8 Count Productions: Short One Fight but Not Short on Fun By Coyote Duran at ringside, MaxBoxing (March 27, 2010) Special to Doghouse Boxing
Until last week, the main event of Chicago-based 8 Count Productions’ “Windy City Fight Night 9” was originally supposed to be Mike Mollo vs. Billy Zumbrun. Chicago fans were delighted to discover that Mollo-Zumbrun would be moved to a supporting bout on Friday night, in favor of the IBF’s cruiserweight title vacancy filler between Matt Godfrey and former titlist Steve Cunningham. But as quickly it was slotted, Godfrey-Cunningham was canceled when Godfrey pulled out from the fight, due to complications from rescheduling and venue relocation. Mollo-Zumbrun regained main event status in a quickness.
Mollo, 20-3 (12), a muscular, rugged heavyweight, is best known- thus far- as the man who knocked out the last man who knocked out Mike Tyson, Kevin McBride. He would test himself as recently as his last two fights, but came up on the losing end against former title challengers Andrew Golota and Jameel McCline (both by unanimous decision). Still, Mollo’s return to the Windy City was greeted with a raucous reception from an action-hungry crowd at the UIC Pavilion. And as far as the heavyweight landscape goes these days, the crowd got exactly what it wanted.
Round one saw Mollo assert himself with his power and pressure but round two saw the experienced Zumbrun, 23-12-1 (13) with one no-contest, who had previously gone toe-to-toe with Alexander Dimitrenko, Riddick Bowe and Maurice Harris, smother the popular Chicagoan with punches in bunches, attempting to keep Mollo from mounting an offensive. The intent was spirited but Mollo neared the end of the second heat with attacks to the body.
Mollo opened up the third on the offensive, establishing distance with his jab but just spurred on another flurry from “The Kid” in the process. Mollo returned to the body but waited to follow up, giving Zumbrun an excuse to fire copiously. Zumbrun, full of piss-and-vinegar, seemingly absorbed every shot from Mollo, only to keep on coming back to haunt him.
In round four, Mollo opened with his jab and tested Zumbrun’s body again, but it only proved that Zumbrun could take shots and use them as energy to return fire. Suddenly, Mollo started connecting his jab at will, but it almost seemed as if Zumbrun was allowing him to do it, shaking off each shot. The look of puzzlement on Mollo’s face was just as apparent as the knowing smirk on Zumbrun’s.
Mollo circled the ring in round five, trying to dictate the pace with his jab, but caught a short left hook to the chops as a reward. Mollo would wing a huge right haymaker, only to get blocked by Zumbrun’s left. Lunging in for a right, Mollo ate a jab from Zumbrun. Mollo’s best, most effective attack seemed to come from the jab but Zumbrun simply continued to eat them with little negative effect, connecting on his own, half the time with impunity. At the close of the fifth, one could see a deep respect forming between the two heavyweights.
Zumbrun opened the sixth by backing up Mollo with the jab and touching him off the ropes, but Mollo came back with his own jab. After a brisk exchange, Mollo connected with a sharp left hand upstairs, stinging Zumbrun. Zumbrun came back, swinging wildly and connecting with half his shots.
Round seven was very much like the preceding six with Mollo testing that jab and connecting to the body and Zumbrun just denying Mollo’s efforts. And the end of the round, Zumbrun would simply wink at Mollo.
Round eight began with a determined Mollo advancing on an equally determined Zumbrun. Zumbrun just wasn’t having it, however, and fired away, landing three or four shots to one of Mollo’s, off the corner. It might have been psychological, on Zumbrun’s part but every jab he ate, was returned with an incredulous “You’ve gotta be kidding me” look. But the respect level was exceedingly high, at this point, and Mollo didn’t seem to feel comfortable with an overall adjustment, resuming his jab and attack to the body. There were no official knockdowns, though at one point in the round, Zumbrun lunged low and Mollo pushed him down to the canvas. No harm was done and the two finished the final round every bit as spirited as they began the contest.
But in a fight that had a few close rounds, the official scorecards saw Mollo as the victor with scores of 79-73 and 78-74 (twice). Maxboxing scored the fight a draw at 76-76. However, depending on one’s criteria for scoring or his or her point of view, a 77-75 score for Mollo wouldn’t have been unreasonable. By the same token, when Mollo was scoring with the jabs and body shots that were having very little effect on Zumbrun, he was still scoring. Although Mollo really couldn’t solve Zumbrun, he punched clean and connected. It’s difficult to defy that kind of logic, in his favor. Apparently, a sizable part of the crowd felt Zumbrun wasn’t given his due when Mollo was announced as the winner, a hum of discontent sealing the deal.
In the second-to-last fight of the evening, one-time cruiserweight contender Jason Robinson, 18-5 (11), defeated double-tough trial horse Harvey Jolly, 10-14-1 (5) with one no-contest, via unanimous decision over six rounds by scores of 59-54 and 58-54 (twice).
Heavyweight David Latoria, 5-0 (2), gained an easy-yet-unusual stoppage victory over 44-year-old Tim Back. Back, 2-2 (1), threw a straight right hand, glancing his wrist off Latoria’s left elbow. Back, who began his career in 2006, collapsed in pain and, seconds later, his corner stopped the action at 2:24 of the first round of four.
Featherweight William Hernandez, 3-0, beat Quincy Johnson, 0-5-1, via unanimous decision over four rounds. Hernandez, despite possessing a decent reach, stayed close, put in a workmanlike effort and consistently hammered Johnson’s body, winning every round on every scorecard.
In 40 seconds of the first round of a scheduled four, heavyweight Krzysytof Zimnoch, 2-0 (2) wiped out Dustin Hedrick, 1-4, with a hard right over Hedrick’s jab.
In a four-round junior welterweight battle Adrian “El Tigre” Granados, 4-1 (3) dropped William Ware, 1-2-1 four times between two rounds securing a TKO victory in the second heat. Granados dug heavily to the body for the duration of the fight, finally opening up Ware upstairs with a beautiful left hook to the body, followed by a left hook to the head. Referee Celestino Ruiz called a halt to any further punishment at 1:12 of the round.
In an exciting bantamweight affair, Sergio Cristobal, 2-1, beat Deboe William Thomas, 1-3-1, via unanimous decision over four rounds, despite suffering a deep laceration of the right eyebrow, caused by a headbutt.
In the opening fight, heavyweights Maurice Harris, 22-14-2 (10), and Julius Long, 15-14 (13), went the six round distance with Harris winning on all three scorecards.