Yusaf Mack returned
to a Philadelphia ring for the first time since 2008 and won his main
event with Sabou Ballogou at the Pennsylvania Convention Center
(on the the first Saturday night of this month, July). Mack captured a 6-round unanimous decision, but had
to weather a mid-fight storm from the West African slugger before
registering his 31st victory. Ballogou's rally wasn't as dramatic as
in his last fight (against Derrick Webster), but anyone who saw that
near-KO braced themselves for a possible repeat.
Mack started the
fight in complete control, using a long jab against the pressing
southpaw, who now fights out of France. When Mack would miss with the
left or needed to reset his position after one of Ballogou's charges,
Mack would stutter-step his way to the side where his jab could pick
at the free-swinging French-based fighter.
Mack took the first
round and kept it going in the second until Ballogou whacked the West
Philadelphian with a solid low blow. Mack tumbled to the canvas from
the foul, near a neutral corner. A wincing Yusaf popped right up and
hopped around, trying to recover from the shot.
Once the action
resumed, Ballogou ran right in, but Mack remained in charge. The
incident however, changed the fight's direction - at least for a
In round three,
Ballogou went for the upset, pinning Mack against the ropes and
looping wide bombs toward him. A few found home and rattled the
favorite. It was more of the same in round four, with Ballogou
charging in and going for broke. At one point Sabou tagged Mack with
a hard left that hurt him. Yusaf sagged against the pad in his own
corner while Ballogou let the punches fly. The Frenchman did his best
to one-up his last performance, but Mack kept his guard tight enough
to avoid further danger. But this was a great round for Sabou. After
four rounds, the fight was even on my card.
Beginning in round
five, Mack used his deeper experience to stay out of trouble.
Ballogou kept coming, but may have been slightly gassed from all the
punching he'd done in the two prior rounds. Mack pushed his difficult
foe further toward fatigue with an excellent body attack. Going
downstairs also helped to lower Ballogou's guard, creating some nice
opening upstairs. Mack slammed a few hard rights to the head, but
couldn't really hurt the rolling rock before him. He did pull ahead
on the cards however.
When referee Blair
Talmadge brought the fighters together at ring center for the start
of the sixth and final round, Ballogou did not want to engage in the
traditional glove-tapping. Talmadge forced the issue, and the
fighters finally tapped. After this, you had the feeling round six
would be a war.
Ballogou charged at
Mack swinging wildly, but Yusaf was all warmed up and in the zone by
then. He stutter-stepped his way off of Sabou's train tracks and
fired the jab at him. For the entire round, Mack looked like an old
pro, picking, moving, and firing power shots.
By the end of the
round, Mack was landing at will and hurting Ballogou with right
hands. The seasoned old pro closed the show, and nailed down the
fight on points.
All three judges
scored the fight for Mack. Richard Hopkins Jr. and Dewey LaRosa had
it 59-55, while Lynn Carter scored it 58-56.
The win raised
Mack's record to 31-4-2 with 17 KOs, and kept him in the hunt for
another run toward the title. Prior to the fight, Yusaf said that his
goal was to land a fight that would help return him to the number one
spot among the light heavyweights, a position he held last summer.
for just the second time in the US, slipped to 8-6 with 4 KOs, but
once again proved himself a tough and dangerous opponent.
In the evening's
main supporting bout, West Philly featherweight Eric "Outlaw"
Hunter made a resounding comeback after a 19-month layoff. His
opponent was Jason Rorie, the owner of a long losing streak, but the
kind of fighter who is making his career as a test for young talent
or fighters at the crossroads, like Hunter. Before probably the
biggest cheering section in the house, Hunter, clearly anxious to
fight again, stepped right in and went to work. From the start, he
looked fast, sharp, powerful and cocky. He smiled to himself as his
punches found their mark, knowing he was nearing the finish line.
However, Rorie, of
NC, was not a shrinking violet against Hunter. He pressed forward
from the opening bell and threw tons of punches. Once in a while,
he'd land on Hunter, but most of the time the Philadelphian managed
to slip, block or lean away from everything coming his way.
In round two, Rorie
continued to be the aggressor. About halfway through the round, he
trapped Hunter on the ropes and unloaded. Once again, Hunter slipped
most of it, but a few of the shots trickled through his defense.
worked his way off the ropes and maneuvered the action to the other
side of the ring. Rorie landed a clubbing left hook a moment before
Hunter ripped a right-left combination to Jason's body that buckled
his knees. An instant later, a sharp Hunter left hook landed and
Rorie crashed to the canvas. He climbed to his feet and headed back
into the slaughter.
Hunter went right in
for the kill, landing a withering right hand and followed with two
crushing left hooks. Rorie crumbled to the floor on his back, and
referee Shawn Clark didn't bother to count. The time was 2:38 of the
Before the fight
Hunter, 16-2 (9 KO), said he hoped the fight with Rorie would jump
start his erratic career. The showy KO was definitely a good start.
Rorie continued his slump, with this his ninth straight loss, and
fell to 6-16-2 (3 KO) overall.
The remaining four
professional bouts offered were all scheduled for four rounds.
A busy and accurate
Tim Witherspoon Jr. rebounded from his loss in January with a nice
unanimous decision victory over a weary Cassius Clay. Tim Jr., son of
the former two-time heavyweight champ, breezed through the first
three rounds before Clay showed some signs of life in the final three
minutes. But Clay's rally was little more than a blip, never
threatening to change the course of the junior welterweight bout.
Although Witherspoon lost the final round on my card (and two of the
judges), he was still the clear winner when the bell sounded to end
Hopkins and Lynn Carter scored 39-37; Dewey LaRosa saw it a 40-36
shutout for Witherspoon, 7-2-1 (2 KO), who is already scheduled to
fight again on July 28th in Georgia. Clay remained winless at 0-5.
middle-weights Vaughn Anderson, Philadelphia (red trunks), and Greg
Jackson, Vineland, NJ (black trunks), brawled for four entertaining
rounds in their preliminary contest. Jackson was having a pretty good
round one before Anderson, looking for his first pro victory, floored
him with a long right hand. The punch won Anderson the round, but
Jackson got up and won the remaining rounds in my opinion. However,
the fight was a war and went back and forth between the two.
Jackson, making his
pro debut, threw wide sweeping shots at Anderson. In the second Greg
landed hard with both his left hook and right hand, but Anderson
fought back well. The fight was close, but Jackson sealed it in round
four when he hurt Anderson late in the round. The question was
whether Jackson had done enough in the minds of the judges to
overcome the knockdown. Two of them felt he had. Hopkins and Carter
scored 38-37 for Jackson, while LaRosa favored Anderson, 38-37. The
decision made Jackson 1-0, and Anderson 0-3.
In a wild battle of
junior middleweights both fighting pro for the first time, Orlando
Lewis took a four round unanimous decision over John Frazier of Ohio.
Lewis, Vineland, NJ, dropped Frazier, once in round two and again in
the third, and pounded his opponent's body all night long. But still
the fight was a slugfest, with Frazier fighting and swinging hard
between trips to the canvas. Lewis won all four rounds on my card of
40-34. Lynn Carter agreed with my score, while LaRosa tallied 40-35.
Hopkins had it the closest at 39-35. The pro portion of
the show began with major fireworks as Saud Clark pounced on Kareem
McFarland immediately. Clark dropped McFarland three times for an
automatic stoppage in round one. The time was 2:42. Both
Philadelphian's came into the fight with identical records of 1-0 (1
The evening started
with three amateur bouts sanctioned by USA Boxing. Shuler Gym's
little phenom, Rasheen Brown won a 3-round decision over Jarmarni
Scott, Baltimore, in their 75-pound bout. Brown improved to 20-2.
Maurice Harris, Shuler Gym, topped Milton Santiago, Philadelphia, by
decision in their 3-round 140-pound fight. Isaiah Gibson, Shuler Gym,
beat Vincent Floyd, Philadelphia, over three rounds in their
The card was
promoted by James Shuler Boxing Promotions, Buster Custus, promoter,
and was the just the fifth in-Philly show of 2012. A crowd of about
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