By: George Hanson Jr., Esq.
Date: Friday, June 18, 2010
Unless you are deeply ensconced in the movie or music industry you probably never heard of Robert Stigwood. Yet it was Stigwood who ponied up $4.6 million of his own money to produce the 1977 box-office blockbuster Saturday Night Fever. The film opened on Friday December 16, 1977 and featured a cast of virtual unknowns, skyrocketing 23-year old television star John Travolta from a supporting actor to a motion picture superstar. In addition, it revitalized the career of the fading Bee Gees, who in record time laid down a soundtrack that sold over 40 million copies making it the largest selling album at that time, only to be surpassed by Michael Jackson’s Thriller five years later. Stigwood was a visionary who trusted his instincts and believed in doing things his way. Fast forward 33 years and we have boxing’s version of Stigwood—boxing promoter Nedal Abuhumoud. Like his motion picture counterpart, Abuhumoud is marching to the beat of his own drum, resurrecting the careers of former contenders while casting some virtual unknowns who he hopes will one day shine in the spotlight. He does this and draws large audiences by using local fighters.
Feel the city breakin'
Staying alive in the main event was four-time world title challenger light-heavyweight Omar Sheika (29 wins – 9 losses – 0 draws – 21 kos) Paterson, New Jersey. The last time he challenged for a world championship was back in 2005 when he lost a decision to WBC super-middleweight champion Marcus Beyer. However, his hope of another championship run is not far-fetched. A 41-year-old Glenn Johnson, who Sheika defeated in 2000, will be trying to regain the IBF light-heavyweight belt when he faces current champion Tavoris Cloud in August. Sheika is eight years younger and is working his way back into title contention. He stopped his last two opponents—Jim “Steel Chin” Strohl would be the third. It is as though central casting sent off the set of a Jack Dempsey movie to Cedar Gardens. Black hair and leathery skin pulled tight across his muscular frame, the former Tough Man contestant and now substitute school teacher was relaxed and ready for battle. The bell rang and Strohl (27 wins – 8 losses – 0 draws – 21 kos) of Las Vegas, walked right up to Sheika who immediately started his body attack.
Strohl made some nifty moves in evading punishment and used his jabs. However, Sheika started measuring him with some blistering rights in the second round, trapping him on the ropes and teeing off. We now understood that Strohl’s moniker was apropos because punches bounced off his chin with little or no effect. In Round 3 with blood seeping out of his nose and a cut on his left brow, Strohl continued to come forward and Sheika was more than happy to engage in target practice. He again cornered his opponent and fired every conceivable punch from his arsenal forcing Referee Page to call a halt at 2:01. It was a good stoppage by the referee. Sometimes you have to protect a fighter from himself. Strohl’s chin and heart would not allow him to go down. He would have remained upright taking unnecessary punishment. Sheika’s career stays alive.
Maybe I have been too critical of 1996 Olympic Bronze Medalist Terrance “The Heat” Cauthen and should apologize for having said that I would rather be stripped naked, honey poured all over my body and tied to an anthill instead of suffering through another one of his fights. Some will say that I went too far by stating that I would rather watch a turtle marathon than Cauthen facing another opponent in the squared circle. The safety-first southpaw has a huge following and appears to get everyone he faces to fight at his pace. Maybe, Cauthen is a boxing savant and I should appreciate his mastery of the sweet science. Hardly anyone can land a solid punch on him and he neutralizes his opponents with quick hooks and straight lefts. Tonight was no different as Cauthen (34 wins – 6 losses – 0 draws – 9 kos) of Trenton, New Jersey and Cleotis “Mookie” Pendarvis (10 wins – 2 losses – 2 draws – 2 kos) of Los Angeles, California engaged in an uneventful eight-round welterweight bout. With only 11 knockouts between them, neither man could break an egg if he was standing on it. The 23-year-old southpaw Pendarvis, a part-time singer, pressed the action in the opening round but as the fight progressed he was lulled into fighting Cauthen’s fight. By the third round Pendarvis was dancing to Cauthen’s tune as the following rounds were identical with neither man taking the upper hand. I was sitting at ringside watching two southpaws box a tactical match at a pace and tempo that we are so accustomed to from the Olympic Bronze Medalist. After eight rounds Cauthen was awarded a split decision 79-73 and 77-75 with the dissenting judge scoring it 77-75 for Pendarvis. Cauthen looked like he could go another eight rounds and didn’t have one mark on his face. Pendarvis is a stylish boxer, with youth on his side, with more experience he should do just fine in the division. Once again, Cauthen stays alive.
Debuting Puerto Rican junior-featherweight Benjamin Morales used a blistering body attack to offset his countryman—slick-boxing southpaw Francisco “The Extraordinary Mr. Magoo” Ortiz (1 win – 0 losses – 0 draws – 0 kos). From the opening bell, the bigger Morales was on top of Ortiz like a fat man on a Big Mac. He pressured the southpaw who used fluid lateral movement to set up his right hooks and uppercuts, which landed with regularity. However, Morales was in impeccable condition and fought like he was amped up on a case of Red Bull. This was a well-fought tactical match and Morales captured a well-deserved unanimous four-round decision 39-37 on all scorecards.
It seems as though body punching wasn’t a lost art by the fighters in this boxing show. Super-middleweight Alando “Pit Bull” Swain (0 wins – 1 loss – 0 draws) of Trenton, New Jersey was perpetual motion as he stayed committed to working the body of Jordanian Khalil “Bad Intentions” Farah (6 wins – 4 losses – 0 draws – 1 ko) now residing in Philadelphia. Swain true to his moniker was relentless in his attack, crowding Farah and landing repeatedly downstairs. The southpaw Farah tried keeping the bald-pated boxer at a distance but he couldn’t muster the fire power to short circuit the attack. Swain outworked him and earned a unanimous four-round decision 40-36 twice and 39-37.
January 25, 2008 was the first and last time that I saw lightweight Rami Ibrahim (2 wins – 8 losses – 1 draw – 1 ko) of Philadelphia by way of Kuwait. He had only won two of his eight fights and was coming off a 27-month hiatus. But on that night at The Legendary Blue Horizon he held his ground and fought toe-toe with highly touted prospect Jesus Barbosa to a four-round draw. I was impressed with Ibrahim’s mettle and his unwillingness to allow his opponent to break his will. Ibrahim, a Temple University grad who now works as a school teacher is former Muay Thai champion who understands something about psychology and courage.
Coming out resplendent in his tiger-print robe, trunks and matching shoes you sensed that Ibrahim wanted to send a message and end his current two-fight losing streak. The bell rang and he sprung out of his corner like a Bengal tiger attacking an antelope to face winless Marcus Smith (0 wins – 2 losses – 0 draws) of Glassboro, New Jersey, who dropped a decision in March to Osnel Charles. Ibrahim marched forward whacking away at his opponent’s body as Smith tried to keep his composure using the jab to gain separation. Billy Briscoe, Ibrahim’s loquacious trainer, yelled from the corner “double jab, ice pick!” On cue the school teacher followed instructions and threw the double jab followed by the straight right. It was clear that Ibrahim was going to make this a dog fight. You could not have scripted the second round. Smith boxed steadily, using some nifty footwork and a pesky jab to keep the advancing Ibrahim at bay. Out of nowhere, Ibrahim connected to the moving fighter’s temple with a short powerful left hook that crashed him to the canvas. Never short on courage, Smith rose at the count of three on unsteady footing forcing Referee Brown to call a stoppage at 1:02. Ibrahim stayed alive with a knockout.
In the opening bout of the evening lightweight Osnel “ The Prince of Darkness” Charles (2 wins – 2 losses – 0 draws – 0 kos) of Atlantic City, New Jersey by way of Haiti fought a spirited four-rounder with tough Ramon Ellis (0 wins – 5 losses – 0 draws) of Philadelphia. This bout was fought at close quarters with Charles consistently being the busier fighter. Ellis had his moments in the third round with some good body work which probably won him the round. However, the animated Charles who seems to enjoy fighting at a frenetic pace closed out the fight by finishing strong down the stretch repeatedly landing the one-two combination in the final round. Charles, a fighter with a huge upside, captured a unanimous decision 39-37 on all three scorecards raising his record above .500. It’s the old adage, “right trainer, right manager and the kid can go all the way.” It is back to the drawing board for Ellis whose record is not reflective of his abilities. The kid can fight, but like a bullfrog in a pan of boiling water on the stove, he adjusts to happenstance, refusing to change scenery (trainer/manager) until it’s too late.
Someone should sign Philadelphia light-heavyweight Charles “The Cobra” Hayward (4 wins – 2 losses – 0 draws – 1 ko) who made it three wins in a row with a unanimous four-round decision over tough Reshawn Scott (2 wins – 3 losses – 0 draws – 0 kos) of Philadelphia. The tall Hayward kept the chiseled Scott on the end of his jab, occasionally going downstairs to the body with precision hooks and uppercuts. Scott never had an answer, abandoning his jab trying to land that one big left hook which found its mark in Round 2. However, Hayward rolled with the punch, smiled at Scott and raked him with a few body shots. No surprise when all three judges scored it a shut-out at 40-36 for Hayward. The 25-year-old Hayward, a former Pennsylvania Golden Gloves champion, had a rocky start at the beginning of his career. After a three-and-a-half year sabbatical he returned to action last September at The Legendary Blue Horizon. Hayward has now auditioned for three promoters. Hopefully, he will be signed because The Cobra is without a doubt one of the most talented young fighters in the City of Brotherly Love. Simply put—Charles Hayward can fight! With the right trainer and good management, this kid could go all the way.
It was another great night of boxing by Nedals Promotions as former contenders and auditioning prospects displayed their ware in front of a near capacity crowd. Like John Travolta doing knee drops and clock splits in Saturday Night Live, Abuhumoud promotes with a certain flair and savoir faire. Let’s see which prospect or former contender makes it to a world championship. Stay tuned.
Continue to support the sweet science, and remember, always carry your mouthpiece!