CES Winter Brawl Recap: Booker asserts himself as a contender at 154

(All photos courtesy of CES Boxing)

It was a great night of fights on Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. Jimmy Burchfield’s CES Boxing put together an entertaining card from start to finish. There were a number of big names in the sport present on fight night who all enjoyed the action, from five-time world champion Vinny Paziena to current welterweight contender “Speedy” Rashidi Ellis.

The main event saw Chordale “The Gift” Booker (Stamford, Connecticut) pick up an impressive victory over former title challenger Greg “The Villain” Vendetti (Wakefield, Massachusetts). Vendetti had some success going to the body and would throw flurries when Booker was up against the ropes, but the counterpunching and overall boxing ability of Booker proved to be too much. Booker utilized a sharp left uppercut to catch Vendetti multiple times on his way in. There was a switch in style in the middle rounds and Booker began fighting on the inside more. Though that was thought to stylistically favor Vendetti, Booker was still the sharper of the two and landed numerous quality straight left hands from short range. In the last few rounds, he went back to boxing, landing a precise uppercut as round nine was coming to a close and then bringing it home in the tenth round. The scorecards read 98-92 and 99-91 twice in favor of Booker which was right in line with my unofficial card. Booker is now 22-1 with the win and Vendetti drops to 23-6-1. There was a war of words in the build-up, but both men shared respect for one another post-fight. During his post-fight interview, Booker invited Vendetti back into the ring to thank him for the opportunity and they each gave the other praise.

The co-main event was an eight-round featherweight contest that had the fans at Mohegan Sun on their feet multiple times throughout. Ricky de Los Santos (Providence, Rhode Island) defeated Nathan Martinez (New Britain, Connecticut) by unanimous decision and claimed the vacant WBC USA Silver featherweight title. The jab from de Los Santos was sharp from the opening bell, as he doubled and even tripled it up to establish range. After a competitive first few rounds, de Los Santos began to show separation and hurt Martinez twice with precise body blows in the later rounds. Martinez was game and deserves credit for lasting the eight round duration, but De Los Santos improved to 12-1-1 with the victory, Martinez is now 8-3.

Francis “Frank the Tank” Hogan (Weymouth, MA) was the other fighter to pick up a title this weekend as he brought home the WBC USA Silver middleweight belt. He went the eight round distance for the first time in his career, defeating Dormedes Potes (Fort Lauderdale, Florida by way of Colombia) by unanimous decision. Hogan used his sharp jab to dictate the early rounds, not letting Potes get any offensive momentum. He began focusing on the body of the Colombian in round two, which opened up a straight left hand to the chin that dropped Potes. He later dropped Potes with a body shot, and wound up winning a shutout on all three scorecards at 80-70.

Alejandro Paulino (New London, Connecticut) delivered a quality performance as well, picking up a wide unanimous decision victory over D’Angelo Keyes (Houston, Texas). Paulino scored two electric knockdowns in the third, the first via a body shot and the second from a left hook upstairs. Keyes has been featured on major televised cards in the past and used that experience to weather the storm and survive but was never able to turn the tide enough in his favor. Paulino did good work to both the head and body and landed a clean double left hook in round seven that got the attention of Keyes. The judge’s scorecards all read 79-71 and Paulino improved to 16-0 with the win while Keyes is now 17-4.

Next up was an eight-round flyweight battle between Angel Gonzalez (Longwood, Florida) and Christian Robles (Lakewood, California by way of Mexico). This fight was filled with action and exchanges throughout, but Gonzalez more times than not landed the crisper shots. His jab did a lot to set the tempo, and he used it to set up right hands to the head and body. He landed a sharp body shot in round five that seemed to both Robles, but Robles fired back and stayed in the fight. There was a knockdown called on Robles in round six, but after review, it was ruled a slip. The last two rounds were fought at a fast pace, with both men standing their ground and letting their hands fly. The last thirty seconds was a fitting ending, as both men left it all out there and exchanged until the final bell. The scores read unanimously in Gonzalez’s favor at the end (78-74, 79-73, 80-72) and he is now 13-0 with the victory. Robles fell to 8-2 with the defeat and has now dropped back-to-back outings, but was game in both and has nothing to be ashamed of.

“King” Kevin Walsh (Brockton, MA) was without a doubt the exclamation point of the night. Darrell Rivera (San Juan, Puerto Rico) was Walsh’s most accomplished opponent to date. He came into the six-round lightweight fight with a 10-2-1 record and was expected to push Walsh but that was certainly not the case. Walsh landed a straight right hand moments into the fight that knocked Rivera back, and another straight right hand about a minute later sent Rivera crashing to the canvas. He was in no position to continue and referee Ricky Gonzalez had no choice but to waive the contest off. Walsh improved to 11-0 with the win and now looks towards leveling up to eight-rounders in the near future. Rivera falls to 10-3-1 with the defeat.

Carlos Vanegas Nunez (Port Chester, New York) also made quick work of his opponent in impressive fashion. Nunez came out the aggressor, pushing his opponent Jaden Webb back from the opening bell. A precise body shot dropped Webb halfway through the first round, and after he rose to his feet he took another strong body blow that caused Arthur Mercante Jr to step in and conclude the fight at the two minute mark of the opening round. Nunez gets back in the win column and is now 7-1, while Webb drops to 2-2.

Polish cruiserweight Slawomir Bohdziewicz (Stamford, Connecticut) also had a quick night at the office. He picked up his third consecutive knockout victory to start his pro career against Bruno Saraiva (Boston, Massachusetts by way of Brazil). Saraiva came out the gate swinging, and Bohdziewicz used his jab and reach advantage to control range. A combination from Bohdziewicz scored a knockdown in round two, and Saraiva was unable to beat the ten count. Bohdziewicz improves to 3-0 and Saraiva is now 0-2 but has come to fight in both outings.

James Maner (Johnston, Rhode Island) and Miguel Torres (Dorchester, Massachusetts) got the evening started and went the four-round distance in their middleweight contest. Torres was the aggressor early, and the southpaw Maner used the straight left and check right hook to keep him at bay. It was a bit of a messy fight, with Maner suffering a cut on his nose from a headbutt in round two and losing a point for hitting on the break in the third, but the animosity led to some great action. A counter right hook wobbled Torres in the third, but he hung in the fight and survived the duration. Maner in the end was too quick and slick, and moved to 5-0 with the win. Torres is now 2-1 after suffering the first defeat of his pro career.

All in all, it was one great night of fights. Jimmy Burchfield does a great job with not only his matchmaking but also the production and it was cool to be in the building at Mohegan Sun Saturday night. I look forward to his next event, as all his fighters that were victorious this weekend will have bigger things ahead and the sky is the limit.

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Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly