by Pavel Yakovlev: (August 20, 2010) – Oliver McCall pounded out a unanimous decision over hometown favorite Damian Wills in Houston tonight. The scores were 97-93, 97-93, and 96-94. The victory earns McCall the World Boxing Foundation International heavyweight title, and improves his record to 56-11 (37 KO’s). McCall is now slated to face WBA #12 and IBF #9 ranked contender Kali Meehan in an important eliminator in Australia two months from now. Wills falls to 30-3-1 (23 KO’s) as a result of the loss.
The 31-year-old Wills was widely expected to use his advantages in youth (15 years younger) and speed to outhustle McCall, who had lost two of his last three bouts. After a few competitive opening rounds, however, McCall used his superior punching power, physical strength, and greater ring savvy to assume the upper hand.
McCall’s strong left jab was a key weapon tonight. “In the middle rounds, I took control of the fight. I started hitting him with my jabs then. I busted him up. He was cut under his left eye, and he was cut over and under the right eye. He was also bleeding badly from inside the mouth,” said McCall. “Basically, he started off pretty aggressive, but I knew he wears down in the late rounds.”
According to McCall, “We traded…there were a lot of punches landed. But I could take his punches, and he couldn’t take mine. When I hit him, he got cut and swollen, and he had to retreat. If he didn’t retreat, I would have knocked him out. I had him severely hurt at least twice in the fight. He also underestimated my defense.”
“He could punch a little bit, but I didn’t get hit with a lot of solid punches,” McCall continued. “He doesn’t like pressure. When I came on and hit him with power shots, he had to retreat and hold on.”
Ricky Fisler, McCall’s manager, stated that Wills was hurt in the seventh, eighth, and tenth rounds. “Overall, I was confident, because Oliver got in a lot of power shots,” said Fisler. “We had him going in two or three rounds. Oliver won seven rounds out of it. I was a little worried about a robbery, but it didn’t happen.”
“I think Oliver was robbed against Cedric Boswell recently at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, and I was afraid of a hometown decision happening again,” explained Fisler.”Oliver did enough to beat Boswell. He hurt Boswell a couple of times, and blocked most of Boswell’s punches on his arms and gloves. So, if it happened in Hollywood, I thought it could happen here, too. But it didn’t. We won.”
Interestingly, McCall himself was not worried about a hometown decision. “It did not cross my mind that I would get robbed by the judges,” he stated. “I had a feeling that they were going to be fair here. That’s a good thing. In between rounds, my corner was a little worried about a robbery, but I told them, ‘Look, I’m clearly winning the rounds. I’m busting him up.’”
Wills’s gutty performance won praise from McCall and Fisler. “I got nothing negative to say about Wills,” said Fisler.”Oliver outclassed him, but he hung in there. Wills was game; he had a lot of heart. I respect him.”
In recent fights, McCall had entered the ring weighing well above 250 lbs, looking inadequately conditioned. Thus, many presumed that he lacked the motivation to prepare to tonight’s match. But the naysayers were proven wrong: McCall weighed 248 ¾ lbs tonight, more than ten pounds less than he weighed last March for Boswell.
“I’m pretty happy,” continued Fisler. “Recently Oliver had a little strain in his back from playing basketball, so he couldn’t run for two or two and half weeks. But he did well tonight. Now, we’re flying to Australia next and that fight will put Oliver back in the top ten. Kali Meehan will not be able to withstand Oliver’s pressure.”
Fisler is also interested in matching the rejuvenated McCall with other leading heavyweights. He stated, “I’d like to put a challenge out for anyone in the top ten, including Odlanier Solis and Chris Arreola. Personally, I believe Wills would have given both of those guys are really tough fight tonight.”
Regarding his future plans, McCall sounded focused. “I’m going to take two days off, then get back in the gym. I‘ll probably start my training on Wednesday,” he explained. “I’m going to be getting my weight down to the 230’s. I’m also going to focus on getting more sparring. I didn’t have too much sparring for this fight. I did have great sessions with Eric Molina in the week before the fight, but that’s all I had. Now, I’m going to get quality sparring consistently, and my training camp is going to be better structured. We got a fight eliminator against Meehan in sixty days in Australia. I’m going to be ready.”
McCall was the WBC world heavyweight champion in 1994-95. He won the championship in London, famously stopping Lennox Lewis with a single devastating right to the jaw. A year later, McCall lost the championship to Frank Bruno via decision. McCall has been boxing professionally since 1985.