Saturday, January 26, 2008

On the Road at Foxwoods

Matt Remillard, left, shoots a shot to the body of the game Manuel Perez.

MASHANTUCKET, CONNECTICUT - There's a sign on Route 2 as you're heading into Foxwoods that lets you know, "The fine for littering is $219."

Well, there was no danger of that happening tonight as Jimmy Burchfield and his CES Promotional team put on a fast moving, nine-bout card that was free of trash and witnessed by a full house inside the Fox Theater. The card was co-headlined by rising featherweight Matt Remillard and heavyweight Jason Estrada who participated in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

In the main event, scheduled for ten rounds, Matt "The Sharp Shooter" Remillard, 124, 11-0(7)KO's from Manchester, Connecticut returned from a 16-month layoff caused by a broken wrist, to meet Manuel Perez, 125, 11-3(2)KO's from Denver, Colorado. Perez, born in Honolulu, but fighting out of Denver was defending his WBC Youth featherweight title.

I used to live in Denver, and the fighters from out there are tough customers. The "front range" mentality was evident in Perez and he reminded me of many of the fighters I watched while living in the "Rocky Mountain State." However, Perez' two main problems tonight were that he had a porous defense and his punches were not as fast as Remillard's - who showed little effect from his long lay-off. Perez, although extremely game, was simply outclassed by the stronger and quicker Remillard.

The fight was competitive and the rounds were fairly close, but it was Remillard, "The Sharpshooter" who was able to unholster his guns and fire off the quicker rounds. It was a workman-like performance for Remillard and he scraped off the rust that had accumulated. By the end he appeared to have really found his groove. He showed a nice variety of punches and after ten rounds the judges got it right with unanimous verdicts of 98-92, 96-94 and 98-93 all for Remillard. I had it 97-93.

Afterwards, Remillard who is soft spoken and articulate said, "It took about three rounds to shake the rust off. I was shooting like a shot-gun. Boxing is an 80% mental game and it feels good to be back."

In the co-main, a scheduled ten, former Olympian Jason "Big Six" Estrada, 241, 10-1 (2)KO's from Providence, Rhode Island, went head-to-head against veteran Charles Shufford, 248, 20-7(9)KO's fighting out of Las Vegas. In his day job, Shufford works as a bodyguard and has protected, among others, paparazzi princess Britney Spears. Given a choice, Shufford would likely have decided to trail Spears around, but tonight he found himself on the wrong end of Estrada's punches.

Jason Estrada, left, and Charles Shufford pictured getting to know one another.

Shufford did come to fight and he looked as good as he has in years, but at age 34 time seems to have passed him by and Estrada was simply fresher and hungrier. Estrada, 27, is fleshy, but he has quick hands and he can move well when the urge strikes him. However, with a combined 11 knockouts in 38 fights between the two of them, this was like watching a heavyweight pillow fight. Somehow, Estrada's right eye began to swell in the sixth round from Shufford's pesky left hooks and he also began spitting blood. The drama was sucked out of the fight by the slapping punches from both guys and as they meandered along it stifled the crowd.

When the final stanza was announced the crowd cheered for the end. However, the tenth turned out to be the best round of the fight as both guys unloaded everything they had left. Estrada appeared the worse for wear at the end, but he did enough to win. The judges had it unanimous for the former Olympian by scores of 99-91, 99-91 and 98-92. I had it 97-94 for Estrada. The "hometown" crowd actually booed the lopsided scores in Estrada's favor.

In a fight scheduled for four, Brian Macy, 169, making his pro debut and hailing from right here in Ledyard, Connecticut, faced Pete Guthy, 168, 1-1-1 (1)KO from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Macy is a card dealer here at Foxwoods and the crowd went wild when he was introduced. Both guys were in shape and the fight was fought at a quick pace. In the second round, Macy landed a left hook that had "mark down" stamped all over it. Guthy went down like the prices at Macy's after Christmas sale and he hit the deck with a thud that sounded like a bag of lady's shoes being dropped. Guthy showed guts by rising at the count of eight, but he was in no shape to continue and the referee rightfully closed the sale, and Guthy's night, before closing it out at 1:34 of round two. Macy's stock price could be on the rise here locally.

In a wild four-rounder, Manuel Antonio Lopes, 171, 4-0(1)KO from Brockton, Mass. and trained by Marvin Hagler's former trainer, Goody Petronelli, went right to work against John "The Baptist" Terry, 171, from Portsmouth, Virginia who sported a spotty record of 2-7-2 (1)KO's. Lopes was handily winning the first round until he was shockingly decked just as the bell sounded to end the first, but it was a flash knockdown. Lopes probably lost the round 10-9. Lopes came out for revenge in the second, and tried to trap "The Baptist" into confession against the ropes. Lopes christened him with some hellacious bodyshots. Lopes won the third with sharper punching and he showed better class than Terry who is much tougher than his losing record suggests. The fight was up for grabs in the fourth and after winning the first two minutes, Lopes was stunned by another left hook from "The Baptist" and he reeled around the ring with spaghetti legs for the final minute.

After four, it was anybody's guess as to who won and the judges scored it 38-37 for "The Baptist", 38-37 for Lopes and 38-38 even. I also had it 38-38. It was later announced that Lopes broke his right hand in the second round. "The Baptist" should have prayed harder, maybe he would have went home a blessed winner.

In a tight six, "Irish" Joe McCreedy, 173, 5-1(4)KO's who comes from the same streets of Lowell, Mass. that spawned "Irish" Micky Ward, came face-to-face in a grudge match versus Iraqi War Veteran Chris Traietti, 174, 7-0(4)KO's from down the road in Quincy, Mass. At the end of the first, McCreedy unloaded his full arsenal on Traietti, who sports a large tattoo of the Grim Reaper on his back with the words "No Regrets...No Remorse." Traietti looked thereafter as though he may have had some regrets as McCreedy continued with the heavy artillery and landed thudding shots to the head and body.

To borrow a phrase from the movie Slingblade, "off and on and from time-to-time" the crowd chanted "Let's go Joey!" It was a fight fought at close quarters and although Triaetti was competitive it was McCreedy who was busier and more damaging - particulary to the body. Both guys let it all hang out in the last round and the fight went to the cards with McCreedy the rightful victor via majority decision with scores of 59-55, 57-57 and 59-55. I saw things 58-56 for "Irish" Joe.

In a women's cat fight, scheduled for four rounds, local favorite Addy Irizarry, 142, 3-1(2)KO's from Hartford, Connecticut had a tiger by the tale with Tonya Gallegos, 143, 4-6(2)KO's who came east from my old hometown of Denver, Colorado.

The claws came out early in this one and it was a free swinging affair that brought the crowd to life. The heavily tattooed Irizarry, who also sported a crew cut, bloodied Gallegos' nose in the first round causing her pink trunks to look much less feminine. Gallegos was a tough customer but Irizarry simply possessed better fundamentals and quicker hands. Irizarry was also better conditioned than the lady from Colorado. This one was not for the faint of heart as Gallegos was repeatedly beaten to the punch and she bled heavily from the nose all night. It was a spirited affair and in the end it was local favorite who prevailed with three scores of 40-36. The crowd had catch scratch fever after this one.

In the third bout of the night, Las Vegan Cruiserweight "Awesome" Aaron Williams, 200pounds, 15-0(11)KO's and a nine-time US National Amateur Champion, squared off against Manu Ntoh, 194, 17-13-1 (10)KO's fighting out of Atlanta, Georgia via Cameroon in a fight scheduled for eight rounds.

Aaron Williams, left, fends off another rush from the aggressive Manu Ntoh.

Williams had former WBA Light Heavyweight champ Eddie Mustafa Muhammad serving as his chief second. Williams is promoted by Jimmy Burchfield and is a great looking prospect who shows a lot of poise for a youngster. However, he has a tendency to stand straight up and lay on the ropes. This allowed the stout and thickly built Ntoh, a former kickboxer, to chug his way in from time-to-time. The fight took on a predictable pattern where Ntoh would charge forward looking to land his heavy hooks while Williams moved around and picked his shots . Think of it as a poor man's version of Ali vs. Frazier. Ntoh is tough personified and he absorbed a lot of shots especially in the last three rounds. When Williams used his jab and got up on his toes he was dominant, but when he stopped moving he lost his advatages in reach and speed. It was a great test for Williams, who will likely grow into a heavyweight, and he won this stern test unanimously by scores of 80-72, 80-72 and 79-73. I had it 79-73 as well.

In an old fashioned border war, southpaw Bobo "The Bull" Starnino, 159, Providence, Rhode Island, 8-2 (1)KO faced-off against Eric Pinaretta, 163, 1-1(1)KO who hails from the whaling city of New Bedford, Mass. It was bad intentions all around in the contest scheduled for rour rounds. With no time spent on feeling each other out, both guys looked to land big shots from the sound of the first bell. The first round was relatively even, but it was Pinaretta who threw more punches, cut a tiring Starnino on the bridge of the nose and backed him up in round two. After retreating to his corner at the end of the second stanza, Bobo and his corner decided he had enough of Pinaretta's punches and the affair was wavied off in between rounds on the advice of the ringside physician Dr. Michael Schwartz. It was reported at ringside that Starnino was "ill" and that "he tried to fight through it."

In the four-round opener, switch-hitting Angel Camacho, Jr. 8-0(4)KO's, 170 pounds, Johnston, Rhode Island took on Terrence "TJ" Jones, 10-10 (6)KO's, 168 pounds, from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Young prospect Camacho showed solid fundamentals and fairly heavy punches and he took advantage of the slower Jones who had John Scully working his corner. Camacho opened up in rounds two and three after a relatively slow first round. In round four Camacho picked his shots nicely and teed off on the game Jones. The fourth round was the most hotly contested as both guys opened up in the last twenty seconds in a bit of fury. In the end, all three judges scored the fight 40-36 for Camacho which was the same as I had it.

Inducted into the CES Ring of Honor Hall of Fame, during an in the ring ceremony was, "Sucra" Ray Oliveira. Seen at ringside were former world champions Virgil "Quicksilver" Hill and Vinny "The Pazmanian Devil" Pazienza. Also in attendance were Joe Mesi, Cruiswerweight contender Matt Godfrey and recently emerged from the witness protection program - Norman "Stoney" Stone - former trainer of Johnny Ruiz.

At ringside, January 25, 2008.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for the update on the manu fight. I was searching the web to see haw he was faring as a pugilist. I was hoping that his record woold have been better.