Featherweight Classic in Tucson: Mtagawa vs. Villa

By Ted Sares - In a fight that gave new meaning to the words “fury” and “courage,” Rogers “The Tiger” Mtagwa (25-12-2) and Mexican warrior Tomas “El Norteno” Villa (20-6-4) engaged in almost ten rounds of wild ebb and flow savagery.The battle was held on November 7 at the Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Arizona.

Things started fast. The first round was one of pure fury in which both engaged in legal, back-and-forth assault and battery and the crowd was up and roaring in disbelief when the bell rang. Villa’s punches were shorter and sharper; Mtagwa’s were wider but seemed to be more menacing. Both landed numerous times. This continued in rounds two and three..

In the fourth, Villa decked the Tanzanian with a sneaky right uppercut, but referee Rocky Burke missed it and called it a slip. Rogers then came back at the end of the round with a series of neck snappers. The fifth featured great body work by Villa including a rare triple hook ala Micky Ward. He also landed a number of jolting uppercuts that had the crowd ooohing and aaahing and chanting “Villa, Villa.” In the sixth, Villa continued his assault, but then Mtagwa suddenly opened up with a number of flush rights that stunned his opponent and likely won the round for him.

Mtagwa, whose face was now badly swollen, tired badly in the seventh and went down twice on slips--one of which easily could have been ruled a knockdown. Villa was now coming on and almost floored Mtagawa in the eight with a crunching left hook that landed flush at the bell. He finally caught up with and staggered the courageous Tanzania early in the ninth with malicious roundhouse punches and then decked him with two rattling rights that should have ended the fight right there and then. Somehow, someway, the “Tiger” survived the round after absorbing incredible punishment. He was even able to counter with some sharp punches of his own; perhaps signaling what was to come in the next and last round.

Mtagwa slowly went to his corner at the bell and Referee Burke gave him a long and hard look. While both fighters were swollen around the face, Villa was much the fresher. He raised his hands before the start of the last round acknowledging to the crowd that he was poised to soon end matters decisively and to their satisfaction.

However, it was not o be. As the bell sounded, Mtagwa immediately caught the shockedr Villa with a crunching right that sent him down hard. He then chased Villa across the ring like a madman launching a series of looping punches most of which seemed to land. After throwing about fifty of these wild unanswered shots, “El Norteno” again went down from a final malefic right. Miraculously, he too was able to get up, but Mtagwa quickly ended matters with one well-leveraged right at the 1.20 mark that sent the valiant Mexican crashing into the ropes for the third and final time in one of the wildest brawls you will ever hope to see.

Rogers Mtagwa resides in Philadelphia and more than lived up to that city’s reputation for producing rough and tough fighters. Meanwhile, Tomas Villa’s 12-fight win streak was ended by this crushing defeat, but he has nothing of which to be ashamed.

I would categorize this fight as a closet classic except that it may very well end up as Fight of the Year. It was that exciting.

Article posted on 14.11.2008

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