With the help of boxing promoter extraordinaire Don King, boxing returned to the newly renamed Casino Miami Jai-Alai Saturday night in Miami, FL. The last time boxing was held at the former Miami Jai-Alai Fronton, which opened in 1926, was in 2004.
Don King Productions displayed a small six-fight untelevised card highlighting local fighters Joey Hernandez, the current WBC U.S. super welterweight champion, and Bermane Stiverne, the WBC silver heavyweight champion.
As expected in the main event, Joey Hernandez (21-1-1,12 KOs), who is ranked 14th by the IBF and No. 13 by the WBO in the super welterweight division, wasted no time taking care of business by knocking down Shakir Ashanti (16-13, 4 KOs) early in Round 1. Ashanti beat the 10-count, but then Hernandez continued the onslaught, and the referee rushed in to stop the bout at 2:46 of the first round.
Hernandez has a huge local following and has been entertaining Miami fight fans since 2006 with his upbeat and entertaining style of boxing. After the bout, he called out Cory Spinks, who was ringside for the bout, as reported by Chris Cook of FightNews.com. Spinks responded by telling fans around him that he will stop Hernandez.
As a comparison between Hernandez and Spinks, Ashanti lasted 10 rounds in a loss to Spinks in June 2011. Before anything else develops between these two, the Don King-promoted Spinks will be going for the IBF super welterweight title against current champion Cornelius Bundrage June 23 at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, FL.
In the co-main event, No. 1-ranked WBC heavyweight contender Bermane Stiverne (22-1-1, 20 KOs) made his first hometown appearance in Miami since turning pro in 2005.
Stiverne, who had not fought in over nine months since defeating Ray Austin for the WBC silver heavyweight title, defeated a game Willie Herring (13-11-3, 4 KOs) by unanimous decision in an eight-round contest. Final scores where 77-75, 79-73, 79-73 in favor of Stiverne.
Stiverne hurt his right hand during the second round, undoubtedly affecting his game plan a bit, but landed and scored more effectively throughout the fight.
Herring put on a valiant effort and stayed active throughout, and thought the fight was at least a draw.
With ice being administered to his right knuckles, Stiverne told me after the bout that he had taken the bout on extremely short notice (two weeks) and that he felt good going eight rounds, getting rid of some ring rust in the process.
Stiverne is looking to fight again in July, and if all goes well, he'll get a showdown with WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko is expected in the fall.