“Mean Gene” squeaks by Page!
At ringside Vikram Birring, Doghouse Boxing (Aug 10, 2009)  
Everything seemed so right for heavyweight bomber Eugene Hill. Each opponent that came his way was toppled over by thunderous punches. Sixteen bouts, sixteen victories, fourteen knockouts.

Then he bumped into Zack Page. Page’s record indicated an ordinary, mediocre boxer. More defeats than victories, many to well known names in the sport. He was a stepping-stone to bigger things. Another tomato can for Hill to bowl over.

But on April 24, everything went wrong for Hill. Page made Hill look ordinary, boxing circles around his larger opponent mostly jabs followed by occasional right hands. A journeyman from Ohio destroyed the myth that was “Mean Gene”.

Whispers indicated Hill’s local celebrity had gotten to his head. Everywhere he walked in his native Dickinson, he was recognized. He even had a billboard to his name on the side of a major interstate freeway. He showed up to the bout at a career high weight of 263. This called for an opportunity to appear on a Bravo reality television show, “Extreme Weight Loss,” in the fall.

He would get his shot at redemption via former heavyweight turned promoter Lou Savarese. He would receive headline status at the ballroom of the Hilton Americas hotel in downtown Houston. And he had his chance at redemption against Page.

The feeling in the air was palpable; Page walked in and revealed a svelte figure, trim and muscular, almost a cruiserweight at 208 pounds. Hill walked in next, odd since he lost the previous bout. He nodded to those ringside, assuring victory. But when he removed his t-shirt, the truth was evident. He was 255 pounds, his lightest weight in a year, but still obviously heavier than optimum.

Once the bell rang, the bout eerily went the way of the first one, as Page 18-24-2 (6) stuck dozens of jabs to Hill’s 17-1 (14) face, darting out of trouble when close to the ropes or in the corners. He won the first two rounds with relative ease. Hill closed the gaps in rounds three and four by landing some effective blows. The two traded rounds after that. In the eighth, it appeared Hill was down on the cards, and finally he let his hands go and rocked Page numerous times. But it was too late. There would be no destructive knockout. Instead, it was left in the hands of the judges, who did not agree to the oldest known recipe in boxing in April, hometown cooking.

Two judges split the cards, 77-75 in favor of each boxer. The final card was embarrassing, to say the least, 79-73 in favor of Hill. The judge was Barry Yeates, and he should have his brain examined, or better yet his pockets checked. To say either boxer dominated would be unfair, and to give Hill a victory would be to give him each close round, as there were only three clear cut rounds in the bout, two belonging to Page. Judging is subjective, but at times also obviously crooked. Congratulations go out to Hill, who can go on with his career as an up and coming prospect, and one feels sorry for Page, who will not get a rematch and will have to settle for spoiling someone else’s party for chump change.

Chase “White Tiger” Shields is a fascinating character study. After thirty professional bouts, he has not faced a single credible opponent, and only one with a winning record, that being 9-8. This brings to mind Julio Cesar Chavez, who allegedly fought a hoard of taxi drivers for his first forty-two bouts before finally stepping up. In his two defeats, Shields has shown a frightening side to his behavior, being thrown out of the building by police in one after not accepting defeat and disqualified for body slamming his opponents in the other. Yet, he still has something of a fan base and got another chance against Cliff “Shotgun” Ellis, a thirty-nine year old tough guy who had not stepped into a ring in eleven years. Ellis was the one who would shut Shields up once and for all, and he was not alone in this wish, as a good number of fans supported him in his quest.

At the opening bell, Ellis 10-4 (7) immediately went for the kill, applying pressure and trying to knock Shields 28-2-1 (14) straight out. Shields landed a good counter left cross from a southpaw stance, stunning Ellis. Ellis stormed back with a right, and jumped on Shields as he lay against the ropes. After each round, the two jawed at each other and had to be separated by the referee. The atmosphere was intense, as each man had a noticeable dislike for the other. Referee Gary Simons had no easy task, as each man constantly hit on the break and at times tried to make it into a wrestling match.

Then, it happened. Shields backed English against the ropes, and landed two right uppercuts followed by a right hook. The result was something one would see in a cartoon. English fell straight forward, landing on his left shoulder. The ringside doctor leapt into the ring out of concern, as Ellis’s face gave the look of a dead man. Thankfully, he rose after a few minutes, and hilariously argued and asked why the bout was stopped, a true fighter. One hopes his foray into the ring ended on this night, for his own health and well-being. Official time was one minute, forty-one seconds.

Lanardo “Pain Server” Tyner, well, brings the pain. A heralded prospect, he has the stigma of Fernando Vargas. He beats everyone in his way, and then comes up just short against the elite, in this case Mike Arnaoutis and Lamont Peterson. In those two bouts, the brawling Tyner was outboxed and outclassed. He had spent time with Frank Tate to become more of a boxer, sharpen his skill set. He would get a chance to test this repertoire against Rohan Nanton, a typical opponent with an awful record.

After a relatively tame first round, Tyner 21-2 (13) landed a fascinating combination. He landed a left hook at the exact time as Nanton 7-24 (6), but instead of stepping back, still landed the second and third punches of his combination anyhow and sent Nanton down for the count. He followed up with some more sickening, bone shattering punches, each with the intent to deliver serious bodily harm, and Nanton went down again. He rose at eight but the referee saw enough and thankfully stopped the bout. Official time was two minutes, fifty-seconds.
In a snooze fest, heavyweight Steve “Fright Train” Collins 20-1 (15) pounded out a unanimous decision victory against hapless Dennis McKinney 28-49 (14). Scores were 60-54 twice and 59-55.

Terrance Woods is a rare phenomenon in North American boxing. He has a whole city behind him and interested in the sport and his career. He resides in Bay City, Texas, and brings out a sizeable crowd to each bout. He is really an athlete turned boxer, and is still learning the trade, with good success so far. The next prong on his totem pole would be Anthony Greeley, a very familiar name to Houston boxing fans, as he shows up to lose to every prospect from middleweight to cruiserweight. How he still has a license is disgusting, as he had lost twelve of his last thirteen bouts, six by knockout. There are opponents and then there are pure human punching bags, and that is what Greeley has become.

In the first round, Greeley 7-32 (1) unsurprisingly went down twice, and the bout seemed for a quick ending as was expected. However, in the second, he shockingly fought well, as he peppered Woods 6-0 (4) with fluid combinations, jabs followed by right crosses and occasional body work as well, dodging punches against the ropes with beautiful shoulder roll technique and even landed a bolo punch to the awe of the crowd.

Unfortunately, this was simply a flash in the pan as Woods managed to take the next two rounds based on activity and won the bout 39-35, 40-34, and 40-34.

Chris “Hollywood” Hernandez is a typical tough guy turned boxer. He is a former nightclub owner and thought it would be an interesting idea to try out boxing. He knows a lot of influential people in the city and always has a contingent behind him. He mustered up three victories and was looking for his fourth against Mike Wagendlast, who was making his professional debut.

Hernandez 3-1 (3) had the look of a boxer, heavily tattooed throughout his upper body, but not the technique. He leapt in with punches and lacked balance, but he gave his best effort and even won the first round. However, in the second, both men were breathing heavy, mouths wide-open exposing mouthpieces. Hernandez missed a punch against the ropes, and in return was blasted with a right cross by Wagendlast, 1-0. His body wilted, went limp, and fell to the canvas. He got up and went to his corner, but when the referee asked if he wanted to continue, he shook his head no, and the bout was stopped between rounds.

Kimberly Ann Connor derailed the Crystal Delgado’s Choo Choo express in June, and on this night looked to stop another prospect, Tiffany Junot. Connor reminds one of Hillary Swank in the film Million Dollar Baby, a true reckless fighting spirit. Every time she eats a punch, she shrugs it off and smiles, and throws some in return. She truly enjoys to fight, and that was bad news for Junot.

Connor’s 4-1-1 (2) specialty was a jab followed by a right hand, while Junot 6-2-1 (4) had a good jab and also went to the body occasionally as well. In the third, Connor landed three 1-2 combinations in a row and wobbled Junot. Junot bloodied Connor’s nose in the fourth, but Connor kept smiling and punching. Connor trapped Junot in the corner in the fifth and went to work, and so on it went. The final decision was a draw, 57-56, 56-58, 57-57, a fair one for a rousing bout.

For ringside photos by Vikram: Click Here.

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

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