By Joe Kulyeshie, ringside
Whippany, NJ August 4 – KEA Boxing’s Friday Night Boxing Series lived up to its billing when it made its debut at the elegant Birchwood Manor for “Brawls at the Birchwood.” A hot crowd and solid matchmaking combined to lay the groundwork for an entertaining night that sent supporters of local fighters Wayne Johnsen, Pawel Wolak, Wendy La Motta and Nicky DeMarco home happy.
In the Main Event, Lyndhurst NJ’s Wayne Johnsen (13-1, 8 KO) stopped James Sundin (6-4, 3 KO) when Sundin couldn’t continue after the second round. Johnsen came out using his feet and jab to keep Sundin at a distance. The slower Sundin had trouble finding Johnsen.
In the second round, Johnsen began landing a barrage of punches opening up a cut over Sundin’s left eye. Sundin showed great heart and courage by taking the Johnsen onslaught without going to the canvas. Johnsen was able to land his straight right at will throughout the round. Johnsen got the TKO victory when Sundin was unable to continue sending Johnsen’s group of enthusiastic supporters known as the “Wayniacs” into an uproar.
In the co-feature, Mt. Arlington’s Pawel Wolak (10-0, 6 KO) defeated Bayonne, NJ’s Dennis Sharpe when the doctor stopped the fight after the fifth round. While it lasted, the boxers warred with each other in what would have been a “Fight of the Year” candidate had it gone the distance.
Both Wolak and Sharpe are known to be active, aggressive fighters and they did not disappont. From the opening bell, both men went head to head with neither being afraid to let their hands go. By the time the first round was finished, Wolak had a nasty gash on his right eyebrow.
The cut eye seemed to invigorate the ordinarily active Wolak to fight with even more urgency. Wolak threw punches nearly non-stop for the next 4 rounds wearing down Sharpe and causing some serious swelling around Sharpe’s eyes.
Finally, the doctor declared the swelling to Sharpe’s eyes were too bad for him to continue giving Wolak the TKO victory. Showing the warrior that he was, Sharpe was extremely upset the fight was stopped. Wolak’s gritty performance, coming back from the early cut against a tough as nails opponent, was an impressive stepping stone as he moves forward.
In women’s featherweight action, Hoboken’s Wendy La Motta (6-1, 2 KO) made her return to the area a success with a hard fought decision over Lillian Villareal (1-9-1). Villareal was unafraid to come forward and take a punch to get close to La Motta and land her own shots. Villareal consistently won the exchanges when she was able to get inside and trade punches.
In the end, LaMotta’s superior jab was able to keep Villareal at a safe distance for most of the fight. All three judges scored the fight 59-55 for La Motta.
Making their pro debuts, JV Tuazon and Omar Carrol fought to a slightly controversial draw. Tuazon threw his punches with bad intentions, but didn’t let his hands go enough to break down the solid defense of Omar Carrol in what was a very close fight.
Carrol landed more punches, but none very damaging. Tuazon was less active, but landed the more punishing blows. After four rounds, the judges scored it 39-37 Tuazon, 39-38 Carrol and 38-38. Most ringside observers had it 39-37 Tuazon, however, the draw was not out of line in an impressive showing for a battle of pro debuts.
Opening up the show, Nicky DeMarco (1-0, 1 KO) looked strong surviving the early reckless aggression of Eric Dean (0-3). DeMarco stayed composed before using a straight left and right hook to knock out Dean at 1:41 of the first round.
KEA Boxing put on a great show. The fighters came ready to brawl with each of the New Jersey boxers having vocal local support creating a lively atmosphere. The competitive matchmaking added to the drama and kept everyone into the fights. This is what a local show should be.