NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK — Jay Z and Roc Nation are officially in the books after completing their first event, Throne Boxing, last night at Madison Square Garden. The Theater was full and it was quite apparent that there was a mix of traditional boxing fans and casuals drawn by Jay’s name and the list of celebrities. Overall, the card came off well-produced from ringside and is a solid building foundation for an upstart boxing imprint.
DUSTY HERNANDEZ HARRISON (24-0, 13 KOs) UD10 TOMMY RAINONE (22-5-1, 4 KOs): The main event featured Roc Nation’s star signee Dusty Harrison facing a veteran and spoiler in Tommy Rainone. Guys like Rainone are tough to look good against but instrumental in a young fighter’s development. Due to his size and length, Harrison was able to land flush with straight rights and had Rainone stunned several times in the second half. Where Harrison went wrong was that he neglected his jab too often and loaded up on shots, allowing Rainone to either hold or move away without threat of being clipped by a combination.
I only gave Rainone the first round and had Harrison taking it 99-91, which was seconded by judge Steve Weisfeld. Judges Glenn Feldman and Alan Rubenstein both had it a shutout (100-90).
Harrison is 20 years old and will be a long work in progress. He can be built into an East Coast attraction while he develops. Unless a shocking leap happens, don’t expect Harrison to be ready for a Top 20 guy this year. With that said, Roc Nation will have to get creative because even the fighters listed from 16-40 in the WBC are risky/formidable such as Sammy Vasquez Jr, Frankie Gavin, Luis Collazo , Robert Garcia and Kevin Bizier. If Harrison can squeeze in four fights this year, we may get step-up bout by year’s end.
DUSTIN FLEISCHER (PRO DEBUT) TKO2 FRANK JORDAN (0-2), 4 ROUNDS, WELTERWEIGHTS: Fleischer is a New Jersey native and recent Roc Nation signee. He got a video package intro and was of course being matched soft (Jordan weighed in a little above the lightweight limit at 137.4). Fleischer was tense and nervous in the opening round, but found his stride when he focused downstairs. He folded Jordan against the ropes with two left hooks to the body which forced the stoppage.
TUREANO JOHNSON RTD6 ALEX THERAN, 10 ROUNDS, MIDDLEWEIGHTS: This was a beatdown. Johnson, who’s still on the way back up the ranks since suffering a last-round TKO stoppage to Curtis Stevens, came out like a rabid dog. Theran is a good mover, so Johnson made sure to stay on top of him every second of the fight. Due to Theran’s movement, most of his flashy southpaw counters (right hooks, left uppercuts) didn’t carry the power to give Johnson any pause.
On the other hand, Johnson was catching Theran with hard rights to the body and overhand shots upstairs. Theran was a sitting duck on the ropes and got tore into. Theran was dropped hard in the fourth and fifth rounds, the latter apparently resulted in an ankle injury. In the corner before the sixth, Theran looked done despite encouragement from the corner. The ringside doctor ended up calling it.
This fight was for the WBA Silver and International middleweight titles, so don’t be surprised if Johnson turns up as a Golovkin opponent later this year.
“I belive the Golovkin is the best in our division,” said Johnson. “And I want to test myself against the best.”
NOTES: Jay Z brought out the celebrities with Beyonce, Rihanna, Santigold, Carmelo Anthony, Micheal K. Williams and Rosie Perez being in the house. Fabolous did the TV intermission performance and sported a hat that would make Frank Lucas proud.
Heavyweight Bryant “By By” Jennings was seated next to Jay Z, effectively dispelling the rumors of friction with Roc Nation since they brought out Jenning’s former promoter Gary Shaw.
Andre Ward was also in the house and basking in the glow of his new signing to Roc Nation. No speculation was given by him or anyone in attendance about potential opponents, but he does hope to be back in the ring by April or May.
OFF TV RESULTS
ANDREW HERNANDEZ (7-0-1, 1 KO) DQ4 JERRY ODOM (12-0, 11 KOs): Someone’s “0” had to go. And in this case, Jerry Odom has only his own foolishness to blame. After a several rounds of difficulty timing Hernandez, Odom scored a knockdown in a corner off a hook. While Hernandez was clearly down, Odom throw 2 more hard shots in full view of referee Arthur Mercante Jr. That left Mercante with little choice but to call the fight as a DQ win for Hernandez.
The crowd booed Hernandez, but that ire should have been directed at Odom. He simply punched himself out of a likely KO win. Hernandez, who sported a doughy midsection and missed weight (169.4), got lucky as he was clearly laboring. As for Odom, it’s not promising that a few rounds of difficulty would make him resort to illegal blows.
KENNETH SIMS (4-0, 4 KOs) UD6 CHRISTIAN STEELE, WELTERWEIGHTS: Blue-chip prospect Kenneth Sims had an easy time in dominating journeyman Christian Steele. Sims’ calling card is his speed, and he likes throw hard combinations to the body. There’s still a tendency to throw shoeshine amateur shots, but he throws with force more often than not. It’s too early to say whether Steele was just durable or Sims isn’t a puncher, so we’ll have to track the prospect’s development this year. The kid is managed by J Prince, so I expect to see more of him on Roc Nation cards.
CHRIS VAN HEERDEN (21-1-1, 11 KOs) SD10 CECIL MCCALLA (20-0, 7 KOs), WELTERWEIGHTS: Relying heavily on workrate and physical strength, Van Heerden maintained a pace McCalla couldn’t consistently match and a took a split decision victory in name only. Early on, it looked like we were going to have a tight contest after the fighters split the first four rounds. Van Heerden controlled the bout when the fighting went inside with his combination punching downstairs. At ring-center, McCalla’s adept counter-punching, particularly the left hook, kept Van Heerden tentative about reckless attacks.
Starting in the fifth, Van Heerden started to dominate. He kept McCalla pinned on the ropes, which nullified any concern about counter shots. In addition, Van Heerden was able to find a home for his overhand rights. The pace and Van Heerden’s mauling started visibly wearing on McCalla, whose offense became more and more sporadic.
It’s not that McCalla wasn’t competitive — when he did throw, he buzzed Van Heerden more often than not. But those moments for McCalla were reduced to no more than 20-30 seconds per round, with Van Heerden usually having him trapped on the ropes and getting worked to the body for the remaining 2:30.
My scorecard was 98-92 for Van Heerden. Judges John McKaie (96-94) and Kevin Morgan (97-93) also had it for Van Heerden. Eddie Scuncio, who’s never to my knowledge been in any scoring controversy, had an insane score of 99-91 for McCalla, giving only the first round to Van Heerden. Without question, that is the worst score I’ve ever experienced at a live event.
The win gives Van Heerden the fringe IBF international welterweight title, and will put him the hunt to face other Top10-15 welterweights.
EDUARDO MARTINEZ (4-0, 1 KO) UD4 RIGOBERTO MIRANDA (0-2-2), FEATHERWEIGHTS: This was one of the more entertaining bouts of the night. Miranda made up for the talent deficiency with a lot of grit and determination. He caught Martinez’s attention with a few haymker right hands and forced a dogfight at times. But Martinez had his own mean streak and turned the tide for good in the last two rounds with a vicious body assault. He was close to forcing a stoppage in the last minute and took the unanimous decision win via scores of 40-36 and 39-37 twice.
WELLINGTON ROMERO (4-0-1, 2 KOs) TKO1 LEO KREISCHER: Romero just overwhelmed Kreischer with hard hooks. 1:24 in, Romero connected with a southpaw right hook that put Kreischer flat on his back. The count wasn’t necessary as Kreischer was out for several minutes.