Agustus-Olivera: Scary Moments

10.07.05 - By Wray Edwards: Sometimes we forget how really dangerous the sport of boxing can be. In the heat of the action, with the crowd cheering and two highly trained athletes demonstrating marvelous talent, it is all too easy to overlook the obvious threat to life and limb which is ever present in this awesome sport. All who were present for the fight, or watching it on TV, were treated to a pristine example of professional competence and I’m not referring to the boxers.

Both thirty-six year-old Ray Oliveira and thirty year-old Emanuel Augustus were blessed by the presence of Referee Steve Smoger as the third man in the ring last night. As of this writing it appears probable that Steve’s actions averted a tragedy in the ring.

Agustus and Oliveira had come to the Hampton Beach Casino in New Hampshire to fight a ten round Light Welterweight match. It was bound to be a tizzy of flying leather as both guys are devotees of the aerobic school of boxing.

These two fighters are all about numbers…and big ones. Olivera with fifty-nine fights and four hundred and forty-six rounds faced Agustus with sixty fights and four hundred and eighty four rounds in his pro career. Combined with their average punch stats these two guys define journeyman. Joe and Teddy had their work cut out for them in trying to do justice to what was about to happen.


ROUND ONE was unremarkable with neither fighter showing an inclination to win the frame, 10/10.

ROUNDS TWO, THREE and FOUR went to Agustus who countered Oliveira’s four inch height advantage and five inch reach advantage with his quicker hands and elusive footwork. In Three and Four Emanuel began to do his Cory Spinks “entrance dance numbers” as he geared up for his Disco assaults. These antics, reminiscent of Ali’s bolo threats and ding-dong footwork, were in sharp contrast to the dogged, in-front-of-you boxing style of “Super” Oliveira. Atlas compared Ray to a tortoise, which makes steady, dedicated progress, 40/37 Agustus.

ROUND FIVE went to Ray who was able to increase his connects as Emanuel took the round off by camping in a corner for two solid minutes only coming out with about 45 seconds to go in the frame, 49/47 Agustus.

ROUNDS SIX and SEVEN were dominated by Agustus who threw endless combinations with effective connect rates. Emanuel managed to get in quite often to score while avoiding counters on the way out. Steve was virtually unemployed for most of the fight as fouls and clinches were almost non-existent. Both boxers were on a punch pace which would have topped the one thousand mark if the fight had gone the distance.

ROUND EIGHT was more of the same until everybody, including Agustus, got a really big scare. At about 1:40 to go Emanuel makes a half-punch, half pawing, slider right to Ray’s left shoulder which slides up the left back of Ray’s neck and head ending up on top of Ray’s head about the area of the cowlick. There was very little impact from the attempted hit. Oliveira then holds the back of his head as if in great pain.

Smoger follows Ray around and asks him if he is alright. Oliveira says yes and Steve says, “Are you sure?” Ray answers, “Yes” and Smoger waves the two back together. At 1:23, as the boxers close, Agustus looks to his right, just as Zab Judah had looked at Ref Armando Garcia over his concern about Cory Spinks. Emanuel was asking with his eyes, “Are you sure you want me to start hitting him again?” A picture is worth a thousand words.

At this moment Teddy and Joe were very worried as was this writer. At 1:03 Ray throws a long, straight left at Emanuel’s chest…no contact. Ray then winces in pain and grabs the right of his head with his right glove. At this point Agustus got really worried and faded back against the ropes and pretty much covers up seemingly not wanting to fight any more. When he did strike, it was mostly body shots. 0:38 Ray grabs his head again as he tries to fight on. That was it for Steve and he stepped in to take Ray over to the ring doctor for a look-see.

A very young doctor holds up two fingers etc. and looks into Ray’s eyes as Steve implores the doc, “If there’s any kinda stuff Doc…I don’t want any kinda trouble in here Doc…what do you think Doc…you gonna let him fight Doc?” My little voice was saying, “Please call the fight Doc…don’t let it go on. This looks really bad.” Ray begs and the doc relents. As Agustus closes he uses body shots almost exclusively. You could just see he was torn between wanting to win and Ray’s safety.

There were just a few seconds left and the round ended with merciful brevity. Steve Smoger with, no doubt, his own judgment and probably one or two comments from ringside officials or possibly ESPN’s FNF people, called the fight and informed Oliveira’s corner that it was all over. What a relief. Emanuel had a commanding 351 out of 814 (43%) against Ray’s 188 out of 871 (22%) in punch stats, as well as (on the author’s card) a 79/75 lead in rounds.

It was painfully obvious that Oliveira was not likely going to KO Agustus and pull it out in Nine or Ten. These two boxers left everything in the ring. It was truly amazing to watch Agustus try to point out while making every effort to avoid killing Oliveira. Ray had come into the fight five pounds over the agreed catch-weight and was obviously feeling the effects of his attempts to follow the contract. He had been forced to forfeit fifty percent of his purse to Emanuel because of his inability to get down.

These two boxers are among best examples of the bedrock of the sport; Hard-working, dedicated combatants without whom the sport would not exist. Oliveira’s primal scream at not being allowed to risk his life any further in the match, was heart-wrenching evidence of his warrior’s soul crying out in the wilderness of his frustration. No one who heard that sound could doubt the lonely pain of letting go of the dream. His champion’s heart was breaking in front of the whole world as he accepted the inevitable truth of his mortal limitations.

We hope that Teddy and Joe’s remarks that a complete, state-of-the-art medical exam should be conducted asap were heeded. This fight was certainly a complex of emotions what with Emanuel’s goofy antics in contrast to the scary elevator feeling of seeing Ray’s painful reactions. Thanks to Steve Smoger who represented us all with such a professional effort…hope he was in time.

Article posted on 10.07.2005

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