Cletus Seldin showed an ESPN “Friday Night Fights” audience that his “Hebrew Hammer” nickname is no joke. Johnny Garcia felt the breeze from Seldin’s missing overhand right early in the fight and told the Shirley bomber he couldn’t hurt him.
How wrong Garcia turned out to be.
Seldin had Garcia stumbling around the ring from a bombardment of right hands in the fourth round, and another overhand right exploded on Garcia’s head midway through the fifth before the referee stopped it at 2:29 of the round at Huntington’s packed Paramount Theater on Friday night.
The impressive showing on ESPN’s air was the stuff of dreams for Seldin (16-0, 13 KOs), who celebrated with his feverish fans when he left the ring. “It means the world to me,” Seldin said. “I showed I’m not just a banger who gets hit. There’s no marks on my face.”
It was on Valentine’s Day a year ago when Greenlawn’s Chris Algieri scored an upset over Emanuel Taylor on another of ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” shows at the Paramount to earn a shot at Ruslan Provodnikov’s 140-pound WBO title. Seldin is hoping the crowd-pleasing style he displayed against Garcia (19-3-1, 11 KOs) might help him take the next step to fight on HBO or Showtime.
When the fight began, Seldin showed his overhand right early, just missing on a couple of attempts. Near the end of the round, Seldin got off some vicious shots to the body.
“The right was going over his back, so, I came back with the left to the body,” Seldin said. “I hit him with some really hard shots and felt him quiver.”
By the second, Seldin was controlling the center of the ring and firing left uppercuts in the clinches. Garcia was more effective to the body in the third round, but Seldin’s crouch made it difficult for the visitor to inflict much damage.
“He hit me with some shots, but I could see he was off-balance,” Seldin said. “He was slower, and I could see his punches coming. I wanted to hurt him because he was talking so much smack. He was saying, ‘You can’t hurt me’ and laughing.”
The fans’ persistent “Hammer” chants were answered in the fourth round when a huge right from Seldin sent Garcia staggering across the ring to the ropes. Seldin followed up with a second and third that had Garcia wobbling. When the fourth, fifth and sixth rights connected, you wondered how Garcia remained upright, but he did.
“I wish I hadn’t been so tense because I think I would have got him out right there,” Seldin said.
Amazingly, Garcia seemed to begin the fifth round in a good place, but that didn’t last long. Midway through the round, Seldin dropped a hammer that connected where the early shots were whiffing. Soon, the referee was moving in to save Garcia from much worse.
“I started with a jab and a left to the body,” Seldin said of the winning combination. “Then, I hit him with the right and felt him go all wobbly.”
If nothing else, Seldin showed the national audience there’s truth in his advertising. Now, it’s on to bigger things.