Conversations in New Orleans area boxing circles over the past month centered around whether or not up and coming Heavyweight Fred Kassi had the ability to be THE REAL DEAL as a legitimate Championship Title contender.
Prior to fight time on Saturday, April 24th, Promoter Leslie Bonano of BRAWLIN IN N’AWLINS said, “I really don’t know, but we will find out tonight”. Bonano promoted the 5-bout event “Return To The Ring” at Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis, MS.
In losing, Kassi (15 – 2, 8 KO’s) clearly dominated in the 10th-round, and he should have earned the victory via the KO route; however, Kendrick Releford (22-13, 10KO’s) survived a barrage of Kassi lefts and rights to remain on his feet at the bouts end. The scorecard was 97 – 92, 98 – 93, and 98 – 91. Kassi was slow and mechanical while the 23 pound lighter Releford piled up points throughout the balance of the bout. After the fight, Les Bonano commented, “Kassi definitely lost the fight but the judges must have needed glasses. I scored the fight 6 rounds to 4 in favor of Releford”.
In the co-feature: formerly undefeated Cruiserweight Justin Verdin (9 – 1, 6 KO’s) of Houma, LA. was stopped at 41 seconds of the 6th round by Anthony Doughty (8 – 1, 7 KO’s) of Tuscaloosa, AL. Doughty came on strong at the end of round five, and when Verdin hit the deck, a halt was called in the action. At the after-fight party, Bonano said, “This was a very good come from behind victory. Doughty was behind on all scorecards when he scored the knockout”.
Middleweight Marcus McDaniel from New Orleans earned his 3rd victory without a loss by scoring a unanimous 40 – 36 decision over outclassed Billy Cunningham (3 – 5) in their 4-round bout.
Fighting to an exciting draw at 134 and 133 pounds respectively were David Hill (0 – 1 – 1) from Pensacola, FL and Aubrey Norris of Mobile, AL. In making his pro debut, Norris got up from a knockdown in round two and recovered the lost point by the battle’s end. The “on their feet” packed house wants to see a re-match between these two pugilists.
In the opening Middleweight battle-royale, Jamond Bourgeois celebrated his pro debut by eking out a hard-fought majority decision over formerly undefeated Josh Thorpe. “Bourgeois appears to be a good prospect”, stated Bonano at the aforementioned get together.