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Hunter Excels, Mack Has Hands Full in Philly Wars

By J. R. Jowett reporting from ringside: Promoter Percy Custus, of the famed James Shuler Gym, ran an ambitious pro-am card on July 7. A prohibitive number of bouts were originally scheduled, but after the usual whittling down, the remaining bouts were all good, action fights. There were no upsets, but the favorites had to work for their wins. The show drew an encouraging crowd of 7 - 800 to the ritzy downtown Convention Center.


In the top bout, comebacking Yusaf Mack, 175, Phila., 31-4-2 (17), got all he wanted and then some from Sabou Ballogou, 175, Paris, 8-6 (4), before emerging with a hard-earned unanimous verdict in a crowd-pleasing six. The African fighting out of France doesn’t bother with subtleties, and doesn’t know a jab from a half nelson. But he was tough, determined, willing and hard to discourage. Mack started fast as expected with superior skills. Ballogou chased after him, often stumbling in pursuit. With the visitor a southpaw, and a clumsy one at that, Yusaf had to adapt some improvised footwork to circle wide and avoid collisions, while dropping in precise counters.


The resolute underdog’s answer to that was to make himself a human projectile and turn it into a mugging. Sabou got into the contest in the third, a close round, as Yusaf tried to precisely time his rushes. Action reached crescendo in the fourth, with Ballogou going all out, hurtling himself after his opponent with clobbering punches as the crowd went wild. Mack seemed bothered, gave ground, and appeared to be fading. But Yusaf came back to clearly establish himself in the fifth, his best round. Sabou may have been a bit expended from the vigorous fourth, and Mack’s counters were working perfectly. The final round built to a rousing finish as both battled to the last bell. Ballogou was rocked by counters in numerous rounds, but that seemed to be much the product of off-balance footwork, as he certainly was never deterred from trading. Lynne Carter scored 58-56, Rich Hopkins and Dewey LaRosa 59-55. Blair Talmadge refereed.


“We thought that we could upset him on his own home ground,” explained Ballogou’s trainer, Junius Hinton. “I have confidence in my fighter. We’ve upset a few people and I figured it would be no different. I got to give him [Mack] credit, he was a little bit quicker than I thought he was.”


The co-feature six was a sparkling effort by Eric “The Outlaw” Hunter, 126, Phila., 16-2 (9), over trial horse Jason Rorie, 126, Winston-Salem, 6-16-2 (3). Returning after 19 months, the controversial Hunter was sharp on both offense and “D”. Although appearing no threat on paper, the visitor attacked vigorously with an uninterrupted shower of punches. Hunter deftly slipped, ducked, blocked and dodged nearly the lot, hardly being caught solidly at all. Meanwhile, his counters were telling blows. Rorie made it only into the second when he crashed into a left hook, his feet flew out and he went down. Hunter coolly and quickly finished the task with a volley of precise shots capped off with a left hook that buried the underdog. Ref Shawn Clark signaled a TKO without bothering to count, at 2:38 of round two.


“I worked hard,” Hunter stated. “I really wanted to make a statement, but I really couldn’t make a statement with him [meaning that Rorie was an underdog]. But I knew this was my first fight back, so I did what I was supposed to do.”



Tim Witherspoon, Jr., 142 ¼, Phila., 7-2-1 (2), got a good fight from winless Cassius Clay, 143 ½, Las Vegas, 0-5, while winning a unanimous decision in a crowd-pleasing four. Despite his reach advantage, the lanky Witherspoon fought at close range in early going, but landed the cleaner, harder blows against the shifty, countering opponent. After Clay’s counters made the second close, Witherspoon backed away and used his reach to dominate the third with clean, jolting shots. They closed the show with a brisk final round back at close range, Tim again outfighting the willing and game Cassius. LaRosa scored 40-34, the others 39-37.


Similarly, Orlando Lewis, 154, Vineland, 5-2 (4), got a good fight from his opponent but won big over first-timer Johnny Frazier, 153, Akron, in a punishing four. A lash-back right jolted Lewis ending the first, but when Johnny tried to repeat with a sweeping right in the second, Orlando caught him off balance and sent him down with his own short right. Early in the third, the favorite missed a sweeping left hook but connected with a following right to drop Frazier again. Orlando then switched to the body and punished Frazier for the distance in a rugged contest. Lewis won a unanimous decision by 40-34, 40-35, and 39-35.


In a wild-swinging free-for-all, Saud Clark, 150, Phila., 2-0 (2), bombed out Kareem McFarlane, 150, Phila., 1-1 (1), at 2:42 of round one, scheduled four. McFarlane charged out aggressively, but walked smack into an opportune right and went down. He tried gamely to stay in the fight, clinching desperately, but eventually stumbled down from a left hook. When the pumped-up Saud bombed him down a third time with clubbing rights, ref Clark called a TKO. “I’ll do this [bleep] for free!” the elated winner proclaimed to all within hearing. That should make him popular with matchmakers!


Debuting Greg Jackson, 150 ¼, Phila., barely edged winless Vaughn Anderson, 154 ¼,  Phila.,0-3, by a split but fair decision in a good, tense four. Jackson came out running and went down in the first from a long right that seemed to barely catch him. Greg continued to bicycle, but won the next two by beating Vaughn to the punch with counters. Anderson applied increased pressure in a do-or-die fourth, but a sneak right rattled him just before the bell and may have salvaged the win. All scores 38-37, LaRosa for Anderson, Carter and Hopkins for Jackson.


Three amateur bouts opened the show. At 75 pounds, Rasheen Brown, Shuler’s, decisioned Jamarni Scott, Charm City Boxing (Balto.). A bad decision at 140 gave Maurice Harris, Shuler’s, the split win over Milton Santiago, 10th Round. And a single blow gave Isaiah Gibson a split win over Vincent Floyd, Gray’s Ferry BC, in a 165 Open bout.


July 7, 2012

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