By Tyler Polk, Point Park News Service:
When the bell rang and the first fight – Oleg Dovhun vs. Adam Young – began, boxing trainer Michael McSorley took a look out into the audience at the Carnegie Music Hall in Homestead and breathed a sigh of relief.
“It took so much time and effort to get the thing going,” McSorley said. “That was the moment of awe for me.”
In a span of thirty days, McSorley and his co-promoter J.J. Richardson pulled together the first ever “Night of Fights” at the 900-seat venue.
It was a unique setup as the ring was on stage. There was no ringside seating available for fans; in exchange they had the upper deck virtually on top of the ring. The fighters could hear everything.
“I could hear everything the crowd was saying,” said Rick Borowski, a Pittsburgh native who made his boxing debut that night. “My opponent and I were snickering in the middle of the fight because of the things the crowd was saying.”
The event was coordinated by McSorley’s Conn-Greb Boxing Gym and Integrity Fighter Management.
“Considering we had a lot of pullouts, and last-minute moving parts, I think it was a successful show overall,” McSorley said. “Everybody had a great time and the crowd was into it.”
One moving part was the initial bout between Dovhun and Young. It was a regular bout until it was announced that Young was over the scheduled 135 pound weight limit. The Pennsylvania Athletic Commission decided to make the fight an exhibition.
“It was unfortunate. We tried to make it work, and we wanted to keep [Oleg] busy,” McSorley said.
Dovhun, from Lviv, Ukraine, was making his pro debut. He lived up to his nickname, “Ukraine Pitt-Bull,” with a relentless attack on his opponent who was also making his pro debut. Young was given two standing-8 counts by the referee during the four-round spar.
“He decisively won that, but there are officially, no winners or losers in exhibitions,” said McSorley.
Young didn’t have his own cornerman for the bout, so Nicholas Rodriguez, who was later in corner for his brother Noel’s fight, filled in on an emergency basis.
“Before the fight, I didn’t know what [fighting stance], Orthodox or Southpaw,” said Nicholas. “You don’t want to make any last minute changes, for as little amateur experience he told my brother he had, I thought he did great.”
The explosive night continued with “Lethal” LeeMont Johnson continuing his win and knockout streak, with a TKO on his opponent Brian Stevens at 1:42 in the 2nd Round.
“I just wanted to have fun in there, and just do my thing,” Johnson said.
Stevens did his best to weather the storm, but Johnson, a native of Braddock, displayed an impressive combination of head and body punches to his opponent. He credited his training for his victory.
“All the training was done, and it was playtime,” Johnson said. “That’s what we call it, when the hard work is done, then it’s playtime.
The victory brings his record to a perfect 3-0 with 3 knockouts. A great start for a promising fighter. Most would want to celebrate after a great performance, but Johnson is different.
“I want to go back in the gym,” he said. “Hard work is never finished, and I want to get back in there and keep it going.”
The next fight was between Borowski, a former MMA fighter, and Noel Rodriguez from Dayton, Ohio, who was searching for his first win.
“I had one amateur boxing match, but I’ve been practicing boxing for a while,” Borowski said. “After a spinal fusion in 2015, I couldn’t wrestle so I did a lot of boxing, and it really felt comfortable.
The fight went through all of the scheduled 4 rounds and Borowski picked up the victory by unanimous decision with all judges scoring the bout 40 to 36. The brawlers butted heads all fight, literally and metaphorically.
“We smacked heads a couple times,” Borowski said. “Seeing [Rodriguez] at weigh-ins and realizing how big our heads are, made me think we were definitely going to hit heads out there.”
It seemed to be a common occurrence, when the two went alongside the ropes. Both fighters claimed that it was headbutts that hurt more than anything in the fight.
“It’s like taking a really hard punch and your lights go out. It really hurts bad,” Rodriguez said.
It was tough sledding for the Ohio native, dealing with a hometown fighter, in front of his hometown crowd, but Rodriguez said he believes that despite dropping to 0-4, this fight was a turned corner for him.
The third fight of the night was the pro debut of another prospect from Lviv, Ukraine. Lyubomir “The Demolition Man” Pinchuck took on Eric Abraham from New York. He came into the bought with a record of 1-0.
“It was a very tough fight for [Lyubomir] in his debut,” McSorley said. “He was much busier throughout this fight, but [Abraham] landed some big shots.”
Pinchuk managed to wear him down throughout the four-round contest. By the time the fourth round came through, he was able to pull away. He won by majority decision, and it showed how much confidence McSorley and his fellow cornermen have in their fighters.
“He came to fight, not a lot of people would put an undefeated southpaw versus someone who is making their debut,” McSorley said. “It looks good with a fight like that. It shows we’re not here to pad stats.”
The co-main event was a 6-round fight between Undefeated Middleweight Gerald “G5” Sherrell and a valiant Danny Rosenberger. Between the two boxers, a combined four fighters had to pull out of their bouts with the two men.
One day before their fight, Rosenberger was asked if he could fight up a weight class to fight Sherrell.
“I had just gotten off a 12-hour shift at work when they called me,” said Rosenberger, a Youngstown, Ohio, native. “I was hesitant at first, but after looking at tape on [Sherrell], I took the offer.”
Rosenberger typically fights at 147 pounds, and the weight limit for the fight was 157 lbs. He wanted to use his speed to avoid Sherrell’s power.
“I knew he was a hard puncher, slick, and a good boxer,” Rosenberger said. “He wouldn’t face against someone like me, footwork wise and hand-speed wise.”
Sherrell would go on to defeat Rosenberger by Unanimous Decision. It was an anxious time for him, in the leadup to the fight, but he was happy to get one. He gave praise to his opponent for stepping up.
“I’ve had to [fight below a weight class] a couple times,” said Sherrell, who moved to 6-0 with the victory. “ I know how it feels, he’s a tough kid and he’ll definitely do well.”
He wanted to showcase his skills and give a good show for the crowd, and he certainly did with his family and friends in attendance.
“My coach, Darren Dolby, wanted me to show my ability, and put pressure without being a brawler,” Sherrell said. “We put the game plan together and we executed.”
The main event was Luis “Cuba” Arias vs Scott “Cujo” Sigmon, for the USBA Middleweight Championship. The fight was added a few days before the event.
Erik Bottjer, a matchmaker from Roc Nation Sports, owned by rapper Jay-Z, scheduled this bout in Minnesota but it fell through. At the last minute he asked McSorley, who accepted.
Arias would retain his championship and remain undefeated by unanimous decision in a ten round fight. Both men fought hard and, McSorley praised Sigmon’s toughness.
“It was a nice coup for us, it was a good, tough fight,” said McSorley. “Sigmon came to fight and he never backed down.”
McSorley considers the night a success, and wants to hold another event at the venue.
“We received a lot of positive feedback, the fans seemed to like it,” McSorley said. “When you do these promotions it takes some time to make a following, but people had fun and said they’d come back to our next promotion.”
They are also looking into other sites, for fights perhaps even more interesting than the Carnegie Music Hall.
“We’re looking at unconventional locations throughout the City,” McSorley said. “If insurance and liabilities allow, we’re looking for industrial locations.”