The CBZ Newswire

Short Card Not Short of Action As Chicago Prospects Take the Center of Ring in Cicero at Hitz Boxing’s ‘Night of the Rising Stars’

by on Aug.31, 2013, under Boxing News, Guest Columnists

Antonio Canas (R) Pursues Greg Coverson Jr. En Route to a Six-Round Decision Win

Antonio Canas (R) Pursues Greg Coverson Jr. En Route to a Six-Round Decision Win

by Kerstin Broockmann

Photos by Scott Dray

CICERO, IL, August 30, 2013 — Hitz Boxing’s ‘Night of the Rising Stars’ at Cicero Stadium lived up to its name, providing a showcase for local prospects, who did not disappoint. All four former amateur champions came up victorious in their bouts, though several found themselves facing more severe tests than they may have anticipated.

Coverson (R) tries to keep Antonio Canas at bay

Coverson (R) tries to keep Antonio Canas at bay

In the co-main event, Antonio “The Aztec God of War” (139, 8-1-1, 3 KO’s) waged battle against teak-tough and tricky Greg Coverson Jr. (139 lbs., 3-7-1, 2 KO’s) of Detroit, Michigan in a six-round Junior Welterweight bout. In an entertaining first round, both fighters went right to work, with Canas taking the upper hand with punishing body shots. Coverson weathered the storm and began accurately finding openings to the body and countering Canas’s attempts to go to the body with hooks to the head. It looked like the tide was turning, as Coverson peppered Canas with sharp straight punches and several well-timed uppercuts, but Canas surged at the end to take the round with another barrage to the body. 

Coverson (R) on the attack

Coverson (R) on the attack

The second round belonged to Canas, who outworked his durable opponent, again focusing on the body. Coverson landed some solid straight lefts from a right lead when Canas brought his hands back low, and certainly did not let Canas take a break, but Canas dominated through most of the round.

Coverson (L) goes to the body

Coverson (L) goes to the body

The third round looked to belong to Coverson, who pressured Canas with jabs followed by hooks and uppercuts, as well as lowering Canas’s guard with hooks to the body. Midway through the round, Canas made his move, relentlessly pursuing Coverson, focusing on the body to pressure him to the ropes and unleashing a torrent of right and left hooks to head and body, nearly finishing Coverson just before the bell.

Canas (R) on the attack

Canas (R) on the attack

Both fighters noticeably slowed in the fourth round. Coverson looked like he was still recovering from the last moments of the third, and Canas took advantage of his relative inactivity to keep a steady but measured rain of punches landing on his opponent. Coverson seemed to regain his wind in the fifth. While it looked like Canas managed to land a few more punches, Coverson countered well, and avoided many of the shots that he had fallen prey to in previous rounds. The round seesawed with neither boxer gaining a clear advantage.

Canas (R) keeps the pressure on Coverson

Canas (R) keeps the pressure on Coverson

Canas seemed to have slightly more left in his tank in the final round. Canas’s physical pressure proved too much for the game Coverson, who did a good job of staying in the fight and finding ways to keep Canas from getting complacent. Judges awarded Canas the unanimous decision, with two scores of 60-54, and one score of 59-55. Coverson kept each round close in a fast-paced, crowd-pleasing war.

Semajay Thomas (R) lunges for Anthony Willis

Semajay Thomas (R) lunges for Anthony Willis

In the main event, Chicagoan Semajay “The Truth” Thomas (147 lbs.) made his long awaited pro debut against the hard-punching and durable Anthony Willis from Battle Creek, Michigan (148 lbs., 1-4-1). Willis defended himself well in the opening exchanges and landed the more powerful shots, as Thomas seemed tense and overeager, lunging at his opponent and telegraphing punches that Willis could then block and counter. Though Thomas landed a few shots, Willis was more relaxed and controlled much of the round. It wasn’t until the final moments when Thomas found his power, landing a hard right that rocked Willis, and closing in to finish, though being stopped by the bell in the attempt.

Thomas (L) beats Willis to the punch

Thomas (L) beats Willis to the punch

Thomas came out in the second looking calmer and more focused. Willis tried to get back the offensive advantage, but Thomas worked behind his jab and countered Willis with accurate and powerful rights. Thomas’s defensive skills were also in evidence, as he side-stepped attacks and positioned himself to counter-attack. Though Willis lost the round, he managed to make his mark, tagging Thomas with counter left hooks and an occasional solid right hook of his own.

Willis (L) sneaks a punch up the center

Willis (L) sneaks a punch up the center

The third round was close, with Thomas using his hand speed and powerful right to hit Willis with punishing left-right combos, while Willis exploited Thomas’s low guard to hammer him with chopping right overhands and sharp left hooks. Both fighters limited themselves to two and three punch combinations, not taking advantage of opportunities they created for sustained offense.

Thomas (R) attacks on the inside

Thomas (R) attacks on the inside

Willis went on the offense in the final round, coming out fast and strong and driving Thomas to the ropes. Thomas regained the center of the ring and went to work, hooking off his jab and launching his powerful right, but not throwing enough punches to decisively take the advantage. As Thomas worked the perimeter of the ring, Willis closed in and landed a combination that drove Thomas back into the ropes again, where Willis continued the onslaught until Thomas slipped away, a pattern that continued through most of the round. Thomas ultimately managed to pull out the hard-won unanimous decision victory by scores of 40-36 twice and 39-35 once, but the hard-punching Willis did his best to mar his debut.

Brian Strickland (L) avoids an onslaught from Fidel Navarrete (R)

Brian Strickland (L) avoids an onslaught from Fidel Navarrete (R)

Super Featherweight and former Chicago Golden Gloves Champion Fidel Navarrete (131 lbs., 2-0-1, 2KOs), fighting out of Chicago via Michoacan, Mexico, was first in the ring against Indianapolis, Indiana’s Brian Raglin, aka Strickland (134 lbs., 0-3). Neither fighter wasted time testing his opponent. While Strickland landed some sharp combinations to Navarrete’s head, Navarrete’s body shots soon started taking their toll. Strickland faded fast, tying up Navarrete when he could, but unable to land more shots of consequence. Strickland slumped to the canvas after a right to body and seemed never to recover. Navarrete continued to find openings, mixing up body and head shots. A left to the body dropped Strickland again. He waited out the count, rising at seven, but not really back in the fight. Soon after, a final right to body and cursory left hook to head ended the bout by TKO at 2:34 of the first round as Strickland went down for the final time.

Roy Novarro (R) overwhelms William Bokhart

Roy Novarro (R) overwhelms William Bokhart

Chicago Welterweight Roy Novarro (148 lbs., 3-0, 2 KO’s), another former Golden Gloves champion, has been staying busy since his pro debut in April of this year. He wasted no time in overwhelming Mishawaka, Indiana’s William Bokhart (151 lbs., 1-11, 1 KO), a late replacement, with a barrage of body shots. A right hook to the body sent Bokhart to the canvas for the first time. He admirably recovered and tried to reestablish his momentum, but Novarro was too strong. Focusing on the body, but mixing in solid shots to the head, Novarro drove Bokhart back with lefts and rights to the body and a vicious uppercut. Keeping on the pressure, Novarro delivered a right uppercut to Bokhart’s sternum that decisively ended the bout at 1:16, giving Novarro his second KO in impressive fashion.

A scheduled Heavyweight rematch between Ricardo “El Diablo” Chavez of Chicago and Calbert Lewis of Gary, Indiana was cancelled due to an injury to Lewis’s hand.

Though there were not many bouts, all the fighters came to rumble, making for an entertaining evening of fights that demonstrated both the traits that make the boxers potential contenders and those that they need to overcome to enter contention.

Semajay Thomas enjoys his pro debut victory

Semajay Thomas enjoys his pro debut victory

 

Two Warriors: Antonio Canas (L) and Greg Coverson

Two Warriors: Antonio Canas (L) and Greg Coverson

 

Referee Gerald Scott officially declares Roy Novarro the winner

Referee Gerald Scott officially declares Roy Novarro the winner

 

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