It’s great being back at one of my favorite venues to catch boxing: Turning Stone Resort Casino. The drive through upstate NY is an exercise in patience outside of stopping at Roy Rogers. The scenery is dull and repetitive and there are miles between exits and I do mean miles. A 4.5-hour drive from my home in Massachusetts. Thankfully it was on a holiday weekend, so it is like stars aligned. I needed to be at this card. It was my first one in 13 months I was not able to make it to any in 2022 due to so many things going on. I love being there from the first fight to the last fight.
First fight didn’t even have a chance to get out of the opening round when Dante Benjamin Jr scored a brutal first round knockout of the undefeated Emmanuel Austin. I guess when you are hungry you are hungry. Hoping it’s a sign of things to come. Next up was top undefeated prospect Bruce Shu Shu Carrington vs Juan Antonio Lopez. Shu Shu has been nothing but workmanlike going 6 rounds with Lopez who showed he was ultra-tough hanging in with him. There are levels to this boxing game, but Lopez can at least hang his head high that he didn’t come to lay down. Next up is the TR debut of Brian Norman Jr. He clearly was looking for the highlight reel 1st round KO because he came out of the corner with fire in his eyes. He didn’t even sit down on his stool after the first round. Coria weathered that storm and started making the fight interesting for the undefeated Norman. Round 5 Coria is emboldened and is taking it to Norman landing some combinations clean. By the 8th round, Norman seems to be fading and getting caught more and more. Norman managed to score the first KD of the fight following a brutal assault on the ropes. It was a good scrap. Norman won comfortably on one card, but the other 2 scores were close even with the KD he scored.
The local favorite Bryce Mills had the loudest reaction of all the preliminary bouts in which he won a competitive but easy decision. Haven Brady though had a harder time finding anyone to cheer for him. He too would go the distance but not without some hard moments here and there. The last fight on the prelims between Adam Lopez and Abraham Nova on paper is a fun fight. After a feeling out type round in round 1, you can both men warmed into the fight. Lopez in particular found the mark with nice left hooks and right hands. Trading punches did eventually put Lopez down for the first time. The ref also called a questionable knockdown on Lopez in which it seemed that Nova pushed Lopez down to the canvas. They continue to fight nip and tuck until the final round where both decided to let it all hang out trading withering shots. Lopez was on the verge of possibly going down at the final bell.
The co-feature saw one of Top Rank HW prospects, Guido Vianello, going against upset minded Jonnie Rice. First round it seemed like both men were trying to find left hooks and right hands on each
other. Unfortunately, the action didn’t pick up like it should. Vianello was the aggressor for sure. Jonnie had been landing the right hands gradually. One of them opened up a very deep cut over Vianello’s eye. The cut got worse as the fight went on until the ring doctor stopped it. The ref, Benjy Esteves, originally was going to say it was headbutt when it was clear as day the punch caused. Lou DiBella and the commission made him do an instant replay which was great so a robbery couldn’t take place. At the time of stoppage, Vianello was up on all cards. So, congrats to Jonnie Rice on taking another zero of an undefeated prospect’s record.
Now we are at the main event with Efe Ajagba vs Stephan Shaw. Efe moving forward letting the jab go and establishing. Shaw followed suit but his hands were not as busy. Not a lot of separation in the first couple of rounds with each man having their moments. Not enough action for the crowd either as the boobirds come out again. Efe had been impressive sticking to his game plan. Shaw was definitely on the verge of losing a clear decision and needing a KO. In the 10th round, he should have been showing urgency but nothing. Efe Ajagba would win a UD with scores of 96-94 on all 3 cards. Although it was great to be at a live event, the heavyweights did not exactly light it up like we all thought. I made it for up by talking to some of fighters and trainers later as well as have a little fun at the blackjack table. See you at the next fights!!!