Wednesday night, at Toronto’s famed Royal York Hotel, the annual Shaw Festival Boxing Fundraiser hosted 3 exciting match-ups, put together by Canada’s best matchmaker Jim Gentle alongside Richard Lewis, showcasing two of the area’s biggest up and coming local talents inside the ring. In the Main Event of the evening, Steve Rolls rolled right through his Argentinean opponent Damian Ezequiel Bonelli (now 23-3 with 20 KO’s) without hardly even being contested the entire 8 round fight. Right out of the gate in the opening round of the Middleweight tilt, it was clear that Steve Rolls was the faster, slicker and more fleet footed fighter in the showcase bout on the gala evening’s card. And as the contest moved on, not much changed…aside from Bonelli, who took less and less chances to trade punches with the Toronto native Rolls. There really wasn’t much of a point in even scoring a fight like that, which on paper had the making of an epic battle between a boxer (Rolls) and a puncher (Bonelli). The reality revealed inside the ring Wednesday night though, is that Steve Rolls looked like a Rolls Royce competitor, while Bonelli was more like a family van just trying get through another tough day on the road, while avoiding all the stops and traffic lights he could. In the end, Steve Rolls under the watchful eye of his trainer Ryan Grant cruised to a unanimous decision, improving his undefeated professional record to 18 wins with 10 Knockouts to his credit.
In the Co-Main Event of the evening, Hamilton, Ontario native Jessie “Roc” Wilcox (9-0-1 coming into the fight) walked into battle to face a tough Mexican in Gabriel Jordan Valenzuela, who was 10-2, coming off 4 straight KO victories entering the contest. The 8 round Fight opened up with both boxers feeling out distance and range early on. Not taking too many chances in the opening round. But in Rounds 2 and 3 it was Jessie Wilcox who was landing the majority of the punches, he was executing a solid jab, and Wilcox definitely picked up a lead on the cards in the first three rounds. Round 4 everything changed. Valenzuela clearly knowing he was behind on the scorecards began leaning in hard when getting in close to Wilcox, inevitably causing a number of serious head clashes. The referee did warn Valenzuela for the head butt infractions, however the damage already done, was clear all over Wilcox’s face. Then right after a head butt, Wilcox falls back awkwardly as the two boxers collide for what looked like a slip, but the referee called that exchange a knockdown against Jessie Wilcox. “Roc” then gets up and goes right back to battle with Valenzuela, and gets caught… This time it’s a clear knockdown, Wilcox is having his metal tested the entire fourth round. Credit to Jessie Wilcox as Round 5 he didn’t just bounce back, Wilcox went right back to his superior boxing skills and took the fight right back to Valenzuela, landing the stronger, cleaner punches and a lot more of them than his Mexican counterpart. Wilcox maintained control of the pace, as he had done earlier in the fight in the 6th round as well. The last two rounds were definitely tight to score, as Valenzuela wasn’t going down without a fight, and Wilcox still had more spurts where he landed solid punches, while Valenzuela’s punches looked like they didn’t quite have the same power they did early on, and even early on Wilcox’s punches were clearly doing the most damage. Surprisingly though, one official scorecard had Valenzuela winning 77-73, while the other two official scorecards read: 75-75. The official decision presented by Ring Announcer Darren Dutchyshen was a Majority Draw.
In the night’s opening fight, local Toronto boxer Mponda Kalunga (now 2-1, 1KO) who fights out of Grants MMA and Boxing under the tutelage of Ryan Grant, notched his first Win by Knockout when he obliterated the previously undefeated French Polynesian boxer Nuiata Ebb (now 3-1) in their Super Middleweight contest.