Taylor Signs Extensive Pro Contract
By John D’Onofrio
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Photo by Jay Stoos
From what was once a quiet pit stop along the Erie Barge Canal on young America’s super highway of the 19th century to the home and frequent host of some of the best boxers, kickboxers and trainers in the Northeast United States today, Lockport is the undeniable mecca of rising stars on the national ring stage.
From Syracuse’s explosive Kevin VanNostrand and force of nature Bryce Mills to Lockport’s “Son of a Legend” Joe Taylor, Lockport fight fans have been treated to some of this country’s most talked about ring professionals and trainers over the past 20 years, including Saturday night’s sold-out “Hostile Territory” fight card at the Kenan Arena that drew thousands of enthusiastic supporters.
Taylor, Mills, the latest Team Andrello sensation Damiana Andrello, Lockport’s Erick Plumeri and Vahnessa Tankersley; and Buffalo’s up-and-coming Eli Hernandez were all among the winners on a festive night that concluded with an announcement that Taylor had signed an extensive professional contract with the international kickboxing promotion company “Glory” and will be appearing on ESPN in upcoming weeks.
Taylor (3-1) earned a split decision victory Saturday over Toronto’s previously-unbeaten Hassan Oseni (3-1) in the co-main event. The three ringside judges’ scores were 48-47, 47-48, 50-45.
In typical modest fashion, Taylor thanked his heavyweight opponent. “Give it up for Oseni,” he said, adding, “I want to thank everyone over the last five years for supporting me. I’m blessed.” Taylor went on to thank his trainers at Western New York MMA gym in Buffalo, including head trainer Lockport native Corey Webster, whose stable of fighters were among the night’s most memorable performers.
In the other co-main event Saturday night, Mills put on yet another eye-popping, crowd-pleasing performance, while knocking out Jamestown’s Brantley Churchill in the third round of their scheduled five-round bout.
You can’t keep your eyes off Mills for a second and the Team Andrello sensation didn’t disappoint from the opening bell, landing a solid left hook that dropped Churchill in the first few seconds. When he wasn’t landing kicks and punches, Mills was showcasing his strength and balance, grabbing Churchill’s leg and body slamming him to the ground several times.
After landing a solid left hook to close out the second round, Mills finished his opponent off in the third. Referee Bill Kiefer stopped the one-sided fight with 1:29 left in the third.
“After thanking his coaches and trainers and remarking on the success of fellow Team Andrello fighters on Saturday, Mills told Lockport Community Television’s Jim Slowey that, “Lockport’s my second home. I love Lockport.”
Meanwhile, looking on in the crowd was VanNostrand, whose remarkable victory at Glory 43 at Madison Square Garden on ESPN this past summer opened even more doors and possibilities. VanNostrand had the night off, but received a warm reception from the large crowd, many of whom were among the millions across the country who watched VanNostrand on national television defeat Mo Abdurahman, then Giga Chikadze, en route to the Glory 43 title on ESPN. Among those in VanNostrand’s corner at MSG on July 14 were Amer Abdallah of Lace Up Promotions as well as Team Andrello respected owner and head trainer Jim Andrello.
“The Candyman” Plumeri earned a split-decision win over Jon Gonzales (S. Kingstown, R.I.) in their four-round non-title bout. Plumeri is the reigning Lace Up Promotions Super Middleweight Champion. The scores were 39-37, 37-39, 39-37.
Plumeri pulled out a close win with strong performances in the middle rounds, especially the third round, when it looked like the Rhode Islander was breathing heavily and appeared ready to fall.
Damiana Andrello of Baldwinsville was among the evening’s most technically efficient fighters, picking apart Buffalo’s tough Nicole Good in a five-round blood bath.
Andrello landed one of the evening’s only spinning pinches, but spent most of the fight hitting Good with solid shots from head to toe. Good showed a lot of toughness and earned a victory of many sorts in refusing to go down. The judge’s cards all read 50-45.
Making an impressive showing was Lockport’s little stick of dynamite Tankersley, another promising prospect from Webster’s MMA gym.
Tankersley, just 11, a sixth grader at Emmet Belknap, earned a first-round knockout win over Canadian Marcella Blythe. Tankersley landed a left leg to Blythe’s midsection and the fight was stopped with just 1:13 left in the first round.
“I just wanted to be strong and fit,” Tankersley said when asked why she got into the fight game to begin with. “My classmates think it’s really cool.”
Another fighter with a large contingent of family members from Buffalo and Lockport on hand supporting him was Hernandez, 22, who made his ring debut with a split-decision win over Kyle Carvalho of South Kingston, R.I. The scores were 29-28, 28-29, 29-28.
“I was expecting to be nervous, but it never happened. To be honest, everything happened so fast,” Hernandez said.
“Carvalho was a great kid. He had good kicks and a longer reach, but we knew that going in and we knew we’d have to find a way of getting out of clinches move around a lot. I kept slipping, but I had better hands than him, so I kept moving my head and swinging at the same time. It worked for me,” he said.
Local fight night sponsors included Mulvey Construction, All Metal Works, KJ Motorsports and Pizza Oven.
In other bouts:
- April Canavan (S. Kingston, R.I.) unanimous decision win over Mandana Rafat (Scarborough, Ontario). Scores: 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.
- Buffalo’s Javier Figueroa unanimous-decision win over Marcus Eldridge (S. Kingston, RI). Scores: 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
- Ross Levine (S. Kingstown, R.I.) knocked out Corey Vail (Arcade), 2:30 third round.
Lockport’s “Son of a Legend” Joe Taylor, right, lands a body shot to the midsection of Toronto’s Hassan Oseni during their main event heavyweight kickboxing fight Saturday at the Kenan Arena. Taylor, the only Lockport fighter in history to win a fight at Madison Square Garden (July, 2017), beat Oseni by split decision