Robert Katzfey put up a better fight at the weigh-in.
Lockport’s Amer Abdallah earned a technical knockout victory over the listless Wisconsonian in 1:57 of the first round of their World Kickboxing Association-sanctioned United States light heavyweight title match before another large and raucous crowd at the Kenan Center Arena.
Making up for a somewhat disappointing main event, fellow Lock City fighters Joe Taylor and Dominic Esposito earned impressive victories in Saturday night’s international card that drew one of the largest crowds ever to see such an event in this city’s history.
Three, first-round knockdowns via a leg kick to the head, right hand to the head and leg kick to the stomach ended the full-contact title match prematurely as referee Joe Pagan stopped the fight seconds before the bell sounded to end the first of what was a scheduled eight-round affair.
Katzfey was timid and overwhelmed from the start as Abdallah moved in for the kill just seconds after Lockport businessman Pete Robinson crooned the Canadian and U.S. national anthems.
It was an extremely disappointing performance by Katzfey, who exchanged words and shoves with Abdallah — nearly starting a fist fight — 24 hours earlier at the card’s official weigh-in at Lock 34 downtown. Locals hoping for a brawl, as Katzfey (10-3) had promised, saw little from the unimpressive former Denver gym owner, as Abdallah improved to 14-0 while barely breaking a sweat.
“Going into the fight, we thought from all the hype from the videos he sent us criticizing us, from his MMA style and his tactics — plus his demeanor at the weigh-in — that he would come out brawling,” Abdallah said.
“Our game plan was as soon as the fight started, hit him hard to throw him off and show him exactly what he was up against. (But) I hit him hard the first time and he had no heart. I’m grateful for the win — don’t get me wrong — and glad that I came out of the fight unscathed, but I’m disappointed that he didn’t even challenge me.
“We were looking for a higher quality opponent and I trained hard for this fight — 10 weeks, and traveled across the country, hired the best trainers —so I was very discouraged he did not put up a better fight. After the second knockdown, his cornerman put up his hands as if to say ‘please take it easy on him.’ I’m human and I have emotions so I concentrated on just knocking him down again nicely and getting him out of there with the three knockdown rule,” Abdallah said.
Meanwhile, Taylor’s muay thai heavyweight debut was electrifying as he recorded the evening’s only pure knockout, pummeling Steven Wilson quickly into submission in their scheduled three-round amateur fight.
The partisan Kenan crown welcomed Taylor, the son of the late Lockport pro boxer Johnny Taylor, with a large ovation. The two fighters exchanged punches and kicks with Taylor, who was trained by Lockport’s Corey Webster at Western New York MMA in Buffalo, landing the more telling blows.
With 10 seconds left in the opening round, Taylor moved in quickly and nailed Wilson with a combination of left and right hands. One final, wicked right hand landed squarely on Wilson’s jaw and the Syracuse resident went down like a sack of potatoes as referee Bill Keifer counted him out. The official time was 2:00.
“I feel great,” Taylor said while being mobbed by family, friends and complete strangers as he made his way back to the locker room. “I got great advice from the people who trained me. They told me to relax and take my time out there and don’t go for the knockout right away. When I heard the 10-second signal, I don’t know, my hands just released. I heard one of my men in the corner, Kendrick Huston, tell me to let the hands fly.”
Webster was extremely happy with Taylor’s performance and hopes to get him back into the ring within weeks.
“I’m at a loss for words. I couldn’t be more impressed,” Webster said. “I was more impressed with his patience than anything else. He took his time and when the kill shot was there, he pulled the trigger.”
Esposito, 52, capped off a Lock City ring sweep with a three-round, unanimous-decision boxing victory over a man 22 years his junior, David Kitchkart, 30, who represented the Clinton Street Kickboxing Gym in Syracuse.
Esposito, who garnered an equally loud, long ovation from the Kenan crowd and was escorted to the ring by Lockport’s legendary retired pro heavyweight Tony Ventura, dominated in the first round, capping off his first 120 seconds in the ring in three decades with a thunderous right hand that stunned Kitchkart.
Lockport’s long time city worker Esposito stole the second as well with another late solid right hand. The third round could have went either way with Kitchkart settling down to make a better fight of it, but judges gave the fight to Esposito 29-28, 30-27, 29-28.
Other fight night winners — all muay thai style (hands, feet, knees, elbows) — were Tyler Toomey of Baldwinsville, Erin Morris of Buffalo, Hamburg’s Anthony Norton, Miguel Testa of Syracuse and three impressive siblings from Liverpool’s Team Andrello, Leith, Luay and Audey Ashkar.
Toomey earned a TKO win over Syracuse’s Dylan Pardi at 20 seconds of the third round in their 130-pound bout, Leith Ashkar posted a unanimous (40-35, 40-36, 40-36) four-round, 145-pound win over Dan Dorfman of Buffalo, Morris won by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27) over Syracuse’s Donalea Maloney in their 140-pound, three-round match; Norton earned a three-round, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27) win over Syracuse’s Ben Horton in a 155-pound, three-round bout; Luay Ashkar improved to 17-1 with a five-round, 50-45, 50-45, 50-45 unanimous decision win over Toronto’s Louie Loresco at 135 pounds; Testa won a 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 majority decision three-round, 155-pound win over North Tonawanda’s Steve Horton; and Audey Ashkar bounced back from a first-round knockdown by Wolfie Steel to beat the Cincinnati resident by majority decision, 49-46, 48-46, 48-47, in their five-round, 125-pound fight.
Abdallah said another Kenan fight card is currently in the works for Saturday, Nov. 16.
“We’re going to start looking for an opponent early, because we don’t want another main event opponent like this one,” Abdallah said.
“It was still a great card. I thought Joe and Dominic did a phenominal job. It was another full house and this was a victory for the whole community.”
Among the many proud sponsors of the June 8 pro fight card were Local Edge (Jeff Folckemer), Mulvey Construction (Tim Mulvey), All Metal Works (Dominic Ciliberto), JS Motorsports (Kyle Brent), Executive Landscaping (Tony Butera), Niagara Gutter (Brad Cline) and Cain, Witlin & Dry Accountants (Scott Cain). Papa Leo’s handled concessions.
FIGHT NOTES: Among many local celebrities present included Lockport Community Television broadcasters Jim Slowey and Danny Sheehan, via producer Phil Czarnecki and his outstanding LCTV volunteer crew ... Jack Mesi, the father of retired Buffalo heavyweight, Baby Joe Mesi, was also in attendance, as were Steve and Lynn Harrington, organizers of the annual Erie Canal Fishing Derby ... Among those working security were two of Lockport’s finest, Dennis Sobieraski and Mike Stover, … Besides Pagan and Keifer, the other rotating fight night referee was Tom Jenkins … The ring physician was Lockport’s Dr. Margaret Libby … Serving as ring ladies once again were the stunning Carcione siblings, Danielle, Nicole and Marissa.