Willie Gibbs rallies to stop Lenord Pierre in slugfest at Foxwoods
By Alex Pierpaoli
originally published 3/13/06 on KOFantasyBoxing.com
On Friday night the Fox Theater at Foxwoods Casino became a battleground when middleweights Willie Gibbs and Lenord Pierre waged a twelve round war that left one man standing. In a see-saw bout that thrilled the assembled crowd, Willie Gibbs of Philadelphia, endured the two-fisted attack of Lenord Pierre until round twelve when Gibbs dropped Pierre twice, prompting Referee Mike Ortega to stop the bout at 2:53 of the final round. Going into the twelfth, Pierre led on two of the judges’ official cards but Gibbs’ come-from-behind victory rendered that fact moot in brutal fashion. The victory gave Gibbs the USBA Middleweight belt, one he had tried to win on a previous trip to Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun, where Gibbs lost to Daniel Edouard in a thriller that saw both men hurt before Gibbs was stopped in round four. Friday’s title winning victory all but erased those bitter memories for Team Gibbs as they savored a hard fought win over the gritty Lenord Pierre.
In the early going Willie Gibbs did damage with power punches and hurt Pierre in round one, but Gibbs had trouble connecting with more than one punch at a time. Pierre pressured Gibbs relentlessly, working his body with powerful hooks to Gibbs’ hips and ribs.
In the third round Gibbs tried to establish a jab but Pierre’s forward marching attack and vicious body-punching secured the frame on all three judge’s scorecards. Pierre, a protege of former Mike Tyson trainer Kevin Rooney, clearly displayed he had mastered the Cus D’Amato/Rooney-inspired technique that Tyson popularized, of throwing punches with “Bad Intentions.” Pierre intended to do damage with all of his punches and even seemed to throw himself off balance with the effort he put behind many of his powerful hooks and overhand rights.
The fourth saw Gibbs slow the pace of the bout as he injected a jab into his offense which broke up the attack of Pierre, but by round’s end Pierre landed several bombs that stole the round.
The fight raged through the middle rounds where Pierre was cut over both eyes by clean blows from Gibbs, and in the eighth blood flowed freely from the wounds staining Pierre’s trunks a rosy pink. In the eighth, spurred on by the thought the bout would be stopped on the advice of the ringside physician, Lenord Pierre threw bombs with both hands in hopes of getting Gibbs out of there; but it was not to be.
In the ninth, with Pierre clearly exhausted from the previous round’s effort, Gibbs got back to business but even the Philadelphian was unable to capitalize as he too was clearly winded from the physical exertion the bout demanded of both men.
As both combatants slugged through the final rounds it seemed clear the bout would come down to who wanted it more as each man pushed himself to keep fighting harder.
With less than thirty seconds left in the final round Gibbs caught Pierre with a left hook that crumpled him and left him in a heap on the canvas above the neutral corner. Amazingly, Pierre was able to right himself and Ref. Ortega allowed him to continue but Gibbs came right back and slammed Pierre to the canvas again with another monstrous left.
Ref. Ortega stepped in and waved off the bout immediately giving Gibbs the twelfth round TKO with less than a handful of seconds left in the fight. Despite some complaints from Pierre trainer, Kevin Rooney, Ortega’s call was hard to fault as the knockdown was horribly brutal and a referee should be concerned only with a fighter’s safety and not with the amount of time remaining in a bout. But after such an effort from both men it was easy to understand the disappointment of Team Pierre.
Afterward both fighters and members of their respective entourages spoke to media members. Willie Gibbs was asked whether he thought the fight might end due to the cuts he opened over the eyes of Pierre.
“Well, I knew they weren’t going to stop it,” said Gibbs. “They [doctors at ringside] tried to give him a chance… They wanted to see two warriors go at it.”
Matchmaker Ron Katz said the fistic drama of Gibbs-Pierre was reminiscent of the 1995 brawl between light-heavyweights Prince Charles Williams and Merqui Sosa, an opinion which was seconded by ESPN’s Joe Tessitore who was in attendance as a spectator with his young son.
“I was feeling good until I got hit,” said Lenord Pierre. “I don’t know what happened after that.”
When asked about the cuts, Pierre was curious whether the injury had been the cause of the stoppage defeat.
“Is that why they stopped it or something? I got knocked down?” Pierre asked the media for details to help flesh out the time he was missing from memory.
“When fighters get knocked out they don’t remember that they got knocked out,” said Kevin Rooney. As a professional fighter, Rooney himself experienced that when knocked out by Hall of Famer, Alexis Arguello in two rounds back in 1982.
“I woke up 45 minutes later,” Rooney confessed.
With the kayo victory Willie Gibbs improved to 20-1 (16) while Pierre returned to Catskill, NY with a record of 18-2 (13).
In the co-feature, Shamone Alvarez of Atlantic City entered the ring on Friday wearing trunks emblazoned with the visage of fallen fighter and fellow Atlantic City native Leavander Johnson. Johnson died in September of 2005 several days after being knocked out by Jesus Chavez in Las Vegas. Alvarez’ tribute-trunks included a portrait of Leavander Johnson alongside the words “Good Man Down” and written on the back was “He Did It His Way, Champ Leavander Johnson.”
In the all-southpaw bout, Alvarez faced Virgil McClendon, who fought much of the bout with his back to the ropes and repelling the jab-driven assault of Alvarez. Alvarez’s attack seemed to be lacking in power but he made up for it with busy aggression and fought his way to a unanimous decision win. Alvarez is now 14-0 (9) while McClendon fell to 22-7 (8).
Wes Hobbs of Brooklyn, NY, gave the assembled a less than thrilling display of careful but tactically proficient boxing against Lowell, MA’s favorite son, Joey Ortega. Hobbs improved to 2-0 (1) while The Alpha & Omega Ortega fell to 2-15.
In the second bout of the night, heavyweights Larry White and Carlos Lovato fought a spirited, but sloppy, four rounder that got the crowd heated up quickly. Larry White, now 2-0 (1), came to the ring wearing a crown that looked like it was straight from the local Wal-Mart or Party City, but once the opening bell sounded there was nothing cheap or chintzy about the punishment White and Lovato gave each other. Carlos Lovato rocked White in the first round as the two men banged away at each other. Though neither man was especially polished, King White’s royal jab did damage and kept Lovato reaching for him and winging right uppercut-left hook combinations that landed sporadically enough to keep things exciting. Carlos Lovato left the ring with a record of 0-1 as a professional.
Featherweights Devon Cormack and Angelo Acevedo rumbled in the first contest of the evening which saw Cormack break down Acevedo with power punches, scoring a TKO at 2:07 of round 2. Cormack is now 1-1 (1) while Acevedo drops to 0-4-1.
Send comments or questions to Alex Pierpaoli at: KOFantasyBoxing@gmail.com