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Johnson, George, Rodriguez Victorious

By Jacob Chavez, photos by John Booz

Nearly 3000 fight fans set out to observe the young talent of the super middleweight division on Friday Night at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago IL. With Showtime's Super Six Tournament well underway, the network's popular boxing series, ShoBox gave six up and coming prospects the opportunity to display their skills in a mini tournament of their very own.

The main event featured Marcus "Too Much" Johnson (19-0-0, 14 KOs) as he handed Derek "The Black Lion" Edwards (25-1-0, 13 KOs) his first loss as a professional.   Johnson had a standout amateur career and narrowly missed the 2004 Olympics after losing to eventual gold medalist Andre Ward. Edwards had a limited amateur career but has shown good promise as a professional and looked to prove that he was under rated.

The co-main had Don "Da Bomb" George (20-0-17 KOs) took on and defeated Osumanu Adama (17-2-0, 13 KOs) by unanimous decision in a terrific slugfest. This bout was a big step up for the local favorite and although Adama, who was trained by the Legendary Azumah Nelson, had an excellent amateur career, George's resilience and determination got him the decision.

The third of the middleweight contests featured Edwin "La Bomba" Rodriguez (14-0-0, 10 KOs) and Kevin "The Hitman" Engel (17-3-0, 14 KOs). Rodriguez has a very versatile style and is very comfortable in the ring. He can throw from many angles and likes to expose his opponents' weaknesses. He used these skills against the former kick boxer Engel and dominated their match. Engel showed great heart and will, but it was to no avail, as he was knocked out in the later rounds.

Johnson controlled the action throughout and won by way of unanimous decision. He showed good poise and solid speed, keeping Edwards on the defensive throughout most of the fight. Both fighters came out looking to establish a jab and made an attempt at putting combinations together in the second half of the stanza, but nothing significant landed.

The second round set the tone for the remainder of the fight, as Johnson opened up and peppered Edwards with quick flurries on the inside. Edwards eventually came back with something effective nearing the end of round three when he countered with his own combination upstairs.

Everything continued to go in Johnson's favor during the middle rounds. It wasn't until round seven that desperation set in for Edwards, as he threw caution to the wind and charged at Johnson, targeting the head and body. This proved effective but was short lived with Johnson responding during the final seconds of the round with his own volleys as he dominated rounds eight and nine.

Edwards made one final effort in round ten, realizing that he was behind on the scorecards.  He proceeded to swing away with bad intentions, but the skill and hand speed of Johnson quickly put Edwards back on the receiving end of multiple rights to the head. In fact, a big right midway into the round buckled Edwards' knees. Johnson then pumped three additional rights to the head that went unanswered. The judges scored it 97-93 and 98-92 twice, all for Johnson.

George Defeats Adama

The co-main event was a huge crowd pleaser loaded with toe-to-toe action. Adama took the initiative with his long jab and his high punch output. George looked to counter and pick his punches. Adama came out even more aggressive in the second, overwhelming George with strong combinations to the head and body. George looked very uncomfortable, walking backwards while trying to avoid punishment. To his credit, George stood his ground the last minute of the round and responded with a hard right cross to the head that set up a series of powerful combinations.

 The third saw more solid trading from both sides, but Adama was not as willing to bully the dangerous George as in previous rounds. There was more action in the fourth as George connected with a big left cross to the head early on and Adama responded with a one-two combination. As the round progressed George focused more on the body. This prompted Adama to lower his guard slightly which allowed for another stiff left by George to connect.  George continued to gain momentum in the fifth and sixth as he sat more on his punches while he punished the body.

Adama was very game but he appeared discouraged and looked tired. George cemented his win on points by knocking Adama down during an exchange in the final seconds of the seventh. Adama failed to see the right to the head as he stepped backwards and was caught cleanly on the chin.

The final stanza saw Adama press hard for a knockout, but despite being very tired and having a determined opponent pressing him, the warrior in George managed to make it to the final bell. The judges' scorecards read 79-72, 76-75 and 77-74. George later stated that his right hand was broken in the early rounds of the fight.

Rodriguez Stops Engel

Rodriguez put the hurt on Engel from the start. He blasted him with combinations and sneaky shots from various angles to the point that Engle seized to throw anything in return for extended periods of time. In round two there was more punishment for Engel. He displayed a good heart but lacked the skills to penetrate the slick style of his opponent.

 In round three Engel's perseverance paid off, as a big left hook to the head staggered Rodriguez. It took several seconds for Rodriguez to recover, but he wisely clinched when in short distance which neutralized the attack Engel.

In the fourth Engel continued to walk forward but also continued to eat a lot of leather. His effective shots were few and far between and by the end of the round his face looked like a battered mess.

Rodriguez continued his dominance in the fifth and finally put Engel away in the sixth. While walking forward, Rodriguez connected with a blistering right to the body. Engel dropped in excruciating pain and spit his mouth piece out. Referee John O'Brien reached the count of ten with Engel still on his knees. The time of the KO came at 2:35 of round six.

Fonfara Stops Cantrell

Light heavyweight prospect Andrzej Fonfara (14-2-0, 5 KOs) blew away Roger Cantrell (15-2-0, 8 KOs) with a fourth round TKO to win the WBC Youth championship. Cantrell mocked Fonfara seconds before the start of the fight, looking to throw him off his game. And to his credit, it worked.

Fonfara started off with a good jab but Cantrell came out loading up on power punches to the head. He caught Fonfara and lured him into trading heavy blows. In the second Fonfara regained his composure by sticking to the jab as he used good footwork to avoid Cantrell's attack.

Fonfara almost dropped Cantrell nearing the end of round three, as a hard right buckled his knees. In round four Fonfara's speed and accuracy were much more apparent. Cantrell had no answers for the stinging shots and it turned out to be a big left hook followed but a right to the head the ended the punishment. Cantrell got up but spit the mouth piece out in order to buy some time, but his efforts were futile, as referee Celestino Ruiz stopped the match. The time was 1:01.

In Other Action:

Former NBA star Kendall Gill (4-0-0, 3 Kos) returned to professional boxing to destroy Miles Kelly (1-2-0, 1 KO) in just under three rounds. Gill's height and power were too much for Kelly to handle throughout, as Kelly failed to put any type of offense together. The left-handed Gill battered Kelly in round one with lefts to the head from a long range. Gill dropped Kelly in the second with a right cross to the head. Kelly
showed a true desire to win and to mix it up, but Gill fought well and used his height to set up good combinations. The end came in the third when a left to the body dropped Kelly. Realizing he had no chance at winning, referee Pete Podgorski stopped the fight immediately. The time was 2:54.

Heavyweights Krzystof Zimnoch (2-0-1, 2 KOs) and Joey Montoya (1-0-2, 1 KO) put a real crowd please on in their four round match-up. The fight resulted in a draw. Neither fighter was down but the fireworks started early with both combatants sitting on their punches in the center of the ring. With a minute left in the round, a point was taken from Zimnoch for hitting behind the head after numerous warnings. The action went back and forth, with Montoya taking the middle rounds and Zimnoch finishing strong. The judges scored the fight 37-36 for Zimnoch and 37-37 twice.

Welterweight Jaime Herrera (2-0-0, 1 KO) dominated Eric Draper (1-3-2) over four rounds. The taller and lankier Draper showed true grit during heavy exchanges but his punches where wide and he failed to use his height effectively. Herrera easily penetrated Draper's lazy jab and dominated throughout. All three judges scored the fight for Herrera, 40-36 and 39-37 twice.