Forrest Stops Piccirillo, Tarver Too Much For Santiago

By Richard Rodriguez: In a night of bad mismatches, World Boxing Council light middleweight champion Vernon Forrest (40-2, 29 KOs) stopped challenger Michele Piccirillo (48-4, 30 KOs) in the 11th round tonight at the Foxwoods Casino, in Mashantucket, Connecticut. Forrest, 36, knocked Piccirillo down three times over the course the bout, dropping him in the 6th, 9th and 11th rounds, the last prompting the referee Arthur Mercante Jr. to stop the bout at 2:21 of the 11th round.. The bout was hardly competitive, as Piccirillo, 37, had little power and few offensive skills with which to compete with Forrest.

The fight was largely controlled by Forrest, who stalked Piccirillo all fight long, punishing him often with left hooks and right hands and thoroughly beating him in a methodical manner. As I watched the fight, it was shocking that Piccirillo, ranked #2 in the WBC, could be in the same ring with Forrest because he looked like a fighter that should be ranked much lower, maybe not even top 10.

In the first two rounds, Forrest punched Piccirillo at will, hitting him with massive shots and trying to take him out. Piccirillo spent a good deal of time circling, throwing ineffective jabs and generally trying to avoid combat. When he did throw a punch, it had nothing on it and did nothing to slow down Forrest. Mostly, Forrest would lean back, letting Piccirillo's shots to come up short. At the end of the 2nd, Forrest clashed heads with Piccirillo, though no cuts were opened because of it.

In rounds 4th and 5th, the one-sided beating continued, as Forrest stalked Piccirillo, tagging him whenever he wanted. Piccirillo would get one shot in for ever 10-15 that Forrest would land, meaning there would be long stretches where Piccirillo was acting like a heavy bag. In the sixth round, Forrest dropped Piccirillo with a looping right hand at the end of the round. The 7th and 8th were uneventful, aside from the continued beating that the over-matched Piccirillo was receiving.

In the 9th round, Forrest knocked Piccirillo down with a clubbing right hand. I thought for a second that Forrest would finish him off once Piccirillo got up, but the round ended before Forrest could follow up with what he started.

In the 10th, Piccirillo looked tired as he came out at the start of the round. By this time, he'd taken a severe beating and he had to have been feeling the effects from all the punishment. In the 11th round, Piccirillo suddenly started fighting hard, landing the hardest punches of the fight. Forrest, however, immediately responded with series of hard shots of his own, hitting Piccirillo with hard combinations and backing him up.

Finally, Forrest landed two right hands, the first badly hurting Piccirillo, and the second shot sending him to the canvas. While falling, Piccillo's right knee bent bent, causing his right ankle to twist grotesquely underneath him. The referee quickly moved in and stopped the fight because Piccirllo was badly hurt from the knockdown, both to his ankle and his head.

In the other bout of the night, International Boxing Organization light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver (26-4, 19 KOs) stopped a hopelessly overmatched Danny Santiago (29-4-1, 19 KOs) in the 4th round. It's unclear why Tarver chose to fight this guy, because he's not championship caliber material, as far as I'm concerned. Tarver, now 39, was content to peck away at Santiago in the first three round, occasionally throwing a straight left to Santiago's midsection.

For his part, Santiago did little other than throwing a handful of awkward punches each round and clinching often. He had no power, and it was essentially target practice for the aging Tarver. In the 4th round, Tarver finally started throwing combinations, perhaps realizing that he was boring the crowd with his cautious style of fighting. Tarver landed five straight lefts, sending Santiago to the canvas. He quickly got up, but was sent back down after eating a left-right from Tarver. The referee Steve Smoger then halted the fight at 2:53 of the fourth round.

Article posted on 02.12.2007

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