By Derek Gionta, ringside: Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino once again played host to the Rivers Rumble as the third installment of the boxing series promoted by Roy Jones Jr. and TNT Sports Promotions featured hometown super featherweight Monty Meza-Clay, who defeated Mexico’s Emmanuel "The Butcher" Lucero by a majority decision over eight competitive rounds on Saturday night (7/14) at the outdoor venue.
The undercard featured Sammy Vasquez Jr., who made his fourth professional appearance in just his third month as a pro, as well as a number of other local fighters eager to jump-start their professional careers.
Meza-Clay, 33-3 (21), had to work for this one as Lucero, 26-12-1 (14), brought a game effort in lieu of what many expected of a fighter that lost five in a row leading up to this night.
The 5’2" Pittsburgh native began the fight landing the cleaner, more crisp punches on the slightly taller Mexican, now fighting out of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Lucero began to pick up the pace on his slippery, switch hitting foe, as the next two rounds progressed, capitalizing on a busier work rate. He did load up on his left hooks, which seemed a bit too tight to reach Meza-Clay’s head, however the right hand found it’s mark often enough to earn the nod on my scorecard.
Much of the same continued up until the fifth round, which I felt was Meza-Clay’s best round of the fight. His crisp combination punching ending with slick defensive moves far outweighed the occasional power punches landed by Lucero.
In the seventh, Lucero, with a cut on the left side of his head near the hairline, landed a series of right hands over Meza-Clay’s left, punctuating the round and returned to his corner with a chance to make the ending closer than many expected.
Meza-Clay finished strong with his continued attack from both the orthodox and southpaw stance, while slipping and rolling punches to set up an offensive attack of his own.
The judges’ final tallies read 76-76, 77-75, and 78-74 for Meza-Clay.
Monessen’s Sammy Vasquez Jr., 4-0 (2), won a four round unanimous decision over a game Anthony Willis, 1-1-1, of Battle Creek, Michigan. Vasquez, with a number of fans behind him, out boxed and out worked Willis using his slick boxing skills and crisp combination punching from his southpaw stance to alleviate his opponents’ attack. Willis, willing and able to put up a fight, was unable to pose a threat to Vasquez outside of a strong chin and bravery. The local welterweight scored a 40-36 shutout on all three cards.
Vasquez, having turned pro this past April, now looks to fight again in August. At 26 years old, the former Olympic hopeful is moving at a rapid pace, which is preferred by Vasquez given his amateur pedigree and professional aspirations. A six rounder is in the works for his next fight.
In the walkout bout of the night, Lennox "2 Sharpe" Allen, 16-0-1 (10), of New York defeated Michael "The Midnight Stalker" Walker, 19-15-3, (12), of Chicago as Walker’s corner stopped the fight after the fourth round. Allen, a slick southpaw, did all he could as Walker fought out of a tight defensive shell with no offense attack. Allen had Walker in danger of going down a few times as he unloaded a series of punches while his opponent used the ropes to keep his balance. The corner stoppage saved their fighter from further punishment and the crowd from further yawning. The two fought in the super middleweight division.
In the first swing bout of the night, allowing for the main event to take place a couple fights earlier due to potential inclement weather, Billy "The Boilermaker" Hutchinson, 3-1-2 (2), of Pittsburgh, fought to a four round split draw with Myrtle Beach, SC native Curtis Morton, 1-2-1. Morton boxed well from the outside for the duration, while Hutchinson snuck in some clean power shots, mainly a left hook to the head. The judges saw the fight 39-37 Morton, 39-37 Hutchinson, and a 38-38 draw. Some ringside observers felt Morton won the fight.
Pittsburgh light heavyweight Jaque "Lights Out" Lutz, 5-0-2 (2), fought to a four round split draw with Steve Tyner,3-5-2 (2), of Akron, OH in a very competitive fight. Lutz boxed well in the opening round, fighting off the angle behind a stiff jab. Tyner landed a solid left hook to the head of Lutz towards the end of the round in what was his best moment. Round two was similar as Lutz continued boxing from the outside. Tyner countered a Lutz jab with a right hand late in the round but did not follow up. Tyner’s pace picked up considerably in the third, making a much more difficult task for Lutz. With a decision still in doubt on either side, Tyner scored a knockdown in the fourth via a right hand to the head. Lutz made it back to his feet and finished well enough to escape the round with a possible 10-9 deficit. The judges scores were 38-37 Tyner, 38-37 Lutz, and 38-38, making the decision an acceptable draw.
Heavyweight "Big" Dan Martz, 5-0 (4), of Clarksburg, WV, scored a fourth round TKO over Charleston’s Jon "Badass" Hill, 1-1 (1). Hill, a southpaw, smothered the much taller Martz in the opening round while landing an occasional straight left to the head. As the next three rounds progressed Martz began landing the bigger shots and outworked Hill. Hill began to tire significantly while throwing wild punches that rarely found the target. A fourth round knockdown for Martz and a flurry in the corner parallel to Hill’s, were the concluding events as referee Ernie Sharif stopped Hill, with a cut over his left eye, from further punishment. Time of the stoppage was 2:37.
In an amateur bout, local amateur Josh Himes, of Monaca, PA lost by a referee stoppage in the first round of a schedule three in the 201lb amateur division to AJ Materna of Canton, OH. Himes, the former 201lb Pennsylvania State Golden Gloves champ, was caught with a right hand to what seemed to be the back of his head, causing his legs to tremble before hitting the canvas. Another standing eight count compliments of a Materna flurry was enough for the referee to see before calling off the bout.
Roy Jones Jr. and Troy Ridgley’s TNT Sports Promotions filled the outdoor amphitheatre considerably and plan to make it back soon. Matchmakers were Mark Yankello and Andy Nance.
Former heavyweight champion Michael Moorer as well as a number of other local celebrity sports figures were in attendance.
A special 10-count tribute was given prior to the Meza-Clay fight for the recently deceased Scotty McCracken, a former fighter from the Aliquippa region of Pittsburgh. McCracken, a former state golden glove champion and veteran of 24 professional fights, fought with great pride and courage every time he stepped in the ring.
July 14, 2012