Harrah's Philadelphia results: Friday the 13th changes Mike Oliver's bad luck

Ryan Bivins

Mike Oliver (25-5, 8 KOs) came into his showdown with Eric Hunter (17-2, 9 KOs) with losses in his last 3 bouts while Hunter was coming off a pro career best win over Jerry Belmontes. Hunter had the momentum but Oliver had been fighting on a higher level. On paper this was a good fight. Then the bell rang and things got weird...

In an anticlimactic ending to a solid night of action, Mike Oliver won by 1st round disqualification over Eric "Outlaw" Hunter on Friday the 13th at Harrah's Philadelphia. After Hunter wrestled Oliver to the canvas the Hartford, Connecticut resident popped right back up and was quickly taken out with a well-timed left hook, assuming it was legal to throw the punch at that time. Unfortunately for Philadelphia's Hunter, it was not. So rather than walking away with the previously vacant NABA USA featherweight title, Outlaw has to settle for a DQ loss, at least for now. Promoter David Feldman revealed after the fight that they would appeal the decision and hope to get it changed to a No Contest. But what are the chances of that actually happening?

If you're pro Hunter you might say Oliver took the easy way out and should have continued after being given 5 minutes to recover. Or you might say that referee Benjy Esteves did a poor job of breaking the fighters up after Oliver initially went down. It's standard procedure for the referee to call time and have the downed fighter wipe his gloves off before action resumes. I do believe Esteves did call time, but he was out of position to separate the 2 fighters. Hunter claims he saw Oliver come at him and merely defended himself. From what I gathered he seems to think he should have won by TKO. Check his reaction out for yourself (warning, this video is Rated R for adult language):

On the other hand, if you're pro Oliver you might say that Hunter purposefully resorted to dirty tactics. It wouldn't be the first time Hunter was disqualified after all (see ShoBox bout with Luis Franco). Ringside GFL commentator Rich Quiñones was in the camp that thought it was a clear cheap shot and Hunter deserved to be DQed. Hunter himself even admitted it was a cheap shot, although perhaps inadvertently, when he compared the fight to Floyd Mayweather vs Victor Ortiz. If they didn't disqualify Floyd, why disqualify him?

Be that as it may, the truth is generally somewhere between the extremes. Should fighters be held accountable for following rules even if they aren't enforced? Where is the line between protecting yourself and fighting back? Did Hunter need to wait for Oliver to get off first before firing back and risk getting knocked out himself? How is he to be sure he'd win by DQ in that situation? Is it even plausible to expect a fighter to unnecessarily risk his health for a win? But was there really a risk to begin with? Was Oliver really in position to immediately hurt Hunter? Couldn't Hunter have easily moved out of harm's way after Oliver went down? Did Oliver really try to hit Hunter upon getting off the canvas?

From my vantage point Oliver looked pretty helpless when he got knocked out, and I don't believe he was faking. He appeared pretty disoriented ~20 minutes after the fight when I got a brief interview with him while he was leaving for the hospital. He seemed to think he was actually doing well in the fight before the incident. And although the fight was only 50 seconds long and impossible to infer how it would have ended otherwise, Eric Hunter was clearly in control for the duration (which you've already heard from Hunter's own mouth if you watched / listened to the video above). Now check out the video below for Mike Oliver's thoughts:

Personally I haven't made up my mind on what should have transpired. Referee Benjy Esteves was the last piece to my puzzle and I was unable to interview him. At first I couldn't find him after the conclusion of the fight, but I eventually did run into him by the elevators on my way out. He declined to answer any questions. I told him I'd keep it very short, but no dice. I know Hunter blames the referee. And now he'll probably think Esteves had something to hide. I on the other hand will keep my mind open (or at least until I can watch the replay a dozen or so times on GFL.TV).

Undercard results in reverse chronological order:

Hasan Young RTD5 Julio De Jesus

In the co-feature and coincidentally the fight of the night Young out boxed and out punched an incredibly tough De Jesus en route to a corner retirement after the 5th round. Combinations involving hooks, crosses, and especially uppercuts dropped De Jesus in round 4 and continued to batter him in the epic round 5. Any time blood hits my note paper while I'm ringside, I know I'm at a good fight. It was no different for this one. Here's what the junior welterweight prospect Young, now 4-1-1, had to say about it afterward:

Richard Irrazary D4 Joshua Arocho (39-37, 38-38, 38-38)

Although a fairly capable and cagey fighter, Irrazary bit off a little more than he could chew in this pro debut against 13 fight veteran Arocho, who was already known for his upsets. I felt the first 3 rounds were fairly tight before Arocho dominated the final round. Irrazary preferred to circle the ring while moving in and out strategically to disrupt his opponent's rhythm. It worked out for him when Arocho spent his time waiting, but ultimately his defense betrayed him when Arocho let his hands go. But at the end of the day no one lost as it ended in a majority draw. The crowd booed violently but the decision was fair enough. Ultimately Irrazary did really well for a guy with such a limited amateur background. Far more accomplished fighters have taken easier pro debuts.

Josue Rivera TKO1 Jesus Barbosa (1:48)

This was an interesting fight for various reasons. First, a lighting fixture broke at the sound of the opening bell and nearly took out a few spectators ringside. And once that got under control a war broke out in the ring. Both fighters brought the heat with an edge to Barbosa in the early going for excellent body work. But the 36 year old machine Rivera just wouldn't slow down, much like his last time out against Tyson Maher (must see 1st round of that fight available here). He eventually got Barbosa on the ropes and just pounded away until the referee stepped in. The timing of the stoppage was somewhat controversial, and promoter David Feldman was livid about it, but it seemed fair to me. Barbosa just wasn't offering anything substantial back (although he later told me off camera that he was fine and planned to wait until Rivera punched himself out). The reason it was off camera was simply because I randomly ran into him in the bathroom and he was not dressed for video.... Anyways, Rivera thought it should have been stopped even sooner as he could no longer feel Barbosa's power. Feel free to choose to believe whomever you want, but check out what the winner had to say first:

Anthony Prescott UD4 Carlos Moore (40-36, 39-37, 40-36)

In the opening bout of the evening Prescott made fairly easy work of Moore, whose stance and technique made him look better than he was able to prove. Moore just wouldn't let his hands go until the final round (which I shaded to him as did 1 of the other official judges). Prescott often looked amateurish throughout the bout, but he let his hands go and landed bombs here and there. Even still, the bout was far from entertaining. In round 3 Doghouse Boxing's Ken Hissner said there's "more grabbing than jabbing," and he was right. Nonetheless welterweight Prescott got his record back to .500 and is now 2-2-1.

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Although I never got any words out of him to mention in the article, it should be noted this was a Joey Eye promotion. Also, Go Fight Live recorded the full show and will have the videos available online here.

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Update: Referee Benjy Esteves Jr. addresses his officiating in Eric Hunter vs Mike Oliver

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Ryan Bivins is a staff writer for BadLeftHook. You can contact him on twitter (@sweetboxing) or through email (rgbivins@gmail.com).


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