In the first-ever Team Combat League championship battle, the New York Attitude took down the Atlanta Attack to claim the fledgling team boxing league's first-ever championship.
Tied halfway through the competition with the Attack, the Attitude won by a score of 172 to 165 by pulling away in the second half on the strength of a 10-8 fight from league MVP Cristian Cangelosi, scoring a knockdown against Khalid Johnson despite a leg injury to widen the Attitude's lead and secure the victory.
Team trainer Benny Roman said, “We knew it was going to be a competitive fight. All our fighters gave it 100%. We just wanted them to stay focused and realize what was at stake here. We all work hard together. We started this from the beginning. TCL we are the New York City Attitude champions!”
Atlanta Takes Early Lead
The Attack got out in front early, winning four of the first five single-round fights. Cangelosi, a middleweight from Palermo, Sicily, was the sole winner, defeating veteran Keandre Leatherwood of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
But the Attitude pulled even when heavyweight Pryce Taylor of Brooklyn got a 10-7 victory over Devon Young of Aiken, South Carolina. Young jammed his shoulder, and referee Jack Reiss waved off the fight at 44 seconds when Young could not continue. It also scratched a second bout between the pair scheduled in what are called the “Money Rounds,” the last six bouts of the scheduled 18 bouts in a Team Combat League competition.
Not even Tropical Storm Hilary could rain on the parade, although it briefly shut down the live stream for a few moments midway through the evening.
Former welterweight world champion Shawn Porter was on hand in Long Beach to add commentary during breaks and also reportedly to do some scouting for a team he's putting together for the upcoming season. Porter says he loves the team aspect. “Now the energy has to amp up for both squads,” said Porter. “Atlanta needs some stoppages. New York is riding this wave.”
Joining him was world title challenger Austin Trout, who fought earlier in the evening during an “All-Star” series and won his fight.
New York Attitude Pulls Away Down the Stretch
With Atlanta still out front 95 to 93, light heavyweight Ralph Clemente of Huntington, New York, scored a TKO win and a 10-7 round over Devonte Williams of Houston in a slugfest. He scored two knockdowns, and the second via a right hook sealed the win as referee Thomas Taylor didn't like what he saw from Williams during the 10-count and waved off the fight at 2:15 of the round. New York pulled away 103 to 102 and never looked back.
Three of the scheduled six fights in the money rounds were scratched due to injury. With New York ahead, Atlanta would need to win two of its remaining three bouts or get a 10-7 bout and at least a draw. It didn't happen.
Cangelosi came through with his 10-8 win over Johnson for New York. In the final bout, welterweights Javonn Davis for Atlanta from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and Ryan Pino for New York from The Bronx fought simply for pride. Both swung for the fences, thrilling the fans and ending the season on a high note, with Pino sealing the victory and the final 172-165 score.
Ralph Clemente: ‘The recognition I deserved'
Ralph Clemente was named the team finals MVP for his efforts. “This is the finals, you either show up or you get out. Aside from me, my whole team showed up. I'm so proud to be able to call them my team. I'm a dog, and they're dogs too. That's what we do in New York!”
The 22-year-old light heavyweight embodies the type of fighter who took a chance on TCL to pursue his pro career. After an amateur career with a record of 21-6 and two knockouts, Clemente says he felt he didn't get the recognition in the amateurs he deserved. “I didn't get a lot of recognition when I felt I deserved it. The TCL finally gave me the recognition I deserved.”
Clemente said the TCL experience gained was valuable to him. “You're going to see a lot of different fighters, you're going to develop very quickly. You're going to be able to get a dogfight right away. In this, you're in a dogfight every day, and you build up character in your heart.”
As part of that character, Clemente said he wanted to show his three-year-old daughter the power of perseverance. “If you keep going at it and pursuing your dreams, you can make it happen. It doesn't stop here.”