By Mitch Abramson
Theater, Madison Square Garden, New York City - Long Island’s Sean Monaghan won a very tough unanimous decision over a visibly disappointed Roger Cantrell, a tall, rangy light heavyweight who hadn’t fought since April of 2010 when he was stopped in four rounds but nonetheless comported himself well. Cantrell has a knockout loss to super middleweight kingpin Andre Ward on his record back in 2007, which may or may not be impressive, considering it took five rounds to get rid of him. It looked as if Cantrell took part of his frustration out on Monaghan from that night. Monaghan had an ugly purple welt under his right eye when the fight was over. Nonetheless, he passed a very tough test to raise his record to 17-0, winning by judge's scores of 77-75, 78-74, 79-3 in a fight that seemed closer.
The fight had a back and forth feel to it. After taking a round to figure him out, Monaghan unleashed a series of right hands in the second round against Cantrell. But Cantrell (15-3) opened a cut over Monaghan’s left eye toward the end of the third round with a whipping right hand that had Monaghan in retreat the remainder of the round. The two traded punches in the fourth round, as Monaghan seemed to get the better of the exchanges and opened a cut under Cantrell’s nose, who was now also bleeding to go with Monaghan’s cut over his left eye.
The action heated up again in the fifth as both fighters exchanged thudding blows. Monaghan appeared to stagger his taller opponent with a check hook. But Cantrell came right back with a left hook of his own that seemed to stun Monaghan for a moment. The round ended with both winging punches at each other, with absolutely no attention to defense. Luckily for both guys, nothing of substance landed in those closing moments.
Monaghan’s right eye began to close in the sixth round, the result of a bundle of jabs from Cantrell and by the seventh a large mouse appeared under it. A winging shot by Cantrell appeared to open the cut over Monaghan’s left eye as the seventh round came to a close.
Meanwhile, Cantrell’s face wasn’t that much better, with a small mouse the size of a grape under his left eye and both eyes swelling from punishment. The barbaric action continued into the eighth and final round as both fighters traded heavy shots, their faces displaying the damages they were inflicting on each other. When the bell rang, the fighters gave each other a cathartic hug, as if to say, yes, that was rough but it wasn’t personal.
Felix Verdejo, a former 2012 Olympian from Puerto Rico, didn’t waste any time in his fight with Tomi Archambault. The boxers touched gloves in the middle of the ring and then Verdejo touched Archambault with a left to the body that was followed by a vicious left hook to Archambault’s head that sent him crashing to the canvas, and the lightweight bout was stopped after just 21 seconds. Verdejo improved to 2-0 with two knockouts while Archambault, from Bismark, North Dakota dropped to 1-4-1).
“It’s the first time I ever won a fight by throwing two punches,” the rangy 19-year-old said. “And I’ve never knocked out a guy with a left hook. It’s always a right hand.”
Glen Tapia made short work of his opponent, Ayi Bruce, halting the smaller Bruce at 2:33 of the second round of a scheduled eight-round super welterweight bout. Tapia bullied his way through the fight, pushing Bruce around the ring and dropping him to start the second round. He pinned Bruce against the ropes and finished him with a barrage of punches, forcing referee David Fields to stop the fight and allowing the hard-hitting Tapia, who is from nearby Passaic, NJ, to improve to 17-0 with ten knockouts. Bruce dropped to 14-9 with eight knockouts.
In a mild upset, Anthony Ferrante flattened previously undefeated Isa Akberbayev with a looping, sudden right hand at 1:19 of the tenth and final round, wresting the IBO Inter-Continental cruiserweight belt in the process from his opponent. Ferrante (13-4 eight knockouts) dropped to his knees and was in tears as his opponent was counted out.
“Throughout my career I have always been the bully in the ring- always trying to rush,” Ferrante said when it was over. “I always knew I had good power but I needed discipline. I countered him the whole fight.”
Both fighters tasted the canvas toward the end of the first round, with an overhand right sending Akberbayev (10-1) down and moments later a straight right hand decking Ferrante as the round ended. But it was Ferrante who seemed to control the latter half of the bout as Akberbayev looked tired. With the left side of his face covered in blood, the result of an accumulation of punches, Akberbayev could never hurt his opponent while Ferrante seemed to land the heavier shots. Still, the fight appeared headed to a decision before Ferrante landed a dramatic right hand that sent his opponent thudding to the canvas. The moment was made even more sudden since Ferrante was simply standing in front of his opponent, with neither boxer doing much of anything. Finally, Ferrante ruined the potential intimate moment with the punch that landed flush.
Akberbayev was lying prone on the canvas for nearly a minute as doctors tended to him. He finally sat up, prompting the crowd to stop chanting: “USA” and applaud that he was okay. Before the bout, Ferrante was probably best known for losing a decision to Omar Sheika last year. His reputation has now been burnished with this result.
He got the knockout he was looking for, but it didn’t come easy. Mikael Zewski, a highly decorated former amateur from Canada stopped a very willing Brandon Hoskins, who tried his best, even bloodying his opponent’s nose before he was sent toppling to the canvas three times in the fourth round, when the bout was stopped by referee Gary Rosato at 1:42 of that round.
Zewski bloodied Hopkins’ nose with a left hook in the opening round and kept throwing it the remainder of the fight. Zewski, a four-time Canadian national champion, moved nicely around the ring, landing hard shots, hoping to make a good impression in his second fight in New York. But a trickle of blood appeared on Zewski’s nose midway through the second round, the result of a combination from Hoskins, who wasn’t awed by the moment or his opponent and kept smiling whenever he got nailed. Eventually, though, Zewski's pedigree and skill took over. An overhand right sent Hoskins to the deck halfway through the fourth round. Hoskins rose on shaky legs and was immediately sent down again by a jab. Still, he got up smiling, going down once again with a one-two combo from Zewski, prompting referee Rosato to stop the fight. Zewski improved to 18-0 with 14 knockouts. A very game Hoskins, of Hannibal, MO, dropped to 16-4-1 in the scheduled six-rounder at welterweight.
In the first fight of the evening on the undercard at Madison Square Garden, Ronald Ellis brought his record up to 7-0 with five knockouts with a workman-like unanimous decision against Steven Tyner, who dropped to 3-10-2 in a four-round bout at super middleweight. Both guys tossed bombs back and forth for most of the fight- either that or the microphone was particularly sensitive to every piece of noise in the ring. Ellis was the slicker and smoother fighter, even if Tyner did his best to keep up with Ellis and punch with him when the two got in close.
But it was Ellis who continually got off first and landed first, had the faster hands and threw the better combinations, a recipe for success that ultimately swayed the judges to give him a 40-36 decision on all three scorecards. To his credit, even after Tyner was briefly shook up with a left hand in the fourth round, he still came back with several punches, showing his durability and a little pluck. He was caught on the ropes taking a shellacking as the bout bell sounded to end the fight, however.