ESPN Jessie Magdaleno vs Isaac Dogboe, Jesse Hart vs Demond Nicholson, and Bryant Jennings vs Joey Dawejko
BY KID HERSH
From the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia came Top Rank on ESPN boxing.
First up on the card was Bryant Jennings (22-2, 13KO's) vs Joey Dawejko (19-4-4, 11KO's). The referee was Gary Rosato. In the first round, Dawejko was pressing forward slowly and patiently as Jennings was looking to bide his time as well and box smart. Dawejko was landing good counters and body shots by the end of the first round. In the second round, Jennings was keeping his distance on the outside and was effectively blunting the work rate of Dawejko with his massive reach. In the third round, the fight turned into a phone booth affair with both men landing good shots but in my opinion, Dawejko getting the better of the larger man as he split the guard of Jennings with uppercuts and landed right hands around the gloves. In the fourth round, Dawejko was slipping the long jab of Jennings beautifully. Jennings was still, for his part, landing some very good punches such as a flush right hand in the second half of the fourth but they were just seemingly less frequent and had many more punches being slipped by Dawejko. It wasn't until the fifth round that Jennings got a rhythm going as he landed flush right hands on Dawejko and sent him backwards, nearing the end of the fifth, for the first time in the fight. In the sixth round, Dawejko's work rate fell again as Jennings was doing a good job of keeping the fight mostly on the outside and Dawejko was not slipping punches as well as he had been in the earlier rounds. In the seventh round, Dawejko was being beaten to the punch on the outside again until finally, he was able to maintain success on the inside as he slipped Jennings jab and continued inching forward on the inside instead of allowing Jennings to step back and keep the fight at the distance he wanted. Jennings continued through the final rounds to show better stamina and more volume punching than Dawejko in a fight that I thought was closer than the cards showed at 98-92 X3 for Jennings.
Jesse Hart (23-1, 19KO's) vs Demond Nicholson (18-2-1, 17KO's). The referee was Shawn Clark. The first round was a barn burner with both men swinging for the fences and Hart being the first one to land. It appeared that Nicholson was hurt early on, but it was not bad enough for Harts aggressive attack to take him out. Hart was showing no respect for Nicholson and got caught himself at the end of the first round with a right hand through the guard that clipped Harts chin and sent him stumbling back to his corner as the punch landed right when the bell sounded to end the round. Hart had much more respect for Nicholson in the second round and in the third round, Nicholson started to really press Hart hard and unfortunately had a knockdown scored against him early in the third round when he lost his footing. It was a blistering round that was capped off by a real knockdown in the final minute when Nicholson was put to the canvas after a right hand hit him just behind the ear and he backed up, taking more punches and eventually went down to the canvas. As the rounds wore on you could really see that Hart was a natural super middleweight while Nicholson was moving up from middleweight. Both men were very cut, with zero fat, but Hart simply has a much larger frame and more muscle to him and that is showing to make a difference in a firefight. Hart continued to press forward and smother Nicholson, who was very tired from the larger man leaning on him and throwing to the body and the head. Then in the seventh round, we had one of the strangest endings of the year to date when Nicholson went to the canvas, only to have the referee not call it a knockdown (again), then when he went down on the ropes from a Hart onslaught he was complaining on the canvas wheile the referee counted to eight and then stopped the count to tell him to get up twice instead of counting him out! Very strange, because then well past the count of ten he got up as if he was answering to his father - looking like he was saying "ok I guess so" and then the referee looked around, very awkward, and called the fight off. The result cannot even be called correct because Hart should have a legit knockout, not the TKO it was ruled. Very odd and very poor refereeing by Shawn Clark in this fight BUT Hart looked very good overall as he was getting stronger as the fight went on.
Main event time featuring Jessie Magdaleno (25-0, 18KO's) vs Isaac Dogboe (18-0, 12KO's). In the first round, both men were sitting down on their shots and Magdaleno scored a knockdown off a series of right hooks. Dogboe got up and was further hurt by a beauty of a power left hand from Magdaleno. Dogboe stayed on his feet but he appeared to be a bit perplexed at the powerful and skilled fighter in front of him. In the second round, the action was subdued until the final thirty seconds when the fighters were trading heavy blows to the extent that it looked like any blow landing flush could knock the other man out. Dogboe started to have success in the third and fourth rounds, with Magdaleno only fighting in spurts and Dogboe walking him down and being the busier man. We had a barn burner of a fight as in the fifth round when Magdaleno went to the canvas from a right hand to the chin. He got up but was on wobbly legs for the remainder of the round - which was quite some time - as he willed himself back into the fight by slamming his gloves together and yelling at Dogboe, who was hitting him with shots nonstop but Magdaleno was just willing himself through the round. Now both men, who previously had never been to the canvas, have hit the canvas! Magdaleno was not completely recovered in the sixth round but by the seventh, he appeared to be recouping his legs although he was losing the rounds as Dogboe looked very fresh and was pressing the action and landing the cleaner blows. Dogboe continued dominating the fight and appeared that he may get a stoppage in the tenth round where he was really pouring the damage onto Magdaleno who is relegated to backing around the ring and taking punches on the ropes while valiantly showing his chin and durability. In the eleventh round Dogboe scored two knockdowns, with Magdaleno unable to take heavy punches forever, and just like that, a new champion was crowned. Surprisingly the first thing that Magdaleno did was go over and embrace Dogboe - who said some very nasty things in the lead up to the fight. Ghana just got its youngest world champion, ever.