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Pemberton Stops Sheika in Rematch Slug-o-Rama

Jan 28, 2004: Ringside Report by Alex Pierpaoli ( Photos © Brendon Pierpaoli, Doghouse Boxing )

On Friday night New Bedford’s Scott “The Sandman” Pemberton prevailed over Omar Sheika after ten rounds at Foxwoods Casino and successfully defended his NABF 168 pound title. Sheika, who had never before been knocked down, was dropped in round ten after a brutal volley of hard punches from the supremely motivated and resilient Pemberton. After their July encounter ended in a close split decision, both men sought redemption in some form on Friday, but it was Pemberton’s quicker busier offense that gave the Sandman the dramatic TKO victory at 1:43 of round number 10.

In a fight that will surely be remembered eleven months from now when considering the best brawls of 2004, Omar Sheika scored another early knockdown but was unable to turn the lights out on his New England rival. After putting Pemberton down in round two of their first fight, Sheika was unable to finish off his opponent despite hurting him on numerous occasions. Considering the pitched battle these fighters waged in July, going into the rematch, the only sure thing was that there would be fireworks all over again because of the blend of both men’s fighting styles.

The first round saw Pemberton boxing smart behind a hard jab that had little trouble finding its mark. Sheika’s only defense has always been a furious offense, but he rolled his shoulders out of the way of several punches and was able to close the distance on Pemberton and stun him with a well-timed left hook over a Pemberton right hand. The shot stunned Pemberton, forcing him to give ground and probably costing him the round on the scorecards.

In round two, Pemberton stayed busy with his straight punches until Sheika was able to land with a left hook that put Pemberton down hard. Sheika swarmed Pemberton once Referee Gary Rosato allowed the bout to continue but just like in round two of bout one, Sheika was again unable to finish the 37 year old, Pemberton.

Round three began and Pemberton came back with a fury. Weathering Sheika’s brief flurries, Pemberton stood and slugged with his 27 year old opponent. A big left hook from Pemberton wobbled Sheika and for the first time it seemed to this writer that Pemberton might have the power to knockout the tough Palestinian from New Jersey.

By round four, Sheika had abandoned any semblance of defense he may have started the fight with and Pemberton connected with a straight right that spun his head halfway around. Pemberton continued feeding Sheika lefts and rights which landed two at a time against the reddening and swelling face of Sheika. Pemberton’s sizzling jab and Sheika’s utter lack of one combined to make the fight exciting; Sheika’s haymakers and pot-shots versus the aggressive orthodoxy of Pemberton.

Over the next few rounds, Pemberton continued firing straight punches which kept Sheika just out of range to do any damage with his short chopping blasts. Sheika landed 3 or 4 bombs a round while Pemberton landed hard punches flush on Sheika’s head with more and more frequency. In the sixth, Pemberton was hammered along the ropes only to have the referee intervene and call for what appeared to be a standing eight count. Later, it became clear that Ref. Rosato felt the ropes had been all that were holding Pemberton upright, thus a knockdown was awarded to Sheika. But during the fight, once Pemberton recovered, Sheika rushed in to finish him only to be met with a smashing right by Pemberton that Sheika took flush on the jaw. By the end of the round it was difficult to determine who had done more damage despite the official knockdown scored by Sheika.

Round eight saw Sheika doing some rare body punching along the ropes but it was Pemberton who was busier and landing the cleaner punches. When round nine began Sheika unloaded on Pemberton, firing away with both hands while Pemberton’s back was along the ropes. But Pemberton covered up and took most of Sheika’s blows against the arms and shoulders. When Sheika relented it was Pemberton who came on strong once again, slamming left-rights into the face of Sheika who was absorbing a tremendous beating.

Sheika’s face was red and swelling grotesquely by round nine, and coupled with the stilted dead man’s dance in his legs, Sheika retreated from Pemberton with the shambling gait of something out of a George Romero film. By the end of the round it seemed as though Referee Rosato should stop the fight and prevent Sheika from taking any more punishment. But Sheika was still on his feet at the bell and staggered to his corner, even raising his hand to the crowd as if to say “I’m still here.”

New Jersey’s Omar Sheika had never been off his feet as a professional and going into round ten it seemed that putting Sheika on the canvas was the only thing left for Scott Pemberton to do to secure victory. The tenth began and soon Pemberton ripped a hellish barrage of rights and lefts into the face of Omar Sheika that put him down. A warrior by nature, Sheika got up from the knockdown and tried to continue but he was clearly finished and Referee Rosato called an end to the fight at 1:43 of round ten.

After vindicating himself and any specter of a hometown decision in the first fight, Scott Pemberton’s record improves to 27-3-1 (22) and he hopes for a big money fight or title shot before he calls it quits. Omar Sheika falls to 23-6 (16) and after 4 consecutive losses he needs to take a long look at the direction of his career once he gets well.

In the televised co-feature, Rhode Island’s undefeated junior middleweight Peter Manfredo looked better than ever in his 6th round TKO victory over previously unbeaten Sherwin Davis. Manfredo got off to an aggressive start and scored a picture-perfect knockdown in round one off a quick left hook. Davis, like any fighter who has yet to lose, came back hard in the second in hopes of winning back the extra point he lost from the knockdown. Manfredo countered well under Davis’ attack and the Rhode Islander was able to land repeatedly with double left hooks to the body and head.

By round six Davis was beginning to wilt under the busy aggression and combination punching of Manfredo. Halfway through the round, Manfredo connected with a crackling right cross which froze Davis in place momentarily before he crumbled to the canvas. Referee John Callas waved off the bout at 1:17 of round six. Manfredo improved to 20-0 with 10 kayos and looked good doing it on ESPN2 which can only mean good things for the future of the 23 year old junior middle. Sherwin Davis dropped to 17-1 with 11 kayos.

In another rematch, Galway, Ireland’s Martin Thornton and Bobo Starnino completed the televised portion of the card in a heated but sloppy four rounder that ended in a draw. Thornton, who won the first encounter between these two by 4th round TKO on Halloween night, was the more effective puncher in round one. Starnino, the southpaw from Providence, RI, pressed the action in the second only to have Thornton bloody his nose with an uppercut in close. Thornton came on in the third, pursuing Starnino and making the fight, but the fourth round saw Starnino connect with a hard straight left that froze Thornton in his tracks and probably earned him the round. When the decision came the scores were 39-38 for Starnino, 39-37 for Thornton and 38-38 even. The Doghouse Boxing card was also a draw at 38-38.

Richard “The Alien” Grant got things started in the first bout of the night, taking on Brockton, Massachusetts’ Dave Hamilton. Grant, returning to action after his decision loss to Jeff Lacy this summer, looked more like a power puncher versus Hamilton than he did while trying to out-slick and out-think Lacy. Hard right jabs and a slashing right uppercut from Grant hurt Hamilton again and again, bloodying his nose and turning his face red. Hamilton wailed away with power shots at Grant who was able to side-step him easily and counter with both hands. The brave Hamilton, who urged Grant on after every landed punch, was rescued by Referee Charlie Dwyer at 2:36 of round six. Richard Grant improves to 15-10, scoring the third knockout of his career. Dave Hamilton exits with a record of 15-12-1 (5).

In the walk-out bout, light heavyweight Wayne Johnson scored an ugly and peculiar first round technical knockout over Mike Needling. With almost a minute gone in the first, Needling threw a wide left hook that missed, spinning himself to the canvas where he landed hard on his side. When he rose it was difficult to determine whether he had injured his knee, ankle or hip but Needling was clearly in pain. The referee wiped his gloves and allowed the bout to continue. Johnson then stepped forward behind a jab that dropped Needling and prompted the referee to stop the fight at 1:51. Needling’s record falls to 0-2 while Johnson improves to 2-0 (1).
Alex Pierpaoli has been obsessed with the Sweet Science for the past 18 years and is both a fan and a writer. He has a degree in English from the University of Maine. Send comments or questions to:

Alex Pierpaoli has been obsessed with the Sweet Science for the past 18 years and is both a fan and a writer. He has a degree in English from the University of Maine. Send comments or questions to:

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