By Cliff Rold
Santander Arena, in Reading, Pa. - The televised card got off to a memorable start in the lightweight division.
In a battle of undefeated contenders, 25-year old Robert Easter (18-0, 14 KO), 134 ½, of Toledo, Ohio, survived a brief knockdown in the eighth to earn a grueling split decision over 29-year old Richard Commey (24-1, 22 KO), 135, of Accra, Ghana. The referee was Benjy Esteves Jr.
Well matched from the start, both men looked for an edge through a closely contested first four rounds. The heavy hands of Commey produced a booming effect when they landed but the longer, more diverse offense of Easter. In the fourth, Easter started to get into a groove and built what looked like a lead.
The power of Commey never let any lead feel safe. In an eighth round he was losing, an explosive Commey right hand scored a flash knockdown to suddenly draw the scores closer again. The fight was just getting ready to move into another gear.
The ninth round featured three of the best minutes of fighting this year, both men hurting each other as the momentum swung. Commey came on strong for the next two rounds, his heavy hands doing the best work while Easter relied mostly on the jab.
Heading into the final round, it was anyone’s fight. Easter found the shot he needed to make a loud case in his favor. Buckling Commey with a right hand that looked like a knockout blow, Easter came alive in search of a knockout. Commey wisely tied up, desperately trying to survive and find his legs. In the final minute, Commey seemed to buzz Easter and it was Easter who tied up. Both men used clinches to stretch out the final seconds before opening up with a final, thrilling exchange to end an excellent fight.
The scores came in rich with drama. The first announced was 115-112 Easter, followed by 114-113 Commey. The final score came in at 114-113 and the arena joined Easter in boisterous, well-earned celebration.
Easter maintained his excitement in post fight comments. “Man, it’s been a long training camp. My team…we have a hell of a training camp. This fight wasn’t easy at all. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Richard Commey, he’s a tough, tough competitor and he made me fight every round. But we did it man. We did it.”
The card was televised in the US on Spike TV as part of the Premiere Boxing Champions series.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]