By Neil Dennis – In this the inaugural fight card of a series co-promoted by Daryl DeCroix Promotions and X-Cel Worldwide, several hundred people in attendance were repeatedly roused out of their seats with a wealth of thrilling highlight-reel moments. And after the fans were warmed up with a pair of amateur MMA fights and a first round knockout for MMA fighter John Curtis over Keith “Bad News” Bell, things really got down to business.
Among the early fights, a pair of freight trains ran through their opponents like they were motorists stuck on the tracks. First, heavyweight Maurice “Freight Train” Byarm beat down on Earl Ramon Hayes. Coming out to Queen’s “I Want It All”, Byarm got it all from start to finish. In the second round, Byarm kept Hayes in a neutral corner for almost the entire round, unloading at will with everything in the book.. Little surprise, the third round saw Hayes knocked down twice as the accumulation of punches were becoming too much for him. Hayes’s people mercifully stopped the fight at the end of the round, handing Byarm a TKO win. Right after that, super middleweight Frankie “The Freight Train” Filippone beat Willie “For Real” Williams in his first real step up in opposition. Though Williams gave Filippone all he could handle, Filippone kept focused and put Williams on his butt in the third on the way to a unanimous decision victory.
Lightweight Meacher Major was next to the ring. Fighting against Jamar “Sandman” Saunders, Major was continuing his march back after being TKOed in the fourth by Dorin Spivey last year. He did not disappoint as he kept landing hooks on Saunders at will, forcing Saunders to tie up so much that referee Chris Wollesen warned him twice in the first round alone. The second round saw both fighters throwing everything they had at each other from the opening bell. Too bad it was Saunders who found himself down on the canvas from a right hook. Midway through the round, a cut opened up over Saunders right eye and Major took complete control unloading to the body late. Wollesen waived off the fight at the end of the round due to the severity of the cut.
MMA fighter Antwain Britt got the boxing debut he wanted, thrashing heavyweight Antonio King in 49 seconds of the first round. Both were making their professional debuts, but it was King who looked and acted like the novice in the ring. Although weighing only eight pounds more than Britt, King looked kind of flabby and out-of-shape. Britt came into the ring built like a tank as Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” blared over the speakers, and it showed when he came out swinging. The first knockdown was the result of a straight right hand. The second knockdown came from a series of right hooks as King tried to back away. Chris Wollesen waived it off and that was that.
Finally, we reached the main event between “Dangerous” Dorin Spivey and Leo Martinez. Looking at Martinez’s 15-13 record, you wouldn’t think much of him coming in. And even the way the first round played out with Martinez being dropped twice; you would’ve thought this was just some served up opponent for Spivey to make quick work of. That wasn’t even close to what ended up happening.
Martinez came on strong starting in the second round, attacking with furious flurries then bicycling away any time Spivey attempted to mount an offense. Martinez got Spivey against the ropes repeatedly round after round, culminating in his giving Spivey a badly bloodied nose in the fourth round. As the fight wore on, Spivey slowly dug himself out of the hole that Martinez tried to bury him in during the early and middle rounds. By round nine, it was Martinez being forced to the ropes as Spivey was unloading hooks and upper cuts that easily found their way through Martinez’s fading defense.
As the tenth round began, both men looked battered and weary. Both men sported a swollen eye and a bloody nose as they stood for the final round. It was here, however, that Spivey dug deep and looked his most masterful. He caught Martinez early with an overhand right that took Martinez off his feet while against the ropes. Moments later, Spivey had Martinez backed into a neutral corner, getting the better of one of the most violent exchanges of the whole night. In that round, Spivey solidified his lead on the judges’ scorecards and pulled out the unanimous decision win. Although the judge who scored it 98-90 for Spivey seemed way off, the other two scores of 95-92 and 95-94 seemed more in keeping with the intensely competitive bout that had transpired. I had it 95-93, a draw if not for those first round knockdowns.
Overall, Daryl DeCroix Promotions and X-Cel Worldwide can be proud of how well they did in their first outing at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. DeCroix, best known for bringing Larry Holmes to the Norfolk Scope to fight Butterbean back in 2002, can be commended for such high quality match-ups.
There was hardly a dull moment. Those few only came when fighters were delayed coming to the ring, not from anything they did inside of it. One can only be excited for what their next fight card in October will bring.