Boxing

Three Kings and a Bully

BoxingBy Ron Scarfone at ringside - At the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida, Don King Productions presented a fight card titled Summer Sizzler. The King of Promotion, Don King, paid tribute to Michael Jackson who is known as the King of Pop. Known mainly for being a boxing promoter, Don King also promoted the Jacksons’ Victory Tour in 1984 which was a reunion of the Jackson 5. During the time between the fights, Jackson’s songs were played in the BankAtlantic Center. Some of the boxers even had Jackson’s music playing during their walk to the ring. In the main event, Vic “Raging Bull” Darchinyan of Australia was seeking to become a world champion in a third weight class as he moved up in weight to challenge IBF Bantamweight Champion Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko of Ghana, Africa. Bullies tend to pick on people who they perceive as weaker than them and Darchinyan thought that Agbeko would be an easy opponent for him. However, he was sorely mistaken as Agbeko was bigger, faster, and stronger..

Agbeko dominated the fight from beginning to end. Darchinyan’s nose was bloody in round five and the punishment continued in round seven when Darchinyan’s bruised face was starting to resemble Jake LaMotta in the movie Raging Bull after taking a beating from Sugar Ray Robinson. Darchinyan began using his dirty tactics by pushing Agbeko down with his forearm which caused Agbeko to fall down. Referee Tommy Kimmons apparently did not notice the use of the forearm and he began counting as if it was a real knockdown. Darchinyan was given a 10-8 score by all three judges in round seven because of this. Darchinyan landed a low blow in round eight which he was warned for, but Kimmons never deducted a point from him in spite of more dirty tactics from Darchinyan in the later rounds. This fight showed that Agbeko is not just a belt holder, but a true world champion. Agbeko was effective with the straight right which he landed frequently and he kept his composure in spite of Darchinyan’s roughhouse tactics such as pushing. The scoring by the judges almost robbed Agbeko of victory as two of the judges scored it 114-113 in favor of Agbeko. The other judge scored it 116-111 in Agbeko’s favor, but it arguably was a shutout except for the fake knockdown in round seven. Agbeko retains his title and improves his record to 27-1, 22 KOs. Darchinyan loses for the second time and falls to 32-2-1, 26 KOs. Darchinyan will likely go back to the super flyweight division after this pathetic performance.

Two lightweight contenders battled in a WBC eliminator as Antonio “Tony” DeMarco of Tijuana, Mexico faced Anges “Baby Face” Adjaho of Benin, Africa. The spectators booed in the first round due to the lack of action. It appeared that both boxers were being overly cautious because of the magnitude and importance of this fight with the winner becoming the mandatory challenger for WBC Lightweight Champion Edwin Valero. Adjaho won the first three rounds by outboxing DeMarco, but round four is when the punches from DeMarco began to take their toll. Adjaho smiled after getting hit to the face by a straight left and right jab by the southpaw DeMarco. Adjaho landed a flurry of punches in round eight, but they seemed to have no effect on DeMarco. The way the fight was going, it was either going to be a win for DeMarco by decision or by knockout. DeMarco chose the latter. In round nine, a straight left to the head staggered Adjaho and he was in the process of bending to one knee, but his knee was not touching the canvas when DeMarco threw another punch that barely hit him on the back of the head. Adjaho failed to get up by the count of ten. The fight was stopped at 2:59 of the ninth round and DeMarco won by KO. DeMarco improves his record to 22-1-1, 16 KOs whereas Adjaho falls to 25-2, 14 KOs.

Two former cruiserweight champions hoped to regain their glory as Steve “USS” Cunningham of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania faced Wayne “Big Truck” Braithwaite of Guyana, South America, who now lives in Brooklyn, New York in an IBF eliminator. The winner would be the mandatory challenger for IBF Cruiserweight Champion Tomasz Adamek. Cunningham lost his title by a split decision to Adamek in December 2008. Cunningham and Braithwaite have skills and this bout was fought like a championship bout even though they both do not hold major world titles at the moment. There were fast and furious exchanges in round five. Cunningham was caught in one of the ring corners, but a double right hook to the head helped him to maneuver out of there. Braithwaite was getting hit repeatedly in round ten, but shook his head no as if he was unharmed. Braithwaite is good, but Cunningham is better. It was a near shutout, but Cunningham had to earn the victory. Cunningham used to be in the U.S. Navy and saluted to the spectators after it was over. The judges’ scores were 119-109, 118-110, and 117-111 all in favor of Cunningham by unanimous decision. With the win, Cunningham gets a title shot and rematch against Adamek. Cunningham improves his record to 22-2, 11 KOs whereas Braithwaite falls to 23-4, 19 KOs.

Ivan “The Terrible” Kirpa of St. Petersburg, Russia faced Miguel “Miki” Rodriguez of Naucalpan, Mexico in a WBC welterweight elimination bout. Rodriguez lost to Andre Berto for the vacant WBC welterweight title in June 2008. Kirpa was effective with the left hook and he landed one that contorted Rodriguez’s face. Rodriguez developed a huge purple welt under his right eye in round six. Rodriguez’s right eye was nearly shut from the swelling in the twelfth round. The judges’ scores were 120-108, 119-109, and 118-110 all in favor of Kirpa by unanimous decision. Kirpa improves his record to 24-1, 15 KOs whereas Rodriguez falls to 29-4, 23 KOs.

Francisco “The Wizard” Palacios of Bayamon, Puerto Rico faced Manu Ntoh of Cameroon, Africa now living in Atlanta, Georgia. Palacios holds the highly coveted and prestigious WBA Fedelatin cruiserweight title and is a cruiserweight contender. Ntoh could best be described as a journeyman. Palacios battered Ntoh’s torso with hooks and uppercuts. Punches to the head knocked down Ntoh in one of the ring corners. Ntoh got up, but the referee decided to stop the fight at 2:59 of the first round and Palacios won by TKO. Palacios improves his record to 18-0, 11 KOs whereas Ntoh falls to 17-18-1, 10 KOs.

Another undefeated contender from Puerto Rico fought on the card. Victor “Vitino” Fonseca of Bayamon, Puerto Rico faced Mauricio “El Pintoso” Pastrana in the bantamweight division. Pastrana is a former world champion and held the IBF junior flyweight title, but that was more than a decade ago. The southpaw Fonseca used his sharp, laser-like straight left and right jab to build a lead on points. Fonseca landed a low blow in round two and was warned by referee George Ortiz. During round four, Fonseca screamed because he may have been frustrated that he could not put away the 36-year-old former world champ who was past his prime. Fonseca landed another low blow in round five and the referee deducted a point from Fonseca for the infraction. Pastrana did well in round six connecting with right hooks to the head. That was probably the only round Pastrana won on the judges’ scorecards. The fight was scheduled for eight rounds and it went the distance. All three judges scored it 80-71 in favor of Fonseca by unanimous decision. Fonseca improves his record to 15-0, 8 KOs whereas Pastrana falls to 35-11-2, 23 KOs.

Angelo “La Cobra” Santana of San Cristobal, Cuba now living in Miami, Florida faced Jaime Rodriguez of Los Angeles, California in the lightweight division. Santana fled from Cuba about two years ago to come to the United States which took great desire and determination. Travelling on the ocean is very risky, but he arrived on the shores of Florida. The southpaw Santana has fast hands and he was effective with hooks to the body. Rodriguez was backpedaling from the onslaught in the fourth and final round. The judges’ scores were all 40-36 in favor of Santana by unanimous decision. Santana improves his record to 6-0, 4 KOs whereas Rodriguez falls to 4-5-3, 2 KOs.

Lanard Lane of Philadephia, Pennsylvania faced Carlos Garcia of Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico in the welterweight division. Lane relentlessly pursued the taller and lanky Garcia. Garcia rarely landed or threw anything and looked like a human punching bag. Lane was especially effective with the right hand. The judges’ scores were all identical at 40-36 in favor of Lane by unanimous decision. Lane improves his record to 7-0, 5 KOs whereas Garcia falls to 3-5-1, 3 KOs.

Archie Ray Marquez of Albuquerque, New Mexico faced Jayson Hayward of Newfoundland, Canada in the junior lightweight division. Marquez knocked down Hayward towards the end of the third round, but Hayward got up. Marquez knocked down Hayward twice in the fourth round. A right hook to the head caused Hayward to fall for the second time in the round. Referee George Ortiz decided to stop the fight at 1:56 of the fourth round. Marquez improves his record to 5-0, 5 KOs whereas Hayward falls to 6-7, 2 KOs.

The bout with junior lightweight John “Action” Jackson (14-1, 13 KOs) was cancelled.

A ceremonial ten count was done in memory of Michael Jackson. The ten count was also for the memory of boxers Alexis Arguello and Arturo “Thunder” Gatti who died on July 11, 2009, the day of this boxing event. I was surprised and saddened by Gatti’s death. I filmed Gatti when he trained in Pompano Beach, Florida before his last bout against Alfonso Gomez in July 2007. Micky Ward, Gatti’s rival in their famous trilogy of fights, was his trainer. Ward allowed me to film Gatti during the training. Ward wore the focus mitts for Gatti to punch. Gatti was wearing a sweat suit while he jumped rope and Ward did not want me to film that. It was obvious to me that Gatti was having difficulty making weight at that point in his career.

There has been debate over whether Gatti should be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Here is my view. Gatti did lose to some great fighters, but he did have notable wins such as when he won the IBF super featherweight title against Tracy Harris Patterson and when he defended his WBC junior welterweight title against Jesse James Leija. BoxRec.com has a feature on their website which ranks the best boxers of all time in each weight class. Gatti is ranked No. 21 all-time at super featherweight. If you look at the boxers who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, most are at the top of the super featherweight all-time rankings. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is No. 1 and will be inducted when his career is over. Azumah Nelson is No. 2, Alexis Arguello is No. 3, Flash Elorde is No. 5, Johnny Dundee is No. 6, and Brian Mitchell is No. 10. All of them are in the Hall of Fame. Kid Chocolate is No. 14 and he is in the Hall of Fame too. Barry McGuigan was inducted in 2005 and held the WBA featherweight title for a year. McGuigan is ranked No. 38 all-time at featherweight on BoxRec.com. If McGuigan is able to be inducted for his career, then Gatti could be inducted as well.

Article posted on 14.07.2009



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