The Stark Reality: Espinal drops rematch

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Once upon a time at John Bowne High,...

By Mitch Abramson

Ehinomen “Hino” Ehikhamenor, an undefeated cruiserweight from LeFrak City, entered his fight against Astoria’s Sam Elashry with Lennox Lewis’ former trainer in his corner and a childhood promise stuck in his mind.

Once upon a time at John Bowne High, Ehikhamenor, now trained by John Davenport, nearly got into a fight with a classmate over a girl. The potential scrap frightened Ehikhamenor, who left his native Nigeria for the United States in 1993 and was a gifted soccer player, but had never fought because of his size.

“It scared me a little,” he said. “I realized that I better learn to fight the next time I got into a situation like that. I went to the Elmcor Boxing Club to learn how to box.”

Ehikhamenor’s education in boxing continued last Thursday at the Hammerstein Ballroom as he won a unanimous decision on promoter Lou DiBella’s highly entertaining third installment of his Broadway Boxing series.

The card featured hopeful Jaidon Codrington of Jamaica in his pro debut and Richmond Hill’s Jose Espinal in a war with Staten Island’s Gary Stark Jr. in a rematch of a 2000 Golden Gloves battle.

Jeffrey Resto, headlining the show and making a comeback of sorts, lost a unanimous decision to Michael Warrick. But for the most part, the show flaunted some of the city’s best talent, and it started and ended with Codrington and Ehikhamenor (5-0, 3 KOs).

Codrington came into his unveiling saddled with expectations. He won the National Golden Gloves championships in 2002 and captured five Golden Glove titles from four different states; Chris Lorenzo, the brother of Murder Inc.’s Irv Gotti, is an advisor, and there was a tangible buzz in the arena as celebrities like Jay-Z, Ja Rule and contenders Monte Barrett and Chris Smith looked on.

Codrington, a light heavyweight, didn’t waste any time getting started as he sprang from his corner and ripped off a five-punch combination that sent Seaford’s Kadir Kadri ducking for cover.

Kadri, a professional kickboxer with two world titles, lowered his head and countered with a couple of glancing rights that slowed the fight’s pace and yielded some rocky moments for Codrington early.

“He was fighting that first round like he was still in the amateurs, throwing all those punches,” said Codrington’s trainer, Nirmal Lorick. “He was dropping his hands and you can’t disrespect a man like that in the ring.”

Codrington, who put on about seven pounds for the fight, froze Kadri with a series of jabs and then landed about 20 unanswered punches to end the second.

After a left-hand stunned Kadri and backed him into the ropes, Codrington knocked him down with two thumping shots to the body. He rose to beat the count, but referee Wayne Kelly waived the fight off at 1:06 of the third round.

“I didn’t feel like I was in control. I was not used to fighting without a T-shirt or head gear,” said Codrington, who was mobbed by fans following the fight. “This is a new game for me, but it feels good. I’ve been waiting a long time for this.”

Espinal (3-3-1) had to wait two years for his fight with Stark. A broken right thumb sidelined the two-time Golden Gloves winner from the ring, and he fought the first round as if he was making up for lost time.

Espinal, representing the Glendale Boxing Club, landed several overhand rights in the opening stanza that lured the smooth boxing Stark, a three-time Golden Gloves champion, into a brawl against the advice of his corner.

Espinal pressed the action, but all three judges scored the rousing four-rounder 60-54 in favor of Stark, who improved to 9-0 with four KOs.

“He ran the whole time,” said Espinal, who twisted his ankle and hurt his left hand in the third round. “I couldn’t chase him like I wanted to. I knew what I was coming here for. I came here to make it a war.”

Reach reporter Mitch Abramson at or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 130.

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