George Earns Split Decision Title Win Over Lockport’s Taylor at Kenan
By John D’Onofrio
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Canada’s Joe George utilized his height and experience to the hilt, beating Lockport’s Joe Taylor by split decision on Saturday night to capture the WKA Northeast Cruiserweight Championship at the Kenan Arena.
All was not disappointment for the home folks, however, with an inspirational knockout win by Lockport’s Eric Plumeri and victories by other hometown favorites that include Papa Sean Felton, Nate Woods and Brandon Mindoro on an 11-bout international amateur and professional fight card promoted by Lace-Up Promotions.
Before a large, vocal, partisan crowd, Taylor (2-1) landed the more telling blows in his first pro title fight, but the Canadian National Champion never seemed fazed, constantly shortening the distance between him and Taylor and going for clinches whenever the Lockport knockout specialist tried to back him up to the ropes.
George’s long, powerful leg kicks kept Taylor at a distance throughout the five-round main event, which concluded without a knockdown. The judge’s scorecards were 48-47 George, 47-48 Taylor and 48-47 George.
“Joe’s had two pro fights before he took this fight and without making any excuses for him, there was some injuries that he had that we didn’t make public,” said Amer Abdallah of Lace-Up Promotions.
“I didn’t fight for a title until my fourth or fifth pro fight, but we know there’s more of a sense of urgency with Joe because he’s in his mid-30s. They said they wanted to move as fast as he can and this is the next level. In hindsight, I would have taken the guys and progressed them slower, but the bottom line is this was a very close fight.”
After feeling each other out in the first round, the title fight picked up pace in the second with Taylor landing some hard punches to the head, but the Kitchener, Ontario native George never let his opponent dictate the action, moving in to tie him up whenever a flurry started.
Taylor landed more punches in the third with a couple of solid right hands, but even with the crowd chanting Taylor’s name, George maneuvered confidently around the ring unfazed, landing hard leg kicks to Taylor’s legs and body, frustrating the Lockportian throughout.
George (6-2) winced at a possible low blow in the fourth round that delayed the fight only momentarily, then with both fighters beginning to show signs of tiring, Taylor landed a big right hand to close out the round. Taylor remained the aggressor in the fifth and final round, but George maintained his poise and strategy, then walked away with the narrow, split-decision win.
Meanwhile, “The Candyman” can, as Plumeri KO’d Jonathan Hines with just 13 seconds left in the fourth round in their Lace up Promotions Professional Middleweight Championship-scheduled five-round bout.
Hines held his own early on, especially the first two rounds, but Plumeri’s steady dose of body shots began taking their toll in the third. Plumeri’s solid left hand to the midsection dropped Hines in the third, but Hines withstood the 10-count by referee Bill Kiefer and the fight continued on.
The writing was on the wall in the fourth round. Plumeri, always the aggressor, dropped Hines again with lefts and rights to the head early on. Following another 10-count from Kiefer, Plumeri delivered a left to the head, then a right cross to the head that dropped the veteran Hines (26-4) for good.
The fight itself was a “blessing,” said Plumeri (2-0), who’s been the unlucky victim of scheduled opponents failing to show up for fight night cards on several occasions over the past few years. Plumeri is trained by Lockport native Cory Webster at Western New York MMA in Buffalo.
“I was a little hesitant in the first round because I knew he had a lot of experience,” Plumeri said. “Cory calmed me down in the corner and after that, I just let my hands go and just went to work.”
Plumeri said he did his share of celebrating after the win, but when the night ended, he added he was happy just to go home quietly with his wife, Jeri, and infant daughter, Zaria, 16 months.
Abdallah said calls are “pouring in” from across the country for Plumeri.
“That was a huge, huge win for Eric against an experienced opponent. The Candyman’s back,” Abdallah said.
“He said to me after the fight, ‘I will fight for free.’ That’s how much he wants to get back into the ring. Eric, as you well know, has probably got the worst luck with guys not showing up, or guys showing up for weigh-ins then not showing up for the fight, so he’s been through some disappointment. We’re happy he was able to perform and look forward to promoting his next fight.”
Added Plumeri, “I’m just thankful to this community and to Amer and his promotional company, and Cory, and to everyone who’s been supporting me.”
In other bouts at the Kenan on Saturday:
- 155 pounds, K1: Cody Farrington d. Ethan Woods by unanimous decision, 30-26, 30-26, 29-27.
- 185 pounds, kickboxing: Nate Woods d. Josh Johnson by unanimous decision, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28.
- 142 pounds, Muay Thai: Jason Jones d. Dan Sopa by unanimous decision, 29-28, 30-27, 30-27.
- 147 pounds, Muay Thai: Dylan McKenzie d. Michael Veith, by unanimous decision, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28.
- 160 pounds, kickboxing: Papa Sean Felton d. Kru Rich Kniff, by majority decision, 29-28, 28-28, 29-28
- 160 pounds, Muay Thai: Mike Olds d. Robbie Taylor by unanimous decision, 29-28, 30-27, 29-28.
- 205 pounds, kickboxing: Demetrius Gardner d. Javier Figueroa, by unanimous decision, 29-27, 29-27, 29-27.
- 183 pounds, K1: Jeremy Logan d. Brian Williams, by unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.
- 153 pounds, kickboxing: Brandon Mindoro d. Ernest Johnson, by split decision, 29-28, 28-29, 29-28.
Fight night ring referees were veterans Bill Kiefer and Tom Jenkins. The ring announcer was Chris Gullo. Major sponsors were Mulvey Construction, All Metal Works and Lockport’s award-winning Molinaro’s Ristorante.
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