By Ryan Songalia & David Greisman
MORE LIVE RESULTS TO COME..........
Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City - The fight between junior featherweights Jorge Diaz and Teon Kennedy was just that – a fight, one that lived up to its high expectations.
Both showed heart and guts and an ability to dig in deep and take back a fight that was getting away from him. Each put on the kind of performance that deserves credit. Alas, the judges still had their job to do.
And so, after 12 rounds of some of the best action of the year, Kennedy came away with a unanimous decision: 115-111 and surprisingly wide scorecards of 118-109 and 117-109.
Kennedy has been in many a battle, but never with someone with the power of Diaz. So when Diaz hurt Kennedy early, it was unknown whether Kennedy – a fighter who had summoned the will to battle back before – would be able to sustain such punishment for long. Kennedy also didn’t appear to have enough power to keep Diaz off him.
On both counts, he could. On both counts, he did.
Kennedy floored Diaz with a left hook atop the head in the third round, a balance knockdown that came when Diaz’s legs were wide.
The second knockdown was purely from a punch.
That came in the sixth round, when Kennedy landed a right hand over a lazy Diaz jab. Diaz got up on extremely wobbly legs, and Kennedy came in and landed clean, hard punch after clean, hard punch.
It was fitting that the referee was Steve Smoger, renowned for letting fighters work their way out of trouble. He could’ve stopped the fight. He didn’t. And he showed that choice to be the right one.
Diaz made it out of the sixth, then ducked and weaved Kennedy’s attacks in the seventh, avoiding the punches until his legs were back. Then Diaz began to land occasional right hands and left hooks again.
The second half of the fight saw two tired fighters trying to make the other guy fall down, trying to keep from having to go the full 12-round distance. Both made it to the final bell.
Kennedy, of Philadelphia, improves to 17-0-1 with 7 knockouts. Diaz, of New Brunswick, N.J., suffers his first loss and is now 15-1 with 9 knockouts.
All-Pro Baltimore Ravens safety and pugilistic moonlighter Tommy Zbikowski of Arlington Heights, IL survived a near-disaster as he won a narrow four-round unanimous decision over former cage fighter Caleb Grummet of Grand Rapids, MI. The scores of 39-36 twice and 38-37 were met by boos from the audience that had cheered vociferously upon his ring entrance.
Zbikowski, who came in 20 pounds lighter than his opponent at 195, started out looking cute in the opening minutes of the bout, but stepped in and worked Grummet's body with a pair of southpaw right hooks to the midsection.
Zbikowski continued to invest in body punching but turned his attention upstairs and stunned Grummet with a pair of hooks later in the first. The rugged-looking bearded Grummet was undeterred in the second as he pushed forward with his own blows. Zbikowski would use Grummet's aggression against him with uppercuts on the inside that busted up Grummet's nose.
The fight turned completely around in the third when Zbikowski appeared to gas under the constant pressure of Grummet, who continued to push forward and pound away. The crowd began to react to Grummet's relentlessness, which was highlighted by a left uppercut that seemed to buckle Zbikowski momentarily. The referee gave Zbikowski a much-needed breather when he deducted a point from Grummet for a questionable low blow.
Grummet's momentum continued into the fourth round as he desperately sought the knockout needed to overcome the point deduction, but Zbikowski ended the bout with a solid flurry to remind the judges that he was still viable.
This rough contest makes you wonder if the Ravens will want to allow Zbikowski to box, even in the event of a lockout.
Zbikowski moves to 3-0 (2 KO), while Grummet drops to 0-2.
Glen Tapia looked like he wanted to go rounds with Eberto Medina – and that’s precisely what he did, carrying his outmatched opponent over six rounds en route to a unanimous decision.
The scorecards were 60-52, 60-53 and 59-54 for the junior middleweight from Passaic, N.J.
When Tapia turned his offense on, he was too much for Medina. And when he calmed his offense down, Medina didn’t have enough to make Tapia pay for it.
Tapia knocked Medina down with a jab in the third round. And for the duration of the fight, he hit Medina with good jabs, strafed him with faster, straighter combinations, and punished him with hard body shots. Medina kept trying to get within striking distance, not that his punches had much impact on Tapia.
Tapia improves to 9-0 (5 knockouts). Medina, of Newark, N.J., falls to 5-6 (1).
Bantamweight Miguel Cartejena of Philadelphia, PA got his feet wet as a pro by winning his debut over Omar Gonzales of San Antonio, TX, who is now 2-6, by unanimous decision. Scores were 40-36 on all three cards.
Featherweight Camilo Perez (2-0, 2 KOs) stopped Desi Williams (0-2) in the first round after scoring two knockdowns. Perez returns to the ring after making his pro debut less than 30 days ago in Florida. Perez is a new rising Puerto Rican prospect in the Top Rank stable.