Heather Hardy and Cristina Fuentes put on the type of fight that would make any fan a believer in women's boxing (Photo courtesy of Team Hardy).
Ringside Report by Resolution Sports
For the last time ever, DiBella Entertainment hosted its longstanding Broadway Boxing series at the historic Roseland Ballroom, which will be closing its doors forever this spring. The Roseland Ballroom was founded in 1917 by Louis Becker in the City of Philadelphia with funding from Frank Yuengling of the beer company that also holds his name. In 1919 it moved to 51st Street in Manhattan before settling into its current location on 52nd Street in 1956. The historic venue was a pivotal landmark to the jazz movement of the 1920s and 30s, and it has hosted some of the biggest names in entertainment across the board over the past near century. The Roseland Ballroom officially closes its doors on April 7th following a seven-show series by Lady Gaga.
Now that you have received your history lesson, let’s get back to the boxing.
Boyd Melson (14-1-1, 4 KOs) vs. Donald Ward (6-4, 3 KOs)
A Broadway Boxing staple, Boyd Melson had a game opponent in front of him with Donald Ward, and the Memphis native was intent upon upsetting the hometown favorite on this historical night. Overall, Melson was the crisper and more active boxer, forced to throwing virtually nothing but left hands throughout the second half of the eight-round encounter after suffering a nerve injury to his right arm in the 4th round. Once the final bell signaled the end of this bout, Melson was on his way to another victory, but it was a bit of a surprise when it was revealed that it would be via split decision. The first two cards read 79-73 and 78-74 in his favor, while a third tally was even at 76-76.
Heather Hardy (8-0, 2 KOs) vs. Cristina Fuentes (2-5-3)
In the final women’s bout at the Roseland Ballroom, undefeated Brooklyn native and ultra-popular Heather “Heat” Hardy fought Texan Cristina Fuentes in an extremely entertaining back-and-forth scrap. Immediately after the opening bell, Fuentes stormed in a straight line towards Hardy and unloaded an instant flurry, but Hardy reacted by staying in the pocket and responding with her hands. The converted kickboxer did not appear to be overwhelmed by the early aggression, and Fuentes did appear a bit gassed at the start of the second frame. Hardy continued to walk her down and throw furious numbers on her combinations, while her opposition was loading up on single blows. In typical Hardy fashion, she ate her fair share of hard shots and just continued to walk through them and deliver her own sets of punches. Anytime she was in apparent trouble, she responded the only way she knows how, and that is by digging in her back foot and unloading a tremendous amount of punches with both hands.
At the conclusion of this eight round co-feature, the entire Roseland Ballroom applauded the efforts of both women and inspired promoter Lou DiBella to take the microphone and voice his longstanding support of women’s boxing. When the final results then came from the ringside judges, Hardy earned a split decision victory with two counts of 77-75 in her favor to combat the same score for Fuentes.
In her post-fight interview with Steve Farhood, Hardy was called out, Clubber Lang style, by a voice in the audience that was later revealed to be undefeated Rhode Island native Shelly Vincent (10-0, 1 KO). Hardy just laughed it off, and DiBella told Vincent to get her promoter on the phone with him.
Ryan Martin (3-0, 2 KOs) vs. Jose Del Valle (2-4-2)
After two quick knockout victories in his first pair of professional bouts, Chattanooga lightweight Ryan “Blue Chip” Martin got in four good rounds against a rangy and durable fighter in Jose Del Valle. Martin picked his spots and did hurt Del Valle on a few occasions, but the gritty Puerto Rican knew how to survive. Martin displayed some good foot movement throughout the four frames, hammering his opposition with straight right hands and hard left hooks to the body. Following what turned out to be a dominant performance, the 50 Cent-signed prospect emerged victorious with flush 40-36s from the ringside officials.
Junior welterweights Danny Gonzalez (5-0-1, 3 KOs) and Ray Velez (3-4-1, 1 KO) put on a non-stop and action packed slugfest for four straight rounds, displaying a highly entertaining and crowd pleasing fight. Gonzalez pressed the action and possessed better ring control than his opposition, but he somehow left the ring with a majority draw after earning a 40-36 score that was matched by a pair of 38-38 tallies… 154-pound Bronx fighter Chris Galeano improved to 2-0 on the evening, controlling the action and aggressively breaking down Travis McClaren (1-4, 1 KO) over four frames to garner straight 40-36 counts on the scorecards… Cincinnati prospect Donte Strayhorn (5-1, 1 KO) out-boxed Jose Gomez in a four-round bout, although the young lightweight still did not throw as many punches as he will need to throw to truly utilize his distinct height and range advantage and be successful in the division. The final scores in this fight were 39-37 (twice) in his favor, along with an even 38-38 tally… Michael Gbenga (13-11, 13 KOs) tried to make it a sloppy fight with unbeaten light heavyweight Travis Peterkin (11-0, 5 KOs), but the Brooklyn resident was able to keep his distance well enough to clearly get the better of his opposition. With a point deduction to Gbenga in the fourth round for excessive head butting, Peterkin claimed flush 60-53s from the three judges… Junior lightweights Bryant Cruz (9-0, 5 KOs) and Joshua Reyes (5-2, 2 KOs) put on an incredible fight over six frames, with constant exchanges occurring from start to finish. Both fighters did their fair share of dealing and receiving, with neither man backing down from the other. The lone knockdown of the bout came in the first round, after Cruz overwhelmed Reyes with an early flurry. Absolutely non-indicative of the outstanding contest were some lopsided scores in favor of Cruz, who won via unanimous decision (59-54, 59-55x2)… Light heavyweight Joe Smith, Jr. (14-1, 11 KOs) closed out the undercard with a dominant performance opposite Otis Griffin (24-15-2, 10 KOs) of Sacramento, constantly pressing the issue and controlling most of the action over the entire bout. For his efforts, Smith improved to 14-1 after securing a pair of 60-54 counts that were matched with a tally of 59-54…