With a 135-pound world championship at stake, Robert Easter Jr. fought the final three minutes against Richard Commey as if everything was on the line. Turns out that was the case.
Easter rocked Commey with a knee-buckling right to the temple early in the 12th to take command of the final round Friday night and earn a razor-thin split decision at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Robert Easter Jr. (18-0, 14 KOs) tried desperately to finish off his opponent before the final bell, but Richard Commey (24-1, 22 KOs) gamely fought back to put the outcome in the judges’ hands. The scores of 113-114, 115-112 and 114-113 gave the 25-year-old Easter his first world championship.
“It took everything that I had, all 16 years in the sport,” Easter said. “I used it to go get that belt.”
It was a fantastic fight with several hard-to-score rounds throughout, and Commey’s stock likely increased even in defeat. The Ghana native pressed the action against the rangier Easter, who held a seven-inch reach advantage, and looked for angles on the inside.
Commey, 29, finally hit the sweet spot with a minute remaining in Round 8, stunning Easter with a lightning-quick short right hand and sending him stumbling. In the moment, Easter’s right glove appeared to touch the canvas as he stabilized himself, and referee Benjy Esteves Jr. ruled it a knockdown to give Commey a potential fight-changing 10-8 round.
“I wasn’t hurt at all; I know what happened there,” Easter said. “He threw a shorter right hand and I stumbled, but I finished the round tough.”
Easter showed a bit of urgency after the knockdown in a wild Round 9, when the Toledo, Ohio, native snapped Commey’s head with a left hook before being buckled himself in the closing moments.
It all built to a wild Round 12, which took place almost exclusively in one corner of the ring after Easter wobbled Commey in the opening moments with a huge right hand. Commey somehow kept his feet and held on momentarily while he regained his bearings, but then resumed his attack as both fighters unloaded everything they had left until the final bell.
“I knew it was going to come down to a split decision,” said Easter, who earned the world title vacated in June by Rances Barthelemy, who is stepping up in weight.
Added Commey: “I was devastated when I heard the scores. I knew it was a close fight.”
After those scores were read, the entire scene turned to a blur, with Easter collapsing to the canvas in tears before finding his mother and saluting the throngs from Toledo who traveled to see him stake his claim as the newest king of the 135-pound division.
“I want more straps,” he said. “I want belts. This is huge for my city. It means a lot. It’s bigger than me. I wanted to give them something to believe in.”
For a complete look at Easter vs Commey, visit our fight page.