Feature Image: The referee holds up Robert Eater Jr.’s hand, signifying that he’s the new IBF Lightweight Champion of the world. On the right is his father, Robert Easter Sr. and on the left is his grandfather, James Easter Sr., both former boxers.
BY JURRY TAALIB-DEEN
Journal Staff Writer
A crowd of people at Club Evolution, 519 N. Reynolds, intensely stared at the multiple flat screens as they waited to hear the final score from the judges of Robert Easter Jr.’s bid to win the vacant, IBF World Lightweight title. Both he, and his opponent, Richard Commey, competed for that title on Friday, September 9, in Reading, Pennsylvania.
The first judge scored the fight 115 to 112, in favor of Easter. The second judge scored the fight 114 to 113, in favor of Commey. The last judge scored the fight 114 to 113 in favor of the newly crowned champion, Robert Easter Jr. At that moment, the crowd at Club Evolution, busted into screams of “Yeah,” and many of them were jumping up and down, dancing, and hugging one another, because Toledo’s hometown hero, would be bringing back a world title.
The scoring of the fight did reflect an accurate account of a close competition. Both fighters fought, what many, at Club Evolution, as well as the announcers of the fight, a war.
Commey was more of a brawler, pressing the fight, while throwing wild punches that were intended to knockout his opponent. Easter utilized the boxing tactic, in which a relentless jab and counter punching would help keep his opponent at bay. But one thing both fighters had in common was a high knockout rate. Commey had 24 wins, 0 losses and 22 of those wins by knockout. Easter had 17 wins, 0 losses, 14 of those wins by knockout. Due to both of their high knockout ratios, neither fighter was a veteran at going the distance in their fights. Ultimately, stamina would prove to be Commey’s second opponent.
Throughout the fight, the large crowd at Club Evolution would respond to Easter’s attacks and countering of his opponent.
A major scare, at the time, came in round 8 when Commey landed a solid punch that, the referee would rule as a knockdown, and have to give Easter a standing eight count. When instant replay showed that, Easter’s glove didn’t touch the canvass, and the ruling of the referee was incorrect, the crowd at Club Evolution responded with boos. Nevertheless, many knew that Easter would have to regain points for losing that round.
A few days after winning the IBF title, Easter spoke to The Toledo Journal about the referee’s ruling.
“It was bull,” he chuckled. “But I didn’t argue with the referee, nor did I lose my composure. I knew I had to take it out on my opponent, and not with the referee. Even my corner was telling me it was bull, and to just keep my composure,” Easter said.
Throughout the fight, Commey was the aggressor; most of his punches thrown were attempts to knockout Easter. Easter would respond by not being a stationary target, and attacking from angles, with his jab, and overhand punches being his main weapon.
Another weapon Easter used to greatly slow down the attack of his opponent was uppercuts.
“He was slow, and his defense wasn’t great; that’s why I was able to land the uppercut,” Easter said.
Going into the last round, un-official scoring by the announcers had the fight close. Spectators at Club Evolution were heard saying the fight was close. And judging by the way Easter started the last round, he and his corner knew the fight was close.
Easter’s first punch of the round was a solid overhand right that stumbled Commey. At that instant, Easter began overwhelming Commey with a flurry of punches. The tactical boxing style of fighting that Easter utilized throughout the fight, had, in the round, turned into a brawler, who was going for the knockout.
All the while Easter stayed on his opponent, landing punches that would send a, obviously, exhausted Commey, stumbling back.
During the entire last round, the crowd at Club Evolution were cheering, jumping up and down, and yelling, “Knock him out,” or Get him Bunny,” E-Bunny, being the nick name of Easter.
“Going into that last round, I knew I had to win it big,” Easter said. “My corner was telling me to win the round; steal the round. And my 16 years of training allowed me to win the round, and the fight,” he said.
Easter, who, comes from a long line of fighters; his grandfather, James Easter Sr., uncle, James Easter Jr. and his father, Robert Easter Sr., said he won the title for his father. “It’s not only my belt, it’s my father’s belt as well,” he said.
He laughs when he tells how his mother, Robin Ellis, used to feel when he first started boxing. Easter said she had only attended one of his amateur fights, because she was scared for him. After he turned professional, and his mom started seeing that he was knocking his opponents out, she felt more comfortable attending his fights.
Easter thanked Toledo for all the support they’ve given him. He said, “A lot of people talk down on Toledo. But at my fights, which are out of town, officials of the fight, and residents of that particular city, are really impressed with how many people from Toledo attend my fight. By us supporting each other, it shows that we, as a city, have character.”
Easter said his next major goals include winning the other two major belts in the lightweight division; the WBC and WBA titles.