PROVIDENCE - Toka Kahn-Clary supplied the speed and Diego Pereira provided the power, and because of that, both Pawtucket fighters were able to score crowd-pleasing, second-round TKOs on this past weekendâ€™s Big Six Entertainment â€śTakeoverâ€ť show at the Rhode Island Convention Center.
Kahn-Clary, the former National Golden Gloves champion who was making his much-anticipated pro debut in front of his local fans, family members, and friends, didnâ€™t disappoint anyone as the junior lightweight put an end to Jonathan Cabanâ€™s night with 11 seconds left in the second round.
And Pereira followed that performance with a dominant showing of his own in his junior welterweight bout against William â€śChinoâ€ť Correa. Pereira kept his record unblemished at 7-0-1 by stopping Correa exactly two minutes into the second round.
The main event also saw Providence heavyweight Jason Estrada produce an eight-round, unanimous-decision victory over Alex Gonzales in their battle of former Olympians for his third straight victory in a seven-month span, but the fight that generated the most buzz was Kahn-Claryâ€™s debut.
And Kahn-Clary made his presence felt right away. The southpawâ€™s speed overwhelmed Caban as he landed some solid punches in the opening round, including a right hook to Cabanâ€™s body that sent him to the canvas with less than a minute remaining.
Kahn-Clary continued to pressure Caban throughout the second round, and midway through it, he dropped the Queens, N.Y. fighter again in his corner.
And with time expiring in the round, Kahn-Clary pinned Caban (0-3) against the ropes with a quick flurry of punches, forcing referee Joey Lupino to step in between them and mercifully halt the bout.
â€śI used my experience through the amateurs to help guide me through this fight,â€ť Kahn-Clary said afterwards, the top of his right eye slightly swollen from a couple of headbutts by Caban, â€śand I tried to listen to my trainer as much as I could in my corner.
â€śIt felt great winning, but there were some things I wish I could have done a little better. We still have a lot to work on, and I just want to keep working hard and keep getting better and going to the top. Thatâ€™s my goal, and thatâ€™s what my trainer [Peter Manfredo Sr.] and I work on every day.â€ť
While Kahn-Clary wasnâ€™t completely satisfied with his performance (â€śI need to be patient, pick my punches, and keep my hands up a little bit more.â€ť), he was obviously happy with launching his promising career with a victory and doing so in his home state and in front of a local crowd.
â€śThis was actually good for me,â€ť he added. â€śI just turned 20 and I wanted to have my first (pro) fight after 20, so it actually worked out for me, fighting near my hometown and having a lot of my friends and family here to see me and support me.â€ť
â€śHeâ€™s trying to prove to everybody thatâ€™s heâ€™s the real deal, and he is,â€ť added Manfredo Sr. â€śHeâ€™s definitely the best fighter that Iâ€™ve ever had and Iâ€™ve had some very good fighters.
â€śThere are a couple of things that we have to work on, but he will definitely improve with each fight and weâ€™ll make it to the top,â€ť he added. â€śWe have the right promoters with Top Rank Boxing, and they will take you to where you have to be. He just has to win the fights as they present them to him.â€ť
And Manfredo Sr. expects Kahn-Clary to be back in action soon, perhaps as early as Big Six Entertainmentâ€™s next show, slated for Friday, Aug. 17, back at the Convention Center.
â€śTokaâ€™s manager, Mike Criscio, is working on getting him on the (Sergio) Martinez-(Julio Cesar) Chavez (Jr.) undercard in Las Vegas in September,â€ť added Manfredo Sr., â€śbut if we can fight before that, over here in August, weâ€™ll put him on again. I want to thank Roland Estrada for putting Toka on this card and making this happen.â€ť
While local fight fans got to see Kahn-Clary in action, they also got to watch Pereiraâ€™s first fight in Rhode Island in two years, as well as his first stoppage victory since he began his career with two in a row in 2008.
Pereira was facing a power puncher in Correa (9-6), who picked up eight of his wins via knockouts, but in this fight, Pereira quickly established himself as the better power puncher.
Pereira nearly had himself a first-round TKO, for with time running out, he pinned Correa against the ropes and landed some of his most punishing shots of the night, but Correa was saved by the bell.
In the second round, Correa managed to get in some punches on Pereira, but midway through the round, Pereira flipped the switch and began to dole out some more vicious shots. He hammered Correa with an overhand right to his chin that made him bounce off the ropes, prompting Lupino to end the fight.
â€śI just wanted to prove people wrong,â€ť said Pereira. â€śThey say that I have no power, that when I come in the ring, I always come out with decisions. But I wanted to prove to people that I do have power, and I did that today.
â€śIt just seems like every time I have a fight, either Iâ€™m nervous or I come in and drop them and they get back up and I donâ€™t have enough energy to finish them. But today wasnâ€™t the case. Today I hurt him and I finished him.â€ť
The news wasnâ€™t as good for the other Pawtucket fighter on the card, former Tolman High football standout Rameil Shelton, who saw his record drop to 0-5 after dropping a four-round unanimous-decision verdict to Jesus Cintron of Quincy, Mass.
The 20-year-old Shelton, who was fighting in his first bout as a welterweight after appearing his first three fights as a junior middleweight and his last one as a super middleweight, lost to Cintron (1-1) by scores of 39-37, 39-37, and 40-36.
Estrada, a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic team, raised his record to 19-4 (5 KOs) by shaking off a minor thumb injury he suffered in the second round to top Gonzales (20-7, 10 KOs), who fought on the 1992 Puerto Rican team, by three scores of 80-72.