Thursday, February 9, 2012

University of Nevada, Reno boxers battled Air Force Academy, others on Vern Rockswold Memorial Invitational at Eldorado Casino

Mark Connor
© Copyright 2012, Mark Connor

On Friday night, February 3, the University of Nevada Reno hosted its annual card featuring its boxers competing against the Air Force Academy and boxers from the University of San Francisco and the University of Washington, Seattle. It was a night of skillful amateur boxing that included eleven bouts, ten ending in decision and one by RSCH.

The night opened with two female contests, the first a hard fought battle between Rachel Nakanishi of Washington against Jann Shane Hermano of USF. Nakanishi fought well and landed clean and punishing blows from the first round, but the judges called it for Hermano, who exhibited good movement and pulled out a close victory. Taylor Williams from Washington demonstrated admirable determination throughout the three rounds against Nargis Shaghasi of USF, but grew tired and lost a competitive contest.

In the third bout of the evening, Tyrus Korecki of AFA took a decision against a taller and smooth boxing Rashad Burton of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas at 157 pounds. Taylor Yancey of Nevada scored a decision victory of Andrew Munoz of AFA at 137.
At 140 pounds Jarred Santos, competing for the first time, won a decision over William Peterson of AFA in one of the night’s most entertaining fights. He showed admirable skill behind a strong, solid left jab against his taller opponent, backing him up for most of the fight while using good head movement and footwork.
Nolan Hebei of AFA defeated Bernard Do of Nevada at 160 pounds, dominating him with reach and aggression.
José Jimenez scored a 3rd round RSCH over Nevada’s Anthony Donahue. Originally from the Jefferson Park neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago, Donahue has been a Nevada resident since high school, having graduated in Las Vegas before attending UNR. This was Donahue’s first competition, and although he came up short he showed great determination and is full of potential as he heads back to the gym with dedication. Although he suffered two eight counts in the first, he came back to score an eight count of his own in the second. But he suffered two more eight counts, resulting in the mandatory stoppage in the third round.
From the opposite end of Donohue’s hometown came the Southside of Chicago’s Cordarius Taylor, representing Nevada at 150 pounds against AFA’s Glenn Miltenberg. While from the fourth row ringside Miltenberg could be seen pelting Taylor with a barrage of punches and keeping him against the ropes for most of all three rounds, the judges saw the fight for Taylor. (Amateur boxing is scored by counting the number of cleanly landed blows, and even though Miltenberg landed plenty and was the only boxer all night who demonstrated a command of the uppercut, he smothered himself often and could not capitalize enough on his momentum to get the nod.) Taylor did land clean blows when he did punch, although he was much less active than Miltenberg. From the fourth row ringside, it appeared Miltenberg won the fight.
Alex Flangas of Nevada defeated Robert Watts of California at 175 pounds, and in the same division Dennis Vorobyov defeated Nick Anderson of Nevada. Josue Gayton of Nevada defeated Logan Brandt of AFA at 192 pounds in the final bout of the evening.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Endurance of Scott LeDoux

Mark Connor
© Copyright 2011, Mark Connor

This story was written in Spring 2009 and accepted under contract by Boxing Digest for publication. Unfortunately the magazine nver paid me and has now folded, but at least I own the copyright. I hope you enjoy it.

In early March Scott LeDoux sat in a Caribou Coffee shop in exurban Minneapolis, remembering his glory days as a Heavyweight contender in the 1970s and early 1980s, discussing his involvement with boxing since retirement, and scrutinizing current fighters and the competition they face. He also spoke a little about his political career and his charity work. It was a nostalgic conversation for anyone who loves boxing, given LeDoux’s history, which includes a challenge for the WBC Heavyweight title against Champion Larry Holmes, fights against seven other world champions, an exhibition with Muhammad Ali, and sparring partner duties with Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis. But it was saddening, too, because this powerful, competitive challenger of the best in the world during an era of overwhelming talent in the Heavyweight division used a walker and talked about making the most of life while each day leads him closer to death from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

LeDoux was diagnosed late last year and announced it publicly early this year. In a life already highlighted with singular purpose and achievement, the affliction, which people usually survive no more than five years, has accentuated his natural resolve to celebrate and contribute.
In recent times LeDoux has been an Anoka County Commissioner for the town of Andover, Minnesota, where he’s lived since 1972. Before politics he spent eighteen years on the Minnesota State Boxing Commission until, much to his horror, his friend, former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura, abolished it while governor from 1999 to 2003. After years of advocacy, LeDoux diligently attended legislative hearings and testified at the State Capital in St. Paul. When the Boxing Commission was reinstated in 2006 he was named Executive Director by current Governor, Republican Tim Pawlenty. The Commission had to be self supporting, though, and for its survival morphed into the Minnesota State Combative Sports Commission, overseeing not just boxing but also mixed martial arts.
As a commissioner, says LeDoux, he wants to see good competitive fights. He advocates for boxers to choose tougher competition both because he hopes to see them improve in skill and for the sake of safety, a byproduct of evenly matched contests.
“Back in the day we fought fights,” he insists. Then, with a slightly cynical candor, he adds, “A guy today wants to fight Dusty Trunks, Kenny Last, and Willie Getup in rotation, and he gets knocked out by one of those guys. They want to fight all stiffs until they get a record built up so they can go in for a championship fight and get the payday. Look—how do you learn the sport unless you fight tough guys?”
If anyone can lecture on the subject, LeDoux is your man. Aside from his title shot and the aforementioned sparring, he fought Leon Spinks to a 10 round draw prior to Spinks’ title victory over Muhammad Ali, fought then former Heavyweight Champion Ken Norton to a controversial 10 round draw, and subsequently dropped a 12 round decision for the USBA title to eventual WBA Heavyweight Champion Mike Weaver. He lost by TKO to George Foreman, as well as to Greg Page, Gerry Cotzee, and in his final fight to Frank Bruno. In assessing all these champions, he said that when sparring with Lennox Lewis he observed him to be the most balanced boxer he’d ever seen, next to Larry Holmes. While LeDoux either lost to these champions or only held them to draws, one should not underrate his abilities. He slipped and counterpunched well and his determination kept him competitive throughout his career.
LeDoux has been involved in charity work ever since he entered public life, and after sharing his diagnosis in the press he participated in an early April benefit for ALS research. The featured act was LeDoux’s longtime friend, Frank Stallone, along with former singers from the groups Santana, Survivor, and Toto. Furthermore, he was instrumental in founding and currently serves as an Advisory Board member of Wishes and More, a charity that provides money to grant wishes to children with terminal and life threatening illnesses. The group was founded by volunteers who along with LeDoux did the same charity work through an earlier organization over the last three decades. On May 3 Wishes and More held a celebrity roast of Scott LeDoux at the Marriott City Center Hotel in Minneapolis, with Sugar Ray Leonard among the roasters.
“Scott LeDoux is a fighter’s fighter,” says Leonard. “He’s a guy who used what talent he had to compete against some of the best guys in the world . . . I was always impressed with his integrity, with his perseverance, with his heart.”
Leonard also praised LeDoux’s advocacy for boxers and his work with the commission in Minnesota.
“The fact of the matter is boxing needs stronger commissions and [to be] unified. We have to have the same criteria—whether it’s scoring, whether it’s the examinations and physicals, every state has to be on the same page, every country has to be on the same page. I agree with what Scott is doing, trying to better the sport.”
Such statements exemplify the values LeDoux has demonstrated in and out of the ring. As related over coffee that day in March, he’s given his best to every endeavor in life and continues to do so for as long as he can.
“Scott LeDoux has been a dedicated volunteer for granting wishes for children for over twenty years,” says fellow Wishes and More founder Karla Blomberg, who met him shortly after his retirement from boxing.
Besides Leonard and former Governor Ventura, “Benchwarmer” Bob Lurtsema, who played with the Minnesota Vikings in the 1974 and 1975 Super Bowls, was among the roasters. Also, a video message was played from George Foreman, and Blomberg shared email blessings from Gerry Cooney.
Having started boxing at age 17 when a fellow freshman at the University of Minnesota, Duluth appeared with a set of gloves, LeDoux served in the United States Army from 1969 to 1972 before turning professional. Since then he’s faced the tragedy of losing his first wife as well as his parents to cancer, but today he is a grandfather surrounded by a son and daughter in their 30s and his wife, Carol, who came into his life at a time of major personal transition.
“We went on our second date to church,” he says, recalling how in 1993 he made a commitment to Christianity, gave up drinking and womanizing, and forgave those who hurt him earlier in life.
Persevering with faith, each day he expresses the vitality of spirit put into his boxing career, the inner strength of the man increasing through the memory of the actions he leaves behind while the body slowly, inevitably, gives way.

For further information on Wishes and More go to
For further information on ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) go to

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Truax wins State Middleweight title with split ove Kolle

Mark Connor
© Copyright 2011, Mark Connor

On Friday night, May 27 at the St. Paul Armory Caleb "Golden" Truax won a split decision over Andy "Kaos" Kolle for the Minnesota State Middleweight Championship. Judge Mike Fitzgerald had it 96-94 Truax, Judge Scott Moe scored it 96-94 Kolle, and Judge Denny Nelson called it 97-93 Truax. It was a truly close fight that could have gone either way. The Boxers and Writers Magazine view was 96-94 Kolle, but at least one or two rounds were close enough to understand how they could have gone the other way. This is a fight that cries out for a rematch.

Truax was the immediate aggressor as the fight began, and although Kolle was able to jab his way off the ropes during the first minute of the first round and landed good lead right hooks that caught Truax charging in, he was unable to inflict damage through the second round. Truax kept plugging away, moving his head and landing body shots throughout the fight, many of which Kolle and his corner complained were low blows, but referee Mark Nelson insisted they were merely borderline. While I thought Kolle took rounds 3 and 4 to even the first third of the fight, Jesse Kelley of, who was next to me at ringside, thought they’d traded the first, second, third and fourth, Truax winning one round and Kolle winning the other in a progressive give and take rhythm. As each round passed the six foot Truax would begin coming forward with an effective jab over the right hand of 6’-1” southpaw Kolle, also landing an occasional lead right down the middle and digging to the body. Kolle in turn would maneuver into the middle of the ring and continue circling, establishing the right jab or landing the lead right hook, occasionally timing the powerful straight left down the middle to stop Truax in his tracks. Invariably Truax kept coming, though, and Kolle would sometimes trade with him, sometimes cover, and sometimes move, reset and land some shots. He occasionally backed Truax up, but mostly moved throughout the fight. The difficulty in scoring the fight came in deciding at each closing bell whether Truax’s aggression or Kolle’s movement and powerful counters were more effective. The Boxers and Writers view was that Kolle took rounds 5 and 6 while Truax took 7 and 8, then Kolle pulled out the last two as Truax tired. The middle rounds were in fact close, though, as the respective 96-94 scores from Judges Moe and Fitzgerald, the former for Kolle and the latter for Truax, signify.

The two technical surprises of this fight came from Truax, landing the right uppercut—mostly to the body—and utilizing his left hook over Kolle’s right hand to force him to dip his head to the left and into the follow up right hand. He did this not only when initiating exchanges, but also while timing Kolle’s occasional habit of leaning in a little too far with the straight left, capitalizing on the momentum by turning the right hand into Kolle. In the latter rounds of the fight Kolle began landing his own right uppercut, and although a strong argument can be made that he did enough by winning rounds 11 and 12, the final decision suggests the lack of follow up hooks and straight lefts are what proved otherwise.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Abell avenges defeat from years ago, Alfaro proves ready for future

Mark Connor

© Copyright 2010, Mark Connor

Armory, St. Paul, MN, Saturday, July 17

Tonight southpaw Joey Abell fought an excellent fight, dominating the first three rounds behind a strong right jab with a punishing straight left hand that found its mark down the middle on nemesis Arron Lyons, who handed him his first loss back in December 2006. As he continued his strong start at the beginnig of the second round he eventually began landing left hand-right hook combinations, along with the right uppercut to the body followed by the hook to the head. By the end of the third round he was landing more uppercuts and hooks in combinations with more measured power, and in the fourth round he opened a vicious cut over Lyon's left eye, prompting referee Mark Nelson to consult Dr. Sheldon Siegal, under whose advice Nelson stopped the scheduled 10 round fight.

In the semi-main event Vicente Alfaro of Hastings, MN defeated St. Paul's Brad Patraw with a second round TKO. Alfaro opened the fight by outjabbing Patraw and backing him up, using great head movement and landing punishing hooks and body blows while throwing an occasional hard right hand. In the second Alfaro's right hand found the mark and his relentless combinations dropped Patraw twice before the finishing flurry caused referee Gary Meezwa to stop the fight. Alfaro looked exceptionally good in this fight, showing he has great potential to rapidly advance in his career.

In the opening fight Marty "Wolfman" Lindquist broke a four fight losing streak with a first round TKO over Frankie Quinn, who entered the Cruiserweight bout with a 6-0 record after not having fought since 1997. Lindquist stalked Quinn, missing often with a wild right hand but dropping him with the one punch when he finally landed it late in the round, following with a mild flury causing Quinn to fall again finally to his knees.

In the second fight Bobby Butters, Jr., whose father is a retired club fighter known for professoinally boxing in St. Paul and the larger Twin Cities through the 1990s, appeared to demonstrate that coming form a boxing family wold propell him by virtue of experience into victory over MMA fighter Travis Perzynski, who was 0-1 as a boxer. But after starting aggesssively with combinations off his fast jab and some good movement and footwork, Butters was careless with wild right hands. Puzynski caught him on the ropes with combinations to the body and head and put him out on his feet, prompting referee Mark Nelson to stop the fight.

José Hilario made quick work of debuting Jr. Lightweight Matthew Brogan of Green Bay. Hilario began with a couple of jabs as he moved to his left and the pair made one clockwise resolution around the cent fo the ring. Brogan looked unprepared for the professional ring, getting caught with a right uppercut that caused him to lurch forward, holding Hilario as he drove im into the ropes. Hilario turned him around and continued whipping looping combinations off of him, not hurting him with most shots but damaging him greatly when landing the right uppercut, which allowed him to land the right uppercut body shot that put Brogan down and won the fight.

Finally, Gavin Quinn, the son of Frankie Quinn, made his professional debut at Jr. Middleweight with a lackluster victory over Ryan Stock. After Stock opened the fight with first round dominance, continuously controlling im with the left jab and landing the right hand and left hook at will, estabishing a large mouse under the southpaw Quinn's right eye. But in the second round Stock began giving the victory away, deciding not to be busy enough to continue his dominance. While in the thrid and fourth rounds Quinn kept coming forward and throwing the majoirty of punches in the fight, his footwork was legthargic and came mostly off his heals rather than the balls of his feet. Stock decided to lean in a corner at one point to just put his hands up and let Quinn punch him willingly, even though most of the shots only landed on Stock's gloves. Obviosly Stock is not Muhammad Ali and if he was attempting the so-called "rope a dope" move of Ali e had no idea what he was donig. He was not in shape either, which probably explains why he only fought in the first round and deciding to go the distance a a punching bag for the remainer of the 4 round fight.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Patriarch of Minnesota Boxing, Emmett Yanez, at 90 years old

Mark Connor
© Copyright 2010, Mark Connor

On March 3, my boxing coach who taught me to fight at age ten and guided me to national tournaments, Emmett J. Yanez, turned 90 years old. He also trained numerous other Upper Midwest Golden Gloves Champions as well as national champions over the years, and he continues to coach amateur boxers today. His most recent champion is Robert Brant, who won the National Golden Gloves Light Heavyweight Championship for the second time this year and is attempting to win the USA Boxing Light Heavyweight Championship at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO this week. During the celebration, which took place at Mancini's Char House in St. Paul, I was privileged to read out a declaration from St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman declaring March 3, 2010 Emmett J. Yanez Day in St. Paul, Minnesota. A special thanks to my father, Robert Connor, for advising me to contact the Mayor's office for the declaration.

The text of the declaration in its entirety follows.

Whereas, Emmett J. Yanez is currently a resident of Saint Paul, Minnesota and has lived in the city for nearly 80 years, in addition to having worked for the City of Saint Paul in the Department of Public Works;

Whereas, Emmett J. yanez today turns 90 years old;

Wereas, Emmett J. Yanez is a World War II veteran of the United States Army, regiment 504 of the 82nd Airborne Division that fought to liberate Europe;

Whereas, upon returning to Saint Paul after the war Emmett J. Yanez boxed professionally and eventually became a traiiner of Saint Paul Amateur boxers for more than 50 years;

Whereas, Emmett J. Yanez has developed numerous Saint Paul Golden Gloves and Upper Midwest Golden Gloves Champions, City, state, and Regional amateur boxing champions of the juunior Olympic and Open Class age groups, and at least two open class national champions, and he has also trained successful professional boxers in Saint Paul;

Whereas, Emmett j. Yanez continues assisting Saint Paul youth and youth in general as a trainer of amateur boxers in a Saint Paul suburb,

Now, Therefore, I, Christopher B. Coleman, mayor of the City of Saint Paul, do hereby proclaim Wednesday, march 03, 2010, to be:

Emmett J. Yanez Day

in the City of Saint Paul

In Witness Whereof I have herunto set my hand
and caused the seal of the City of Saint Paul to be
affixed this Third Day of March in the Year Two
Thousand Ten.

Christopher B. Coleman, Mayor

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Truax defeats Veteran Echols to top Entertaining Seconds Out Cart in St. Paul

Mark Connor
© Copyright 2010, Mark Connor

Minnesota’s Caleb Truax took another significant step in his undefeated career Friday night with a unanimous decision over veteran middleweight Antwun Echols of Davenport, Iowa. The fight appeared close throughout, with Truax establishing dominance in the beginning but seeming to fade as the rounds passed. Echol’s persistent body shots on the inside appeared to take their toll, but just when he seemed to cede too much control in any given round Truax would score a significant flurry to turn the tide. The Boxers and Writers Magazine view of this fight is that it was much closer than the judges saw it, but Truax did deserve the unanimous decision. He turned on the pressure in the final rounds, particularly dominating the last two. Echols gave him the challenge that is to be expected from such an accomplished veteran Middleweight and Super Middleweight who has TKO victories over skilled fighters like Charles Brewer and once went the distance with the legendary Bernard Hopkins.

In the semi-main event Blaine’s Jon Schmidt lucked out with a no contest over an accidental head butt over his right eye as Josh Crouch took control in the 2nd and 3rd rounds with effective inside uppercuts and hooks from either side as he switched from the right handed and southpaw stances.

Ismail Muwendo scored a 3rd round knockout over Juan Baltierez in a scheduled 6 round Super Featherweight fight. Baltierez actually looked much stronger than he did months ago when fighting to a draw in West St. Paul. He actually landed some effective jabs that stopped Muwendo in his tracks, as well as good right hands in the first round. He did the same thing in the 2nd, but was neutralized by Muwendo’s strong jab, which was a continuation of the first round in which Muwendo landed cleaner, clearer shots including strong uppercuts and a solid, staggering right hand that established his command of the fight. Muwendo finally found his mark with a left hook in the 3rd round, dropping Baltierez, who rose to be dropped within a couple of more exchanges that ended the fight. Baltierez has potential, but he needs to sharpen up on a lower level of competition before competing with fighters as strong and effective as Muwendo, who has proven his power and potential but will have to tighten up on his defense—including an improvement of footwork and protecting his untested chin—before he steps up his own competition.

Charles Meir of Coon Rapids rose from the canvas after Corey Rodriguez dropped him with a looping right hand during a barrage of punches Rodriguez unleashed in the first round of their 6 round Middleweight fight. Meir did exhibit a high degree of skill in moving around the ring and landing counter shots, but Rodriguez was relentless throughout the fight with his body attack and appeared to be more effective and land more punches. But Rodriquez was dropped in the third from an accumulation of blows after a sneaky shot stunned him, and even though he came back well and was competitive in the last quarter of the round he still gave it away by a 10-8 margin. Boxers and Writers Magazine scored the fight 58-55 for Rodriguez, but apparently the judges were watching an entirely different fight. Denny Nelson and Veid Muiznieas scored it 56-56, while Carl Benson scored it 57-56 for Rodriguez, the total constituting a majority draw.

0-1 Jake Backus exhibited an improved performance in his second fight, a rematch
against 2-0 Super Bantamweight Vincente Alforo of St. Paul. But his effective movement and counterpunching never amounted to effective and punishing blows, and he was caught with a right hand that almost dropped him in the third round, forcing him to grab and hold for survival. At one point he was hurt so badly that his clinching resulted in him accidentally tackling Alfaro, and the round was lopsided enough for him to lose it 10-8. With a majority decision favoring Alfaro, Nelson calling it 39-37, Muiznieas scoring it 38-37 and Benson settling for 37-37, it is obvious that Backus let the fight slip away with his precarious 3rd round performance.

Hector Orozco avenged a technical decision loss from October of last year with a majority decision over Danny Figueroa. Boxers and Writers Magazine saw this fight differently from the judges also, believing Figueroa’s jab and combinations to be more effective throughout. Figueroa slipped well and utilized the ring, and he also fought effectively inside while Orozco continuously came forward. Orozco did look better this time around, though, and his high degree of recent activity has paid off. Nelson scored it 39-37 and Benson had it 39-38 for Orozco, while Muiznieas called it a 38-38 draw.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Abell disqualified for late punch knockout, Walters defeated in 56 seconds

Editor's Note: The result of this fight was officially changed from Disqualification to No Contest. More information forthcoming

Mark Connor
© Copyright 2009, Mark ConnorBy

Raphael Butler appeared to be in command of the Minnesota Heavyweight Championship fight against Joey Abell as the final 30 seconds of the first round approached. He’d been landing good combinations and winning exchanges, picking apart the southpaw Abell with jabs, hooks, right hands and body shots. He was moving well and slipping well and seemed to be establishing the kind of rhythm that propels a fighter to victory. But then suddenly Abell hit him with a solid straight left hand that seriously stunned him, and then he punched some more and knocked him down. As Butler got up he did what was necessary to survive the round and the bell rang. It clearly rang. There was no mistaking it. Then, as Butler put his hands down and was ready to return to his corner, Abell threw the left again, knocking Butler out. Thereafter a melee occurred when Butler’s trainer, Dan O’Connor, ran into the ring and over to Abell, attacking him, at which time Abell’s corner attempted to protect him. When the incident had calmed down just a bit Abell went to Butler’s corner to tell O’Connor he wasn’t aware the round was over when he threw his last punch. After Butler was revived and had been awarded the victory, he was given the microphone and tried to tell the crowd Abell would get a rematch, but he could barely be heard over the boos.

Before the fighters exited the ring I was able to talk briefly to both of them, although State Commissioners were attempting to block interviews. Just before leaving the ring Abell verified to me that he told O’Connor he hadn’t realized the bell had rung before throwing the last punch, and Butler verified my suspicion, that until getting hit with the first significant Abell left hand he felt he was in command of the fight.

“I thought it was going to be an easy fight,” Butler said in reference to how he’d been doing prior to being dropped.

As disappointed as the crowd was, the disqualification was the right call. Historically speaking, even though the reference is to the amateur rather than the professional arena, the incident reminds me of when Evander Holyfield was disqualified in his 1984 semifinal Light Heavyweight Olympic bout in Los Angelus when he didn’t break momentum and knocked his opponent. Also, Abell showed the same level of class after his disqualification as Holyfield did while representing the U.S. in the Olympics 25 years ago.
In the co-main event Zack Walter of Duluth, MN was overwhelmed by Larry Sharpe of Pine Falls, Manitoba, Canada, who dropped him twice to win by knockout at 56 seconds of the 1st round. Sharpe improved to 24-4, 13 KOs, and when interviewed after the fight he announced to a round a boos from the Twin Cities crowd that he now wants to fight Matt Vanda. “I’d been campaigning as a Junior Middleweight,” he said, “and I didn’t belong there. I’m a natural Super Middleweight.”
The night’s most entertaining fight was the unanimous decision victory of St. Paul lightweight Tony Lee in his professional debut against Hector Orozco of Hopkins. Lee took command immediately with his jab and executed fast combinations. He also landed numerous body shots throughout the fight and in the 1st round dropped the southpaw Orozco with a right hand from an angle the man couldn’t see. Orozco proved tough and determined, though, continuously coming and landing a significant amount of his own punches. Lee pressed on with speedy combinations from angles he was able to create with movement, landing right hands and left hooks against the southpaw stance but also finding the jab consistently and pounding the body. By the middle of the second Lee’s knockout opportunity appeared to have slipped away, and by the end of the third he tended to carry his hand a little low, subtly signifying the weariness creeping into his arms from punching a guy who wouldn’t give up. But before the bell to end the round he pulled his hands back above his chin and went to work with combinations. Lee was significantly less effective in the last round, though, leading me to debate whether he won it. I gave him the nod, as one judge obviously did with a 40-36 final score. My unofficial card agreed with that, but the cards of Denny Nelson and John Mariano were both 39-36, leading me to believe Lee’s fatigue lost the 4th for him in their eyes by a margin of 10-9. Lee showed me his left hand afterwards, which was significantly bruised near the outer wrist, and he said that it inhibited him during the last half of the fight. Orozco faired well enough in this fight, but he took a lot of punches and was in over his head, as he was in his professional debut in 2006 when he lost a unanimous decision to Raúl Gracia, whose corner I was in at the time. It seems to me that Orozco is an exceptional athlete and has potential as a boxer, but he needs to fight some opponents with less skill on whom he can practice new moves and sharpen his combinations and defense. Lee will need more conditioning and another entry level opponent, but should then be able to take the next step and progress steadily.

Boris, “The Russian Giant” Shishporenok, of Blaine (who is actually from Belarus, not Russia) controlled his bout from the beginning against a debuting Will Gillette of Rapid City, SD. The taller and heavier Shishporenok, a southpaw who weighed 280 pounds and stands 6’-5’’, towered over Gillette and visibly damaged him before the end of the first. He consistently jabbed and followed through with hooks and uppercuts after catching Gillette with left hands coming in. Then, in the second round he threw a perfectly timed one-two combination that Gillette walked into, the left hand landing flush and knocking him cold. Shishporonek climbs to 7-1, 6 KOs. He was originally scheduled to fight Travis Walker but the match fell through, and so he settled for this significantly easier challenge.

Lightweight Gary Eyer, Duluth, MN, has to be admired for being courageous enough to enter the arena to the cross dressing singer Boy George’s song “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?”. Standing taller than his rough Mexican opponent, Levi Cortes of St. Paul, he took punches all night in a 6 round fight he won by unanimous decision. Apparently the right hand haymakers that Cortes threw were seen by the judges as grazing blows that made some noise and riled the crow but did not actually score, event though they consistently clocked Eyer in the face and visibly damaged him. Cortes took his own share of punches and was cut badly on the mouth, while Eyer was significantly bruised on the lower corner of his left eye. While Eyer exhibited a fair amount of skill he didn’t seem to be landing nearly as many punches as Cortes, nor was he generally effective. He did score two knockdowns, however, one in the third and another in the 5th, and referee Bob Brunette (very unjustifiably, I believe) told Cortes’ trainer, Fernando Ortiz in the corner that if another such knockdown occurred in the 6th he would stop the fight. Actually, when the first knockdown happened Eyer had been taking a pummeling, but he wisely timed a left hook over Cortes’ haymaker right. Eyer was obviously trying to land that punch all night, as was evidenced by his continual lifting of his right foot while moving back to time Cortes coming in. The problem with that strategy is it tended to cause him to lean in off balance and throw his right hand with his back foot slightly in the air, inhibiting him from ever being able to seriously threaten Cortes even after knocking him down. After the first knockdown Cortes wisely clinched very tightly several times and came back strong in the closing portion of the round. The second knockdown resulted in another strong survival response. I would have scored the fight 59-56 for Cortes. However, Cortes must work on a number of things which could have helped him in this fight. The first is to shorten that right hand instead of throwing haymakers, the second is to stop smothering himself and learn to take half steps back or to the side to maintain punching range, and the third is to throw an uppercut. Any one or all of these tools could have helped him tremendously in this tough battle. Eyer’s improvement would start with a good strong jab which was nonexistent in this fight. Nevertheless, Eyer climbs to 7-0-1, 5 KOs.

Tomi Archambault of Minot, ND struggled down three pounds Thursday night to make the minimum 130 pounds to meet the 129 + or – limit for the Featherweight (normally 126 lbs) fight against Coon Rapids’ Ronnie Peterson, 127. Peterson dominated the first round with body and head combinations, hooking well off the jab and making Archmambault miss or catch his shoulders or gloves when returning fire. Peterson began to look physically troubled in the second half of round 2, however, which he obviously lost. His breathing appeared to be inhibited, and, unfortunately the bout was stopped after the second round when he complained in his corner of a shoulder injury. Peterson suffered a significant shoulder injury in his final year as an amateur, which subsequently prevented from him from competing in the National Golden Gloves at the time. Hopefully he will make a full recovery and this incident won’t significantly retard the progress of his career.

Ronnie Peterson’s older brother, Junior Middleweight David Peterson of Mounds View, had absolutely no problem against Silas Ortley of North Dakota, over whom he scored a 4th round TKO. Peterson pounded Ortley’s soft body for three and a half rounds, the North Dakotan falling to the canvas. Peterson was open and vulnerable throughout but Ortley was not skilled or conditioned enough to capitalize on it. In fact Ortley, falling to 4-8, 3 KOs, appeared to have no idea how to handle Peterson, now 12-0, 7 KOs. Peterson’s last outing was a win over Corrie Rodriguez, shortly after which he related to me that he was surprised at how easy it came. Significant training will be required, but he should fight another opponent of that caliber with the intention of taking a step up from there in the immediate future. He has potential, but he’ll never be challenged on this level, or worse—he could get lazy and get caught with an unseen punch against someone like Ortley who has no business in the ring with him.
Junior Middleweight Saverino Garcia, Jr., of St. Paul, got his first win with a unanimous decision over Jacob Dobbe of Minneapolis. Garcia, now 1-0-1, 0 KOs picked up his first win over the debuting Dobbe, who showed a lot of heart and potential. Garcia fights significantly similar to his dad, former Upper Midwest Golden Gloves Champion and professional featherweight Saverino Garcia, Sr., who trained in the Petronelli camp in Brocton, MA where he sparred with Middleweight Hall of Fame Champion Marvin Hagler. The willingness to trade blows is apparently hereditary in this case, but the lesser number of years experience are evident the son’s lack of defense. Against a fighter of significantly little experience Garcia started slow, seemingly surprised at Dobbe’s ability to hit him and determination to fight. He clearly lost the first round. He came on by the second half of the second round, though, when he began to find his timing and rhythm. Then he got into the groove and dominated the last two rounds, proving that with a little more conditioning and sharpness he can start dropping opponents on the preliminary fight level. He and his father both said that they know he has a lot to work on and they’re just happy to have gotten the experience as they look to the future.