|It’s Macho Time Again!
By Vikram Birring (July 20, 2008) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Vikram Birring)
One living legend frustrated his opponent into quitting, another proved the old adage that a boxing ring is the only place where one can be robbed with a paper and pencil, and a heavyweight became an inspiration to obese people everywhere, as Donna English’s South Coast Promotions presented “Return of the Legends” at the Reliant Arena in Houston, Texas on July 18, 2008.
Hector “Macho” Camacho (79-5-2, 38 KO) returned to the ring after three years and nine days to face someone named Perry Ballard (20-2, 15 KO) for something called the WBE Light Middleweight Title. In an era where there are a plethora of belts, this was one that even had hardcore boxing fans puzzled. To gain this belt, Ballard defeated Travis Clybourn, who had a record of 14 victories and 37 defeats. Ballard’s only defense was against…Travis Clybourn. This was the pattern of Ballard’s career. He had a glossy record coming into the fight, but he had only defeated one fighter with a winning record, and in his one step up in competition, was soundly defeated by the Contender’s Jimmy Lange in 2005.
Nonetheless, with a victory, Camacho would become a ten-time world champion, meaning he would have ten belts in his collection. Of the ten, four were major titles, in three different divisions, which is still a significant achievement. However, Camacho had not held a major title since 1992, when he defeated Greg Haugen to regain his WBO World Championship, and his last major victory was against fellow legend Roberto Duran in 2001, so the fans in attendance were mostly curious to see how a forty-six year old man would fare in a young man’s habitat. Ballard himself was forty-one, but despite his flawed record, was a winning fighter, and had defeated most of the opponents put in front of him.
Camacho entered the ring with typical Macho bravado, displaying a flamboyant costume with a gargantuan M in the middle. As he and Ballard faced off, Camacho displayed a remarkable physique for a man his age: muscular, strong, and toned. Camacho controlled the action in the first round, pawing away from the outside.
Once upon a time Hector Camacho was a wolf in the boxing ring, ripping through opponents mercilessly. Then he met Edwin Rosario. Rosario landed a punch that changed Camacho’s life in the fifth round of their lightweight championship fight in 1986. A straight right hand shook up Camacho, the kind of punch that would end many people’s careers. He boxed his way to a victory, but after that fight Camacho looked in the mirror and made a stylistic change.
No longer would he go in for the kill without any regard to his own health. From here on out, Camacho relied strictly on boxing skills, and would take only enough risks to gain the victory. Though fans were not always happy with this, it was a genius move for Camacho, as he continued racking up victories and titles without receiving too much punishment along the way. Rarely does the boxer have the ability, and intelligence, to make such a drastic change in the prime of his career.
In the second round, Camacho’s shoulder connected with Ballard’s jaw. Though it was a hard collision, Ballard’s acting was good enough for an Academy Award nomination. The referee at first waved the fight off, which would have given Ballard a victory via disqualification. Boos cascaded from the audience, and if this result held, English’s shows would not even receive the 500 fans that supported on this night. The referee quickly changed his mind and allowed the match to continue, taking a point from Camacho along the way.
For the next few rounds, it was an ugly match to watch. Camacho stayed on the outside and landed the occasional combination, while Ballard held and wrestled, and attempted to convince the referee to deduct more points from Camacho, with no success.
Finally, in the seventh round, Camacho landed a combination that rattled Ballard. Then, in a bizarre encounter, Ballard dropped his hands and began to yell at Camacho. In response, his corner threw in the towel. The towel landed behind the referee, so Camacho beat him up some more until the referee realized the extra object in the ring, and stopped the fight at twenty-one seconds.
As the old adage goes, a boxing ring is the only place that one can be robbed with a paper and pencil, and unfortunately for Christy Martin, she was a victim of a hometown robbery, as she she toyed with Valerie Mahfood, only to receive a draw as a reward.
Martin (47-5-3, 31 KO), known as the Coal Miner’s Daughter, is the person who put women’s boxing on the map. Though now forty years of age, she showed excellent reflexes and technique as she had fun with Mahfood (19-14-4), ducking and dodging Mahfood’s shots and landing fierce counter-punches in return, each time sending beads of sweat flying off the face of Mahfood and causing the crowd to oooooh and aaaaah. Her performance was reminscent of Roy Jones’s victory against John Ruiz.
The fun ended after the match, as the decision was announced. The ring announcer himself looked a bit surprised as he was handed the scores, so those ringside had a feeling something bad was going to happen. Judge Kellie Yoh correctly scored the match 78-74 for Martin, but inconceivabely, Ronnie Ralston and Gale Van Hoy both scored the match 76-76. The result was highly unpopular, and the audience was furious.
This was an obvious hometown decision, as Mahfood resides in nearby Beaumont. When a star comes to your city to fight, and is robbed, it is a black eye for the local boxing scene. Why would any other big name come here if he or she feels that the local judges would not give a fair shake? Martin did not have to come here, but she did and treated everyone with kindness and respect in the days leading up to the card. In return, she was handed a horrendous decision. Such is the life of a boxer.
Local prospect John “The Lion” Rarden (10-0, 3 KO) won a six round unanimous decision against Derrick Moon (12-21-1, 2 KO). Rarden is Kenny Weldon’s brightest prospect, and he showed why, as he worked Moon’s body like a man possessed in the first round. In the second round, Moon took a knee after eating several destructive combinations. Rarden looked for the knockout in the third, but Moon survived, which should come as no surprise. In thirty-four bouts, Moon had only been stopped one time. Rarden figured this out, and instead of trying so hard to knock his opponent out, he simply beat him up for the remainder of the bout. The official scores were 60-53, 60-53, 60-53.
In the most entertaining match of the evening, Justin Jones (3-0-1, 2 KO) slugged it out with fat man Homer Fonseca (4-2-1, 2 KO) in an old style bar fight. As the boxers faced off in center ring, the match appeared to be some kind of sick joke, as Fonseca looked to have done his training at Dunkin Doughnuts, a gargantuan tub of lard. It looked to be something that could have been part of the Wringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus which was being held in the Reliant Center at the same time.
However, Fonseca proved early on that he came to fight, and slowly the audience, and Jones, figured this out. Jones, the taller of the two, rolled his shoulder and landed booming 1-2 combinations. To his, and everyone else’s shock, Fonseca returned fire, as he lunged in and landed winging shots. This back and forth action never stopped, and with each shot Fonseca landed, the crowd supported him more and more.
In the fourth round, both fighters barely had the energy to stand up, but somehow continued to land fierce shots that would have put lesser men down. Between combinations, they taunted each other. In one particular instance, Jones leaned back and landed a piston jab followed by a right cross that would have broken through concrete. Fonseca stumbled, but then shockingly lunged in and landed two hooks and Jones’s wobbled like an inebriated man. The crowd stood and roared in approval, and at the end of the match, Fonseca’s cornermen leapt into the ring, hugging their man for an effort that perhaps even they did not expect. The official decision was the correct one, a draw, for if either man received the decision it would be unfair. Official scores were 40-36, 36-40, and 38-38.
Local prospect Guadalupe Martinez (16-1, 9 KO) faced a tougher than expected test against Taronze Washington (9-10, 5 KO) in a six round middleweight scrap. Martinez was the aggressor throughout, but Washington landed accurate counter punches throughout, even hurting Martinez in the second round. In the last thirty seconds of the third round, they threw everything but the kitchen sink, and the crowd gave both a standing ovation. However, as the match wore on, every time Washington landed, Martinez simply fought back harder, and outhustled his opponent. The scores showed this, as Martinez won 57-57, 58-56, 58-56.
In the opening bout, Omar “Rising Star” Henry (1-0, 1 KO) of Willie Savannah’s gym knocked out Terrence Anderson (2-2, 1 KO) in the first round. It was Henry’s professional debut, and a spectacular one at that.
Sources at ringside said Martin’s team immediately offered Mahfood a rematch, but Mahfood declined, stating she wanted to begin her Ph.d program. Ironically, Martin has a BS degree. It is a rarity when two boxers both have university degrees.
In attendance were local boxers Juan Diaz, Rocky Juarez, Raul Marquez, and Jesus Gonzales. Also, Angelo Dundee received a special introduction and an extended standing ovation from the audience. Dundee trained Camacho for his fight.
For a Photo Gallery on the fights: Click here - Photos by Vikram Birring.
Questions or comments,
e-mail Vikram at: email@example.com
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