James Moore defeats JC Candelo

By George Kimball @ ringside


James Moore defeats JC Candelo

Fagan, Wolak also win on NYC undercard

James Moore W10 JC Candelo... Facing a man who was by far his most formidable opponent to date, James Moore won a unanimous decision over veteran J.C. Candelo in the main event of Celtic Ropes’ ‘Fistful of Shamrocks’ card at Madison Square Garden’s WaMu Theatre Saturday night.

Moore, a three-time Irish amateur champion (and current holder of the New York State 154-pound title) had fought most of his early career in the shadow of erstwhile stablemate John Duddy, but given his chance to shine as the St. Patricks Day headliner for the first time, he made the most of it, running his pro mark to 15-0.

Candelo, now 27-10-4, has won just one of his last six bouts, but over the years he has proven a durable opponent, having gone the distance with the likes of Verno Phillips, Teddy Reid, Marco Antonio Rubio, and Winky Wright.

“I knew he was a big challenge. That’s why I wanted to fight him,” said Moore. “I didn’t want to fight I guy I knew I could beat.

By almost any standard Moore was facing an opponent who was bigger, more experienced, and packed a bigger wallop, but that he was able to dominate the first two rounds before Candelo even got untracked came as no surprise to the Irishman.

“He’s a tough guy and a crafty veteran, but I knew he’d give me the first two rounds and save himself for later,” said Moore. “He’s very good at expending energy.”

Candelo hurt Moore with a body attack in the third and appeared to have him on the run, but Moore came back in the fourth and set the tone for much of the night, attacking Candelo with a two-fisted fury that left the Colombian covering up rather than mounting his own attack.

A critical moment came in the seventh. Moore had the edge over the first couple of minutes, but over the final minute of the stanza Candelo hurt him with a right uppercut followed by two more big rights, and had Moore on the run. Then, just before the bell, Moore summoned a hard, bone-crunching left hook that stopped Candelo in his tracks and probably saved the round.

“He knew when to exploit my mistakes, like when I loaded up with my punches,” said Moore. “He made me dig deep every round, but that’s what I was hoping for.”

Candelo came on to dominate the eighth, and in the tenth had Moore in a world of trouble, landing a succession of punches that did everything but put him down. Moore somehow managed to remain erect, but Candelo’s furious performance down the stretch appeared to convince his handful of supporters, and himself, that he had done enough to win – which he hadn’t.

Bob Gilson scored it 97-92, Julie Lederman 97-93, and Tony Paolillo 95-94, all for Moore. The Boxingtalk scorecard also had Moore ahead, 96-94.

A seemingly confident Candelo awaited the verdict by dancing along while the Irish band Big Girl’s Blouse played from the stage. After the decision, he grabbed the ring microphone to render his own editorial comment.

“These Yudges,” said Candelo, “they (bleeping) suck!”

Once he had calmed down, Candelo was somewhat more conciliatory to the winner.

“I have a lot of respect for James,” said Candelo. “He’s a gentleman and he didn’t talk shit before the fight. He fought for his crowd and he did what he had to do – but he didn’t win the fight.”

Sorry, J.C., but he did.

“Fighting veterans like him is a great learning curve,” said Moore. “There won’t be any more easy fights for me.”

Pawel Wolak KO2 Dupre Strickland... The evening’s co-feature saw Pawel Wolak, the New Jersey-based Polish middleweight, go to 20-0 with a second-round KO of Louisianan Dupre Strickland (18-3-1).

Strickland had fought gamely for the better part of two rounds, but late in the second Wolak staggered him with a left-right combination. Spotting his opening, Wolak raced in to attack Strickland as he backed into the ropes. A right hand sent Strickland sagging to the floor just before the bell rang, and the opponent rolled about on the canvas as Steve Smoger continued to count over him. Since a fighter could not be saved by the bell, Strickland was counted out at 3:06 of the round.

Wolak, who had won his first 18 fights in the US, returned to Poland as a pro for the first time in December, winning a ten-round decision over Sammy Sparkman. His KO of Strickland was all the more impressive in that it marked just the second time in 21 fights the Louisianan had been stopped. (In a fight at New York’s Beacon Theatre last year, Strickland had lasted the distance with Duddy.)

Oisin Fagan TKO2 Brian Carden... Irish junior welterweight Oisin Fagan enjoyed an impressive if brief New York debut, absolutely overwhelming his Missouri foe Brian (The Lion) Carden, whom he belted all around the ring for the 3 minutes and a few ticks their fight lasted until referee Pat Sullivan rescued The Lion 16 seconds into the second.

Fagan a non-stop action fighter, raced out of his corner and smacked Carden with a right to the belly, and that was only a taste of things to come. Fagan, who at one point owned both the Irish 140-pound and Oklahoma lightweight belts, landed several hard lefts to the body and by the end of the first Carden seemed to be cringing, turning away even before he got hit.

Two judges, Billy Costello and Paolillo, had given Fagan a 10-8 edge in the first, and when the Irishman opened the second with another hard left, followed by a left-right combination, Sullivan had seen enough and waved the bout to a halt – to the evident surprise of both competitors.

“I don’t think (Carden) wanted any more, even though he seemed to be protesting,” said Fagan, an Oklahoma City schoolteacher in his day job. “I was actually a bit disappointed, because I wanted to put on a show for the New York fans and show them what I could do.” Fagan improved to 21-5 with the win, while Carden dropped to 6-5.

Jae Sung Lee D6 Jules Blackwell ... An entertaining battle of two well-matched featherweights saw Korean Jae Sung Lee (8-1-1) fight to a draw with Philadelphian Jules Blackwell (7-0-2). A second round clash of heads left Blackwell bleeding from a gash in the middle of his forehead, and while the wound wasn’t in a particularly bothersome spot (though it bled throughout the fight, his vision was not affected) it seemed to disturb Blackwell more than it should have, allowing Lee to be assume the aggressor’s role over the final three rounds. The judges’ cards were wildly divergent, with Costello scoring it 59-55 for Lee and Lederman 58-56 for Blackwell. Ron McNair returned a 57-57 score to ensure the stalemate.

Simon O'Donnell TKO2 Chris Overby... The third Irish-born fighter on the card, 22 year-old Philadelphia-based Galwegian Simon O’Donnell, scored a second-round TKO over Ohio middleweight Chris (Freight Train) Overby. O’Donnell  (5-1) simply overwhelmed the visitor, putting him down for good with a left hook and a short right to the body, and Mike Ortega counted him out at 1:33 of the round. For Overby (8-9) it was the fifth loss in a row, including a third-round KO loss to Moore at the Paradise Theatre last July.

Martin Wright W4 Juan C. Sanchez... Bushwick welterweight Martin Wright (5-0-1) posted unanimous decision over Juan Carlos Sanchez  (3-3-1) of Mexico City. There were no knockdowns, but, having nearly closed Sanchez’ left eye in the third, Wright unleashed a savage body attack in a fourth round so dominant that two judges, McNair and Gilson (40-35 twice) scored it a two-point round. Costello had it 40-36.

Jose Espinal TKO2 Joe Rosa... Dominican-born Brooklynite Jose Espinal floored Bronx-based Puerto Rican Joe Rosa three times in less than four minutes en route to a second-round TKO. Espinal decked Rosa with a big left hook in the first, and then put him down with another early in the second.  When Rosa went down from two more  lefts, Ortega waved it off at 0:58 of the round. Espinal improved to 4-3-1 (two of the losses were to Gary Stark in 2004 and a 2001 split decision to Mike Oliver), while Rosa dropped to 1-3-1.

Olivia Fonseca W4 Cristy Nickel... The distaff bout on the card saw Philadelphia junior middleweight Oliva Fonseca (2-1-2) win a unanimous decision over Katie Couric’s personal trainer Cristy (Code Red) Nickel (7-6). Costello scored it a shutout at 40-36, while McNair and Paolillo had it 39-37.

Kabir Suleynmanov W4 Robert Phillips ... Ukrainian bantamweight Kabir Suleynmanov improved to 3-0, easily outpointing Robert Phillips of Staten Island, who was making his pro debut. Thanks to a second round so one-sided that referee Pat Sullivan appeared to be on the verge of stopping the fight, Gilson and McNair both scored it 40-35, while Costello also had it a shutout at 40-36.

Luis Ruiz TKO2 Terrell Boggs... Mexican junior middleweight Luis Ruiz won his third fight in as many pro outings, winning a second-round TKO over Terrell Boggs (0-2) of Philadelphia. Ruiz had dominated the first, and when he landed a hard left to the liver in the second, Boggs crumpled in his  own corner. Smoger immediately halted it without a count at 2:14 of the round.

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MARCH 15, 2008

MIDDLEWEIGHTS: James Moore, 157, Arklow, Ireland dec. Juan Carlos Candelo, 156, Buenaventura, Colombia (10)

Pawel Wolak, 160, Debica, Poland KO’d Dupre Strickland, 158 1/2, Shreveport, La. (2)

Simon O’Donnell, 160, Galway, Ireland TKO’d Chris Overby, 155 1/2, Sidney, Ohio (2)

JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Oliva Fonseca, 149, Philadelphia dec. Cristy Nickel, 149 3/4, New York (4)

Luis Ruiz, 152 1/2, Puebla, Mexico TKO’d Terrell Boggs, 151 3/4, Philadelphia (2)

WELTERWEIGHTS: Martin Wright, 146 1/2, Brooklyn, N.Y. dec. Juan Carlos Sanchez, 145 1/2, Mexico City (4)

JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHTS: Oisin Fagan, 137 1/2, Dublin, Ireland TKO’d Brian Carden, 138 1/4, St. Joseph, Mo. (2)

FEATHERWEIGHTS: Jae Sung Lee, 124 3/4, Hanam, South Korea drew with Jules Blackwell, 125, Phoenixville, Pa. (6)

Jose Espinal, 128, Brooklyn, NY TKO’d Joe Rosa, 123 1/2, Bronx, NY (2)

BANTAMWEIGHTS: Khabir Suleymanov, 117, Ukraine dec. Robert Phillips, 115 1/2, Staten island, NY (4)