Efe Ajagba-Stephan Shaw – LIVE Results From Verona, New York
Brian Norman Jr. nearly knocked out Rodrigo Coria within the first 30 seconds of their bout on Saturday night.
However, a resilient Coria withstood that onslaught admirably and earned the welterweight opportunity in Norman’s promotional debut with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. The 22-year-old Norman, from Conyers, Georgia, didn’t get the knockout he was looking for. but he won an eight-round unanimous decision on the Efe Ajagba-Stephan Shaw undercard at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
Judge Glenn Feldman scored seven of eight rounds for Norman (79-72), but judges Don Ackerman (77-74) and Tom Schreck (77-74) gave Coria credit for a more competitive contest.
Norman (23-0, 19 KOs) went the distance for the fourth time in a career that began when he was just 17 years old. Argentine Coria (10-5, 2 KOs), a southpaw who was knocked down early in the eighth round, has not been knocked out in any of his 15 professional bouts.
It looked like a tired Norman might get a knockout after all, when he caught Corian with a left hook that sent Corian to his gloves and knees just 28 seconds into the eighth and final round. But Coria quickly responded to referee Mark Nelson’s count and shot well enough from Normani to reach the final bell.
However, before the eighth round, Coria tested Norman.
Coria nailed Norman with a straight left hand that sent Norman scrambling to the ropes with 40 seconds to go in the seventh round. Norman returned with his hard punches to keep Coria from building that momentum.
Coria hit Norman with a straight left hand that snapped his head with just over 1:50 to go in the fifth round. Norman tried to pin Coria seconds later.
Norman dropped his hands more in the second half of the fifth round, but he looked tired by then and his punches didn’t have the impact that those punches had earlier in their fight.
Coria came out on top throughout the fourth round and outworked Norman in those three minutes.
Norman connected with various punches in the third round, but Coria took his power well over those three minutes.
Norman bombarded Coria with a series of power punches that Coria somehow survived in the first 30 seconds of their fight. One of Norman’s right hands rocked Coria less than 20 seconds into the opening round, but Coria stayed on his feet.
In the upcoming bout on Saturday night, Bryce Mills landed the hardest punches consistently to shut down Margarito Hernandez on all three scorecards in their six-round welterweight fight.
The 21-year-old Mills (11-1, 4 KOs), of nearby Liverpool, New York, won by the same score, 60-54, according to judges Feldman, Eric Marlinski and John McKaie. Hernandez (3-4-1, 0 KO), of Wapato, Wash., avoided a second knockout loss, but he took multiple punches and left the ring with significant swelling under both of his eyes.
Earlier on Saturday, Bruce “Shu Shu” Carrington went the six-round distance in a second straight fight, but the undefeated bantamweight prospect kept his perfect record intact.
Brooklyn’s Carrington shut down Mexican veteran Juan Antonio Lopez on all three scorecards and won a unanimous decision. Ackerman, Schreck and Trella each scored the winner for Carrington 60-54.
The 25-year-old Carrington improved his record to 6-0 (3 KOs). The 29-year-old Lopez (17-13-1, 7 KOs), a southpaw who resides in Dallas, is 0-4-1 in his last five fights.
Carrington controlled the final round by maintaining his distance and landing and right hands, but he couldn’t hurt Lopez.
Carrington caught Lopez with a right hand that caught Lopez’s attention barely a minute into the fifth round. Another right hand from Carrington moved Lopez back seconds before the fifth round ended.
Lopez repeatedly went to Carrington’s body in the first three rounds and provided some resistance for the top prospect. Carrington had a strong fourth round, however, as he landed jabs and right hands with more frequency than he had connected in the first three rounds.
In Saturday night’s first bout, welterweight contender Dante Benjamin shouted “this is my year” as he leapt over the ropes after his quick knockout of previously unbeaten Emmanueal Austin.
Cleveland’s Benjamin hit Austin with a devastating left-right combination that left him with 38 seconds left in the opening round of their six-rounder. Referee Mark Nelson allowed Austin to continue after he got to his feet, but Benjamin bombarded him with punches that left him standing.
Nelson then stepped in between them to stop the action at 2:50 of the first round.
The 20-year-old Benjamin improved to 5-0 and recorded his third knockout. New Orleans’ Austin (6-1, 6 KOs) had won each of his first six professional bouts by first-round knockout.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.