In a real home-coming type of event, local favorites Aaron Jaco and China Smith were upset in World Boxing Federation (WBF) North American title fights on Friday night, April 3, at the Robarts Arena in Sarasota, Florida, when opponents Frankie Filippone and Mike Sheppard spoiled the party.
At Super Middleweight, Southpaw Frankie Filippone came out looking strong and relaxed, landing some hard punches on the counter, while Aaron Jaco finished the first round well. In the second, Filippone continued to land with his straight left, and caught Jaco with a clean shot to score a knockdown midway through the round.
Jaco beat the count of referee Emil Lombardi, and managed to get through the round despite Filippone continuing to find a home for his accurate left hand. The home-man tried to come back strong in round three, but Filippone controlled most of the round with his right jab and straight left to both body and head.
In the fourth, Jaco started fast again and tried to push his opponent to the ropes, but it back-fired on him as Filippone opened up and landed several hard left hooks clean which send Jaco down. He got up, but was clearly hurt and on wobbly legs when Lombardi correctly correctly stopped it at 1:49 of the stanza.
New WBF North American Super Middleweight Champion Frankie Filippone, from Norfolk, Virginia, improved his professional record to 17-5-1 (4), while Aaron Jaco could be nearing the end of a thirteen-year pro career as he drops to 17-4 (6).
In a rematch of their original encounter from last June, which was one of the best Heavyweight fights in Florida state last year and won on points by China Smith, Mike Sheppard got revenge as he took the WBF North American Heavyweight title from the reigning champion with a second round stoppage.
Both boxers started the fight aggressively, and it was difficult to separate them in the first round. But in round two, Sheppard connected with a hard right hand that stunned Smith, and as Sheppard followed up and threw all he had, Smith went down and rolled over as referee James Warring waved it off. Time of stoppage was 1:29.
Putting some new life back into his career, 39-year-old Mike Sheppard is now 23-18-1 (10) since entering the paid ranks in 1997. China Smith (36), making his first title-defense, falls to 35-5 (27).
“Making History”, as the show was billed, was presented by promoter Marc Anthony Roman and Perfect Energy Sports.