Disclaimer: it being a personal site I don’t really require one, but I will point out anyway that I know and train with the Millers.
The Miller Brothers were triumphant and Javi Martinez improved the 3-0 on Friday night as Ares Promotions presented “Ares Fight Night VII: The Return” at The Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, New York.
The card featured the most exciting fight I’ve ever witnessed in person and a vast improvement in judging over the previous card, though there was still some head-scratching over a split decision in the main event.
Brothers Shawn and Shannon Miller were both victorious in their respective bouts, marking the second time both brothers have appeared on a fight card together and the first time locally. The brothers participated in the event to raise awareness of KOLD (Knock Out Liver Disease), an organization they started to assist those suffering from liver disease and help offset the costs of liver transplants.
Earlier this year, older brother Shannon gave approximately sixty percent of his liver to his Uncle Ray, who was in attendance at the event. His return from retirement also marks the first time a professional boxer has come back to fight after donating a liver. He not only battled a long and difficult lay-off but also uncertainty as to who his opponent would be. Montreal fighter Taffo Assongwed (2-9-6) was Miller’s fourth proposed bout, given on just forty-eight hours notice. Three previous fights were made but unexpectedly cancelled for a variety of reasons. Complicating matters was the fact that despite his poor record, Assongwed has never been stopped in his entire fighting career, including amateur bouts. That spelled trouble for Miller, a power puncher who prefers an early finish. That didn’t happen, but his jab was enough to get him the win.
Asked in the post-fight interview fight how he felt, he replied forthrightly with a smile: “awful.” Many, including myself, thought he actually said “old,” though he did talk about age and his lay-off in follow-up comments.
Earlier in the night, Shannon’s younger brother Shawn took the ring in the second bout of the evening and easily avenged his controversial draw last month with opponent Mark Anderson. His shoulder, which had kept him out of a fight earlier this year and actually gave out on him during their last fight, held up this go around, with Miller showing no hesitation or signs of damage. More than one spectator noted that he looked improved overall; he certainly came across as crisp, fast, and strong in his unanimous decision win.
But the unquestioned fight of the night was a war betweem two young undefeated fighters, Colonie’s Javier Martinez and Troy’s own Ray Velez. It’s rare to see two undefeated and highly touted prospects at any level agree to a fight, but both were game (see previously: Albany boxer Ray Velez represents changing notions in the sport). Being a tried and true Trojan, I did what I could to cheer for my local favorite, and I thought Velez put up a Hell of a fight and could have won a split decision. But as I was overwhelmed by the noise of a particularly pro-Javi crowd late in the fourth round, so Ray was at times taken aback by the energy of his opponent, succumbing to a knockdown that made the crowd erupt in one of the loudest pops I’ve ever heard at any sport event I’ve ever attended, and I’m including 20,000 seat arenas. In a fight that I think was much closer than the judges scored it (if not for that knockdown I would have had it a draw), Javi went home with a unanimous decision win and easily the most impressive notch on his resume yet.
That fight was followed by another quality fight, even if not as exciting or vested in local interest. Dominican fighter Eudy Bernardo used his reach and superior jab to take a split decision win over Rochester’s Darnell Jiles, Jr., who fought not only his opponent but also a faulty pair of shorts that slipped a handful of times during the fight. Even with properly functioning elastic, though, Jiles was simply outreached. On any other night the fight would have rightfully captivated everyone in the building, as both are genuine world class fighters. But following the sentiment of the Miller brothers’ victories and the excitement of the prior bout, it didn’t stand a chance. Still, it was a pleasure to see fighters at that level competing on a local card.
I haven’t been a fan of boxing for a long, long time, owing to the abscesses of promotional corruption and poor judging that have mired the sport and violently shoved competition and fairness out of the way of money and politics. In that sense, I’m thankful that we are getting these cards featuring hungry fighters from in, around, and well outside the Capital Region who are untarnished by the treacherous upper echelons of the sport.
Ring Magazine‘s Michael Rivest has a more in-depth review over on his Boxing in the Capital Region blog.
Lightweights: Bryan Acava def Jamell Tyson via Majority Decision (38-38; 37-35 and 37-35)
Light Heavyweights: Shawn Miller def. Mark Anderson via Unanimous Decision (59-52, 60-53, 60-53)
Super Middleweights: Andy Mejias def. Marcus Brooks via Unanimous Decision (60-54, 59-55, 59-55)
Heavyweights: Shannon Miller def. Taffo Assongwed by Unanimous Decision (59-55; 58-56, 58-56)
Welterweights: Javi Martinez def. Ray Velez via Unanimous Decision (39-36; 39-36, 39-36)
Junior Welterweights: Eudy Bernardo def. Darnell Jiles, Jr. via Split Decision (57-56 Jiles; 58-55 Bernardo x 2) Only outright terrible score of the night. There’s no way Jiles won that fight.