On April 16, 2016 I set off for a weekend trip to Brooklyn, New York City – the place where the hip-hop crowd paint murals of Biggie and the hipsters live in beautiful brown stones on extended tree-lined streets.
While a good portion of my time would be spent enjoying 5th Ave in the Park Slope section of the borough followed by a long Sunday morning run through Prospect Park which was hosting a Bernie Sanders rally that same day, the primary purpose of this trip was to cover boxing from the Barclays Center.
It was Saturday night, PBC on NBC, arguably the best TV series in boxing. A paid attendance of 7,628 turned out to the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues. I had one of the best seats in the house as a credentialed member of the boxing media.
The majority of fan support was split between local contender Chris Algeri who was in against rising star Errol Spence Jr. in the main event while another heavy batch came to shout “Polska” in favor of IBF Cruiserweight champion Krzysztof “Head” Glowacki who was taking on longtime veteran Steve “USS” Cunningham in the co-feature.
Glowacki was making his first title defense while Cunningham chased a chance to become a three-time champion in the division. Click the link to read the full recap of the trip brought to you in part by AirBnB.
Coming into this fight, many in the boxing industry were saying that DeSoto, Texas native Errol Spence Jr. will be the next big thing in boxing. He surely did not disappoint on this night when he steamrolled over the durable Chris Algeri inside of 5 rounds in a bout made to see if Spence had what it takes to break through to the next level of the Welterweight division.
The fact that Spence won the fight is not a surprise. He entered the contest a 15-to-1 betting favorite per Las Vegas odds. The eye opener was the way he went about his business, buzzing through a name fighter who went the distance in-game efforts against the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan and Ruslan Provodnikov. The Huntington, NY native Algeri had some shining moments in each of his previous three big fights. After one round against Spence – it was obvious that he did not have a prayer in this contest.
Here are the highlights
“It was pretty one-sided, I felt”, said Spence at the post fight press conference. “I started slowly. He said he was going to take me to deep waters so I wanted to pace myself.”
The first couple of minutes in round one were a slow, feeling out process, but as the frame closed, Spence (20-0, 17 KOs) flashed superior speed and pin-point precision out of his southpaw stance.
This became a theme throughout the bout. Spence was calculated, picking stops to attack Algeri, hitting the NY native with combinations that started to the body and finished upstairs. He could not miss with the left hook.
By the third round, the 31-year-old Algeri’s face was red and his eye was swollen.
In round 4, Spence began to repeatedly crack Algeri and put him on the canvas hard midway through the round. Alegeri got up and looked to make a stand as the round closed, standing toe-to-toe with Spence and pushing the undefeated prospect to the canvas just before the bell sounded.
The move of a veteran trying to get his respect severely backfired. Spence came out in round five with more passion, and be battered Algeri (21-3, 8 KOs) around the ring, scoring two knockdowns. The last knockdown sealed the fight with a single clean left hook that made referee Benji Estevas immediately call a halt to the contest at the :45 mark of the 5th round.
“It meant a lot to get the stoppage. I did something Manny Pacquiao couldn’t do, nor Amir Khan. That shows where I’m at in the welterweight division. Everyone wanted to see what I could do against a proven fighter and I blew him out of the water.”
With the win, Spence furthers the notion that he could potentially be “the next big thing” in boxing. Stiffer challenges lie ahead, and he seems up to the take as this win puts him in position for a shot at the 147 pound IBF title.
“I want a title fight next. Hopefully, it’s Kell Brook, I’m his mandatory and I want him.” “We gotta get in the ring and fight. (I want) Danny Garcia and all the rest of the welterweight champions. I want them all”.
After the fight, Algeri believed the loss was more on him than anything. “I don’t want to take anything away from this young hungry lion, he did a great job. I trained really hard for this fight. I want to talk to my family and talk to my team. It’s back to the drawing board. I still feel like I’m getting better and better. I just need to settle down and do my homework.”
For this contest, the 26-year-old Spence earned $225,000, and Algieri was paid $325,000.
In the co-feature
Polish slugger Krzysztof Glowacki (26-0, 16 KOs) showed that his dramatic knockout over Marco Huck earlier this year was no fluke. On this evening he made the first defense of his IBF Cruiserweight title a successful one, knocking down Philadelphia native Steve “USS” Cunningham (28-8-1, 13 KOs) four times en route to a hard-fought 12 round unanimous decision victory.
Fight in front of a n extremely vocal Polish crowd, it looked like the 39-year-old Cunningham’s bid to become a three-time division champ was going to end very early. The older fighter was sent to the deck hard twice in the 2nd round courtesy of connecting left hooks thrown by the defending champion.
“The plan from the beginning was to hit him with the left hand and you could tell I was hitting with full power. I couldn’t hit that hard against Marco Huck because of my injury and now I’m hoping to keep that power up in my next fight” said Glowacki after the bout.
True to Cunningham’s form, he got up each time and did all he could to made it a tough fight. USS turned the tide a bit, doing his best work in the middle of the bout, chipping away at Glowacki’s big early lead by taking rounds at a time.
“He punched with me and caught me coming in. He sat back a lot. I knew after the second round knockdowns that I had to get rounds back and go get him. He’s a smart fighter. He caught me.” said Cunningham at the post fight press conference.
While there was no quit in the former champion, the decision to brawl rather than box down the stretch seemed to put any hopes of a dramatic comeback out of reach. The continued diet of Glowacki lefts caused a Rahman like lump over his right eye that started somewhere near the end of round six.
Cunningham added “There was a head butt in the third or fourth round that started the growth on my head. But I’m a warrior and a champion. That stuff doesn’t bother me. If a missile hit me, I’d keep going.”
Soon after, the reigning champ had Cunningham on the mat two more times in the fight, once in the 10th and the last coming in round 12 just before the final bell sounded. Throughout all of the adversity, Cunningham finished the fight on his feet.
It went to the judges with the final scores reading 116-108, 115-109 and 115-109 in favor of Glowacki.
At the post fight press conference, Glowacki told the boxing media “The fans were my motivation throughout the fight. I just wanted to give them more and more. I want to thank everyone who came and watched me.”
“My promoters will decide my next opponent. But I’ll say this, it’s going to be a short vacation and then I’m back in the gym.”As for Cunningham, he gave a commendable performance but the loss continues a long losing streak for Philadelphia fighters in world title fights. “I feel good. I just don’t want to be that champion that is getting used for a record builder. I’ll talk with my team and figure out the next step.”
Time will tell is the future PA Boxing Hall of Famer will lace them up again. It is my feeling that he will continue on though there are some saying it is time to reconsider.
Cunningham earned a reported $225,000, while the champion Glowacki received a purse of $150,000 per ESPN.com
Here are the highlights of the fight
In other action
Light Heavyweight prospect Marcus Browne (18-0, 13 KOs) won a highly disputed split decision over Radivoje Kalajdzic (21-1, 14 KOs). The referee inadvertently called a slip a knockdown in round one – an error which would have led to a draw on the scorecards.
Local attraction Heather Hardy (16-0, 4 KOs) stopped Sweden’s Anna Hultin (8-3, 2 KOs) in the 4th round. Hultin was stopped due to an apparent injury to her hand.
Mario Barrios (15-0, 8 KOs) blanked last-minute replacement Edgar Gabejan (26-32-6, 9 KOs) of the Philippines’ over 8 rounds.
Cruiserweight Earl Newman (9-0, 7 KOs) continued his rise in front of a hometown crowd when he stopped Dustin Craig Echard (13-3, 10 KOs), of Washington, West Virginia in round 4.
154 pounder Radzhab “The Python” Butaev of Russian had over 300 amateur victories. As a pro he raised his record to (2-0, 2 KO) with a 1st round stoppage over South Carolina’s TyKeem Sadler (6-2, 4 KOs).
Jr. Middleweights Lukasz Maciec (23-3-1, 5 KOs), of Poland, had to earn a tough win over Jeremy Ramos (9-4, 4 KOs) of El Paso, Texas. The 8 rounder opened the show and was better than the scorecards of 79-73, 79-73 and 78-74 would indicate.
As for the rest of my weekend – check out this short photo gallery. If you’re ever in town be sure to check out Lobo on 5th Ave & Sackett Street for some good Mexican food. If you’re looking for some good roadwork – Prospect Park has a long stretch of road that is runner and walker friendly.