By Jake Donovan
In an all-US matchup fought abroad, Tor Hamer topped Kevin Johnson in the finals of the Prizefighter heavyweight tournament Wednesday afternoon at Bethnal Green in London, England.
In addition to the win and the trophy, Hamer pockets ₤32,000 for his efforts.
Hamer took full advantage of Johnson’s lazy in-ring approach, pumping his jab from the opening bell. A straight right hand pushed Johnson back to the ropes, perhaps the most significant punch thrown in a first round that was dominated by Hamer’s workrate. Johnson had his moments, including an uppercut about two minutes into the bout.
The same blueprint was applied by Hamer in round two, getting his punches off first and moving out of harm’s way the moment Johnson loaded up in return. Johnson managed to close the gap as the bout wore on, but in falling behind early the fight quickly became a race against the clock for the former title challenger.
Time was called at the start of the third and final round, as Hamer’s corner attempted to deal with the fighter’s trunks which revealed a bit too much ass-crack for the liking.
Once the fighters met in center ring, both fighters began to plead their case. Hamer moved side to side as he fired off shots, but Johnson played it smart in staying straight down the middle with his jab. Johnson stepped up the activity in the final minute of the bout but it appeared to be too little too late.
The final scorecards revealed as much, with tallies of 30-27, 30-28 and 29-28 crowning Hamer the winner of the fight and the tournament.
Hamer advances to 18-1 (11KO) with the win, by the far the most impressive of the New Yorker’s young career.
Johnson falls to 28-2-1 (13KO), losing for the first time since his failed title bid to Vitali Klitschko in December 2009.
Hamer overwhelmed house favorite Tom Dallas, unloading from the opening bell until forcing the referee to stop the contest early in the first round.
Dallas never had a chance to get untracked, as Hamer caught him with a right hand and never let up. The stoppage was inevitable as Dallas was defenseless along the ropes until the bout was stopped at 0:29 of round one.
Kevin Johnson’s trek to the finals was the polar opposite route, as he took a disputed split decision win over Albert Sosnowski in the first bout of the semi-final round.
Scores were 30-27 and 29-28 for Johnson, while the third judge had Sosnowski winning 29-28.
In a bout where there was little to choose from in each round, Sosnowski made sure to get off first in most of the exchanges. Johnson was the odds-on favorite to win the tournament, but his laid-back counterpunching style proved to be a hindrance in the series’ microwaved format.
Still, the American landed the more telling blows in the bout, which proved to be the difference on the scorecards. The bout was a far cry from Johnson's guarantee of three knockouts in three fights, but enough to stay alive in the tournament.
Johnson now awaits the outcome of the other semifinal bout between Tor Hamer and Tom Dallas to find out whom he will face in the Prizefighter finals.
An all-UK matchup provided the most thrilling bout of the quarterfinal round, as Tom Dallas outlasted Tom Little en route to a third round stoppage.
The action was furious throughout, enough to where a three-round bout became a war of attrition. Little went all in early on but was exhausted by the start of the third round. Dallas took advantage, scoring the bout's lone knockdown midway through. Little peeled himself off of the canvas, but Dallas overwhelmed him until the referee intervened at 1:57 of round three.
Tor Hamer pitched a shutout over Marcelo Luiz Nascimento to advance to the semi-finals. Scores were 29-28, 30-26 and 30-27. Hamer outboxed the Brazilian in the first two rounds and scored a standing-eight count in the third to seal the deal.
The New York-based heavyweight now awaits the winner of the last remaining quarterfinals between British countrymen Tom Dallas and Tom Little. Nascimento is done for the evening, though leaving his mark on the contest by showing bravery in entering the ring to Barry Manilow's timeless classic 'Copacabana.'
Kevin Johnson and Albert Sosnowski - both of whom fell way short in separate past title fights against Vitali Klitschko - will square off in the semi-finals thanks to wins in the quarterfinals.
Johnson scored the first knockout of the evening, with a 1st round stoppage of Moroccan ring novice Noureddine Meddoune.
Johnson didn't offer much of anything for the first 90 or so seconds, but the fight was no lo contendre the moment he let his hands go. Meddoune was floored midway through the round and then heavily under siege, prompting referee John Keane to intervene.
Sosnowski escaped with a split decision over badly faded Maurice Harris in the first bout of the evening. Scores were 29-28 (twice) for Sosnowski and 29-28 for Harris.
The final decision was met with mixed reaction from the crowd. Harris stunned Sosnowski in the opening moments of the bout, but otherwise offered a lazy effort in allowing himself to be outworked by the Polish journeyman.
Sosnowski advances to the semi-final round, with the advantage of waiting out three more quarterfinals results before having to step back into the ring.
The format for each bout is three rounds.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox