Dat Nguyen wins in Houston!
At ringside Vikram Birring, Doghouse Boxing (June 1, 2009)  
Soaring phoenix dragons danced accompanied by loud drum beats; flags waved through the air. It gave the appearance a prime minister was visiting Houston. Not quite, but a local boxer returned to his hometown to deliver a performance worthy of praise May 28.

Dat Nguyen is perhaps the only Vietnamese boxer of note in the world. Though he lives in the United States, his connection to his roots is undeniable. He commands a faithful following one would not normally see at boxing matches: elders, wives, and children. Like Yao Ming, he brings a following to his sport that normally would have no interest.

How much interest is questionable. Promoter Chet Koerner claimed the show was heading towards a sellout, but it appeared no more than a few hundred showed up. Still, the effort was undeniable. Street teams promoted as best they could, hitting local shops and neighborhoods. But to go into a new city with a new company takes a true probing of the local population, and in this case, the effort was unsuccessful.

Nonetheless, the small Vietnamese population was fully engulfed in the match against Carlos Hernandez (not the former champion). With each landed flurry, they rose to their feet and roared in ecstasy. He was a true hero and was fighting for far more than himself.

Though a former amateur standout, it was a sloppy match filled with dirty tactics. In the end, Nguyen 15-1 (6) was too good for Hernandez 14-7 (5), and won on all cards: 77-73, 78-71, 77-73.

Karl “KJ” Noons brought a sizeable contingent to his homecoming bout, but gave them a scare as he fought a tooth and nails bout against Enrique Gallegos. Noons is a former MMA fighter, and thus far has been moderately
successful in the ring, piling up a 9-2 record. Gallegos appeared a bit flabby and out of shape, and in the first round he looked ready to go as Noons floored him with a short right hand. Noons 9-2 (5) probably wishes the bout ended there, for as the rounds went on, he tired and Gallegos 6-5 (1) never gave up. In rounds three through six, Gallegos walked Noons down constantly, trapping him against the ropes and landing at times. Noons was completely out of stamina, at times bending over, and once his glove even touched the canvas out of exhaustion. Nonetheless, he showed remarkable courage, always threw back, and never gave up. The only shame in this was that the decision was horrendous and unfair. The scores were 58-55, 60-53, and 60-53. In reality, it was a draw, for Noons started fast but tired down the stretch as Gallegos unleashed an onslaught. Hometown decisions like this are why boxers don’t like to travel.

Local fireman Lanard Lane brutally pounded Billy Cunningham around the ring like a rag doll. Lane 6-0 (5) brings a certain desire to the ring. He loads up on every punch, and has a killer instinct seldom seen. Cunningham 3-3 (3) showed a good jab at times, but his legs did not allow him to move. Picture Roy Jones of the last two years, the legs as stilts, not able to run around, just in place. Yet, as Lane pounded him with sick body shots, he waved on for more; boxers at times tend to be sadists, no normal human being enjoys taking blows to the brain. Yet we fans are worse, for we encourage such behavior. It is an innate feeling that was alive even in ancient times as Roman Gladiators fought to the death. Thankfully, the referee did not share such bloody desire and stopped the bout in the fourth round. Official time was one minute, six seconds.

Gerardo “Tin Tin” Ibarra was given a challenge. The promoter’s boxer, Dustin Reinhold, was coming to his city and essentially a mercenary to take him out. Ibarra 4-0 (3) took the challenge and slapped it in the face as he embarrassed Reinhold 1-1 (1). He was too quick, too fast, and too powerful. He knocked down Reinhold in the second and finished him off in the third, to the delight of his adoring fans. Ibarra is just a baby-faced child, his future seems bright.

It is amazing how good things can go bad so quickly, and nobody knows it better than Jonathan Glover. His professional debut was a proud moment, he walked to the ring confident and surrounded by his supporting team. His opponent, Gustavo Mejia, was essentially a tomato can, with a record so bad 3-6 (3) the announcer simply blared the number of bouts, not wins or losses.

What was supposed to be an easy victory turned horribly wrong very quickly, as one huge haymaker sent Glover to the canvas. However, he got up, fought back, and then sent Mejia down with a flurry. When things seemed to be going his way, again Mejia landed a massive looping punch from his toes, and Glover fell to the ground. After he got up, Mejia gave him one more for good measure. The crowd was astonished, but then serene, hoping Glover (0-1) was okay. After a few moments, he stood and wobbled to his corner. Hopefully, he is considering a new career. Official time was one minute, nine seconds.

Questions or comments,
Vikram at: vikram.birring@gmail.com

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