Chris Martin vs Teon Kennedy should be a great fight

Chris Martin (C) is surrounded by his good buddies at the Alliance Training Center in Chula Vista, Ca. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Not today, but next Friday, Chris Martin of Chula Vista, CA will be taking on Teon Kennedy from Philadelphia, PA. in one of those make or break fights. The International Boxing Federation has Kennedy ranked #7 and Martin ranked #9 in the same Super Bantamweight division.


Their January 13 bout, with its major ramifications, will be at the Hard Rock Hotel Casino in Las Vegas with ESPN 2 televising the show for those of us who can’t get to Las Vegas. 

Philly's champion, Teon Kennedy.

The 25 year-old Kennedy suffered the first loss of his career on August 13, 2011, at Bally’s in Atlantic City, N. J. when he lost a 12 round unanimous decision to Alejandro Lopez of Tijuana, B. C., Mexico.

While constantly circling to his right, away from Kennedy’s power, Lopez appeared to be in complete control. Each time Kennedy threw one of his lazy overhand rights, in came Lopez with a dandy one, two counter to Kennedy’s head. He also scored well by doubling up on the left hook. Each time Lopez tired, he went right for a clinch, making certain that he tied up Kennedy’s left arm.

In the last round, with his eyes swelled, Kennedy went for broke and tried to work over Lopez’s midsection. This had little affect since Lopez again got in close to tie him up. Throughout the fight, Lopez appeared to be the more cunning and swifter of the two.Below is a video showing the final two rounds of that Kennedy versus Lopez fight on August 13, 2011.

The loss to Lopez cost Kennedy not only his NABA super bantamweight title but his USBA crown, which he had successfully defended on March 26 when he scored two knockdowns in a 12-round decision victory over previously unbeaten Jorge Diaz of New Brunswick, N. J. at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

In regards to that Lopez loss, a ringside observer stated, “Kennedy seemed flatfooted for the match and Lopez took full advantage by controlling the pace of the fight from the outside. It was also reported Kennedy was distracted in his preparation for the fight by a police matter. One of those evenings when Kennedy was out hanging around with the wrong people. He was later cleared of all charges.”

“The Technician,” as he is known, registered a 10th-round KO victory at Bally’s over Alex Becerra of El Paso, TX, back on September 25, 2010.

That was the night he won the vacant NABA 122-pound title.

He also won a 12-round decision over Jose Angel Beranza, of Santa Ana, CA, on May 22, 2010 at Bally’s, a boxer who later beat Chris Martin. That was his first defense of the USBA title won November 20, 2009, with a tenth round KO victory over Francisco Rodriguez, of Chicago, Illinois at the Blue Horizon in Philly. Kennedy’s current record is 17-1-1 with 7 KOs.

Jorge Diaz (L) gave Teon Kennedy a battle and in this photo you can see Diaz landing the solid left hook that if followed by a straight right could have ended Kennedy's night. Photo: Hunter Martin/Getty Images

If asked to describe Kennedy you’d say: he’s a very calm and deliberate fighter who stands 5’5” tall, has a 72” reach, a goatee and outside of the ring wears glasses. In preparation for this fight, he’s been working out twice daily at the Joe Hand Boxing Gym in the Spring Garden section of downtown Philadelphia.

Kennedy is managed by Doc Nowicki, Jim Williams and Joe Hand, promoted by Peltz Boxing Promotions and trained by Wade Hinnant with help from his brother Randy. Unlike Martin, Kennedy starts his day quite early arriving at the gym around 8 a.m., 5 a.m. our time. The gym is in the same block as a Philadelphia landmark, Finnegan’s Wake, a famous Irish Pub, comparable in size to Jolt’n Joes on 4th Avenue in downtown San Diego.

In the amateur ranks, Kennedy had a ton of experience. He was the 2004 National Golden Gloves flyweight champ and two-time Pennsylvania Golden Gloves champion. Until recently the City of Brotherly Love had been touting Kennedy as the next Philadelphia boxer to win a world title.

After their grueling battle Charles Huerta (L) and Chris "The San Diego Kid" Martin shake hands. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Martin (23-1-2, 6 KOs) trains under the watchful eye of his long time coach Sergio Melendrez at the Alliance Training Center on 3rd Avenue in Chula Vista, CA. He recently signed with Top Rank Promotions (Bob Arum). Until recently, Don Chargin Promotions had handled his promotion.

The 25 year-old Martin is also coming off a loss, a very disappointing loss on October 1, 2011, to a journey man fighter by the name of Jose Angel Beranza (34-21-2) a boxer who leading up to their fight had lost six of his last seven and had only won three times in his last 15 fights. Reporters at ringside claimed Martin looked sluggish and allowed Beranza to outwork him in far too many rounds.

When Beranza fought Kennedy back on May 22, 2010, he lost a 12 round unanimous decision with two of the judges giving Kennedy the nod in every round except for three.

Over his career, Martin has had a reputation for being a slow starter. His quickness is undeniable but sometimes judges aren’t willing to give you the proper credit for the quicker hands. They want to see heads snapping back and an opponent back-peddling.

Martin, with a one inch height advantage, could follow Lopez’s lead and fight the entire fight from the outside. He’d have to be a masterful sharpshooter and occasionally work over Kennedy’s midsection with some pile-driving left hooks.

Since he is so well-liked, Martin has been getting an assist from a slew of people. From his employer, Corrections Corporation of America, his superiors allowed him to go on a three and a half week leave from work.

When you're signed by the same promoter, Top Rank, it's not unusual that you run into boxing greats like Juan Manuel Marquez.

Being a stablemate of Dominick Cruz sure helps. Cruz, a UFC world champion, introduced Martin to a new method of building up his legs (endurance wise). Several boxers from Tijuana, Mexico lent an assist. Martin had the privilege of sparring with Carlos “Mini” Burgos (World Super Featherweight title holder), Alejandro Lopez (the NABO Champ, the gent who just beat Kennedy), the undefeated Adrian Vargas of Undisputed Downtown, David Barragan, Tito Ruiz, Alfredo Rodriguez, Carlos and Andres Adams, etc., etc., a regular who’s who of boxing.

Martin has put added pressure on himself. Because everyone has helped so much, he feels compelled to win. He’s even dedicated his winning performance to two young ladies, family members, who’ve been dealing with breast cancer…Melanie Melendez and Claudia Martin. Their anguish has given him a heavy heart.

A well-conditioned Kennedy will need to cut off the ring and pin Martin against the ropes or in a corner. After working over his midsection, Martin’s hands will drop and Kennedy could then go upstairs.

When talking to Kennedy’s long time trainer, Wade Hinnant, he claimed his boxer should have no problem exploiting Martin’s weaknesses, the same weaknesses he saw on the film from the Charles Huerta fight. “We believe Huerta won that fight,” said Hinnant.

Regardless of the confidence shown by both boxers, I believe this fight will be a classic because of their contrasting styles and the fact they’ll be on neutral territory; neither boxer will have a hometown edge. Since each boxer has a substantial following, the Nielsen ratings should go through the roof.

Adding to the show’s luster, the boxing card features unbeaten, hard-hitting Jesse Magdaleno of Las Vegas facing a TBA fighter and undefeated junior featherweight Gabino Saenz of Indio, CA taking on Gil Garcia of Houston in a six round match.

Teon Kennedy (L) is getting ready to unload on the crouching Jorge Diaz (R).

Other attractions include hard-punching super lightweight Yordenis Ugas, 10-0, of Miami versus Esteban Almariz (10-4-0, 4 KOs) from Harlingen, Texas in an eight rounder, Las Vegas fan favorite junior welterweight Anthony Lenk, 12-1 going up against Raul Tovar (9-5-1) of Mission, Texas, and the return of popular Angel Flores, 10-4 of Las Vegas versus TBA.

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