Roadkill to Redemption
Judah, Casamayor, Johnson hit bumps on rocky road
Ringside report and photos by Chris Cozzone
It might’ve been billed as “The Road to Redemption,” but the marquee names and their chosen road kill had three main bouts taking disappointing turns for the worse, off-road, off-beat and just plain off. One was ugly enough to make a freight train take a dirt road; the second ended up a road to nowhere; and the third, well, the third was a case of let’s-get-this-show-on-the-road because it never really happened.
The PPV card, held at the Palms in Las Vegas and promoted by Fernando Vargas’ V.E.P. Promotions, Ron Johnson’s American Dream Entertainment and Zab Judah’s Super Judah Promotions, headlined get-back fights for former world champs Judah, Joel Casamayor and unproven minor champ Ron Johnson.
Matched up against carefully chosen fodder, Judah was too much for a trial horse veteran, who quit in round two; Casamayor was sluggish in a dull eight-rounder; and Johnson, pitted against a downhill, overblown welterweight, had to settle for a no-contest when the two clashed noggins in round two.
The card did have its share of action – after the telecast, of course – when the son of a local legend stole the night with a blazing Vegas debut.
For former world champ Zab Judah, however, usually stout-hearted Mexican veteran Ubaldo Hernandez, at one time a live opponent and on a two-bout losing streak, should’ve provided plenty of opportunity to showcase his newly-honed skills.
But even that flopped. Hernandez, usually orthodox, came out a southpaw against the always-leftie Judah, which made a somewhat tentative first two minutes. The two crashed into one another a couple times during the opening round, then Hernandez crashed into the canvas from a body shot, once, and again.
Early in the second, a second collision resulted in Hernandez on the canvas, from what could’ve been body shots with a mixed-in low blow. This time, Hernandez decided it’d be best if he didn’t continue, massaging a damaged shoulder that somehow had been injured from throwing unseen punches in the second.
Referee Joe Cortez called off the mismatch at :35.
Ending his year lay-off, Judah, now 38-6, 26 KOs, restated his mission to reclaim world dominion, over one belt or another.
“I’m on a mission, I’m on the road to redemption – trust this,” he said, calling out Andre Berto.
Hernandez drops to 22-20-2, 10 KOs.
Rust bucket drive on ‘Road’
In the co-main event, eight rounds somewhere between jr. welter and welterweight, former world champ Joel Casamayor, his career heaviest at 146, needed most of his distance bout with game-but-unheralded Vancouver club fighter Jason Davis to shake off oodles of rust.
Coming off three straight losses, Davis was a safe foe, but he came to fight, forcing Casamayor not only to work, but to eat a few right hands.
Casamayor was clearly Davis’ master, but a zillion amateur fights, a handful of world titles and six times the years in experience may have helped to tip things in the Cuban general’s favor.
For the first four or five rounds, though, Casamayor was tentative, sluggish and decidedly rusty. For the first two, he had an easy time making Davis miss his shots, but in the third the chosen roadkill unflattened himself from the highway to drive the ex-champ back, making him look less vintage, and more antique.
Casamayor started to sharpen his slappy punches in the fourth – a close round – and, in the fifth, played it safe, making the youngster continually miss.
With stamina clearly not an issue for the career-heaviest Cuban, Casamayor showed flashes of genius in the sixth, taking occasional potshots at a confounded Davis. Then, finally, in the seventh, outmastered, outclassed and outboxed the poor kid, driving him back and all over the ring.
Still determined, Davis fought back bravely in the final round, while Casamayor, clearly uninterested in knocking out his opponent, put in a final round of sparring.
All three judges were in agreement, 79-73 for Casamayor, who ups his stats to 37-4-1, 22 KOs, while ending a year’s absence.
Though heading back to the Northwest with yet another loss, Davis, now 11-5-1, 3 KOs, will do so with double the paycheck. After coming in three pounds heavy on the scales, Casamayor was forced to renegotiate the contract with Davis, slicing his paycheck by half while doubling Davis’.
Crash course with Karma
Hearing that Ron Johnson had made good his many promises to kayo Dumont “Dewey” Welliver would’ve come as no surprise – had it happened, that is.
Welliver, 3-7 in his last ten, a fighter on a downhill race to a head-on collision, had not only been picked to lose, but chosen to be slaughtered at the mitts of much-bigger, stronger, younger, fresher “American Dream.”
Somehow approved by a commission that is supposed to be the greatest in the world, the bout had Welliver outweighed a staggering 12 pounds on the scale (186 to 174). Furthermore, Welliver (just a welter three fights back), weighed in wearing sweats that many guessed could’ve concealed ankle weights.
In other words, the bout was supposed to be a nightmare loss for Welliver, to the “American Dream,” a train wreck waiting to happen.
But this train wreck was derailed by karma.
The size difference was apparent when the two entered the ring. This was clearly a match between a blown-up light-heavy and a blown-up welter.
Round one saw Johnson taking his time, setting up big rights and, when landing, staggering the mismatched Welliver.
The kayo-waiting-to-happen didn’t, though, for, early in round two, when Johnson rushed into batter his fodder, the two clashed heads, resulting in twin gashes, above and below Welliver’s left eye. Upon advice of the physician, Referee Russ Mora stopped the bout, declaring it a no-decision at :08.
Welliver remains at 18-19-1, 6 KOs, and Johnson, at 11-1, 3 KOs.
Sanchez debuts in Vegas
In a lively featherweight bout, nephew to the legend bearing the same name, Salvador Sanchez (17-3-2, 8 KOs), of Tianguistenco, Mexico, hammered out a hard-fought unanimous decision over Jose Pacheco (2-8-6), of Cudahy, Calif., who’s on a four-L streak.
While clearly winning and outclassing his game foe, Sanchez also showed he is there to be hit. In round one, Pacheco couldn’t miss when he threw his jab.
After a close first, Sanchez came out stronger in the second, taking control of the fight. Driving Pacheco back, Sanchez started to put the rounds in his pocket, punishing his foe in the third but still weathering plenty of Pacheco’s right hands.
In the second half of the fight, Sanchez’s bigger punches and higher output made the difference. Pacheco was battered to the body in the fifth but the wear-and-tear dished out by Sanchez could not put him down.
After six, all three judges had it for Sanchez, 60-54 twice and 59-55.
Saving a card that would’ve otherwise been a shutout of disappointment, Dayel Sitiwatjana (3-1, 1 KO) – that’s “Toddy Jr.” to local fight fans who’ve been following his father, Master Toddy, for years – and Brice Yeniki (0-3) put on a thrilling four-round slugfest.
The two met in the center of the ring and hashed it out in the first round, both slugging, until Toddy, the superior boxer, stepped back to utilize a hard jab. Showing sound boxing skills no one would’ve ever guessed originated out of a house of Muay Thai, and no inclination to square off and kick, Toddy landed the heavier shots, rocking Yeniki in the last minutes with crushing rights.
Game to the core, Yeniki, giving up weight and size, threw himself at Toddy, but the local favorite continued to impress with a decent defense. Adding left hooks to his arsenal, Toddy continued to outbox his foe, opening up late in the third when the two blasted away at one another in a series of furious exchanges.
Toddy’s time in the gym as a sparring partner to Casamayor – not to mention his genetic inheritance – showed through the fourth, in several more exchanges that rarely had the local phenom forgetting his boxing basics.
After four rounds, Toddy picked up his first hometown win with scores of 40-36 across the board.
In the walkout bout of the evening, Zab’s bro, Joseph Judah (5-0, 1 KO), was, by far, the better fighter over Mexican Joel Gonzalez (2-5, 1 KO), but showed zero killer instinct and was content to play it safe through four dull rounds.
Judah came out strong, trying to bag his catch with a barrage of punches early on. Several low blows, though, gave the groaning Mexican a two-minute rest. When the fight resumed, Judah went from super-speed to slow-mo, where he stayed for the duration.
Gonzalez was there to survive and collect a paycheck, and he kept his guns holstered for much of the fight while Judah methodically moved ahead, jabbing and setting up an occasional and entirely safe left hand.
Another low blow in the third, gave Gonzalez another rest and a point off for Judah, but in the fourth, finally, one of those super-safe jabs floored Gonzalez. Whimpering, Gonzalez was down again ten second later. With a knockout win there for the taking, Judah, however, showed no hunger and coasted to a no-brain decision, with scores of 39-34 twice and 39-35.