Albeit for one night, Zachariah Kelley shed the journeyman label in emphatic fashion.
Expected to be another victim in prospect Alptug Oener’s unbeaten career, Kelley defied the odds with a dramatic third-round knockout victory in an undercard bout of Saturday night’s card at Manna Production Village in Wynwood.
Oener, a native of Turkey, had won his first eight professional bouts and seemed headed to his ninth when he pinned Kelley to the ropes and connected repeatedly with combinations to the head. Referee Frank Santore seemed to be within another combination of stopping the bout when Kelley scored with a solid right uppercut in the closing seconds of the round.
Not only did Kelley survive the onslaught, but he became the aggressor midway through the next round as he dropped Oener with a left hook to the head. Kelley (5-11, 5 KOs) connected with additional shots to the head and dropped Oener again with a right to the head. Oener fell hard to the canvas and Santore waved the count, ending the super-middleweight fight at 2 minutes 59 seconds of the round.
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“I just needed my moment to breathe and then I hit him with the uppercut at the end of the second,” said Kelley, of Lawton, Oklahoma. “So I knew at the beginning of the third he was going to be in trouble."
Kelley, 29, disregards his sub-.500 record and considers his survival and thrilling comeback Saturday as another reason why he continues to box. “That’s what fighting is all about, anything can happen at any moment,” Kelley said.
Earlier, University of Miami student Courtney Jackson scored a first-round technical knockout win over Alfred Ellis.
Jackson (4-0, 3 KOs) dropped Ellis with a series of combinations to the body early in the welterweight bout. Ellis (0-2) reached his feet but Jackson followed with another series of unanswered shots forcing referee Sam Burgos to stop the fight at 1:49 of the round.
The card’s main event between Miami resident Hairon Socarras and Mexico’s Hanzel Martinez was canceled earlier Saturday after Socarras failed to make weight for the scheduled 10-round super-bantamweight match. Martin Waas, Socarras’ co-manager, said Martinez was offered an increased purse to fight but the native of Mexico refused the offer.
Bouts featuring Miami residents Glen Johnson and Neslan Machado were fought late Saturday.
In other bouts: super-middleweight Marcus Upshaw knocked out Bugre Oener at 1:53 of the fifth round; light-heavyweight Ramon Luis won by unanimous decision over Robert Guerra; super-middleweight Luis Arias knocked out Rafael Parra at 1:53 of the first round.