The Viper and The Bazooka At The Garden - Quartey/Forrest

Forrest/Quartey07.08.06 - By Frank Gonzalez Jr.: Some questions were answered about the reincarnations of Vernon "The Viper" Forrest (38-2, 28 KO's) and Ike "Bazooka" Quartey (37-3-1,31 KO's) Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. Either guy would make fair opponents for the division's elites, represented by the current crop of WBA Champ, Jose Rivera, IBF Champ, Corey Spinks, WBC Champ, Oscar De La Hoya or relatively unknown WBO Champ, Sergeii Dzinziruk.

I think Kassim Ouma (25-2-1, 15 KO's) would probably beat all of the above but has the smallest chance of getting the big names to fight him after again demonstrating his tenacious style in a convincing win over unbeaten Sechew Powell (now 20-1, 12 KO's). I wouldn't write off Powell though, he's still young and learning. His experience vs. Ouma should pay good dividends in the future. A rematch between Ouma and Roman Karmazin (34-2-1, 21 KO's) might be an interesting redemption match for both..

Fighting at 154-pounds, Quartey and Forrest showed decent stamina, durability and ring generalship. Quartey landed the better punches at a higher clip. Forrest showed that he can still box well and that his left shoulder has healed enough to fight competitively. Neither looked like world-beaters but it was good match making for two former World Champions on the rebound.

Forrest showed poor sportsmanship early on by refusing to touch gloves during at the start of the fight. Bad blood? No-just bad manners.

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Forrest started fast, throwing jabs and combinations, circling round the shorter Quartey, who used his signature, "bazooka" jab with success. Forrest pushed Quartey, who went to the canvas. It was correctly ruled a slip. I thought Forrest did just enough to win the first round, which was close.

Forrest boxed well from the outside, popping Quartey with jabs and not so powerful combinations. Vernon lacked enough pop to ever rattle Ike, as evidenced by how easily Quartey took Forrest's best landed punch of the night, a nasty right upper cut in the third round. Quartey used his jab and pressured Forrest to easily win the second and third rounds. Vernon turned the tide in the fourth, out boxing Quartey and landing some of his cleanest punches.

By the fifth round, I had it even. In the fifth round the tide turned, favoring Quartey, who pressed Forrest with his jab into back-up mode, rendering him less effective. The sixth was all Quartey, who proved much stronger and able to nullify Vernon's range and height advantage by sticking close and working his jab.

The seventh belonged to Forrest, who worked real hard for the payoff of having been slightly more effective in that round. Quartey fought smartly and kept Forrest out of his ideal punching range. By the eighth, Ike's jab caused Vernon's face to swell like a ripe tomato, almost closing his right eye. Late in the round, Forrest landed a low blow and was warned by the referee. Quartey proceeded to take it to Forrest with punches that had more sting and were landing at a high rate.

In the ninth, Forrest was boxing well, when suddenly he threw a nasty low blow that caused referee Arthur Mercante Jr. to pause the action and take a point. Forrest had been warned a few times by then about low punches. Action resumed quickly and Quartey made Forrest pay with a slew of jabs and some bonus right hands. Losing a point at this juncture had to be crucial for Forrest.

The tenth started aggressively with Forrest coming in, then wrapping up, only to be pushed down to the canvas by Quartey, putting a tenth round 'ying' to the first round's 'yang.' It was rightly ruled a slip. Vernon threw lots of shots, rarely landing cleanly. Quartey was one-dimensional but landed some good shots, though not enough to prove more impressive in the final round.

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As they waited to hear the official scores, Forrest did not look confident. When it was announced that the Judges had a Unanimous Decision, I was sure Ike Quartey who had won. Then the scores were read, 96-93 and 95-94 twice...all in favor of Vernon Forrest. Judge Tony Paolillo was the one with the 96-93 scorecard. If you consider the lost point in the ninth, Paolillo only gave three rounds to Quartey, who according to the tabulations, landed more punches overall and at a considerably higher clip than Forrest.

That Decision pissed off the fans at The Garden, who chanted, "Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit!" Whoever said foreign fighters get a fair shake in the USA?

During the post fight interview with HBO's Larry Merchant, Forrest said he wanted to thank God. Merchant quipped, "And don't forget to thank the Judges." Maybe Forrest should send a nice box of chocolates to Tony Paolillo.

Well folks, that's boxing. No accountability.

Where does Vernon go from here? A third fight against rebounding Shane Mosley seems out of the question, since the risk is too high for Mosley to chance another loss to Forrest, especially now. Shane also seems content to remain at 147 or wherever Forrest isn't.

As for Ike Quartey, if he never fights again in the USA, I wouldn't be surprised. The Ghanaian fighter was robbed Saturday night in a fight that even the American fans at the Garden thought he won. Quartey can still make money if he elects to continue fighting. He may not win any titles but he usually gives fans their money's worth and that alone maintains his commercial appeal. The European circuit may be a better bet for him in the future. At least there, he might get a fair shake with the Judges.

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Article posted on 07.08.2006

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