Ryan Bivins returns today with a recap of this past Saturday's Patrick Majewski vs Chris Fitzpatrick card in Atlantic City. I strongly encourage a read of this piece. I guarantee it's one of the absolute best recaps of any fight card you're going to find anywhere.
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Peltz Boxing returned to Bally's Atlantic City July 7th for an 8 bout card headlined by the NABF title fight between Patrick Majewski and Chris Fitzpatrick. The ballroom was packed and the crowd was animated. Half of the bouts ended in KO/TKO, two of which came in the first round.
Fortunately I was able to interview three of the four people that stopped their opponents, two of which pulled it off in the first round. Both amateur standout Jesse Hart and now 12-0 pro Lavarn Harvell needed less than three minutes to dispense with their opponents. Majewski pulled off the final stoppage of the evening, controversially stopping a game Fitzpatrick after 5 rounds were completed.
In the second bout of the evening Jesse "Hard Work" Hart, son of knockout artist Eugene "Cyclone" Hart, followed in his father's footsteps as he scored his second consecutive KO in as many fights. When I asked Jesse if there was any pressure to match his father's streak of 19 consecutive KOs, he smiled and told me he and his father were just joking about it the other day. Cyclone would say "You can't beat my record," playfully daring Jesse to do it. But while Jesse insists he won't try to force any knockouts, he wouldn't mind getting 20 in a row either. What Jesse does mind however is losing. His own personal motto is "I will not lose." After twice dropping Steven Chadwick with body shots en route to Chadwick's corner throwing in the towel, so far, so good.
On paper it appeared Lavarn "Baby Bowe" Harvell was taking on the most challenging opponent of his career. Unlike any previous Harvell opponent, Mojeed Okedara won his last four fights and earned titles (albeit obscure). None of this seemed to matter to Harvel, who had no prior knowledge of his opponent before entering the ring with him. Motivated by his 1 year old son Jasim and girlfriend of 5 years Jahmira, Harvel fought like a man possessed. His blinding jab set up big straight right hands that Okedara never saw coming. After tasting the canvas twice, referee Randy Neumann put an end to Okedara's suffering as he was helpless against the ropes while Harvell pounded away. If you asked Okedara who he was fighting this night, he might sooner tell you "Big Daddy" than "Baby".
While referee Randy Neumann should be applauded for his promptness in saving a still standing Okedara, referee Earl Morton didn't merit the same admiration in the main event. After five rounds of action the ringside doctor advised Morton to stop the fight over a cut outside Fitzpatrick's left eye sustained in the 2nd round. Referee Morton ruled that the cut was caused by a clash of heads, which appeared to be the right call. Although the cut continued to bleed throughout the bout, it seemed to be adequately handled between rounds and things didn't appear to get any worse. Fitzpatrick's cut man Guther Fishbein felt the same way and protested passionately after the bout was stopped. To add to the controversy the bout was declared a TKO victory for Majewski as opposed to a technical decision win, effectively overruling Morton's initial headbutt call.
Fitzpatrick would have lost either way, but if it was really due to a clash of heads the bout should have been stopped before the 4th round began, thus resulting in a no contest. Most in attendance felt the ending of the fight was bogus and booed the result. Even Majewski wasn't happy with the way things ended and was open to giving Fitzpatrick a rematch. When I caught up with Majewski earlier he told me he studied Fitzpatrick's hard fought 10 round win over Scott Sigmon, a recent Kelly Pavlik opponent. He knew Fitzpatrick was built to go the full distance and apologized to spectators for an earlier ending than he felt he deserved. Fitzpatrick himself said the cut wasn't bothering him at all and he planned to come on strong late in the fight. He also colorfully stated "you can cut off my arm and I'd still fight" along with this is "supposed to be a gladiator sport."
Chris Fitzpatrick is right. Boxing is a gladiator sport. If a fighter wants to continue and is reasonably capable of doing so, he should be allowed to go on. Exceptions can be made if a doctor feels a fighter is in serious danger of irreparable damage, but how is that justified in this fight? Fitzpatrick's cut man saw no difference in the wound between when it was "fine" to when it wasn't. He was so sure of that fact that his protests required him to be restrained and escorted from the ring. He was even threatened to be suspended. This is not usual cut man behavior. But perhaps his volatility was just coincidence. Is it also a coincidence that Fitzpatrick was brought in to lose to the hometown fighter? Is it a coincidence that a headbutt somehow lead to a TKO instead of a technical decision? Is it a coincidence that Majewski's mouth began to noticeably bleed in the last round? It all very well could be. But when I see guys like Paul Williams finish fights, whose face became a crimson mask for most of his bout against Verno Phillips, it does strike me odd that a man who was hardly bleeding is allowed 3 less rounds than Williams was given. Williams, bleeding by round 1 from a cut that actually did get worse, went on stop Phillips in the 8th. Personally I didn't get the impression that Fitzpatrick was going to do something like that, but he should have at least been given the opportunity to try. Commentary and analysis of the main event and the entire undercard follows (round by round accounts included).
Anthony Prescott KO2 DeAndre Phillips - 4 Rounds - Welterweights
The opening round of the evening was contested between two prospects making their pro debuts. Action moved at slow pace and both fighters looked relatively dry. Phillips appeared very gun shy and was on the defensive for most of the round. Prescott pressed the action and found a home for his over hand right. The same punch would stagger Phillips against the ropes in round 2, where he was knocked out cold by a follow up right hand. Prescott might have needed the last right hand to get the KO, but Phillips was on his way down regardless before it landed. The only reason the fight won't be nominated for KO of the year is because most people will never see it. But for you die hard boxing fans out there, you can watch this fight and the entire card on gfl.tv, or perhaps elsewhere illegally... Anyways, a respirator was brought into the ring to revive Phillips, who thankfully was able to get up and walk out of the ring. He was taken to the hospital to be safe, but I believe he's fine (I still need to check).
Jesse Hart TKO1 Steven Chadwick - 4 Rounds - Super Middleweights
Hart, in only his second pro fight, threw most of the punches you'll find in any text book, and threw them fast, hard, and in combination. The body shots in particular did the trick. Chadwick was first dropped by an uppercut to the body and later by a pair of left hooks. After going down for the second time Chadwick shelled up and retreated until his corner threw in the towel. Aside from holding on to Jesse's left arm, there wasn't much that Steven was able do to impede his assaulter. Thus the 34 year old Chadwick remains winless in his 4 fight career. So far all of his opponents have been undefeated (and remain so at the time this was written). Perhaps he should consider new management. While Team Hart and Jesse alternated in chanting "hard work" and "work hard" after the fight, they were obviously referring to the training camp. This fight was anything but hard for the 2011 National Golden Gloves and U.S. National Middleweight Champion. Jesse trusts his management to get him the fights he needs and is ready for a title shot whenever they are. Until then he'll just "keep fighting and winning."
Mark Rideout MD4 Randy Easton - 4 Rounds - Heavyweights
In a bout that tested skill vs conditioning, 241lb Rideout eked out a close decision in his pro debut against 224lb Easton, previously 0-0-1. Rideout easily won the first two rounds working behind his jab and was too slick for Easton to land hardly any clean punches on. But by the 3rd round Rideout's legs apparently lost their energy and most of the rest of the bout could have taken place in a phone booth. The close range finally allowed Easton to get off and the pace of the fight intensified considerably.
Easton's left hooks to the head punctuated the 3rd round. From the moment Easton showed signs of life Rideout's corner yelled for their man to go back to boxing. Perhaps initially he ignored his corner, but after the action packed 3rd round I seriously doubt he could have gone back to sticking and moving like he did in the first two rounds. However, while fending off Easton in the 4th, Rideout was able to land good counter uppercuts. His cleaner work in the final round seemed to be enough to edge him the fight on the cards of judges Joseph Pasquale and George Hill, who both scored the fight 39-37. I felt Easton was still clearly busier and out landing Rideout in the 4th, apparently as did judge John McKaie who scored it 38-38.
Rideout, between 6'1" and 6'2", looked fleshy from the onset. Once a respected amateur, Rideout had been pretty inactive over recent years. After the fight I asked him when the last time he fought was. To my surprise he told me only a few weeks ago. To clarify I reiterated that I didn't mean sparring, and he responded that neither did he. I guess it'll take a few fights to get back into shape.
Dan Biddle MD6 Pedro Martinez - 6 Rounds - Heavyweights
Although officially a heavyweight contest, it would be more accurate to consider this a meeting of cruiserweights who didn't feel like making weight. They also didn't appear to be particularly concerned with defense, which made for a sloppy but fun fight. Biddle fought with his hands down and his chin up in the air during the entire fight, but his awkward jerky style made him difficult for Martinez to hit in the majority of rounds. This however was not the case in the first round, where Martinez timed Biddle with overhand rights over and over again. "Bada Bing" Biddle on the other hand found limited success with a counter left hook. Both fighters continued to go back to these punches throughout the fight, whether they worked or not. In the 2nd round Biddle's jab started working. The fact that Martinez was the shorter man and came inside without throwing punches may have had a lot do with that.
Martinez stopped landing the over hand right while Biddle started landing nice uppercuts. The tide would turn yet again in the 3rd round when Martinez forced Biddle into a neutral corner and went to work, most notably landing left hooks and right hands. Martinez battered Biddle from one corner to another while Biddle just held and tried to escape. Martinez carried his momentum from the 3rd into the the 4th but the tide turned for the last time when Biddle unleashed a barrage of wild power shots that staggered Martinez and knocked out his mouthpiece right before the round ended. Both fighters left themselves wide open during the exchanges but Biddle's energy surge proved to be the difference. Biddle then carried his momentum into the 5th round and continued to batter a fatigued Martinez with clean shots. Martinez held on to survive from time to time but finally caught his second wind in the waning moments of the round.
Upset that he didn't manage to mount much of an offense during the round Martinez fired a few more shots after the bell. In the 6th and final round both fighters were exhausted, wild, and inaccurate. When shots did land, they just didn't have the sting displayed earlier. The round was close with little to choose from. While judges McKaie and Hill obviously gave the round to Biddle, resulting in a final score of 58-56, Pasquale must have given it to Martinez arriving at an even card of 57-57. To my surprise, apart from Bada Bing's fan section, which was quite substantial, the crowd booed the decision.
Raphael Luna D6 Osnel Charles - 6 Rounds - Lightweights
When watching this bout live I felt Charles was a clear winner. After looking at my notes on the fight, I can see how judge McKaie arrived at 58-56 Luna although I still agree with judge Hill's score of 58-86 for Charles. Oddly enough, the crowd booed both decisions (hopefully different people each time). Then when judge Pasquale's even 57-57 card was announced the mood didn't seem to improve any.
This was not an easy crowd to please. In the 1st round Luna was extremely gun shy and merely tried to absorb whatever Charles threw at him. Sometimes Luna would bait Charles to throw even more, but Osnel's corner instructed that their man should fight at his own pace. Luna finally let his hands go at the end of the 1st but it was too little too late. Nonetheless Luna apparently thought he did enough to warrant initiating a stare down. In the 2nd round Luna picked up the pace after Charles mounted and early lead then slowed down. Although it appeared to be a clear round for Charles, I made a note that it was fairly close. Charles left no doubts in the 3rd round and never let Luna take over at any stage. Charles then got away from his sticking and moving in round 4 and exchanged blows with Luna toe to toe. Despite fighting Luna's fight, Charles actually managed to hurt Luna.
Luna retaliated by conveniently landing a low blow, which lead to Charles taking extra time to recover. When the action resumed the round was fought on more even terms and Luna finished as the aggressor. Often judges are swayed by how rounds end as opposed to what happened earlier, a habit even more problematic when rounds are extended by breaks. In the 5th Luna had his best moments of the fight. His excellent body work lead to landing big shots upstairs, particularly a right hand at the end of the round that produced different variations of "ooh" from the audience. Charles then decided to go back to boxing in the final round and used a lot more lateral movement. It seemed to be working nicely, but he was eventually baited back into infighting. Charles managed to give more than he received, but Luna took the punches better. It was a close round that I once again felt Charles took. I was initially surprised that Luna celebrated as if he won immediately after the final bell, but it just goes to show you how subjective boxing can be.
Lavarn Harvell TKO1 Mojeed Okedara - 6 Rounds - Light Heavyweights
In what I found to be the most impressive performance of the evening, Harvell completely dominated Okedara nearly flawlessly. Harvell's jab set up picture perfect right hands. The second big right hand dropped Okedara. Okedara went down again due to left hooks while he was pressed against the ropes. Soon after referee Neumann called a halt to the bout when Harvell pounded Okedara into the ropes for a second time. Had the ropes not been there to support Okedara, he would have tasted the canvas for a third time. At the end of the night I talked to another undefeated light heavyweight prospect, Todd Unthank-May, originally scheduled to fight on the card (although not against Harvell). Even though Unthank-May thinks Harvell performed well, he also strongly feels capable of beating him. Harvell, from Atlantic City, vs Unthank-May, from Philadelphia, is a logical fight to make sometime down the line. Both have scored 1st round KOs at Bally's this year.
Naim Nelson UD6 Esteban Rodriguez - 6 Rounds - Junior Welterweights
In perhaps the only clear cut decision of the night, Nelson extended his undefeated streak to 7-0 with a wide decision over Rodriguez. That aside, Rodriguez appeared to be the most skilled "opponent" of the night and many of the rounds were somewhat close, even if Nelson arguably edged all of them. Ultimately Nelson won the fight with his speed, output, and specifically his left hook to the body, perhaps the only clean, regularly landed punch throughout the fight from either fighter. Both guys showed good defensive skills and took punches well. Nelson had the better jab and his footwork continually confused Rodriguez. Rodriguez was wider with his punches and was largely ineffective when Nelson boxed from a distance.
I felt Rodriguez did his best work in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. When Nelson got away from his jab in round 2 Rodriguez was able to exchange fierce body shots with him. In round 3 Rodriguez showed improved outside boxing ability and was able apply intelligent pressure and counter Nelson. Nelson was still out landing Rodriguez with more eye opening punches, but Rodriguez was either heavier handed or simply took punches better than Nelson did. I often got the feeling that Nelson would eventually wear down but it never happened, a credit to his conditioning. In fact the last round may have been Nelson's most decisive. He landed clean jabs, pulled back, and snuck in a few right hands over the top of Rodriguez's failed counters. Rodriguez showed signs of frustration before the final bell sounded, and did not return to his corner like someone who thought he won. When it was announced that Pasquale scored it 60-54 while McKaie and Hill had it 59-55, all for Nelson, Rodriguez just laughed and shrugged it off. As he left the ring he blurted out "they give him all the rounds." I suppose he would have been satisfied if the cards read 58-56.
Patrick Majewski TKO5 Chris Fitzpatrick - 10 Rounds - NABF Middleweight Title
Hours before either Majewski or Fitzpatrick would step into the ring I caught up with them in the dressing room to see how preparations went for this fight. I asked Majewski about his previous two bouts against Jose Miguel Torres (KOby6) and Antwun Echols (TKO3). He immediately told me he makes no excuses for the loss to Torres but followed up that he had doubts going into the fight, didn't feel well, and fought foolishly. Patrick, who also goes by his native Polish name Przemek, did however credit Torres for fighting well and landing punches he never saw coming. Ultimately the fight was televised on Polsat in Poland and on Azteca America in the United States. It's easy enough to find on the internet too. Anyone can see it and make up their own minds about how whether or not Majewski under performed.
The Antwun Echols fight is however another story, which wasn't televised and to the best of my knowledge even camcorder recordings of the bout have never made their way to the internet. Nonetheless reports of the fight are available and Majewski didn't contradict anything I've read about it. Patrick fully acknowledged that Antwun's best years were clearly behind him, but his experience still proved confusing. Although Majewski dropped Echols in the 1st round Antwun came back to drop Patrick in the 2nd. Majewski said he felt a little drunk as he got up from Echol's short right hand but persevered by telling himself, "Not again! Let's go!" He managed to rally later in the round and stopped Echols on his feet in the next.
In a way overcoming the knockdown against Echols was Majewski's first step to putting the ghost of Torres behind him. Meanwhile Fitzpatrick had every intention of adding his own ghosts to Majewski's closet. Although Fitzpatrick said he personally only studied Majewski somewhat and mostly relied on his coaches to construct the proper game plan, he did say he saw the Torres fight. He and his team saw several flaws in Majewski that they planned to exploit, and for one and a half rounds they looked like they were going to do just that. Fitzpatrick landed good jabs and left hooks in the opening round and moved around the ring well. Majewski, the consummate pressure fighter, sparingly showed good jabs of his own and landed nice lead rights from time to time. It was a close round that will vary depending on the judge, but for me the can't-miss left hook of Fitzpatrick edged it to him. Early in the 2nd round Fitzpatrick was even more dominant with the left hook, which even managed to stun Majewski.
But after a while Majewski's right hand took over and stunned Fitzpatrick even worse. I first noticed the cut outside of Fitzpatrick's left eye after Majewski had taken control of the fight. Between rounds a Polish guy recording the fight for bokser.org was thrown out after several reprimands from Russell Peltz not to do so. Peltz told those sitting near him that he informed the website that they were not allowed to take video footage of the fight in advance. Unfortunately for those of us who watch fights on the internet, bokser.org provides fights for free often in higher quality than gfl.tv provides for a fee. Regardless in round 3 Majewski continued to land the right hand over Fitzpatrick's low left. The Irishman's corner yelled at him to keep his left hand up, but Majewski continued to land the right at will through rounds 3 and 4. Fitzpatrick, who couldn't miss with the left hook in the first 1.5 rounds, didn't get back to using it until the beginning of the 5th. Be that as it may it didn't last long as Majewski's pressure wore Fitzpatrick down.
In spite of this Fitzpatrick still managed to bloody Majewski's mouth midway through round 5, although neither I nor Majewski is sure how it happened. Fitzpatrick later landed a low blow toward the end of the round, one of his few punches thrown in the 2nd half. Then, as covered in detail at the beginning of this article, the fight was stopped between rounds due to substantial but controlled gash outside of Fitzpatrick's left eye. It was a dramatic ending to a dramatic night.