Dante Benjamin Jr. continues to dish out ‘Free Smoke.’
The unbeaten Cleveland native tore through Mirady Zola, whom he dropped early and eventually stopped in the opening round of their light heavyweight contest. Referee Robert Hoyle stopped the bout at 1:56 of round one Saturday evening from Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio.
Benjamin claimed prior to the fight that he was indifferent to fighting so close to home. The crowd came alive for the 21-year-old prospect, who delivered the evening’s first knockout which came five bouts into the show.
Zola (4-3, 1KO) came in with the intention of pulling off a massive upset. The Congolese boxer—who is now based out of Columbus, Ohio—didn’t show any fear versus the fast-rising but soft-spoken Benjamin, who came out poised and smartly worked his way inside.
Benjamin was able to find his sweet spot early and ultimately overwhelmed his foe. A left hook by Benjamin had Zola rocked along the ropes, with a follow-up right hand sending him to the canvas. Zola beat the count but a left hook, right hand combo snapped back his head in the ensuing volley. Benjamin continued the attack until the referee intervened as Zola was battered along the ropes.
The win was the third of 2023 for Benjamin (7-0, 5KOs), all inside the distance and none lasting beyond the second round. All five career knockouts have come in two rounds or less for Benjamin, who turned pro last January.
Headlining the main show, local hero and rising heavyweight contender Jared Anderson (14-0, 14KOs) meets former IBF heavyweight titlist Charles Martin (29-3-1, 26KOs) in a scheduled ten-round contest.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox