After a hiatus of four years, professional boxing returned to the Turning Stone Resort and Casino Event Center Feb. 26 and, judging by both the spirit of the bouts and the reaction of the crowd, it was a welcome comeback. Although the turnout was moderate, an enthusiastic hometown crowd was there in large part to support a slate of regional fighters, many hailing from the Albany area, with an equal number from the New York City area.
In fact, four of the seven bouts matched upstate talent against downstate rivals, giving the card the distinctive character of a regional conflict. And there was obviously no love lost between any of the combatants, as evidenced right from the opening bell, when Schenectady’s Reggie Scott, a light heavyweight, stood up against DeMarcus Clark of Shreveport, La.
Looking nervous, the taller Scott nonetheless managed a composed defense as Clark swung with determined malice only to find his target gone. Much to Scott’s frustration, the close fight was stopped in the third round after an accidental head butt opened a cut over Clark’s eye. The result was Scott’s first victory on what was initially called a unanimous decision, quickly changed to a technical knockout (TKO).
Rondu Campbell (red shorts) challenging Markus Williams.
The neighborhood brawl got under way in the second bout as another Schenectady fighter, super middleweight Markus Williams, met Brooklyn’s Rondu Campbell. Williams, originally from Guyana, bounced into the ring with that nation’s flag draped around him like a robe. Another close battle ensued, one that saw wild swinging and several momentum shifts, and had Williams surviving a fourth and final-round attack to take a unanimous decision and boost his record to 4-1. Upstate 1, Downstate 0.
Welterweight Broderick Antoine, fighting out of Troy, was up next, pitted against Norberto Frias, originally from Puerto Rico but lately of Queens. Despite their pedestrian records (9-8-1 for Antoine, 8-6-1 for Frias), the bout was nonetheless competitive, and went back and forth until Antoine scored heavily in the third, earning him a TKO when the referee called it off.
Later the co-feature saw another Schenectady super middleweight, the undefeated Brian Miller, step up against Jose Guzman, another Puerto Rico native now living and training in the Bronx. Guzman, a spindly figure wearing trunks that more resembled a floppy skirt (recalling similar garb favored by Hector “Macho” Camacho), proved to be an elusive figure, snapping jabs and counterpunches with his longer reach, and dancing away as the sturdier Miller sought to bore in and brawl. It all went that way until late in the third round when Miller finally managed to catch up to Guzman in the corner and unleash a sustained flurry that Guzman couldn’t quite manage to escape. When the referee stopped the fight, giving Miller a TKO and running his record to 7-0-3, there was one second left in the round.
Jose Guzman, sporting Hector “Macho” Camacho-type shorts in his bout against Brian Miller.
The sectional warfare was interrupted in the fourth bout when Canada’s Lucia Larcinese challenged Brooklyn’s Amanda Serrano to six two-minute rounds of featherweight action. Serrano, with a record of 4-0-1, wasted no time in attacking the more experienced Larcinese (4-4) with sharp combinations, showing both aggressiveness and good schooling, while her slower opponent backpedaled and countered. The bout evened out as it proceeded as Serrano fired rapidly but often missed, and the Canadian began connecting. Larcinese seemed to capture the momentum in the later rounds and raised her hands in triumph as the final bell sounded, only to lose a unanimous decision, a conclusion that left her understandably confused, angry and with a losing record.
Like all of the previous bouts, the main event proved to be a crowd-pleasing battle, the collision of two determined talents, the Austin, Texas super middleweight Brian Vera and the Brazilian prospect Isaac Rodrigues, now based in West Berlin, N.J. Throughout most of the 10-round fight Vera, who has appeared on the TV boxing reality show The Contender, went forward, pressing the action against the more tactical Rodrigues, with aggressive combinations and body shots. Later in the fight, however, the action ebbed and flowed while hard leather flew in both directions, a real war with no one able to sustain any real momentum. A battle that could have gone either way—one judge called it a draw—the majority decision went to Rodrigues, improving his perfect record to 17-0.
As satisfying as that bout was to the enthusiastic crowd, however, it was an earlier fight that truly energized them, as another Capital-area fighter, the lightweight Mike Faragon, originally from Syracuse but more recently residing in Guilderland, showed his stuff. Up against another transplanted Puerto Rican pugilist, Fernando Basora of the Bronx, Faragon displayed the skills of a thoroughly schooled boxer, both defensively and offensively, while his legion of fans chanted his name.
While Basora acquitted himself adequately in the first two rounds, his luck ran out in the third when Faragon floored him with a textbook right hook. Basora managed to get up and continue, only to suffer the same fate a few seconds later, leaving him sprawled on the canvas, Faragon’s fourth KO victim. Basora left the ring at 8-6-7 while Faragon advanced to 10-0. Final score for the battle of New York: Upstate 4, Downstate 0.
Brian Vera sizing up Isaac Rodrigues.