Flores decisions Herrera for NABO title; Monson, Lashley, Thomas and Hallman MMA winners
PENSACOLA, Fla. -Fighting at home for the first time in a decade, 8-time world champion Roy Jones, Jr. (53-5, 39 KOs) fought before a packed house of loyal fans and gave them exactly what they came for with a dazzling display of superior quickness and athleticism en route to a fifth-round stoppage of 4-time world title challenger Omar Sheika for the vacant NABO championship last night in Pensacola, Florida.
Jones-Sheika (27-8) headlined tonight's hybrid pro boxing/mixed-martial-arts show, presented by Jones' Square Ring Promotions in association with Hirsch Borao Boxing, on pay-per-view live from the Pensacola Civic Center.
The rejuvenated Jones put on another boxing clinic, firing a wide assortment of head and body punches that consistently landed from every conceivable angle from start to finish on the rugged but overmatched Sheika, who simply had no answers for the test given by the future Hall of Fame-bound Jones.
"I want to give thanks to Pensacola in the house," Jones announced from the center of the ring after the fight. I felt really good. I'm ready. With my father, Coach Merk and my team I'm more comfortable. Do you want me back? (Roy asked the crowd that responded with a thunderous yes). I'll be coming back."
In the featured MMA fight of the night, Jeff Monson won a close three-round decision, 29-28 on three cards, in an evenly matched battle between two of the best grapplers in the world. The fight was even going into the final round, in which, Monson's more effective striking - three clear punches - was the eventual difference.
"I wanted to go on the ground," Monson commented. "I kept right with him. It was a big win. Roy's a tough guy."
Nelson didn't agree with the final decision. "I got robbed," he claimed. "It was a boring fight on the ground, but I was controlling the fight and that usually determines the winner. Only in Florida does Roy get robbed (referring to his controversial loss to Andrei Arlovski)."
Unbeaten world-rated B.J. Flores, improving his record to 23-0, captured the vacant NABO junior heavyweight title by a one-sided, unanimous 10-round decision in a workmanlike effort against Colombian knockout artist Jose Luis Herrera (16-6, 16 KOs).
"He's a veteran with 16 knockouts," Flores said of Herrera. "By the third or fourth round I knew I could hurt him with some big shots, but I hit him with a left (hurting his hand) in the forehead. I used it early but not later. In the 10th I started to put it together. I went the distance with Herrera and next I want Victor Ramirez (WBO Interim junior heavyweight champion)."
"He was a little faster than me and he moved better," Herrera agreed with the decision. "I was a little frustrated by him throughout the fight."
Going into the match with only one round of MMA experience, former WWE star Bobby Lashley was able to win all three rounds against tough veteran Jason Guida, a replacement who took the fight on 1-1/2 week notice. Guida nearly pulled-off a major upset early in the third round with a guillotine choke, but the powerfully built Lashley was able to pop his head out of the hold.
"I thought I had him," Guida noted as he shook his head in frustration when the scores were announced.
"He had it on tight and deep," Lashley remarked. "But I held on and got out. I didn't use all of my wrestling skills. This is a sport where we're gentleman and fighters. His talk got to me a little but my corner helped me keep my mind strong. I'm going right back to the training room."
Featherweight Din Thomas' experience and striking advantages resulted in a first-round technical knockout of Gabe Lemley at 4:13 of the first round. Thomas' series of powerful strikes led Lemley to try and shoot underneath Thomas (23-8), who countered with a picture perfect Muay Thai-knee, sending Lemley down, face first, as the referee immediately halted the action due to the force of the impact.
"Yeah," Thomas explained, "I set him up with my punches. I had a lot of fun here; I love Pensacola. Boxing is a major part of MMA and was glad to be part of this (boxing/MA event). I took advantage of my experience. I can fight in a cage, ring or parking lot - I don't care."
Sixty-three fight MMA veteran Dennis "Superman" Hallman (49-12-2) didn't miss a beat despite having his first fight in 16 months as he locked-in a rear naked choke from the back, forcing welterweight Danny Ruiz to tap-out at 1:50 of the opening round.
"I guess the layoff didn't hurt," Hallman said after the fight. "It took a few seconds for me to get going, but once he hit me I knew I was in a fight and got going."