Undefeated welterweight prospect Denzel “Double Impact” Whitley (13-0, 7 KOs) settled unfinished business in last night’s “Pandemonium at The Palladium 2” main event, presented by Granite Chin Promotions (GCP), at the famed Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts. (photo by Emily Harney)

In a fight that almost happened several times in the past, unbeaten welterweight Whitley and Larson finally met to settle unfinished business for the vacant Junior North American Boxing Federation (NABF) Welterweight Championship. Neither had fought in a 10-rounder until last night.

After a “feeling out” first round, the strategy was for Whitley to keep his hands high and effectively counter punch, while the tough, rugged Larson more than lived up to his nickname (“Lionheart”), charging forward and throwing punches from various angles. A steady diet of counter punches enabled Whitley to take control, knocking Larson’s mouthpiece out twice early in the fight when Whitley trapped him in the corners.

The action somewhat slowed in the sixth and seventh rounds as the always poised Whitley continued to breakdown a game Larson, who kept coming at the start of the eighth, but Whitley remained dominant and unfazed by Larson’s aggressive style.

Larson was penalized a point in the ninth round when his mouthpiece came out for the fifth time during the clash. Clearly the Fighter of the Night, Whitley only had to remain upright to win, but he chose to fight right to the end, firing shots until the final bell. The judges’ wide range of scoring resulted in a somewhat questionable 10-round split decision win for Whitley (99-90, 97-92, 92-97.

“He (Larson) said he was strong, and he was,” Whitley said after the fight. “That kid is tough. If you judge by competition in a full fight this was my best fight. Every time he threw his right hand, I countered with uppercuts. I thought I was going to get him out of there, but when I had him on the ropes, he got too close to me for me to have the right range, and he got out and came right back. I have to give it up to him. The question going into this fight was who was left in New England for the winner. I think I will have to move around, fighting outside of New England in 2024, and hopefully I’ll move up in the WBC rankings after this win.”  

Whitley is crowned the new NABF Welterweight Champion Whitley is also the reigning Massachusetts and United States Boxing Federation (USBF) Welterweight Champion.

Hometown favorite Kendrick “Peppa” Ball, Jr. (22-1-3, 12 KOs), of Worcester, captured his third title belt, the vacant USBF light heavyweight, stopping his Venezuelan opponent, former WBA Fedelatin Super Welterweight Champion Heber Rondon (20-6, 13 KOs), at the tail end of the first round. Ball drilled Rondon with a body shot and unleashed a couple of additional punches that dropped Rondon on his back. Ball added the USBF belt to his hardware collection that includes the New England middleweight and WBC USA Silver super middleweight straps.

Marshfield (MA) welterweight Joe Bush, a 2023 New England Golden Gloves silver medalist, turned in a spectacular pro debut performance versus Jemorean Smith (0-2). Bush stopped Smith with a perfectly placed shot to the stomach that dropped Smith to his knees. He failed to beat the referee’s 10-count for a Bush knockout at the 58-second mark of round one.

Coming out of the corner with vengeance in his eyes, aggressive Douglas (MA) junior middleweight Robert Degaetano (2-0, 2 KOs) blasted out Devon Grant (0-7) in the opening round, flooring Grant three times to earn a technical knockout victory.

Degaetano unloaded a barrage of unanswered punches for the first knockdown, followed by a six-punch combination for the second, and a left to the head and right to the body sent Grant down again and the referee waved off the action.

In arguably the Fight of the Night, Worcester junior middleweight Khiary “Too Sharp” Gray (17-6, 13 KOs) won a very competitive six-round unanimous decision (58-56 X 3) over cagey Jimmy “The Quiet Storm” Williams (18-14-2, 6 KOs), despite the New Haven fighter recording the lone knockdown of the fight. Gray fought for the first time in two years and his ring rust showed as he missed punches early, but he buzzed Williams in the second and buckled his opponent’s knees in the fourth. A former college football player who only two years ago defeated world champion Yuri Foreman, Williams used his experience and athleticism to great advantage, scoring a flash knockdown in the fourth.

Undefeated Springfield (MA) lightweight prospect Carlos “El Gallo” Gonzalez extended his win streak to nine with his eighth knockout. Gonzalez sent Nathan Benichou (2-19-1, 2 KOs) to the canvas in the opening round via a quick left-right combination. Gonzalez attacked full force in the second and closed the show with a lightning quick one-two.

Scituate (MA) heavyweight Kevin “Big Gulp” Nagle improved to 5-0 with his fifth knockout when pro-debuting Tadeu Costa was unable to continue after three rounds.

Cuban southpaw Danny Lafos Poll (3-0, 3 KOs) sent junior middleweight Bryan Goldsby (5-20) to the canvas three times by the middle of round one. The first was by way of a left cross, second a body shot, and the last a left to the head after which the referee stopped the fight.

Junior welterweight Carlos Marrero III (6-9-3, 1 KO) registered a mild upset, knocking out Tyrone “Hands of Stone” Luckey (16-23-4, 12 KOs) with a straight right hand in the second round. It was Marrero’s first knockout of his 18-fight pro career.

Famous Wilson (3-0, 3 KOs) dropped super middleweight Nata Gomes (0-3) with a body shot, followed by another knockdown, when the referee halted the action at 2:15 of the opening round.

Springfield junior welterweight Edwine Humaine (3-0, 3 KOs) only needed 19 seconds to stop pro-debuting Terrence Richardson, who was dropped by a three-punch combination, never recovering from the first shot to the body.

Four-time New England Golden Gloves champion Keno Luna, of Worcester, will need to wait a little longer for his pro debut. His scheduled fight last night was cancelled when his opponent, Moises Rivera, didn’t show up at the venue to fight even though he weighed in the day before.