Ty Barnett KOs Stephan Alexander, Kevin Rivers & Danny Kelly Shine

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Ty Barnett celebrates with trainer Duke Buchanan. Photo Credit: StiffJab.com

by Gautham Nagesh

WASHINGTON, D.C.—It’s good to be home.

That was the take-home message from lightweight Ty Barnett’s inaugural outing as a promoter at Washington Convention Center on Saturday night. Barnett headlined the first show from Top Flight Productions and sent the modest crowd home happy, stopping Stephan Alexander of Norfolk, Va. in the 6th round after an entertaining main event.

Barnett’s stoppage was not the most impressive on this night, which featured entertaining knockouts from local prospects Kevin Rivers Jr., Danny Kelly, David “Day Day” Grayton (below), and others. Given this was the first show from this outfit, I came away impressed by the smoothness of the operations and the matchmaking by Brian Dillon. Overall it was a thoroughly entertaining night of boxing. Hopefully the fans that did show up felt the same way, and will bring some friends next time.

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We had some concerns about rust from Barnett, who hadn’t fought since his stoppage loss to Mercito Gesta in Las Vegas last year. They turned out to be unfounded, as Barnett got things rolling immediately by scoring a knockdown with his right hand. Barnett’s glove touched the mat a moment later but referee Joe Cooper ruled it a slip, even though Alexander appeared to land just before. Regardless, Barnett wasn’t hurt, and kept using his jab and the right hand to the body to control the opening round.

Alexander made the adjustment and did better in the 2nd round by looking to time Barnett’s body attack. Alexander landed at least one left hook on Barnett when Ty pulled back straight back instead of ducking under after his body shot. Barnett kept working, but Alexander landed a number of clean counters and appeared to edge the round.

Barnett came back in the third goading his opponent to stand and fight. He caught Alexander with a hard left hook to the body, but Stephan landed a couple flush shots of his own to Barnett’s cheek. Alexander came perilously close to landing the big shot a few times in the 3rd, but Barnett found range with a few hard right hands of his own. At that point, the fight appeared evenly matched.

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Both men were firing at will in the 4th. Alexander was giving as good as he got, and Barnett appeared slightly more cautious about releasing his hands. But Barnett’s punch landed with more impact, and a pair of right hands to the head in the 4th forced Alexander to back up. Trainer Duke Buchanan implored Barnett to jab, and Ty responded with a hard right to Alexander’s gut.

That forced the Norfolk man to drop his hands; Barnett filled the subsequent gap with another hard right to Alexander’s face. His urge to land the big punch had Barnett head-hunting at the very moment that his body attack was starting to take its toll.

"Stop looking for one shot, keep working," yelled one of Barnett’s supporters, obviously a keen observer of the Sweet Science.

Alexander came back hard in the 5th, but  Barnett hit him with an uppercut, then a right to the chin. The early ebb and flow appeared to be subsiding as Alexander grew more hittable Barnett’s left eye appeared to be bleeding for an instant, before we realized at ringside that it was merely blood spat from Alexander’s mouth.

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Barnett came out for the sixth invigorated by the taste of his foe’s blood. Ty landed a straight right, then stood and traded with his opponent with little regard for safety. Both men launched missiles from their fists, and neither appeared concerned about the damage they were sustaining.

Just as the crowd grew restless, Barnett unloaded two right hands to his opponent’s head. Alexander was forced to take a knee, where he remained for the full ten count. The official result was a traditional KO for Barnett at 1:49 of Round 6.

The co-feature saw Palmer Park, Md. featherweight Kevin Rivers Jr. (below) stop Rasool Shakoor of Jackson, Michigan with a crunching right hand to the body in the 2nd round.

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Shakoor started out competently, keeping his guard high and firing combinations when openings appeared. Shakoor punched just enough to keep the gifted Rivers from walking through him. Still, by the end of the first round, Rivers was landing clean power shots to Shakoor’s head and body.

By the second round, Rivers was landing at will. As always, Rivers appeared supremely confident, and displayed maturity far beyond someone with eight professional fights. That composure is no doubt a credit to his long and storied amateur career. A left hook to the head to set up a right hand to the ribs was all it took to end the fight. The shot left Shakoor writhing on the mat, clutching his liver in agony.

imageHeadbangers junior middleweight prospect Day Day Grayton wasted no time dispatching Jamaal Davis (above), stopping his larger opponent just one minute into the fight. Grayton came out firing with a full-scale assault, trapping Davis against the ropes and unloading with both hands. A hard left upstairs began Davis’ downfall, and a final right hook to his head as he sank to the mat sealed the deal. No wonder Day Day wasn’t worried about his opponent out-weighing him by almost five pounds before the fight.

Heavyweight Rayshawn Myers came into the ring to the “Halloween” theme wearing a mask and jail suit. But once he took off the getup, he looked more like a throwback to the 1970s, white tennis shoes and all. Ring attire aside, Myers was as game as they come.He took a tremendous beating from Headbangers heavyweight prospect Danny Kelly for the first two rounds, but still kept beating his gloves together and taunting his foe.

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Some of the shots Kelly landed would have wiped away his previous foes, but the rounds should Danny well as he continues to develop. Credit Dillon for finding the right opponent at this stage in Kelly’s career. Until now we hadn’t see Danny tested beyond the first round. Myers did that and then some, though he wound up with the same fate as Kelly’s previous opponents.

Things got heated early on and referee Joe Cooper seemed on the verge of losing control. Kelly didn’t look too thrilled when Cooper placed his hand on his neck to restrain him, but he kept calm and went back to boxing. Kelly got his revenge in the 3rd round, when Myers had finally shown signs of tiring after taking a plethora of blows. Kelly saved his best for last, leveling Myers with a straight right hand that would have folded concrete.

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We were seriously concerned about Myers’ health after this fight. A lesser man’s skull may have caved in from Kelly’s concussive blow.

Former Stiff Jab Amateur Boxer of the Year Mike Reed (below) looked in control over the first half of his fight against DeMarcus Rogers, using his trademark deliberate style to keep his opponent on the defensive. Reed finally began making some headway in the third, with a hard right hook then a straight left from the southpaw stance to hurt his opponent.

The round ended with Rogers upright, but Reed picked up the pressure again in the 4th, despite his father and trainer Buck’s constant calls to “Stay safe”. Reed was clearly not happy with merely winning, and began walking Rogers down and pasting him with left hands.

"Mike just met his first survivor tonight," observed my neighbor, the excellent Gary “Digital” Williams. 

A few hard body shots later forced Rogers into a full retreat, follow by a bout of holding until the final bell. Reed did his best to close the show, but Rogers refused to cooperate by throwing punches in return. There isn’t much more one can do in a four-rounder against a crab like Rogers, so grade this a passing performance by Reed. He looked good for his third professional fight, but will need a lot more bouts like this to keep up his progress.

We arrived too late for the first two fights, and missed a pair of area prospects scoring their first pro wins. The opener saw Monreco Goldson stop Darryl Fields in the second round of matchup of middleweight debutantes. Headbangers product Antonio Magruder had a even quicker debut, stopping Alan Beeman early in the first round. Magruder plans to eventually fight at 130 lbs.

Friends of the blog Gary “Digital” Williams and Juan Marshall presented Thomas “Top Dog” Williams Jr. with the 2012 Beltway Boxing Prospect of the Year award, a credit to the light heavyweight’s continued development. Williams, the son of former heavyweight Thomas Williams Sr., (the original Top Dawg) has scored a couple solid wins recently in front of a national audience. He’s well on his way to becoming a player at 175 lbs., if he can win his next couple fights.

But it wasn’t all good news for the local fighters. District Heights lightweight Renaldo “Misunderstood” Gaines took on Anthony Smith II (above) of Las Vegas in a bout that some were discussing as potential trap for Gaines. Smith had lost his only pro fight by majority decision, but he clearly had more going for him than perhaps Gaines’ handlers realized. Also, Las Vegas is probably not the best place to find soft out-of-town opponents

Both fighters started out jabbing as Gaines, a slow starter, appeared to have the advantage thanks to his height. But Smith caught Gaines with a right hand in the 2nd that send the local fighter to the floor. A series of hard shots in combination followed once Gaines rose, and it was clear he was in serious trouble. Then, a vicious uppercut from Smith moved Gaines’ head.

Smith kept up the pressure, landing a series of hard shots directly to Gaines’ chin. The referee was finally forced to step in as Gaines was getting ready to collapse in a heap. The resulting knockout was brutal, and Gaines stayed on his stool for a considerable amount of time after the bell. The official result was a TKO at 2:49 of Round 2 for Smith. Gaines is not without talent, but he might want to consider his future in boxing before fighting again. There are far easier ways to make a living.

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