Showtime Tripleheader Delivers in Knockout Fashion: Tarver, Forrest and Donaire Advance
By Alex Pierpaoli
originally published 12/5/07 on KOFantasyBoxing.com
Fighting for the second time since his June 2006 loss to Bernard Hopkins, Antonio Tarver of Tampa, FL, did what he was supposed to do versus Danny Santiago, of Ocala, FL, in what could best be described as a glorified sparring session.
Tarver controlled the fight from the start although at times he seemed to be pushing his punches and looked like a man fighting underwater. Santiago used some upper body movement and combination punching in round three and it worked, sort of, but by round’s end Tarver was warming up and landed with power punches to take back the round.
Tarver picked up the pace in the fourth, landing with heavier blows to Santiago’s head and body. With time running out in the round Tarver finally let both his hands go and ended things at 2:53.
Promoter Gary Shaw made it very clear at the post-fight press conference that the Santiago bout should be considered a tune-up for the come-backing Antonio Tarver. Shaw also rehashed the argument that Tarver’s performance versus Bernard Hopkins was due to the long layoff and weight-gain for Tarver’s role as Heavyweight Champion Mason Dixon in the Stallone-flick Rocky Balboa. Whatever.
Tune-up fights are a sensible and acceptable way for a prize-fighter to comeback from inactivity or injury; agreed. But don’t put it in a Showtime Main Event. Weight has a lot to do with star power and Tarver’s light heavyweight stature and previous fistic accomplishments were far more responsible for making him the Showtime headliner on the night than any recent victories.
That being said, what is there for WBC Champ Chad Dawson to win in fighting Tarver? Reports suggest Dawson has an April date with Glencoffe Johnson and Tarver will fight Jeff Lacy assuming Lacy gets past Peter Manfredo Jr. in their bout on the Mayweather-Hatton undercard. With Johnson and Lacy in their prospective futures, Dawson, Tarver and boxing fans will have to wait for any fists to fly while the verbal fireworks seem likely to continue for now at least.
Let’s hope, for Tarver’s sake, that no further tune-ups are needed because boxing fans might not be able to stomach it.
Tarver is now 26-4 (19) while Santiago drops to 29-4-1 (19).
WBC Super Welterweight titlist Vernon Forrest, of Atlanta, GA, looked sharp in an 11th round TKO victory over Michele Piccirillo of Puglia, Italy. Forrest fought well throughout, using accurate jabs, lots of clever feinting and defensive tricks to control the action despite a courageous effort from Piccirillo, who never stopped trying.
Vernon’s worst round came in the eighth when he seemed to lose focus and tire a bit. He also landed an unintentional low blow and Piccirillo was given time to recover by Ref. Arthur Mercante Jr., who warned Forrest for the infraction. But Forrest got things back under control and looked like the Viper again in rounds nine and ten, landing heavy accurate punches to the head and torso of the Italian. With about forty-five seconds to go in the tenth Forrest connected with a monster overhand right that crumpled Piccirillo in his corner and caused Ref Mercante to wave the bout off immediately. As he went down Piccirillo suffered what a Showtime replay showed to be a grisly-looking injury to his left leg and ankle. Piccirillo was taken to the hospital for treatment and did not appear at the post fight press conference.
Later, Vernon Forrest said he hoped to be in line for a shot at the winner of Hatton-Mayweather but left the door open for a rubber match with Ricardo Mayorga, the only fighter to defeat him, twice.
Forrest is now 40-2 (29) while Piccirillo falls to 48-4 (30)
The best bout of the night was clearly Nonito Donaire‘s eighth round TKO over rugged Luis Maldonado of Mexicali, Mexico. Donaire, born and raised in the Philippines and now fighting out of San Leandro, CA, strafed Maldonado with cracking left and right hand power punches and had him bleeding from cuts next to both eyes from round two on. Like two experienced gun-slingers, both men tried to counter each other repeatedly and they stood toe-to-toe often looking for openings to exchange quick hard blows.
In round four Maldonado scored with several hard bolts of his own causing Donaire to switch to southpaw temporarily to either make himself harder to hit or try to find a better angle on his opponent. But in the fifth Donaire was back to the orthodox style and back in charge of the action, using well timed counters to dominate the Mexican. When the end came in round eight, a hard right uppercut followed soon after by a sweeping left hook puts Maldonado down. Rising from the knockdown Maldonado was quickly under assault again from the relentless Donaire and ref. Charlie Dwyer stepped in to halt the action at 1:16 of the round.
In his first fight since the upset kayo win over Vic Darchinyan in July, Donaire successfully defended the IBF & IBO Flyweight straps and now makes plans with promoter Gary Shaw to unify the divisional titles or move up in weight for larger foes and more lucrative match-ups.
Donaire leaves CT with a record of 19-1 (12) while Maldonado goes home after his second kayo loss with a ledger of 37-2-1 (28).
Fighting for the seventh and final time this year, Hebron, CT, heavyweight Tony Grano, 222 lbs, scored a second round TKO over 195 pound, John Battle of Rocky Mount, NC. Grano is now 13-0-1 (11) while Battle drops to 14-19-1 (7).
One hundred sixty-six pound Jason Douglas entered the ring wearing a Jason Voorhees mask, apropos of the Ontario, Canada, fighter’s nickname: Friday the 13th. Anthony Cannon of Saginaw, MI, was on the run from the pressuring Canadian from the opening bell. Douglas pursued Cannon with his right hand cocked back the way his idol would brandish a machete and before the end of two Douglas hacked away at the head and body of Cannon with the right and left, causing Cannon’s people to throw in the towel and Referee Charlie Dwyer stopped the bout. Jason Friday The 13Th Douglas improves to 2-0 (2) with the victory while Anthony Cannon falls to 4-8 (1).
Adelita Irizarry, of Hartford, CT, won a unanimous decision over Nicole Woods of Georgia, in an exciting female scrap of 140 pounders. All three judges saw the bout at 39-37 for Irizarry while this observer had it in favor of Woods by the same score. Whether the judges were swayed by the local’s effort is debatable; what was clear was that both women gave their all and Irizarry used effort and aggression to make up for what she lacked in power and damage done. Irizarry moves on with a record of 3-1 (2) while Woods looks to regroup at 1-1.
In regional cruiserweight action, Chris McInerney of Stoughton, MA, used a left jab to dominate the action against the aggressive Tim Flamos of Brockton, MA. For four rounds McInerney speared the thick-bodied but limited Flamos who tried to close the distance behind wide winging shots. In the fifth McInerney began landing power punches behind the jabs and the end came at 2:39 of round five.
McInerney is now 9-1-1 (6) while Flamos drops to 19-4-1 (7).
And in the very first bout of the evening heavyweights Cedric Boswell of Atlanta, GA and Josh Gutcher went right to work exchanging power punches in round one, with Boswell’s heavier blows doing more damage. In the second stanza, a Boswell left hook to the belly deflated Gutcher and dumped him in a heap on the canvas, where referee Arthur Mercante Jr. waved off the bout at 2:02 of round number two. Boswell improves to 25-1 (20) while Gutcher drops to 18-8 (13).
Send comments or questions to Alex Pierpaoli at: KOFantasyBoxing@gmail.com