Lockport Favorite Kevin VanNostrand Also Wows ESPN National Audience
By John D’Onofrio
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
For the first time in history, a Lockport fighter has earned a ring victory at Madison Square Garden.
Joe “Son of a Legend” Taylor shook off a close, split-decision loss two months ago to Canadian Joe George at the Kenan Arena, by knocking out the man who once beat George, Ariel Sepulveda of the Dominican Republic, at Glory 43 at MSG, boxing’s greatest venue in the world.
Taylor’s electrifying second round kickboxing knockout victory in the middleweight class Friday night came at 2:55 of the second round before a partisan “Lockport” crowd at MSG that included Taylor’s mother and children. Taylor dedicated the win to his late father, former boxing great Johnnie Taylor of Lockport, who once fought at MSG.
Among those in Taylor’s corner were mixed martial arts promoter and trainer Amer Abdallah and head trainer Corey Webster, both Lockport natives, along with Jim Andrello from Team Andrello in Syracuse. Andrello’s fighters, including featherweight Kevin VanNostrand (16-1), have graced the Kenan Center Arena ring at Lockport fight cards for two decades.
“When we first got there, they shuttled us in and Joe said he wanted to look at the arena and get a feel for it,” said Abdallah.
“Joe, (Taylor’s head trainer) Corey Webster and I walked in and just looked up and around at those famous lights on the ceiling and none of us said nothing for about 10 seconds. The moment just took us all by surprise. There was dead silence. We all took a deep breath and nodded our heads. Not a word was said. We made an unspoken agreement at that moment. We knew what we had to do.”
Among the highlights of the evening was Taylor’s announcement by the ring announcer.
“When the announcer said, ‘Representing Lockport, New York … the people in the audience from Lockport — there were a lot of people from back home — went crazy. It was unbelievable.
“When we got back to the locker room, I was crying and Corey was emotional. Joe looked at me and said, ‘My kids just saw that’ and then he got real emotional. Joe’s an emotional guy. You could see how much this meant to him and his family. He made history.”
Abdallah said Taylor’s next opponent will be rest. He’s giving his fighter — now 3-1 as a professional with 2 KOs — at least a month off to get some much needed rest and relaxation, following two big fights in two months time.
“We’ll talk about his future then. Right now he needs rest,” Abdallah said.
Meanwhile, VanNostrand (15-1, 11 KOs) quickly became the talk of the town with two most impressive, nationally-televised victories that had ESPN commentators praising him as a new star in the featherweight division, nationally.
First, VanNostrand used a seldom-seen “back-hand punch” to annihilate Mo Abdurahman via TKO at 1:52 of the first round, then in the finals, earned a split decision win over Giga Chikadze, 30-26, 26-30, 30-26.
“We’ll be talking with Kevin (today) about a multi-fight contract,” Abdallah said. “Our goal is winning the world championship and right now, with this performance, Kevin is now the number one contender in the world for it. He predicted before the tournament what would happen. He said, “By the time I leave here, everyone will know who I am.’ And they do now after winning on the world stage with people from 170 different countries watching. I was huge,” Abdallah said.
In VanNostrand’s corner at MSG were Andrello, Abdallah and co-trainer A.J. Regulbuto.