by Kerstin Broockmann
photos by Scott Dray
ELK GROVE VILLAGE, IL, June 21, 2012 — Despite the disappointing absence of the scheduled co-main event between fan favorite Mike “Hollywood” Jimenez and Indianapolis stalwart Mustafah Johnson, Hitz Boxing put on an exciting weeknight event for fight fans at the Belvedere Ballroom this evening. Though there were a few controversial decisions, the boxers definitely came to fight, even if some of them were stopped before they thought they’d had a chance to do so. Henry Coyle shook off some ring rust against the over-matched but durable Damon Antoine in the Main Event. Elijah McCall settled in to use his growing ring smarts to overcome his larger opponent in two. Locals PJ Cajigas and Simon Buettner entered the professional boxing ring for the first time with mixed results. Mexican ring warriors Sergio Montes de Oca and Salvador Perez once again lit up the ring with a non-stop battle. Henry Coyle hopes to defend his WBF Light Middleweight Title later this summer in Ireland, and it will be interesting to see how the young boxers on the card fare as they continue their careers. Perez and Montes de Oca certainly proved themselves worthy of another look.
In what was definitely the fight of the night, up and coming Chicago Super Bantamweight Sergio Montes de Oca (120 lbs., 6-1-1, 1 KO) and Campeche, Mexico’s Salvador Perez (120 lbs., 2-1-2, 1 KO) got the evening off to a rousing start in a return engagement of their explosive February 18, 2012, battle, which Montes de Oca won on all scorecards, but certainly not without being tested by his tough adversary. Once again, the two boxers wasted no time in getting to work, with Perez landing some hard blows to the body while being countered by hooks to the head. Montes de Oca landed the first flurry, but this only seemed to motivate Perez, who redoubled his efforts with a mix of body shots and uppercuts that made their mark on the local fighter. A low blow sent Perez to his knee late in the round, but both fighters never backed down throughout. It was hard to call the non-stop action, with both fighters doing their share of damage, but Montes de Oca seemed to win on ring generalship.
The second round began where the first left off, with both fighters blistering each other with hard shots. A right from Perez in the latter half of the round seemed to be the cause of a cut that opened just above Montes de Oca’s left eye. Montes de Oca backed down briefly, and Perez went in for the kill. However, Montes de Oca had a different idea and did not stay on the ropes for long, coming back with a vengeance at the end of the round. Perez’s brief dominance probably won him this round.
The third round saw both fighters beginning to look tired and starting to show the marks of their battle on their faces, but they seemed undeterred as they continued to exchange volleys and heavy single punches to head and body. Again, the round was hard to call. The action see-sawed, but Montes de Oca seemed to gain the upper hand in the last third of the round to take it, though this could be disputed.
The last round began with a sign of respect and a prayer from both boxers. Montes de Oca took the opening exchanges, and took control of center ring. Perez was not giving him any opportunity to celebrate, but seemed to be fading. A mid-round volley from Perez could not turn the tide in this reporter’s opinion, but may have swayed the judges. Final scorecards read 39-37 for Montes de Oca, once and 38-38 twice for a majority draw. While fans of boxing certainly would not mind seeing these two warriors in a trilogy, Montes de Oca was understandably a little upset at the outcome. Both fighters deserve recognition for once again putting on a great display of boxing skills and heart.
Bassett, Virginia’s Elijah “The Real” McCall (229 lbs., 10-1-1, 8 KO’s), son of former heavyweight champion Oliver McCall, returned to ring in short order after his hard-fought win against Stanley Allen on May 25, facing 35-year-old Travis “Iron Man” Fulton (241 lbs., 17-30, 17 KO’s) in a heavyweight contest scheduled for four rounds. While the records of both fighters seemed to foretell a knockout, the first round did not seem to be headed in that direction. McCall effectively controlled the round by working from the outside and using his footwork, but Fulton prevented him from landing a damaging shot by launching occasional bombs and holding whenever McCall landed his own powerful shots. Fulton landed the first bomb of the second round, but, after a brief clinch, McCall went on the offensive, pressuring Fulton with jabs and two-punch combos while keeping him moving along the ropes. Again, Fulton resorted to holding, to the extent that Gino Rodriguez stopped the action to deduct a point from him. Shortly thereafter, the bout was over, when Fulton again tried to clinch, but McCall continued his onslaught with one free hand. Rodriguez had seen enough of the course of the action and, rather than continuing to break the fighters, called an end to the bout at 2:10 of round. Fulton did not seem to be in imminent danger, but McCall added another KO to his streak with the the TKO victory. To his credit, McCall acknowledged afterwards that he would have preferred to see the bout continue and to see his opponent “on the mat.”
Chicagoan PJ Cajigas (181 lbs.), a veteran of MMA, making his professional boxing debut, did not draw an easy opponent in Chicago’s Gerald “Da Humbler” Taylor (176 lbs., 5-3-2, 2 KO’s), looking to build momentum after his latest win late in 2011. Most of the first round saw little action. The taller Cajigas, looking a little nervous at the outset, tried to land jabs and uppercuts from the outside, his feet constantly moving , while the more compact Taylor, decidedly more relaxed, tried to get inside to land power shots. Near the end of the round, Taylor launched a powerful left hook that rocked Cajigas and sent him to the canvas. He beat the count and managed to get to the end of the round, weathering more left hooks and a jarring right from Taylor.
In the second, the action began as in round one, though Cajigas looked like he was settling in, showing more deliberation in his movement. Then Cajigas seemed to go back to his MMA roots, keeping Taylor’s back to ropes by leaning on him, while Taylor outpunched him with short hooks from both hands. When the action moved into the ring again, Taylor seemed tired. Cajigas wasted little time pursuing his opponent, this time staying at an effective range to land his punches. A right uppercut sent the wide open and exhausted Taylor to mat. He got up to finish the round, but could not get back in the action enough to make up the deficit from the knockdown.
Taylor was clearly tired in the third round and Cajigas alternated between outrunning him, leaning into him and then backing out to tee off with punches and working some effective jabs from the outside. When he saw the opportunity, Taylor landed some powerful left hooks, rights and body shots, but he could not put together enough of them to make headway. Cajigas clearly won this round, outworking and outmoving Taylor.
Taylor knew he needed a knockout to win the fight and did his best to get one in the final round. He did not succeed, but the left hook that had proved so effective in the first round reappeared, along with an arsenal of hooks to the body, and a vicious overhand right. Cajigas seemed to have tired himself out in the prior rounds and did his best to keep Taylor at bay with a jab, but, by the end of the fight he was using his opponent and the ropes to keep him from succumbing to Taylor’s punches. Scorecards were unanimous at 37-37. Taylor, taking the fight on short notice, was able to use his experience to thwart Cajigas’s attempt to get his first professional boxing win, but also could not build on his latest win.
Former Chicago Golden Gloves and World Amateur Kickboxing Champion, Carpentersville, Illinois’ Simon “The Punisher” Buettner (175 lbs.), also made his professional boxing debut in the Super Middleweight division against Canton, Ohio’s Jadell “Jacob” Wells (180 lbs., 0-4). While he did not really live up to his nickname, since the bout did not last long enough to inflict much punishment, he was successful in his debut, earning his first win and first TKO as a professional boxer when referee Gerald Scott stopped the bout at 2:15 of the first round. Before that point, both boxers had tried to fight from a clinch, with neither able to land combinations. Buettner came in too close on punches and smothered Wells, who did little to move away to counter, despite his reach advantage. After Scott admonished them, they took to boxing until a series of shots from Buettner, ending with a left hook, dropped Wells, who beat the count with time to spare and seemed eager to continue when Scott ended it.
The “Western Warrior,” Junior Middleweight Henry Coyle (155 lbs., 17-2, 12 KO’s) from Chicago, via Mayo, Ireland, entered the ring for the first time this year against 38-year-old veteran Damon Antoine (154 lbs., 9-38-2, 4 KO’s) of Akron, Ohio. Antoine began with jabs to the body, working behind his left shoulder but leaning into his punches, which allowed Coyle to counter. Soon, Coyle found his timing, and, while Antoine managed to pop some punches into his face when Coyle uncovered, Coyle was finding openings for more effective shots over Antoine’s low guard, firing hooks to the body when Antoine blocked his head. Near the end of the round Antoine managed to land some power shots, but Coyle, though not as active as he could be, was the more effective fighter in the first round.
The second round saw Coyle behind a high guard, walking down Antoine who moved back but fired good volleys when Coyle opened up his guard down. A left hook from Coyle seemed to hurt Antoine, but he recovered nicely, and both boxers started to engage with more regularity, Coyle working hooks inside, while Antoine used his jab to set up straight combinations. Three quarters of the way into the round, Coyle hurt Antoine with a punishing left hook to the body but did not aggressively pursue the advantage. Antoine stayed active, despite some good punches from Coyle, including a straight right that seemed to rock the visiting boxer again. Coyle however, won this round, landing far more and and far more effective punches.
Antoine came out strong in the third round, though his low guard left him vulnerable to solid counters. For the first third of the round, he dominated the Irishman. Coyle came back with a left hook that ended Antoine’s assault and kept after him, landing effective combinations to head and body. Antoine again recovered and the rest of the round went back and forth. It was a hard round to call, but Coyle probably managed to pull it out.
In the fourth round, Antoine started backpedalling, using his feet and head movement to avoid a direct attack and minimize Coyle’s power. Coyle tried to press him to the ropes, but this only worked briefly. Coyle again outworked Antoine, but Antoine landed some powerful shots of his own before closing with his head low and making it difficult to counter. At one point, Coyle pushed him off and sent him to the canvas, which was ruled a slip by Gennaro Rodriguez.
Both boxers stayed in punching range for the opening of the fifth round, resulting in a brief brawl. Coyle got the best of these exchnage. As the round went on, Antoine again took to trying to get inside but in this round, Coyle was determined to stay in range. Coyle bloodied Antoine’s nose with a short left and continued to pursue, landing another left before Antoine slipped away. Coyle pursued, landing a series of hard shots while Antoine leaned in to try to avoid the end, which would have come had the bell not sounded first. Coyle landed a clean cross-hook comnination, several body shots and a few more hooks with both hands.
The sixth round saw Antoine in survival mode, though still dangerous. Coyle was definitely doing more damage. A right put Antoine briefly on the ropes but he held and moved off. Coyle continued to inflict punishment, nearly ending the fight again with a left hook in the final 10 seconds, but he once again was not able to put his opponent away. Antoine came out with determination in the seventh, finding his own power again. Coyle struggled to find his rhythm, despite some good volleys and Antoine continued to land solid shots, though none enough to harm Coyle. However, this round may have actually been the first and only one to go to Antoine.
Antoine came out jabbing in the eighth, while Coyle tried to find a way to finish a fight that should have ended much earlier. When Coyle started loading up, Antoine did the same, landing combinations mostly to the body. A left hook looked to rock Antoine, as did some powerful rights from Coyle, but somehow, Antoine did not go down, managing to keep swinging to the end.While it was a decisive victory for Coyle, Antoine did a good job of putting him off his game and staying the course. Final judges’ scores read 80-71 once and 80-72 twice to award Coyle the unanimous decision.