Giving the fans what they want has always been the goal of any promoter/fighter, what happens when you also give the fighters what they want in choice of opponent? You get the “Battle for Brooklyn”. In front of a packed house of rowdy Brooklyn boxing fans, DiBella Entertainment put on a nine fight card at the spacious Aviator Sports and Events Center in Brooklyn, NY where the headliners were two of Brooklyn’s very own. In what some could label as a crossroads fight, a cross-town rivalry, and a grudge match, Gabriel “Tito” Bracero (22-1 4KO’s) took on Dmitry “Star of David” Salita (35-1-1 18KO’s) in a 10 round bout for the WBO Intercontinental Welterweight title.
In the star attraction of the night, Gabriel Bracero moved up to the highest weight he has ever been tipping the scales at 145lbs just to secure the bout against Salita who in recent years campaigned at the welterweight limit. With the added weight, Bracero seemed to benefit from a chiseled upper body but he seemed to have the advantage in power as evident in the first round when he buckled Salita’s legs with a lunging left hook. Showing the superior boxing skills, “Tito” jabbed, moved, and hooked his way to an early lead as a frustrated Salita was unable to land many of the raking right hands he threw. The crowd was split but slightly in favor of Bracero who would clock “Star of David” with repeated left hooks that staggered him when they would land, taking a breather in the middle rounds the hook and straight right would be enough to win him rounds. Although outgunned, Salita never stopped pressing and had a good round six when Bracero dropped his work rate, but the success would be short lived as the momentum was switched back in the eighth round when a short, almost jab like hook landed flush on the button of Salita sending him down on the seat of his trunks. Surviving the round the action would pick up in the last two rounds as the men fought non-stop inside with barrages by Bracero getting the better of Salita who looked spent by the closing bell. When the bell sounded to end the fight, Bracero looked supremely confident in victory as he pounded his chest and yelled in jubilation, and rightfully so as scores of 97-92 99-90 and 100-89 were all read out in favor of the new WBO Intercontinental Welterweight champion Gabriel “Tito” Bracero.
The co-feature bout of the evening would showcase ultra-popular female fighter Heather “The Heat” Hardy (6-0 1KO) of Brooklyn, NY against Laura “La Maravilla” Gomez (4-3) of Sonora, Mexico; for the UBF Women’s World Junior Featherweight title in an 8 round bout. Fighting in front of her hometown fans, Heather would bring the heat once again from the opening bell shooting a non-stop barrage of punches on a shorter Gomez who had no answer but to shell up and survive. Hooks, uppercuts, right hands, jabs, if you could name the punch Hardy was landing them at will upstairs and to the body, and with plenty of “Heat” as Gomez could only muster up the occasional overhand right to keep her alive in the fight. With the shorter 2-minute rounds, the action was fast paced and after a hellacious first round Hardy would continue pouring it on in the second stanza giving the referee no choice but to halt the action at 1:44 as a defenseless Gomez looked completely out of it. With the win “The Heat” notches her second consecutive stoppage victory while moving up to 7-0 as well as picking up the UBF title at 122lbs possibly opening the door for more lucrative bouts.
Traveling back home to his original hometown of New York, NY for just the second time in his career, Japanese based Charlie “Lighting” Ota (23-1-1 16KO’s) who lives and trains out of Tokyo, Japan took on tough Puerto Rican veteran Mike “El Cangri” Ruiz (17-7 9KO’s) in an 8 round super welterweight matchup. From the outset the match looked pretty even as Ota would stalk landing on the inside as Ruiz would use his range to pepper jabs and check hooks on the outside to keep Ota off balance. Having the height and reach disadvantage, “Lighting” had to hustle to get inside to land his chopping hooks and straight rights as he looked for Ruiz to engage in closer quarters, to the fans delight “El Cangri” unleashed combinations on the inside and at times out landed the world rated Ota. Landing the occasional staggering overhand right, Ota would force the fight on the ropes as Ruiz showed the gift and curse of machismo tactics by taking punches and trading with no escape leaving his eyes puffy in the later rounds. Still game in the closing rounds Ruiz stayed on the outside on his back foot shooting multiple jabs but it wasn’t enough as Ota blocked his way inside to shoot his own counter shots that took the steam out of whatever momentum Ruiz had gained. In the end the judges saw a fight that was difficult to score at times but was clearly evident that Ota deserved the victory with a split decision nod in his favor with scores of 76-76 78-74 and 77-75 in his favor, Charlie Ota moves to 24-1-1 as Mike Ruiz takes another tough loss and drops to 17-8.
In an uneventful six round light heavyweight bout Long Island’s Joe Smith Jr. (12-1 11KO’s) took on Bythe, CA’s Lamont Williams (5-2-1 2KO’s) who is known for going the distance against Marcus Browne in his last fight. Both men started the first couple of rounds prodding with jabs and trying to figure out each other’s rhythm to find a place for their power punches. Landing more consistently, Smith was able to edge out the closer rounds by just pressing forward and at least attempting to engage on his cagey opponent who was looking to land the perfect counter all night. A few right hands by Smith later in the match seem to grab the attention of the fans and of Williams as he clinched and fought inside to avoid any further hard shots, the fight would end this way with neither man able to fully dominate the other. The scores were read out to the crowd and Smith Jr. was awarded the split decision victory as one judge had it 58-56 in favor of Williams and the other two with the same score but for the hometown fighter Joe Smith Jr.
One of the most competitive bouts of the evening would feature former amateur standout Patrick “All” day (5-0 2KO’s) of Freeport, NY in against the very tough and rugged Urmat Ryskeldiev (5-3 4KO’s) originally of Kyrgyzstan but now training out of Los Angeles, CA. The six round junior middleweight bout would be contested in mostly close quarters as Day, the superior boxer; was unable to land enough significantly hard punches to keep the hard charging Ryskeldiev off of him. Landing a flashy double left hook to the body and head, Day would employ a better defensive technique avoiding many of his opponent’s right hands but get lured to trade inside eating hooks and uppercuts to the body before spinning out. A beautiful jab, right hand, and left hook would crack Ryskeldiev who came back by pushing forward behind a steady one-two combination; Day would snap jabs and stuff them into his man’s face but the tough as bones L.A. fighter kept pressing forward willing to take whatever Day dished out. In a tough fight to score, the judges came up with scores of 59-55 for Day and 57-57 twice for a Majority Decision giving Day the first blemish on his record, the general consensus is that this will motivate both fighters to a greater level in their next bouts.
In the fourth fight of this stacked card, Brooklyn’s Shemuel “The Chosen One” Pagan (3-0 1KO), a southpaw lightweight recently signed by 50 Cent’s SMS Promotions; had an exciting scrap with Springfield, MA’s Jesus “The Juice” Cintron (2-3-2 1KO) in a four rounder. From the bell, Cintron looked to blitz Pagan by coming straight out of his corner and rushing the southpaw winging shots from both sides as Pagan intelligently covered up and avoided danger. “The Chosen One” would also choose not to play the victim by firing back with a stiff jab and a body attack that worked well in the first round. Leaning in when he would fire his hooks downstairs, Pagan picked off Cintron with lead uppercuts to the head followed by vicious body shots that really took the juice out of “The Juice” who went into mauler-mode to stay alive. The greater footwork and hand speed was too much for Cintron who capitalized on his opponents mistakes and landed a double fisted body attack to seriously hurt Cintron who was able to stay on his feet by holding on to the smaller Pagan. A beautiful right uppercut and straight left down the pipe would open up the final round as the Brooklyn native was able to finally hurt Cintron to the head, the body shots would follow as Pagan went in for the kill but Cintron, double over; pushed forward into a clinch to buy time until the final bell. When the dust settled, a unanimous decision was rendered awarding Shemuel “The Chosen One” Pagan his 4th pro victory with scores of 40-36 across the board for the 5-time New York Golden Gloves champion.
Another recent signee of 50 Cent’s SMS Promotions stable, Chris “Golden” Galeano (0-1) of the Bronx, NY, a former national amateur standout at 152 and 165lbs; looked to pick up his first victory against the winless yet game Jamil “Brick City” Gadsden (0-3) of Bridgeton, NJ in a four rounder at the 154lb limit. Galeano would dominate the first round with his long jab that kept Gadsden thinking on his back foot and setting up his long range right hands. The action would pick up however as both men picked up the pace in the second round with Gadsden going downstairs and “Golden” shooting short uppercuts inside to keep his leverage, a clash of heads opens up a nasty gash above the southpaw Galeano’s left eye but not in a place that put his chances of victory in jeopardy. Seeing Galeano wearing a crimson mask, Gadsden would come forward landing a few right hands, one of them staggering Galeano momentarily as he was looking to pivot out of danger. Keeping his victory secure and his eye from getting worse, Galeano would spend the final round on his back foot successfully jabbing and check hooking the forward rushing “Brick City” native who desperately wanted to win himself. However the victory would land in Chris Galeano’s hands as the judges tallied scores of 40-36 40-36 and 39-37 for “Golden” who evens out his record, for Gadsden he goes back to drawing board as he continues on his journey for his first victory.
Wildly popular Junior “Sugar Boy” Younan of Brooklyn, NY made his professional debut in the super middleweight division after signing a long term promotional deal with DiBella Entertainment just before his 18th birthday this past September. Playing the role of opponent was St. Joseph, MO’s Kenneth Schmitz (2-11-1 1KO) who was honestly unable to withstand the combination of speed and power possessed by the “boxing prodigy”. From the jump, Younan measured his man, and then fired with crushing double fisted hooks and uppercuts that quickly put Schmitz down in his corner, a follow up barrage moments later would have him tasting the canvas again. With supporters cheering “Sugar Boy” on, he went for the kill like a hungry young lion and charged through Schmitz beating him down to the mat once again for the TKO victory at 1:40 of the very first round. With the win we look forward to seeing what Lou Dibella has in store for his youngest fighter in one of the most competitive divisions.
In the opening bout of the night, Louis “Cruz Control” Cruz (4-0 2KO’s) of the Bronx,NY looked spectacular against Brooklyn fighter Bryan Acaba (3-4 2KO’s) in a scheduled six round lightweight fight. Looking to impress the crowd, Cruz opened up the match with solid jabs and a right hand as he measured the circling Acaba who as the shorter man, was given no opportunity to get inside to unleash his arsenal. After a slow first round, the second would pick up quickly when Cruz opened up with a three punch combination downstairs that bothered Acaba, moments later a right uppercut would hurt him sending Acaba into the ropes with a fierce Cruz going on “Cruz Control” slamming him with a barrage that made him crumble to the canvas but the referee would miss the call as Acaba sprung back up with a punch of his own. Inside a clinch fighting on the ropes, Acaba who was hurt would eat a short left hand, then Cruz right off of the first left hand would launch another consecutive left hand that completely put Acaba out on the ropes with a thunderous clap heard throughout the venue. Sensing his opponent was knocked out Cruz stepped back as the referee held the fallen fighter up, stopping the fight and awarding the explosive TKO victory to Cruz who does it in impressive fashion at 1:24 of the second round.