to the canvas. Maraon was face down and did not attempt to rise, referee Newman finishing the count at :39 seconds of round seven.
Payano entered the bout rated in the by three of the four most notable sanctioning bodies, #11 by the WBC, #5 in the WBA, and #14 by the IBF.
26-year old Dominican Featherweight Yenifel Vicente (25-1-2, 17 KO), 123, of Miami, Florida, made it three stoppage wins in a row since a decision loss to Chris Avalos last August. A massive right uppercut dropped a game 25-year old Jorge Diaz (17-2, 10 KO), 122, of New Brunswick, New Jersey, with a big right uppercut in round four. Diaz rose but couldn’t hold Vicente off and referee Benjy Esteves Jr. stopped the bout at 2:02 of round four.
In the televised opener, undefeated 23-year old Jr. Middleweight prospect Anthony Gangemi (4-0, 3 KO), 147 ½, of Mine Hill, New Jersey, went the distance for the first time in his career and got some solid rounds in earning a majority decision over four rounds versus 26-year old Anthony Prescott (1-2-1, 1 KO), 148, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The final scores gave Prescott credit for his effort at 38-38 on one card while favoring Gangemi at 39-37 and a shutout 40-36 on the other two. The referee was Sparkle Lee.
Middleweight: Antoine Douglas (8-0, 6 KO) TKO3 Ibahiem King (11-9, 5 KO)
The contest was televised in the U.S. on ESPN2 as part of its “Friday Night Fights” series, promoted by Greg Cohen Promotions.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]