The CBZ Newswire

Hitz Boxing Stages Triumphant Return to Rosemont on May 18

by on May.19, 2011, under Boxing News, Guest Columnists

“Irish” Andy Wins Titles But Not Hearts Over 10 Rounds; Yakuba Amidu and Henry Coyle Impress with Early Stoppages

Andy Lee (R) attacks Alex Bunema on the way to victory

Andy Lee (R) attacks Alex Bunema on the way to victory

Report by Kerstin Broockmann

Photos by Scott Dray

ROSEMONT, ILLINOIS, May 18, 2011 — Hitz Boxing Promotions returned to Rosemont this Wednesday, May 18, with two Irishmen featured in separate middleweights bouts. Andy Lee of Limerick squared off against Alex Bunema for the NABA and NABF titles, and Henry Coyle of Geesala faced Keith Collins of Missouri. Crowd-watchers and celebrity hounds could spot several, including First Lady of Boxing Jackie Kallen, the very visible celebrity ring announcer Amy Hayes, actor Vince Vaughn, as well as several former Chicago Bears and politicians, including legendary Chicago Bears defensive back Shaun Gayle.

Felix Abner (L) looks for his opportunity against Keon Graham

Felix Abner (L) looks for his opportunity against Keon Graham

Kicking off the fistic action were Felix Abner (now 3-2, 1 KO, 226 lbs) of Chicago and Keon Graham (2-6, 234 lbs.) of Akron, Ohio.  Graham looked to be carrying a few extra pounds, but seemed unconcerned by the trim Abner, who entered the ring wearing a Bulls shirt. Round one began with both men jabbing, with Abner out-landing Graham, who backed up on his heels. Early in the round, Graham was rocked by a left hook but recovered.  A cross in the second half of the round sent Graham into the blue corner, with Abner taking the opportunity to land a few more shots. The round proceeded at a measured pace, Abner stalking Graham looking for opportunities, and Graham drifting into the ropes to only to be caught by punches to head and body.

Graham tries to get back in the fight, as Abner looks on

Graham tries to get back in the fight, as Abner looks on

Round two began with Graham mixing up punches, but still backpedalling. Abner was clearly landing more effective blows. Finding his opening, he backed Graham into a corner, off-balance, with a cross, and dropped him with a subsequent short left hook. Graham got up before the count, but referee John O’Brien waved off the bout over his protestations, giving Felix Abner his third win, by TKO at 1:10 of the second round.

Aaron Lucky (L) and Russell Fiore poised to attack

Aaron Lucky (L) and Russell Fiore poised to attack

Russell Fiore (4-1-1, 4 KO’s, 132 lbs.) of Chicago looked to get back in the win column after having suffered his first loss April 9, against Anderson, Indiana’s Aaron Lucky (0-2, 134 lbs.). Both boxers looked eager to get started. Lucky knocked Fiore down early with a hook, then drew a warning for a low body shot shortly thereafter. Fiore seemed more tentative, holding Lucky as he moved to engage again.  Moments later, though, Fiore saw his chance, knocking Lucky off-balance with a cross. Referee Genaro Rodriguez was trying to determine the extent of the damage, with Lucky looking to be slightly hurt and checking in on the verdict, when Fiore launched a final assault, rushing past Rodriguez to land several straight punches on the defenseless Lucky, who slumped in a daze against the ropes as Rodriguez brought the bout to a merciful end at 1:52 of the first round, giving Fiore the TKO victory, his fifth, all by way of knockout, while Aaron Lucky falls to 0-3.

Lucky slumps on the ropes after a barrage from Fiore

Lucky slumps on the ropes after a barrage from Fiore

Southpaw George Esho (1-1, 136.5 lbs.) of Chicago entered the ring hoping to even up his record after a disappointing debut against the much more experienced Nalo Leal (3-11-1, 11 KO’s, 136.5lbs.), also looking to add another W to his tally. Esho started more aggressively, Leal using head movement to evade most punches, with both landing occasional bombs. Esho put his punches togther better at top of round. Leal was fluid but perhaps too relaxed and defensive, though he began putting together punches more as round progressed, backing up Esho with a body-head combo. Not backing down, Esho landed some decisive heavy shots at the end of the round.

Nalo Leal (R) dodges a cross from George Esho

Nalo Leal (R) dodges a cross from George Esho

Round two saw Esho start on the attack, landing some hard straight combos to head and body, Leal being too passive to counter effectively.  Leal looked to get back into the action, backing up Esho, who punched his way off the ropes. When Esho again found himself on the ropes, his counters were more effective than Leal’s offense.  Near the end of the round, a punch from Esho dislodged Leal’s mouthguard. This round went decisively to Esho.

Round three started much as the second, with Esho on the attack. Leal started stalking, but in this round, Esho maintained the center of the ring.  Leal did land some effective combinations, forcing Esho back. The round seesawed for the bulk of the three minutes, with both boxers taking some breaks by holding. In the last third, Leal added an uppercut to his arsenal, which proved an effective weapon and may have earned him this round.

George Esho (R) on the attack against Nalo Leal

George Esho (R) on the attack against Nalo Leal

Going into the fourth, Esho added some good bodywork to his attack. Leal stayed in the mix and landed a good combo of his own. While both boxers looked as though they were tiring, which took some steam off their punches, neither was about to give in. With Esho’s efforts at the top of the round, and Leal’s effective attacks in the latter half, it was a tough round to call.

The final scores did not reflect the efforts of Leal, with two judges calling it 40-36 and one judge giving a score of 39-37, all for George Esho, whose aggression in the ring earned him his first W as a pro in a hard-fought war.

Damon Antoine (L) gets under Yakubu Amidu's guard with a cross to the body

Damon Antoine (L) gets under Yakubu Amidu's guard with a cross to the body

A lightweight bout between LA-based, Ghana-born Yakuba Amidu (18-2-1, 16 KO’s, 132 lbs.) and Damon “Mailman” Antoine  of Akron, Ohio (9-30-2, 4 KO’s, 134 lbs.) was scheduled for eight rounds, but would not go the distance.  Antoine started as the aggressor, though mostly throwing straight shots to the body of Amidu, who effectively defended. Midway through the round, the tables turned, with Amidu starting to use his reach to get Damon on the defensive.  The final seconds saw both boxers going on the attack.

Antoine (L) shores up his defense as Amidu moves in

Antoine (L) shores up his defense as Amidu moves in

The second round saw Amidu jabbing at the retreating Antoine, who attacked going backwards, landing some good shots of his own. Approaching the midpoint of the round Amidu unleashed a flurry of shots, letting his hands go at last and backing Antoine into the ropes. Antoine weathered the onslaught, and actually got more aggressive himself. An exchange of hard hooks highlighted the round.  Amidu dominated end of the round, with Antoine once again covering against a hail of punches.

Antoine tries to survive a knockdown

Antoine tries to survive a knockdown

Round three began with Amidu clearly looking more aggressive, though at first he was content to stalk his opponent. Not long into the round, a few unanswered punches drew a count against Antoine from referee Genaro Rodriguez, after which Amidu went on the offensive again.  A cross sent Antoine back, and a left hook led to a flash knockdown. A few shots and a hook to the body sent Antoine to the canvas again moments later. Having seen enough, Rodriguez called an end to the bout at 2:13. Yakuba Amidu improved to 19-2-1 by TKO, while Antoine was unable  to bring his win tally into double digits, falling to 9-31-2.

Actor Vince Vaughan (C) joins Amidu for his victory celebration

Actor Vince Vaughn (C) joins Amidu for his victory celebration

Before the main event, there was a ceremonial ten-count for Kevin Cestone, 5-1 as a pro after a decorated amateur career including five Golden Gloves championships, who died recently at the age of 39, leaving behind a loving family as well as the boxing community that was a huge part of his life.

In the Main Event and the first Irish bout of the evening, Andy Lee (26-1, 19 KO’s, 160 lbs.), Limerick-born but fighting out of Detroit’s Kronk gym, faced the more experienced Alex Bunema of Kinshasa, Congo (31-8-2, 16 KO’s, 159 lbs.) over a scheduled ten rounds.  The fight turned out to be a desultory affair, with Bunema demonstrating keen defensive instincts, but not lodging enough of an offense to get in the game. For his part, Lee was far too content to jab over the ten rounds, only occasionally capitalizing on the openings he created with his right to throw combinations, after which he would once again back away before finishing the job. While Lee dominated, winning a deserved shut-out on the scorecards, he did not dazzle.

Alex Bunema (L) reacts to a Lee right jab

Alex Bunema (L) reacts to a Lee right jab

Southpaw Lee started on the offensive, with Bunema avoiding most of his punches, but not finding ways to counter Lee’s reach, stance or style.  Using his jab to keep Bunema at the end of his reach, Lee looked for openings, though he only occasionally let his left go, once to throw a punishing body shot, and other times to throw the occasional straight combination to the head. While Lee dominated the round, he did not inflict much punishment.

Lee (R) mixes in a left hook as Bunema covers

Lee (R) mixes in a left hook as Bunema covers

Round two quickly turned into a repeat of the first, though Bunema clearly intended to find his way around Lee’s right jab. Lee began trying some tentative combinations, not giving Bunema a chance to fight inside. Bunema’s attempts to crash in were met with short punches from either hand. A left to the body followed by a right hook landed heavily toward the end of the round as Lee forced Bunema into the corner. Lee again dominated but showed a good deal of patience in doing so.

Round three picked up the action right where it left off, Bunema still unable to work his way to center ring or inside Lee’s reach. A right feint followed by a hard straight left put Bunema on notice, though he recovered.  Lee was stiffening his jab, while still reserving his left for the right occasion, which apparently did not come before round’s end.

The fourth round saw the Lee’s left emerge early, though he still favored his jab. Bunema again attempted to crash through Lee’s guard, only to be rebuffed by Lee’s right. Bunema survived a three-punch combination that might have had some boxers in trouble. Pinning Bunema in the corner with an uppercut, Lee once again threw a combination, only to see his prey to escape.  Bunema rushed his way to center ring several times, again resisting  Lee’s attempts to find a finishing gamut.

Now midway throught the bout, Lee again pursued Bunema with his jab, Bunema employing some impressive movement to avoid direct hits. While still not able to launch an effective assault, Bunema was, if anything, frustrating his opponent even more than before.  The end of the round found both boxers trying to find ways to change the game by luring each other into an attack…which neither did.

Round six saw Lee deploying some harder punches, while Bunema refused to stay on the ropes for him.  Not “making him pay,” Bunema nevertheless made Lee miss for most of the round, using constant head movement, even drawing a smile from Lee at one point as he missed completely with an intended power punch.  Toward the end of the round, Bunema tried another assault, which allowed Lee to hit him with some solid counters, though Bunema got in some shots of his own.

In the seventh round, Lee tried a change of scenery, working from the outside, while Bunema took center ring. An uppercut from Lee as Bunema went on the attack drew a gasp from the crowd, but again Bunema recovered. Lee was looking for, and occasionally finding, openings for more combinations and by mid-round, it looked like the round was going to follow the same pattern as those before. Surprisingly, Bunema landed a powerful combination, driving Lee back, but Lee recovered and returned fire moments later, drawing a warning for a low body shot.

Lee (R) throws a rare combination

Lee (R) throws a rare combination

At the top of the eighth both boxers took center ring, though soon Lee had Bunema going backwards with his jab. The crowd was encouraging Lee to follow up his jab with his left, which made an impact when he did. However, he never generated the punch output he needed to really get the cagey Bunema in trouble. 

In the ninth round, Lee pressed the action a bit more, working Bunema into the corner with a body-head combination. For a while, it looked like he might finally overwhelm Bunema with his power, but once again, Bunema skirted the action. A big combination against the ropes had Bunema in trouble mid-round, but Lee once again did not capitalize; Bunema escaped again. Later in the round, Bunema was still capable of countering, though Lee still dominated.

The final round arrived at last, and it looked like Lee was going to jab his way to two titles, which he did. While Lee did throw some more combinations, mixing in some hooks to the body as well as right hooks off the jab, he never stayed on Bunema when he had him hurt. Having survived this long, Bunema wasn’t about to give in. 

Lee poses with some of his team and his newly won title belts

Lee poses with some of his team and his newly won title belts

All final scorecards read 100-90. Bunema never managed to launch an effective assault past Lee’s jab, but he earned enough respect to keep Lee from taking any risks en route to victory. After the bout, Lee analyzed the action, “When a guy just wants to survive it’s very hard to knock him out. I kept telling my corner I wanted to go for the knockout, but they told me I was boxing beautifully. I love the Chicago fans. The Bulls are playing tonight and they could be watching at home but instead they’re here watching me.”

Philip Jewel (L) pursues Latoria

Philip Jewel (L) pursues Latoria

In a scheduled six-round heavyweight bout, Chicagoan David Latoria (230 lbs.) squared off against Philip Jewel (213 lbs.), a sometime-cruiserweight from Detroit, Michigan.  While accustomed to fighting at lower weights, Jewel nevertheless had a height and reach advantage over the more muscular Latoria. A big left hook from Jewel rocked Latoria in the opening seconds of the round.  After some jabbing, Jewel threw a big right…Latoria moved in to smother. Another short left caught Latoria as he attempted to move in. An attack from Latoria drove Jewel into the ropes. Initially attempting to clinch, Jewel ended up tackling Latoria, a move that he would attempt to repeat later.

The first takedown: Jewel accidentally tackles Latoria

The first takedown: Jewel accidentally tackles Latoria

Round two saw Latoria landing a big left hook.  Both fighters were swinging for the fences mid-round, leading to an exchange of hooks. Latoria drove Jewel into the ropes with a series of shots to the body.  Jewel began consistently loading up on his right, which enabled Latoria to easily avoid this punch. At the end of the round, Latoria opened up on Jewel and nearly earned a stoppage, only to have his volley interrupted by the bell.

A combination from Jewel leaves Latoria on the canvas

A combination from Jewel leaves Latoria on the canvas

Jewel continued to attempt to land wide, looping rights in round three, with Latoria stepping inside to throw body shots. A left hook followed by an overhand right that may have landed on the top of Latoria’s head dropped him mid-round. Latoria beat the count, but looked dazed. He came back with a combination that drove Jewel back against the ropes. Jewel attempted to clinch to avoid further punishment, but left Latoria’s right hand free for him to land a big hook-uppercut combination. Moments later, Jewel found himself going over the ropes as Latoria rushed in, Jewel clinched to avoid the punches to come and, in the process, brought Latoria on top of him.

Jewel (L) traps Latoria's arm, bringing Latoria on top of him, which would send him through the ropes

Jewel (L) traps Latoria's arm, bringing Latoria on top of him, which would send him through the ropes

Both boxers emered in the fourth looking for a knockout, though Jewel opted for the boxer’s role in this round. Latoria landed some big punches, but the only knockdown came when Latoria grappled Jewel to the canvas.

The second takedown: Latoria (R) drags Jewel to the canvas

The second takedown: Latoria (R) drags Jewel to the canvas

Round five began as a boxing match. Briefly.  Jewel landed the first big punch with a left  hook. Moments later, Latoria saw an opening and drove Jewel into the ropes with a hard body-head combination, followed by a left hook that rocked Jewel and a hard right that nearly saw Jewel go over the ropes. With his opponent helpless, Latoria launched a flurry of straight shots to the head, dropping Jewel and resulting in a stoppage at :55 of round five. Latoria improved to 9-1, 5 KO’s, while Jewel droped to 4-7-1, 3 KO’s.

Referee John O'Brien rushes in to save Jewel as falls under Latoria's barrage

Referee John O'Brien rushes in to save Jewel as he falls under Latoria's barrage

Chicago-based Irishman Henry Coyle (14-2, 11 KO’s, 161 lbs.) entered the ring to the sound of bagpipes and the approbation of the crowd to face Keith Collins of Saint Joseph, Missouri (3-10, 1 KO, 160 lbs.). 

Henry Coyle prays before his bout with Keith Collins

Henry Coyle prays before his bout with Keith Collins

Coyle started as the aggressor, though Collins skirted most of his punches against the ropes. By mid-round, Coyle had found several occasions to trap Collins against the ropes with vicious body shops and hooks.  By round’s end, Collins was pure defense and looking tired, though he survived and threw the final two punches of the round.

Collins (L) covers as Coyle prepares his final attack

Collins (L) covers as Coyle prepares his final attack

Round two began with Collins on the attack, landing a hook to the body followed by several head shots. Coyle was having none of it, though, and redoubled his attack from the first round, driving Collins into the corners of the ring and firing off combinations. Two hooks at the end of one of these combinations left a dazed Collins crumpled in the corner. He beat the count, but could not survive the next attack, which saw Coyle unleashing a full arsenal of hooks to the body and head, uppercuts and straight punches. With Collins looking dazed and unable to defend himself , referee Pete Podgorski called a halt to the action at 2:22 of round two.  This time, the bagpipes celebrated Coyle’s triumphant exit from the ring.

Henry Coyle (second from right) celebrates with his team

Henry Coyle (second from right) celebrates with his team

All in all, fans of the sport were treated to an exciting evening of boxing action from some young, hungry fighters. Yakuba Amidu and Henry Coyle both showed off solid boxing skills coupled with effective ring generalship in finding the right moment to finish their fights. The other bouts on the undercard provided some entertaining action. Only the main event proved to be a disappointment, providing Lee and the supportive crowd the win they wanted, but without the fireworks that Lee has proven himself capable of delivering, including those generated in his last victory, a come-from-behind knockout of the previously unbeaten Craig McEwan.

Boxing trainer and former WIBA Americas Lightweight title holder poses with former Chicago Bears Defensive Back Shaun Gayle at ringside

Boxing trainer and former WIBA Americas Lightweight title holder poses with former Chicago Bears Defensive Back Shaun Gayle at ringside

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