Jerry Glick reporting: On a show that was filled with surprises including a sudden, last second knockout, an upset or two, a possible resurrection of a career, and maybe the end of another, X-Cel Promotions honored 88 year old Lou Duva for all that he has done in boxing with a very exciting show in Huntington, NY at the Oheka Castle. The six fight show was dubbed, fittingly, “The Hassel in the Castle.”
In the main event former world champion, Byron Mitchell, 174 ½, 28-6-1 (21 KOs), Dothan, AL, was upset by journeyman Otis Griffin. Mitchell ate many right hands throughout the eight rounds that the twelve round USBA Light-heavyweight title fight lasted. He had no defense for the rights that Griffin, 173 ¼, 22-6-2 (9 KOs), Sacramento, CA, tossed at him inside and at long range. Finally Mitchell was hurt by yet another right and he backed up to the ropes where he took at least four unanswered rights to his head prompting referee Wayne Kelly to make the right decision to stop the fight at 2:05 of the round. Mitchell protested vehemently, even pushing Kelly who pushed back.
At the end Mitchell was leading because he set the pace, but all along, Griffin was wearing him down with punches that Mitchell did not see coming.
Former heavyweight contender Michael Grant, 261 ½, 46-3 (34), Blue Bell, PA, landed a solid, long right to the side of opponent Kevin Burnett’s face dropping him early in the first of eight scheduled rounds. When Burnett, 277, 13-4-1 (8 KOs), Atlanta, GA, got to his feet he was a bit shaky but continued. Grant attacked and had his man in a corner but it appeared that Burnett was still alive when referee Pete Santiago decided to call it off at :48 of the round to the dismay of Burnett and his corner. Needless to say, Grant said he was happy with the win.
Emmanuel Taylor, 146 ½, 7-0 (6), Edgewood, MD, outworked Avi Bruce, 147, 8-2 (6), Silver Springs, MD, using his superior hand speed to land combinations to the head and body. At the end of the second of a four rounder he hurt his foe with a double left hook to the body then up to the head. After a close third round, Taylor forced Bruce to the ropes with a series of punches causing him to stop punching and bend at the waist. After the round ended the doctor called it off in the corner between rounds three and four. Ref: Tony Chiarantano.
Southpaw Ashantie Hendrickson, 156, 2-6 (0 KOs), Medford, NY, scored a minor upset when he out fought Stephen Scott, 152 ½, 2-1 (0), Albany, NY, to take a unanimous four round decision by a 39-37 score across the board, over his previously unbeaten opponent. Scott was often short with his punches and when he landed Hendrickson rolled with them, negating their effect. Hendrickson got his punches off first most of the time. Ref: Shada Murtaugh.
For almost all four rounds James Hope, 137, 6-5 (4), Albany, NY, landed the harder, more accurate punches and more of them as he dominated opponent Bryan Abraham, 137, 2-3-1 (1), Schenectady, NY, when suddenly Abraham threw a left right at the bell that knocked him out. Referee Chiarantano counted to ten after the final bell rang. Officially it was a KO at 3:00 of the fourth and final round.
Josh Harris, 198 ½, 6-3-1 (5), Providence, RI, hurt Elvin Sanchez, 194 ¼, 3-1 (3), Paterson, NJ, in the opening frame and stopped him in the second of four rounds scheduled after dropping him for the second time in the round with left hooks. Time- :51 of round two. Santiago refereed.
THE NIGHT BELONGED TO LOU DUVA who turns a very youthful 88 years young on May 28th was the man of the hour at the Hassel at the Castle. Along with the rich were the famous. Patrons who paid to eat and enjoy boxing were able to meet some of boxing’s royalty. Secondsout asked many of them about Lou Duva.
Gerry Cooney: “All these guys came here to support him tonight and it’s really great and a privilege to see that.”
Tyrell Biggs: “I’d do anything for Lou; he pulled me through one of my toughest fights when the guy pulled my collar bone.”
Shawn George: “He’s generations upon generations of history. I’ve been in his office. It is a privilege to be around him.”
Mark Breland: “Great guy; great motivator. Funny, he always kept us laughing. He kept all the fighters relaxed; a good guy all around.”
Evander Holyfield: “it’s an honor for me to be here because I’ve been with him since ’84. He’s the one who took the chance and put me on his promotions crew. I got the opportunity to be the heavyweight champion of the world and he did a lot of incredible stuff for me.”
Lou Duva: “My 88th birthday and it’s a great event for me. I’m in love with everybody here.” Later Duva was presented with a huge cake in the shape of a boxing ring.
EVANDER HOLYFIELD talked to secondsout about his career.
“The most important thing is how you end,” said the five time heavyweight champ. “When I lost the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world in 1992 I told everybody that I was going to come back and be the undisputed champion again. I have worn a piece of the belt five times, but the point is the undisputed championship; that’s what I want.”
MICHAEL GRANT, all 6’7” of him was as happy as can be having had a very easy night disposing of his opponent. He was inactive in 2009, but 2010, he said will be better.
“Definitely moving up the ladder,” said Grant of his chances in the heavyweight race. “This is definitely the direction, a first round knockout. It’s time to keep moving. I have another fight June 19th in New York.”
What about the other heavyweights looking for glory?
“American heavyweights, not good,” said Grant. The Russians, all good because they work hard; I work hard too so I think I should get a shot.”