New York State Welterweight champion Martin Wright won the vacant NBA Junior Intercontinental Welterweight title with a ten round unanimous decision over Mike Ruiz at the Cordon Bleu Catering Hall in Queens, New York. The co-main event, one of two rematches, both for title belts, began and ended with a bang! However, the big question was who the NBA is the term 'NBA' does not refer to the National Basketball Association, but the National Boxing Association?" Seems nobody knew.
The current version of the National Boxing Association, it should be noted, was established by Irv Abramson in May 1984 in New York City, and relocated to Tampa, Florida in the mid 1980's. Its original goal was to establish a comprehensive medical plan, locations for treatment, and counseling for boxers.
A recognized tax-exempt organization for the public good, the NBA was instrumental in establishing the Florida Boxing Commission, and insurance for boxers in that state, when it had no statewide governing body. To achieve its goals, it engaged in fundraising, and beginning in 1994 sanctioned championship fights. The current NBA President is Walter 'Butch' Flansburg, who is also President of the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame in Tampa. It should not be confused with the original National Boxing Association (1921-1962), which later became the World Boxing Association (WBA) in 1962.
Martin Wright, now 11-1-2 (5), Brooklyn, New York, had won a controversial eight round split decision over Mike Ruiz for the New York State Welterweight title this past May 19 on the Roseland Ballroom undercard, a decision which turned on the scorecard of prominent judge Julie Lederman. Saddoboxing covered this card, and New Legend Boxing promoter Felipe Gomez invited Saddo for the rematch, in which both fighters went the ten round distance for the first time in their careers.
Mike 'El Cangri' Ruiz, now 16-6 (11), Long Island, New York, gave away substantial height and reach advantage to Wright, but went in for the kill in a 10-8 first round, in which he came forward aggressively and got inside Wright's defenses with left and right jabs. A straight right put Wright down hard in the first, who beat the count but appeared ready to go. However, Ruiz allowed Wright to hang on at every opportunity, failed to put Wright away when he had him, allowed Wright to survive the round and later to get back into the fight.
Wright appeared to win every round from rounds two through ten due to three key factors: first, Wright used his height and reach advantage to stay out of range, kept his hands up with a good defense, kept moving forward aggressively backing up his opponent and frequently cutting off the ring. Second, Wright used dominant left and right jabs to the head, particularly right jabs over the low left hand of Ruiz (whose corner seemed unable to make the low left hand correction) and well-placed body shots. Third and most importantly, Wright astutely listened to the advice of his corner from world class trainer Sherif Younan Sr., best known in boxing circles as the trainer of Paulie Malignaggi. Younan in the corner was the winning difference.
Wright also got superior sparring for this bout, particularly with world ranked light middleweight contender Pawel Wolak of Poland, and his hard work showed. At times, Wright and Ruiz were wrestling and grappling when they got close, and either slipped to the canvas or got shoved to the canvas. Wright was credited with a knockdown in the seventh by referee David Fields, which appeared to the press at ringside to just be a slip, and apparently the only possible mistake of the night.
The most bizarre moment of the night occurred late in the ninth round, with Wright finally finishing the weary Ruiz with head and body shots in the Wright corner. Wright knocked Ruiz senseless, backwards through the ropes. Strangely Ruiz got dumped upside down into the lap of Wright's trainer Sharif Younan!
The strange occurrence forced trainer Younan to push challenger Ruiz, who invited himself into Younan's life unannounced, forward and back onto the ring apron. The unintentional 'assistance' enabled Ruiz to crawl through the lower ropes back into the ring and miraculously beat the count. "I wasn't helping him!" explained an irate Younan to a monitoring official at ringside, "I was just trying to get Ruiz off me!"
In an interview in the ring after the bout, Younan explained the first round knockdown, and the subsequent tempo of the bout. "Ruiz caught Wright cold (in the first round). I had a game plan to use Wright's jab to keep Ruiz at bay. Control the range and control the jab so Ruiz could not find a way in (inside). That was the game plan from the beginning." Younan was very verbal during this bout and got Wright's attention. In retrospect, the Ruiz corner appeared to have no plan.
Result: Martin Wright UD10 Mike Ruiz, Welterweights
Scoring: 98-90. 97-90 and 96-91
In the other co-main event rematch, an all-Queens gutter war, Jonathan Cuba won the New York state Lightweight championship with a split decision over Ariel Duran. Duran's best round was the first round, a 10-8 round in which he dropped Cuba with a powerful left hook. The same punch also dropped Cuba in the first round of their original bout at Cordon Bleu on June 24, causing an eight round split decision draw leaving the New York State Lightweight title vacant, forcing this rematch.
Cuba appeared to win round two, three, five, six and eight, with rounds four and seven appearing about even. Cuba won them by coming forward intensely and aggressively throwing a lot of punches, mostly body work. Duran was a marvel at slipping many punches, particularly head punches, all night. Duran appeared relaxed as opposed to Cuba's intensity. Duran's problem was he just was not throwing many punches or counters. His defense was good, but he was not trying to win.
The fight appeared to be a runaway for Cuba, in contradiction to scorecards. Cuba, Queens, New York, goes to 6-3-1 (4). Duran, also from Queens, falls to 7-3-1, (4). Duran was seen openly crying in his corner after the split decision.
Result: Jonathan Cuba SD8 Ariel Duran, Lightweights
Scoring: 77-74, 76-75 Cuba, 76-75 Duran
In a significant undercard bout, investment banker Rajiv Bhattacharaya, a British welterweight prospect now fighting out of Stamford, Connecticut, went to 8-0 (6), as a welterweight with a four round unanimous decision over trial horse Arthur Morales, a veteran of 47 pro bouts. "When I hit him (Morales) he knew how to hold me and survive the round. It was a great experience for me," noted Bhattacharaya, who is trained and advised by Nirmal Lorick of Universal Boxing.
Rajib Bhattacharaya W4 Arthur Medina, Welterweights
In another significant undercard bout, Hamid-Abdul Mateen of Brooklyn, younger brother of former world cruiserweight champion Ernest 'M-10' Mateen (working the corner) won a four round decision over undefeated Ahmad Mickens of Queens.
Hamid-Abdul Mateen W4 Ahmad Mickens, Cruiserweights
Empire State Games and Metro Long Island Amateur Lightweight champion Angel 'Sweetness' Garcia' made an impressive professional debut, stopping Jonathan Caban in the second round of a scheduled four. Garcia had a 43-10 amateur record.
Angel Garcia (Debut) Win TKO2 Jonathan Caban, Lightweights (2:36)
Dublin Ireland heavyweight prospect Irish Thomas Hardwick got taken the distance for the first time in his career, winning a four round decision over Jamell Williams.
Irish Thomas Hardwick W4 Jamell Williams, Heavyweights
Vanessa Greco Draw 4 Tonia Cravens, Female Bantamweights (2 Minute Rounds)