Detroit’s ‘Great Lakes King’ Ja’Rico O’Quinn captured his eighth victory in dominant fashion; several Detroit-area prospects defended their home turf at Friday’s ‘War In Warren’
WARREN, MI (February 25) – Detroit-based Super Bantamweight Ja’Rico O’Quinn experienced his greatest adversity in the ring back in August 2017. He battled through a pair of knockdowns versus Jose Elizondo at MGM Grand Detroit to salvage a majority draw in front of his hometown following. Friday night at Second 2 None Boxing Promotions’ The Best of Tomorrow 3: War In Warren, O’Quinn (8-0-1, 5 KOs) entered the ring looking to set the tone for 2018 – according to his personal expectations.
His veteran opponent, Nick Otieno (31-12, 13 KOs), a well-traveled 44-year old boxer with tons of international experience including mixed results in a number of fights for junior world titles, only presented a more difficult test for the ambitious prospect.
The Kenyan represented the type of opponent expected to give O’Quinn very little time to sort through any moments of self-doubt or attention to detail concerning the task at hand. A questionable performance, or a loss by O’Quinn, would certainly alter the trajectory for the Salita Promotions fighter’s career. Bear in mind, Dmitriy Salita is currently organizing an event – possibly slated for spring – with co-main events featuring world title-holders Christina Hammer and Claressa Shields.
In the aftermath of Friday’s main event, it was paramount O’Quinn’s performance served as a resolute statement rather than a source of new questions regarding the former top-ranked amateur’s potential versus the next level of competition.
O’Quinn entered the ring looking loose and confident, he touched gloves with Otieno then quickly made his way to the center of the ring to carry out his pre-fight ritual of his tone-setting stomp salute to each of the judges, the crowd and the opposing corner. After all of the normal opening duties, the two fighters approached the middle of the ring to settle in behind their raised guards. Each fighter stood his ground, circling, as both fell into their rhythms, studying the other for safe attack points.
O’Quinn went to work with some opening jabs. After quickly assessing a low threat of return punches from Otieno, the Detroit native routinely fired away with successful sets of 1-2 combinations. He also established a comfortable range that further nullified the veteran’s plan of attack. O’Quinn’s youth, power, and quickness allowed him to dictate the pace as he edged in to score with an arsenal of blows, and then evaded any subsequent punches as Otieno looked for opportunities to counter.
Despite Otieno’s advantage in experience, O’Quinn’s ring generalship through the first six minutes was impressive. He constantly engaged the vet as he calmly operated from the edge of Otieno’s reach in round two, and he punctuated the round by connecting with a series of well-placed hooks to the Kenyan’s body.
In round three O’Quinn continued to set the pace and control the action, scoring with a thudding combination of shots that Otieno immediately responded to with a solid counter shot that got O’Quinn’s attention. The veteran finally began adjusting to O’Quinn’s hand-speed and movement as he inched his way farther inside to have his best round.
Early in the fourth round O’Quinn responded to Otieno’s growing confidence by consecutively landing three crisp fully-extended jabs while circling the Kenyan, and then added a fourth to the body before Otieno fully moved out of range to regroup.
Otieno continued to struggle with O’Quinn’s quickness, especially when the younger fighter went to work with his jab from the outside. But on the inside the veteran caught O’Quinn with a few well-timed sharp counter right hands up top, as the 22-year old moved in for heavier combinations. In the fifth round, O’Quinn briefly switched to southpaw and landed with a flurry to Otieno’s body. Moments later O’Quinn connected flush with a powerful left hand shot Otieno didn’t expect as he backed straight away from a multiple-punch combination. The shot resulted in the fight’s only knock down. Otieno beat the count, and finished the round spiritedly as if to attempt avoid the two-point deficit.
Otieno’s effort carried into the sixth and final round unwavering as O’Quinn remained poised, not wanting to foolishly make a careless mistake and jeopardize a nearly flawless victory. O’Quinn scored with some body shots to deter any closing full-on rally from Otieno, who did manage to connect with a overhand right that reminded O’Quinn to stay sharp, and be content with a convincing decision.
All three judges scored the fight in favor of O’Quinn, with the Great Lakes King sweeping all six rounds in a commanding performance.
In the co-main event – a battle of undefeated fighters – Dearborn’s hard-hitting Gheith Karim (3-0, 2 KOs) gradually overpowered Newark, New Jersey’s Chester Tatmon (3-1, 1 KO) in the most intriguing matchup among the undercard bouts. The 38-year old Tatmon fought slick early, pairing some sharp punching with good footwork and reflexes that eluded Karim’s power. The 19-year old southpaw spent the first two rounds loading up for a straight left hand behind a distracting right jab.
In the second round Karim changed up his entry point, suddenly stepping around Tatmon to get an unexpected angle, and connected with a powerful shot that resulted in a slightly delayed knock down. Tatmon spent the balance of the round stunned, but instinctively fought off the patient southpaw to extend the fight.
The previous round’s knock down came in the center of the ring, and while in the same spot for a second time in round three, Karim landed another single shot that sent Tatmon reeling away towards the ropes. The southpaw again patiently tracked the dazed fighter, dropping a series of left hands that snapped Tatmon’s head backwards. But Karim, again, failed to close the show.
Tatmon regained some of his earlier form in the fourth round. A nice counter off the ropes snapped back the head of Karim as he settled in to go for the knockout. Shortly afterwards Karim had Tatmon hurt again, but the crowd favorite never landed the punch to put the Newark fighter out for good.
Unofficially, the judges scored the 4-round Super Welterweight contest for Karim 40-34 once, and then 39-36 on two cards.
Joseph Bonas (3-0, 3 KOs) vs John Pitts (0-2): Detroit-based super welterweight Joseph Bonas entered the ring accompanied by Kronk Gym Javan “Sugar” Hill. Hill’s tutelage and Bonas’ power and execution proved to be too much for Georgia’s Pitts to overcome. After a sequence including a pair of hooks to the body, Pitts fell into Bonas where he landed a right hand that dropped the Stone Mountain native. The referee closely observed Pitts before deciding he was too impaired to continue any further in first round.
Leon Lawson III (2-0, 1 KO) vs Diamond Mitchel (0-5): Ohioans typically face tall odds venturing across the state line to compete in the Great Lakes State, and Mitchel’s bout versus Flint, MI’s Lawson III was no exception for the young fighter. Mitchel clearly had zero answers for the rangy 6-foot 5-inch super welterweight who enjoyed the benefit of a vociferous throng of Flint-natives, including former WBC super middleweight champion Andre Dirrell.
Lawson stalked Mitchel each round. Early on Lawson trapped Mitchel in the corners, but he didn’t quite have the answer to deliver a finishing shot around Mitchel’s defense. Out of frustration, Mitchel resorting to fouling and this led to highly escalated tension as Lawson gradually started to impose his will behind his long jab. In the fourth round, Mitchel succumbed to the effects of a volatile hometown crowd combined with Lawson mounting attack, and nearly slammed Lawson as the two fighters got entangled in the fight’s final clench. The referee wisely determined that Mitchel had taken enough punishment, he was outclassed and that the entire situation had gone awry. The final result was a disqualification.
Desmond Jarmon (5-0, 4 KOs) vs Nathan Long (0-2): Jarmon, an undefeated Super Featherweight hailing from Cincinnati, OH faced a completely different set of circumstances in his bout versus Nathan Long. Besides the clear advantage in levels; Jarmon entered the ring with renown trainer Mike Stafford, and enjoyed the ringside support of fellow Buckeyes IBF Lightweight champion Robert Easter, Jr. and undefeated Super Featherweight Tyler McCreary of Toledo.
Similar to his outing on February 2 in Cincinnati, Jarmon quickly dismantled Long with several punishing right hands before the first knock down brought the crowd to its feet. Shortly after, a stinging right cross drove Long several steps back into a neutral corner and down onto one knee, where the concerned referee questioned him before deciding to stop the fight.
Curtis Head (4-1, 3 KOs) vs Alejandro Esquillin Santiago (0-2): Head and Santiago represented the only heavyweight pairing of the night. Santiago dropped his second fight as he failed to present Head with too much resistance on his way to a unanimous decision.
Kiarangely Marquez Carrasquillo (0-1) vs Edith Ogoku (1-0): Ogoku, a southpaw, was too big and powerful as she relentlessly pressured Carrasquillo in four rounds of the only women’s action on the card. Ogoku stalked her opponent, forcing the issue for the complete 2-minutes of the first two rounds. She was often erratic and Carrasquillo found it difficult to mount her own attack inside of Ogoku’s wild swinging. Carrasquillo was able to stand with Ogoku in moments throughout the third round where she began landing some shots as fatigue lowered Ogoku’s punching output. The Nigerian-born southpaw caught a second wind in the fourth round, and resumed her swarming attack, and while Carrasquillo couldn’t fend Ogoku off with her power, she did build off of her momentum in the previous round to give a better account of abilities. Ogoku won unanimously 39-37, and 40-36 on two cards.
Derrick Coleman, Jr. (2-0, 2 KOs) vs Edward Aceves (0-3): Only the potholes in Warren’s roads did more damage Friday night than 18-year old Super Welterweight Derrick Coleman, Jr. – introduced as a 6-time national amateur champion. By hairstyle, and more importantly his punishing body attack on Houston’s Aceves, Coleman brought to mind IBF Super Welterweight champion Jarrett Hurd; incidentally after the fight Coleman said he patterned his game after former 154-pound champion Jermall Charlo.
Somehow visitor Aceves made it through a brutal assault through the first 90-seconds of the first round, but not before Coleman’s perfectly placed left hooks to Aceves’ body culminated in a knock down. Aceves tried to back down Coleman to open the ensuing round, but a double left hook combination forced the Houston native to take a knee to recuperate. Another beautifully placed left hook by Coleman soon caused a second knock down. Amazingly Aceves mounted one more attempt to earn some respect from the oncoming Coleman, but a powerful right hand buckled Aceves, and the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
Anthony Flagg (3-0, 3 KOs) vs DeVante Jennings (0-1): Jennings’ opening moments belied the fact the fight was his professional debut, and he surprisingly caught Flagg with a compact left hook in the first round of the opening bout. He also connected with a straight right over a lazy jab by Flagg. In the second round Flagg overcame a seemingly slow start and placed a left hook to Jennings’ body. Flagg followed with a huge flurry with Jennings along the ropes, but the referee saw something that triggered him to step in between the two fighters to wave the bout off. Jennings looked confused at the ref’s decision, as Flagg kept knock out streak intact through his third bout.
Second 2 None Promotions’ ‘War In Warren’ succeeded in attracting what appeared to be a sell-out crowd to the DeCarlo’s Banquet & Convention Center for its first event of 2018. Along with Dirrell and Easter Jr. in attendance, other noteworthy VIPs included Toledo’s newly crowned WBC International Super Featherweight champion Alycia Baumgardner and Detroit Super Welterweight prospect Domonique Dolton. Nearly a half dozen professional fighters from a March 10 card at Toledo’s Seagate Convention center also entered the ring for brief introductions, including the card’s main event participant Albert Bell – an undefeated Super Featherweight out of Toledo with nine wins.
All photos by Jeffery Finney/CatchnShootMedia