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Unbeaten Nolan steps up versus Savarese; Williams defeats Hernandez
Ringside Report By Alex Pierpaoli (May 10, 2004 Photos Brendon Pierpaoli, 
Leon Nolan Photo © Brendon Pierpaoli
Friday night at Foxwoods casino, in Ledyard, CT, Leo Paco Nolan remained unbeaten in a 12 round points win over former heavyweight contender, thirty-eight year old and 48 fight veteran, Lou Savarese. Fighting for the first time since his third round kayo loss to Kirk Johnson, Lou Savarese knew going in this was a do-or-die type fight. Who could fault Big Lou for imagining himself as a player versus the current crop of heavyweights with or without an alpha-belt?

Savarese looked fit and scaled 238 for the ESPN2 Main Event, his lowest since he beat Buster Douglas in the same ring at Foxwoods, when he weighed just 234 and a half. If Savarese could get a win over Detroit’s Leo Nolan, Big Lou would be right back in the heavyweight picture or at least on the fringe, and maybe left with a chance for one more big paycheck before retirement. But it was not to be.

In the first round the fighters met at ring center, both holding their guard high while Nolan forced the action with jabs and two chopping right hands that scored. When they traded punches in the second, Nolan got the better of it until Savarese landed a big overhand right that hurt the Motor City heavyweight and gave Lou the round.

In the fourth Savarese was eating straight punches; Nolan doubled up with the jab and dropped the right hand in behind it when he could, stinging Big Lou. With most of the round gone, Savarese made a try at some violence of his own and opened up with a hard flurry that stole him the round.

By round five Savarese seemed warmed up and was finding his rhythm, but it was in this round where he tore his left biceps, an injury that robbed him of his left jab, he said later.

Nolan and Savarese continued trading rounds until the seventh when Lou hurt Nolan and came on hard with damaging body shots. The eighth was another round for the harder punching Savarese who had evened the bout on the Doghouse card at this point.

In the ninth Nolan is breathing through a wide oval, his mouth open and sucking for air. Clearly seeing that he needed to get his second wind and push it the last few rounds, Nolan did just that. In the tenth he was slipping punches and looking refreshed enough with his jab working again and scoring for him. Nolan’s momentum carried him through the twelfth and final round, his jab and straight right working overtime and scoring points.

Going to the scorecards, Judges Clark Sammartino and Steve Weisfeld both scored the fight 116-112, while Judge Robert Paolino saw it 115-113 all for Leo Paco Nolan. Doghouse was in agreement with a card of 115-113 for Nolan.

Afterwards, Nolan, who improved to 22-0(8), was exuberant with his IBA Americas title winning effort and said the key was his jab.

“My jab was awesome,” said Nolan. In a wide open heavyweight division Nolan will have a chance to jab his way to bigger things now that he’s made the step up versus Savarese. While Lou Savarese’s record falls to 43-6 with 35 kayos, the Texas heavy was satisfied with the judges take on what occurred.

The most exciting fight of the night was a clash of unbeaten welterweights which was co-featured on ESPN2’s broadcast. Paul the Punisher Williams faced Ecuador’s Luis Hernandez, who was fighting for the first time outside of his native country. At six foot one, Williams is a towering but wiry welterweight southpaw that uses his height and reach effectively.

Boxing from long range, the Punisher Williams lived up to his nickname, bloodying the nose of Hernandez early and swelling his lips with jabs and straight lefts from the southpaw stance. Hernandez proved to be a tough brawler who languishes on the outside taking punishment until he sees the opening to rush in and hammer away with both hands. Against Williams, Hernandez’ style was clearly not working but his toughness kept him in the fight and pressing forward despite taking fire from Williams on his way in.

By the fourth round Williams had let Hernandez close the distance on him which made for a more exciting fight. But as they trade it is Williams who hurts Hernandez upstairs, and when the Ecuadorian brings his guard up Williams drops his attack to the open midsection.

By the seventh Hernandez is bleeding freely from the nose and his cheeks are swelling grotesquely from the hard right jabs and straight lefts of Williams. The eighth round illustrates the frustration Hernandez is suffering while trying to get inside to brawl with Williams. In a clinch that is more of a headlock by Hernandez, Williams is pulled to the ground roughly which forces referee Johnny Callas to warn Hernandez for the rough tactics.

In the ninth a huge body shot in close from Hernandez forces the wind out of Williams in a loud harrumph that can be heard in press row, but Williams flurries in retaliation, hoping to offset the surging Hernandez and prevent him from capitalizing on the shot. Straight punches rain on the Ecuadorian again and Williams regains the moment.

Williams comes on hard in the twelfth but Hernandez’ head is too hard a nut to crack and the Punisher has to settle for a unanimous points win which pushes his record up to 23-0(17). Ecuador’s gritty brawler, Luis Hernandez falls to 17-1(11).

Richard the Alien Grant, who fought in the night’s walkout bout, got a gift majority decision versus the tough and rugged Jake Rodriguez of Philadelphia. The always well coiffed Alien did not disappoint with a hairdo that looked like a fuzzy tennis ball painted blue-green and orange. Grant’s boxing skills were less vibrant than the bold colors on his head and he survived an outing that would be best forgotten. Rumored to have taken off seven or eight pounds to make Thursday’s weigh-in, Grant was flat and lack luster throughout, on the run most of the fight, throwing little more than a pawing jab, the occasional cross and using lots of clinches against the surging, bullish Rodriguez. With his promoter Jimmy Burchfield shouting encouragement from the crowd, Grant made an effort to rally but it was clear there was little energy there for him to summon.

The judges rendered a majority decision win, drawing scattered boos from the remaining members of the crowd. Grant is lucky to climb to 16-10 (3), while Jake Rodriguez goes home with a record of 5-6(4).

New Haven’s Elvin Ayala, the unbeaten middleweight protégé of Hall-of-Fame welterweight Gaspar Ortega continued his unbeaten streak with his 5th win in as many fights since turning pro in September. In a fight that was more of a race than a slugfest, Aundalen Sloan, 4-8-1(2), was hurt in the sixth but Ayala was unable to put him down. Both fighters were busy with fast reaching punches and lots of missing, but Ayala landed the harder, smarter and more plentiful punches over the distance to get the win.

In the first bout of the night, Allan Conyers hammered away at Walkimi Young for the better part of three rounds of welterweight action. Young’s strategy of winging haymakers was clear in round one when he landed a lucky counter punch that surprised Conyers, but Young would have been better off keeping his hands to himself. Sensing a shift in his opponent’s confidence after scoring with the shot, Conyers opened up with both hands, his gloves thwacking loudly against Young’s body and head in the half empty arena. By the third Conyers was landing heavy and often, and when he thumped away at Young over Young’s own corner, driving him to the canvas under a volley of blows, Referee Johnny Callas called a halt to the contest at 1:31 of round three. Conyers improved to 7-0(5) and Young left with a record of 3-16-2(2).

The card’s second bout featured a spirited scrap between Elio Rojas and Luis Lopez. Lopez, with wild black hair and scarlet trunks, rushed at the southpaw from Queens again and again with a fury. Clearly the technically superior fighter, Rojas made it look easy at times, planting one hard shot after another into the face of the on rushing Lopez causing it to bloom red from the punishment. Rojas continued getting the job done. A fighter with skills, movement and a natural sense of balance, Rojas was facing a gutsy rumbler in Lopez, one who does most of his work on the inside.

Rojas fired straight punches up the middle of the wide swinging Lopez, while Lopez bulled and shoved and grabbed at Rojas, trying to get some room inside to fight. In the end, Lopez didn’t know where to put his feet or when to throw his punches but his raw gritty toughness made for an exciting ingredient in the bout. After a brave effort by Lopez all three judges scored it 40-36 for Rojas. The undefeated 21 year-old Elio Rojas now moves to 2-0 (1) with the victory, while Luis Lopez drops to 1-3.

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