ATLANTIC CITY - Boxing enjoyed an exciting homecoming Saturday night.

Over 1,000 roaring fans welcomed the sport back to Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall after a three-year hiatus, filling the iconic arena's Adrian Phillips Theatre with screams and cheers for the first time since April 13, 2019, when women's middleweight champion Claressa Shields defeated Christina Hammer.

Millville-based Rising Star Promotions, which is led by middleweight boxer Thomas LaManna and Linwood's Mike Brestle, staged the show in association with the Atlantic City Sports Commission.

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"This was all I could ask for tonight," LaManna said while fans watched a thrilling slugfest between New York's Michael Hughes (3-1, 1 KO) and Lanoka Harbor's Dan Murray (5-6). "Good fights in a great atmosphere, this is what boxing in Atlantic City is all about."

Rising Star was once the dominant promotional company on the boardwalk. It staged 16 cards in venues such as the Claridge and Showboat hotels from 2016 to 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic and other issues resulted in a three-year hiatus.

It returned with a terrific card Saturday night that featured a nice mix of up-and-coming prospects and regional favorites. Nearly every fighter brought his own cheering section, including a dozen fans sporting black-and-gold t-shirts in support of Bowie, Maryland junior-welterweight Greg Outlaw.

They roared when Outlaw (10-1, 5 KOs) caught New Orleans' Jonathan Montrel (12-1, 7 KOs) with a left hook in the first round, registering a knockout in just one minute, 23 seconds.

Egg Harbor Township super-middleweight DeCarlo Perez (20-6-1, 7 KOs) gave his supporters a reason to celebrate by gutting out a six-round, majority decision over Rance Ward (6-4-1, 2 KOs), of Houma, Louisiana. Judge Robin Taylor scored it a 57-57 draw while Mike Consentino and Paul Wallace both favored Perez 58-56. 973ESPN.com favored Perez 59-55. Perez, who grew up in Atlantic City, was back in town for the first time since 2018.

"It felt good to get back in the ring and it felt good to get back in front of the home crowd," Perez said. "I was a little rusty and needed to knock some of that off."

The early sluggishness was understandable. Perez, a member of the Atlantic County Sheriff's Department, initially registered four pounds over the 170-pound limit during Friday's weigh-in.

The result was a back-and-forth fight with Rand in the early rounds. Perez, 31, dominated the sixth round to seal his third straight victory.
With the win, Perez unofficially became the ninth fighter from Atlantic, Cape May or Cumberland Counties in the last 40 years to earn at least 20 victories, joining Bridgeton's Richie Kates (44-6), Atlantic City's Bruce Seldon (40-8), the late Leavander Johnson from Atlantic City (34-5-2), LaManna (31-5-1), Mays Landing's Darroll Wilson (27-10-2), Atlantic City's John Brown (24-19-2), Somers Point's Patrick Majewski (21-3) and Galloway Township's Shamone Alvarez (21-6).

"All in all, I was about 60 percent satisfied with his performance," trainer Will Alejandro said. "I think this fight was a real eye-opener for DeCarlo. It's tough because of his job, but hopefully, he can become more consistent with his weight and training."

New York junior-welterweight Kurt Scoby (7-0, 5 KOs) scored the most impressive win with a second-round knockout over Puerto Rico's Emmanuel Rodriquez Morales (10-5, 2 KOs). Scoby landed a crushing left hook in the opening seconds of the round, prompting referee Mary Glover to stop the fight midway through the 10-count.

In the next bout, New Haven, Connecticut prospect Felix Parrilla (5-0, 5 KOs) extended his streak of stoppages with a fifth-round TKO over Nicaragua's Jenn Gonzalez (9-13-1, 5 KOs). Parrilla is managed by Buena Vista Township's Jim Kurtz and David Dubinsky, co-owners of DKO Boxing.

The most exciting fight saw Brooklyn, New York junior-featherweight Khalid Twaiti (10-0, 5 KOs) score a first-round knockdown during a six-round, unanimous decision over Miami's Juan Centeno (6-6-3, 1 KO). The crowd erupted when Centeno hit the canvas and maintained a deafening roar throughout the spirited bout.

Las Vegas flyweight Anthony Dominguez (6-0, 4 KOs) posted the quickest win of the undercard, dropping Philippines Jeronil Borres (11-6-1, 6 KOs) three times in the first round en route to a knockout.

In other fights, Brooklyn super-middleweight Omar Salem (11-1, 4 KOs) cruised to a six-round, unanimous decision over Philadelphia's Christopher Brooker (16-10, 5 KOs). Manalapan featherweight John Leonardo (7-0-1, 4 KOs) gained a six-round, majority decision over Puerto Rico's Alberto Nieves (4-2-1, 2 KOs), Hughes won a majority decision over Murray, and Puerto Rico super-middleweight Michael Ruiz (1-1) beat Philadelphia's Derrick Vann (1-1) via four-round, unanimous decision.

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