The McCann-Baluta Barnburner was the Jewel of an Interesting Friday Slate


An interesting Friday menu of boxing got off to a rousing start with a barnburner at venerable York Hall in gritty East London. The scheduled 12-round bout between Dennis McCann and Ionut Baluta ended inconclusively, but before the match was stopped, fans in the sweltering, sold-out arena were treated to a nine rounds of torrid, back-and-forth action that somewhat fittingly produced a stalemate.

An accidental clash of heads in round seven left McCann (pictured in the red trunks) with a terrible gash on his forehead and ultimately led to the match being halted by the ringside physician. The fight went to the scorecards, yielding tallies of 86-85 McCann, 86-86, and 86-86 – a majority draw.

The 22-year-old McCann remains unbeaten at 14-0-1 but showed that he needs to work on tightening his dense. He and Baluta (16-4-1) both expressed interest in a rematch. When it happens, it will undoubtedly go to a larger venue, perhaps serving as the co-feature on a pay-per-view.

Featherweight Nathaniel Collins, a 29-year-old southpaw, made a huge jump in public esteem in the co-feature, knocking out Raza Hamza in 15 seconds. It was a two-punch combo, a straight right followed by a cuffing left to the back of the head that ended the fight moments after the opening bell. Collins, a relative unknown despite owning a domestic title, stands poised to supplant Josh Taylor as the next great fighter from Scotland. To accomplish that, however, he may have to get past England’s surging Nick Ball and then the winner of the forthcoming clash in October between countrymen Leigh Wood and Josh Warrington. The featherweight scene in the U.K. is percolating.


Orlando-based, Puerto Rico-born Nestor Bravo, a super lightweight, continued his gradual ascent up the ladder and kept his unbeaten record intact with a 10-round unanimous decision over Will Madera, a father of six from Albany, New York. The scores were all over the map: 99-91, 97-93, and 96-94.

Bravo (22-0, 15 KOs), rocked Madera (17-3-3) in the opening round, but the Empire State veteran stayed the course and had plenty of fuel in his tank at the finish. In his previous bout Madera, a frequent sparring partner of Abraham Nova, went 10 rounds with knockout artist Brandun Lee.

The co-feature, a 10-round welterweight affair, was an intriguing match between undefeated Cuban defectors Damian Lescaille and Hugo Noriega. The lanky Noriega (8-0 heading in), had the stronger amateur pedigree – he owned a win over future gold medalist Roniel Iglesias – but Lescaille, at age 24 the younger man by nine years, had youth on his side and came from a better barn; he is trained by Ronnie Shields.

The fight went the distance with Lescaille, now 5-0, winning by scores of 96-93 and 97-92 twice.


Super lightweight Kurt Scoby (13-0, 11 KOs), advanced his knockout skein to eight with a sixth-round stoppage of Narciso Carmona (11-1-1). A 25-year-old Spaniard, Carmona had his best round in the fifth, but Scoby took him out in the next frame, strafing him with an assortment of unanswered punches to force the stoppage. The official time was 2:31 of round six.

Scoby, a muscular Southern California native who now hangs his hat in Brooklyn where he trains at Gleason’s Gym, bears watching. In his previous bout, he sent Philadelphia veteran Hank Lundy off into retirement with a second-round stoppage.

Colorado’s Shawn McCalman, who competes as a super middleweight or a light heavyweight depending on the opponent, maintained his winning ways with a mild upset of Money Powell IV in a ho-hum 8-rounder. McCalman improved to 14-0 (7), but did little to improve his stock. It was the second loss in 15 pro starts for Powell IV who entered the pro ranks well-touted after a stellar amateur career.

Buenos Aires

The sour note to Friday’s activity was caused by Gustavo Lemos who came in overweight, forcing the cancellation of his match with countryman Javier Jose Clavero.

Lemos was ranked #1 by the IBF at lightweight and on pace to capture a big-money fight with Devin Haney. He had been out of the ring for 17 months and it was thus agreed that the bout would proceed if he weighed no more than 140 pounds, but he wasn’t able to trim down that low and now his career going forward is murky.

Photo credit: Queensberry Promotions