Alan Dawson – London
American welterweight Vincent “Vinsanity” Arroyo prevailed in a battling ten round non-title contest against rangy Puerto Rican Hector Sanchez at the Grand Casino, Hinckley, Minnesota on Friday, September 9. Sanchez boxed well in the opening rounds yet, once Arroyo figured out how to attack his taller and leaner opponent, he punched in bunches and stormed his way to a unanimous decision win.
Judges verdict: 98-92, 98-92, 96-94 unanimous decision to Arroyo
Arroyo was on strong form having taken the zeroes off of his past three opponents in Mike Dallas Jr, Jeremy Bryan and Willie Nelson. An aggressive welterweight from the Bronx, New York City, Arroyo relinquished a considerable height disadvantage to Sanchez, who also had a greater wingspan by over seven inches. Arroyo, though, had experience punching upwards having beaten Nelson – 6’3 – by way of majority decision in April.
Sanchez was sprightly on his feet, skipping on the spot as he darted in and out of the pocket while firing hard hitting hook shots on the inside. When mid-range, he’d use his jab effectively. Arroyo had to be warned for two lowblows – one of which was a hook square on the bollocks – and there were also warnings for clashing of heads.
In the second stanza, Sanchez controlled the distance and began to perturb Sanchez with both his right cross and also his hook punch. Arroyo needed to keep his right glove chin-high as Sanchez’s left hook landed, again, direct on the target. Arroyo danced around the periphery of the ring but, when on the offensive, would flurry – without accuracy. Arroyo shook his head at Sanchez when the rangy Puerto Rican caught the New Yorker with another left hook. The hook punch is, traditionally, a shot designed to fire from the inside, yet Sanchez’s reach was so extraordinary for a 147lb campaigner that he could unleash it from distance and still land.
Arroyo was far more tentative in the third as he had learned to respect Sanchez’s arsenal the hard way. Taller fighters can often give you their body, but Sanchez negated this by keeping his elbows tucked in and minimising the areas that Arroyo could reach.
At the beginning of the fourth round, Arroyo sought to trap Sanchez against the ropes where his long arms would do less damage. Arroyo landed a solid combination move onto the frame of Sanchez but he refused to stay stationary and pivoted away from the ropes. Arroyo finished the fourth round well with an impish hook punch.
The fifth round, like the fourth, Arroyo backed Sanchez against the ropes at the start of the round but instead of angling away from the danger zone like Sanchez had before, he covered up with a shell defence but Arroyo was still able to land a good 20 to 30 percent of the punches from his unrelenting flurrying. Arroyo had wrested the momentum away from Sanchez by taking the fight to the inside which took the control of the distance away from his 6’1 opponent.
The fight displayed two alternative styles between Sanchez’s smart boxing skills and desire for distance control, the jab and the counter-punching ability compared to Arroyo’s aggression, combination-punching, double-jab and his success in trapping Sanchez against the ropes. For the first time in the contest, Sanchez was wobbly-legged for the first time due to a right cross and left hook move from Arroyo.
Toward the end of the seventh, Sanchez was again forced onto the ropes where he lowered his guard and was clobbered by an Arroyo left hook. Considering his natural physical assets, any fluidity to Sanchez’s jab had completely dissipated since round four.
Vincent Arroyo, nicknamed Vinsanity, began the eighth round like he had finished the seventh by flurrying with a clear aggression when Sanchez was against the ropes. Sanchez’s only good piece of work was a well-timed uppercut when Arroyo stepped inside. Having clipped Sanchez with a left, Arroyo sensed the finish and began working Sanchez over to the head and the body. Sanchez resorted to constant spoiling as Arroyo landed overhand rights, left hooks to the body, more overhand rights and more hook punches.
Sanchez counter-punched his way back into contention in the ninth as his jelly-legs had stiffened enough to protect himself and use his jab to keep Arroyo off of him. A powerful exchange of right crosses ensued in the final round. Sanchez may have had the energy sapped out of him due to the torment his body had endured in the middle rounds and Arroyo sought to finish the round – and the fight – in the ascendancy. With Sanchez fighting tired while Arroyo kept the pace, the 24-year-old American had done enough to sneak a very close victory on On The Beak‘s card.
With the unanimous decision win, Arroyo saw his record rise to 12-1-0, 7ko while Sanchez dropped to 19-20, 9ko. The competitive nature of the bout, though, was not reflected in the one-sided nature of the judges’ scorecards.
Alan Dawson – London
Lateef Kayode won his third decision on the spin as he out-pointed awkward southpaw Felix Cora Jr in a ten round contest at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota on Friday, September 9. Kayode retained his NABA cruiserweight title but may have lost both his reputation as a power puncher and his status as a true contender as he laboured to victory and struggled to look good against an opponent he perhaps should have stopped.
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Judges verdict: 97-92, 96-93, 98-92 unanimous decision for Kayode.
The first four letters of Kayode’s surname sum up his three years as a professional thus far – he’s more than capable of finishing fights early, by way of knockout, due to the thunderous power within his fists. Kayode is a regular on Shobox: The Next Generation, is trained by Freddie Roach out of the Wildcard Boxing Club in Hollywood, Califonia and is already in the top five rankings of all the major recognised sanctioning bodies – the only cruiserweight contender to be able to claim such a feat.
Texan-based Cora Jr, meanwhile, is a solid domestic-level 200lb campaigner having wrapped the USBA and NABF titles around his waist. Cora Jr had a notable scalp on his resume in Michael Simms and had the age advantage over his Nigerian adversary, but lacked the physical qualities that Kayode could brag.
Kayode operated behind his jab in the opening stanza, stayed disciplined and fought with effective aggression by unleashing one-two combinations, showing good foot movement and generally producing the superior work to American southpaw Cora Jr.
In the second round, Cora Jr was forced into a corner where Kayode worked him over – albeit briefly – as the well-conditioned Nigerian dubbed Power appeared to back away having done the hard work of pinning him into a hittable zone. Midway through the round, Kayode had opened up a cut on the left eye of Cory Jr, who spent the rest of the round sending his right cross onto the laceration. Referee Steve Smoger initially deemed the catalyst for the cut a legal punch, however, that call was later over-ruled as replays showed an accidental coming together of skulls.
Kayode landed a powerful right cross in the second minute of the third round that had been set up by his orthodox jab. The most lethal weapon against a fighter who has portside posturing is said to be the right hand, and such a notion had not been lost on Kayode who had been making that punch work for him in each and all of the rounds. Cora Jr ensured the greater work was not all Kayode’s, who landed a cute right uppercut, but it was Kayode who finished the round the strongest as he temporarily had Cora Jr trapped on the ropes.
Kayode finished a three-punch move (where only one – a body shot – had landed) by motioning away from the inside and keeping his gloves up to protect himself against a Cora Jr who pushed onto the front-foot. Cora Jr allowed his fists to go in the fourth round yet it was Kayode’s astute and mature footwork that helped thwart Cora Jr’s defence… it was a mirror image of how heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko keeps his lead foot stretched out and, at the same time, leans his body back, so that his opponent a, cannot step comfortably on the inside and b, struggles to locate the chin. Before the chime of the bell, Cora Jr landed a solid hook shot but blood was streaming from his wounded eye.
Known for his pressure-fighting, Kayode’s defence was more on show at the Grand Casino as he demonstrated good shoulder and upper body movement to evade Cora Jr’s shots but Cora Jr also proved a problematic target to hit cleanly as Kayode struggled to catch him flush.
Kayode began the sixth by exerting a jab with more regularity as it set-up his right hook shot but the second punch in the move was regularly cushioned by a high left glove from Cora Jr – it therefore was another punch that didn’t land. Kayode’s jab was an effective lead shot, but the right in particular had lost the usefulness of the opening rounds as Cora Jr was able to counter the blow.
Lateef Kayode introduced hook shots and hookercuts to Cora Jr’s midsection. The variety of his punching was worked into his game at the opportune moment as he had begun to appear predictable in his output in the middle rounds. Cora Jr finished the round strong as he landed a three-punch flurry that was concluded with a telling right hook. Kayode re-established his orthodox jab and right cross.
Kayode was instructed by his corner to abandon his boxing and go for the kayo. A thudding right cross caught Cora Jr who also found success with a left hook and later punched the mouth-piece out of his kisser. A succession of four right hooks from Kayode were all blocked by Cora Jr’s guard.
Cora Jr had Kayode troubled, backing up and against the ropes in the penultimate stanza. The right uppercut began the problems for Kayode who immediately began stepping backwards. There was a slugging exchange in the final round but the shots traded lacked the knockdown power required for a grandstand finish. Kayode was also deducted a point by Smoger for lowblowing. Both fighters seemed tired and Kayode’s right lacked the sharpness and crispness indicating that he was, indeed, fatigued and far from ready from a 12-round world title contest not only in terms of conditioning… but he is still not polished enough for the true elite at cruiser.
With victory, Kayode rose to 18-0-0, 14ko.
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Rising cruiserweight prospect Lateef Kayode, an undefeated Nigerian hardman, refuses to look past imminent opponent Felix Cora Jr. The two have been matched on the Shobox: The Next Generation card on Saturday, September 9 at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota and Kayode is adamant he will successfully defend his NABA cruiserweight championship in emphatic fashion as Cora “exposes his chin“.
“I trained so hard for this fight and I’m so well-prepared,” Kayode, who has largely matured as a fighter under the Showtime camera lenses, said ahead of the bout. “It depends how he fights.”
Kayode (17-0-0, 14ko) continues his route to the peak of the cruiserweight division. The 28-year-old has been dominant during his ascent thus far and has displayed a penchant for finishing fights before the distance. While he will not force the stoppage against Cora (22-5-2, 12ko), it is something he stresses could be a distinct possibility as he will capitalise on any flaw in Cora’s defensive game.
“If he runs around and slaps, he might last for a while,” noted the Hollywood resident, dubbed Power, who fights out of the Wildcard Boxing Club under the tutelage of Freddie Roach. “If he fights he won’t last. He makes the same mistake over and over and exposes his chin. I have to capitalise on that because he doesn’t have a great chin.
“ShoBox has really made my career what it is up to this point. I’m just so proud to be back on Showtime. Sure, I’m looking for bigger and better things but I have to be patient right now and realize there isn’t a huge market for cruiserweights like myself in America. We’re not looking past Felix Cora. He could present problems being a southpaw, but we’ve studied him and just have to keep to our game plan and we’ll be fine.”
Cora Jr, meanwhile, has vowed to wrest the domestic belt away from the waist of Lateef: “I feel good and very confident. I won’t make predictions but it’ll be an entertaining fight. I’ll feel him out early and do my best. He’s a great fighter, very tough, well-conditioned and very determined. I appreciate him giving me this opportunity and it’ll feel good to be champion.”