Fight night in St. Pete

BY FRANK DROUZAS, Staff Writer

 ST. PETERSBURG — The Police Athletic League of St. Petersburg, 1450 16th St. N., hosted a night of professional boxing Feb. 27 featuring six bouts, headlined by St Pete’s Ali Tareh facing Aaron “The Butcher” Steadman of Ocala, Fla., in a welterweight clash.

Promoted by Jie Chen of Panda 5 Star Entertainment in conjunction with executive producer Henry Grooms, the event was billed as “Ali’s Dream” but it was Tareh who fell short in the main event Friday night. For the first two rounds of the scheduled ten-rounder, Tareh — who notched the National Boxing Association Intercontinental title last April — and Steadman sniffed each other out, keeping a measured distance while throwing relatively few punches, though Steadman did catch Tareh with at least one well timed combination.

By the third round, Tareh and Steadman acted more like dancing partners than fighters, circling each other constantly with neither one seeming to be willing to commit to opening things up.

That was when Steadman seemed to say, “Enough is enough.” He swooped in to chase Tareh toward the corner and detonated a powerful uppercut that exploded onto the body of Tareh, who folded upon the impact. Grimacing throughout referee Emil Lombardi’s entire count, Tareh could not manage to get back on his feet. Coming at 2:04 in the round, the KO improved Steadman’s record to 11-6-2 while the loss dropped Tareh to 13-10-5.

In the undercard action, DeAngelo Deonte Cunningham of St. Pete and Samuel Valentin of Tampa squared off in a four-round welterweight match up. The promising Valentin took it to Cunningham, constantly stalking and corralling him. Though the quick Cunningham proved slippery, Valentin managed to find his target and fire off several well-timed combinations.

In the second round the more aggressive Valentin backed Cunningham up and rocked him with a right hand that sent Cunningham into the ropes. Smelling blood, Valentin smashed his opponent again with a right hook while Cunningham was already on his way down and tangled in the ropes. Referee Dennis DeBon deducted two points from Valentin.

But this only seemed to energize Valentin as he came out fiercely in the third, unleashing a strong flurry that knocked Cunningham down. From then on it was all Valentin as he pinned Cunningham against the ropes and unloaded, as all the spent Cunningham could do was try to take cover from the brutal barrage. The fight was stopped at 1:49 in the round, lifting Valentin to 3-0 (2 KO).
Middleweight Raynard Hill of St. Pete made short work of Howard Reece of Ocala, Fla., by knocking him out 31 seconds into the second round of their scheduled four-rounder. Ducking incoming blows from Reece, Hill shot out of his crouch with a bone-crushing overhand right that found its mark on Reece’s chin, instantly stunning Reece and knocking him out on his feet. Reece’s head dangled as he flopped limply to the canvas, and Hil stood triumphantly over him, arms raised. Hill improved to 4-10 while Reece suffered his eighth defeat in ten fights.

Welter Courtney Jackson made his pro debut against St Pete’s Victor Kulakovaski, originally from Cherkassy, Ukraine, in a four-founder that went the distance, culminating on a split decision victory for Jackson. With lots of roundhouse punches, both fighters aimed to deliver knockout blows throughout the bout.

Action was not lacking as Jackson kept tagging Kulakovaski, slowing him down, but in the second Kulakovaski surprisingly floored Jackson with a powerful left hand. In the third a determined Jackson came after his opponent and Kulakovaski walked into a left hand, which cut him severely above the left eye. With scarlet streaks covering his face and impairing his vision, Kulakovaski managed to come back strong and finish the round. The final round saw Jackson hunt and corner his prey, further opening the cut of his opponent with a thunderous left. Jackson finished convincingly and with the decision, notched his first ever victory.

Undefeated welter Javier Flores from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, made it look easy as he knocked out St. Pete’s Shiwone Gortman. After an uneventful first round, Flores floored Gortman with a huge left hand, and knocked him down a second time only seconds later with another devastating left. The fight was stopped at 1:01 in the round, improving Flores to 11-0.

Super middleweight Botirsher Obidov of Kissimmee, Fla., won his pro debut as he stopped Yoealys Duverger of Miami in a bout that only lasted one round. Duverger kept busy by continually overreaching, at one point falling on his face after whiffing with a wild stab at his opponent. Obidov pounded Duverger with well-aimed punches, even scoring a knockdown. Duverger managed to survive the round, but was forced to quit in his corner before the start of the second round.

To reach Frank Drouzas, email fdrouzas@theweeklychallenger.com

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