29.08.04 – By Wray Edwards: I thought to myself: “Wray you sick puppy. Do you actually want to watch two reasonably healthy young men do this to each other for twelve rounds?” Sadly, the answer was yes. That was along about round three.
For openers, there was this guy in a silver mask borrowed from the prop room of the worst “B” sci-fi movie ever made. This WWF masque was worn right up until just before the little get-together with the ref. Charles Dwyer @ center ring. It was intensely weird, and it was meant to be representation of those worn by Roman gladiators. It looked a little like my second grade teacher, who struck me on the head with a dictionary for talking in class. And speaking of violence; as the bell sounded for the first round, the two fighters came out with one thing on their minds: mayhem. In the same ring where Gatti and Ward sent each other to the hospital, there was about to be an echo of that great fight.
Daniel “The Haitian Sensation” Edouard 24, , had said before the fight that he had been training to improve his jab and general boxing skills, and those we were going to see “noticeable changes” and a much improved fighter this night. He tried to keep his word, and did throw nice jabs from time-to-time. Unfortunately for Danny, Willie “The Gladiator” Gibbs 28, had other ideas as he carried his USBA title hopes into the ring. Gibbs wanted to brawl. This writer mentioned, in a previous article, that an ideal fight would be Gatti/Ward-like in its tempo and quality. These guys went at it like two tomcats fighting over the pussy next door.
Back-and-forth, wailing away with everything they had, the two fighters tempted fate, as they braved withering fire to get within range. You just knew that sooner or later, head and glove were going to try to occupy the same space at the same time. Mr. Edouard was the first to experiment with this concept, and was flurried and roughhoused down to the canvass and through the ropes with forty-four seconds to go in the first frame. The Ref. intervened, but did not rule a knockdown. The fight was like a drag-race, with both boxers full on the throttle. In the second round, fifty seconds in, Daniel connected and sent Gibbs to the canvass for an official eight-count. Getting to his feet he did the la-la-land shuffle to the ropes and just barely convinced the Ref. that he should continue. FNF’s Tessitore was not convinced.
At this point Willie’s legs looked like they had been re-attached and the physical therapy wasn’t working. Above the waist Gibbs was all business, and he continued to deliver dangerous cowhide to Danny’s whirling dervish body. Willie survived the round, but had to be examined by the doctor before being allowed to continue.
Round three was more of the same with Gibbs being staggered with a minute fifty to go, and then Edouard got tagged with twenty seconds to go. This round was pretty even, but there was obviously something wrong with Willie, who seemed to have the will, but not the way. He knew he was lame and his wick was getting really short. This was truly a fight where the candle was being burned at both ends.
The crowd at Mohican Sun was being treated to what boxing and fighting are all about; two guys at war with each other. Sure, it’s OK to watch a nice, technical demo of the sweet science from time-to-time, but we all know what we really want, don’t we guys? Patton was right when he said: “Compared to war, all other forms of human endeavor pale to insignificance.” He also said: “God help me, I love it…I do love it so.” I was right there with Tessitore and all the other blood-thirsty primates, clenching my teeth as we witnessed the power and chaos of these two undefeated warriors defending their zeros.
As round four commenced, the commentators offered that this pace couldn’t possibly continue for twelve whole rounds. I was offended by this touch of logic. This was just too ugly and good to come to an end. As someone else’s legs propelled Gibbs in ever more reckless assaults on Edouard, there was a reluctant realization in the back of everybody’s mind that pretty soon the fun would be over. Everybody watched with vicarious intensity as the demolition derby continued, with both fighters getting caught and staggering. Willie was like Slim Pickens in “Dr. Strangelove” riding his doomsday weapon to self-destruction; attacking with total abandon.
Along about 2:35 of the fourth round Gibbs, against the ropes, was getting a real thrashing that included a left hook to the temple which was followed by an overhand right. Willie’s semi-circular canals yelled “TIMBER!” and down he went, face-first to his left. This time when he got up, he was failing his field sobriety test, big time. The ref looked into his eyes, which were counter-rotating, and waived off the fight. Willie protested, but was not allowed to commit suicide. His heart was much bigger than his judgment at that time. He was escorted to his corner and surrounded by concerned officials and corner-mates.
Meanwhile, Daniel was flying around the ring like a party balloon in a windstorm. What he didn’t know, was that he had also been knocked out. In a bizarre twist, Edouard passed out and crashed to the canvass with dehydration and/or electrolytic imbalance while insisting that his wife be brought to the ring. This brought the officials to his side, and, as they prepared to put him on a stretcher to take him to the hospital, he regained consciousness, attempted to get up and leave the ring to savor his victory. He then got into a struggle with a security guard who was dressed like Captain Kangaroo in a weird, little conductor’s hat, who wanted him to lie down on a stretcher. Daniel escaped the ring, and was involved in a scuffle as he and the uniformed person went into the crowd. Eventually, both fighters went to the hospital for observation with concussion as a prime concern.
Daniel Edouard left the ring, still undefeated, with a record of 16-0-2 (9) as the new USBA middleweight champion. Willie Gibbs’ record fell to 17-1-0 (14). There was talk of this being a fight of the year. It certainly put to shame several of the PPV’s which have occurred this year, but it was, alas, too short. It was a shotgun beer of a fight. It was a drag-race. Congrats to ESPN for presenting such a great match. The fighters punch stats were almost identical, and both guys hit the canvass. Edouard just stayed on his feet a bit longer. Everything in life is timing.