By Kerstin Broockmann
Photos to be added later
HAMMOND, IN, August 18, 2012 — Hitz Boxing presented another Fight Night at the Horseshoe this evening at The Venue in Hammond. The evening’s bouts showcased the young and old(er) of Chicago’s boxing community, including a fight for the “over 40″ World Senior Boxing Council Championship between Middleweights Mike Kurzeja and Gerald Taylor. Headlining was Fres Oquendo, keeping busy in a bout Philadelphia’s Robert Hawkins. Undefeated Ghanaian Welterweight Abdullai Amidu (19-0) was unfortunately unable to make his Horseshoe Casino debut after his opponent withdrew too late to find a substitute. Local up-and-coming boxers Paul Littleton and Dimar Ortuz successfully stepped up against quality competition in crowd-pleasing wars, while more seasoned fighters David Martin III and Johnny Lewus found themselves in deeper waters than anticipated against opponents whose records belied their skills. Simon Buettner and Frank Scalise made short work of their hapless opponents. It was an evening of entertaining and occasionally explosive scraps.
Light Heavyweight Simon “The Punisher” Buettner (176 lbs) of Carpentersville, IL, entered the ring with a record of 1 win by knockout and no losses against Mukwonago, Wisconsin’s Mike “The Sandman” Reiter (172 lbs.), looking to get his first win after two losses. Buettner easily outclassed his older opponent, who, after a strong start, had no answers for Buettner’s sharper, harder punches. Buettner established himself behind the jab and quickly drove Reiter into the ropes, where a volley of body punches and hooks led to Reiter apparently taking a knee. Moments later, a right hook to the body, led to Reiter once again going down. He beat the count, only to find himself back on the ropes. Buettner continued the onslaught with hooks to the head and body shots, and a left hook buckled Reiter’s knees for the third time. Once again, Buettner attacked, driving his opponent to the ropes where another left hook dropped Reiter for the fourth and final time. Referee Kurt Spivey mercifully called a halt to the action at 2:16 of the first round, giving Buettner the TKO and improving his record to 2-0, 2 KOs.
Chicago Super Middleweight Paul Littleton (4-0-1, 164 lbs.) took a huge step up in his fifth bout, looking to extend his perfect record against the more experienced professional Darnell Wilson (9-1-3, 7 KO, s) of LaFayette, Indiana, whose claim to fame was going the distance against Chad Dawson in his only loss. The action surged back and forth over the six rounds (the first time at this distance for the 26 year old Chicagoan), but Littleton appeared to dominate most exchanges, using more effective defense and setting up cleaner combinations. Both boxers showed their mettle in the first round, demonstrating effective movement and counter-punching. Littleton took the round with more effective offense, finding more opportunities for combinations and exploiting Wilson’s often low guard.
The second round took a similar path. Both boxers were showing each other respect, using a lot of head movement and trying to time counters. Littleton dominated the first and last minutes of the round, though Wilson did not let him off the hook and found some good openings at times, especially in the middle of the round, where his consistent aggression allowed him to score with effective combinations.
Wilson took the opening of the third round, seeming to confound Littleton with his movement, then coming in with effective flurries of punches. Littleton stayed calm under pressure and threw the more effective power punches, though he struggled to get the timing he needed for more than single shots until near the end of the round. Wilson’s experience may have been the deciding factor in taking this round, as he dictated the pace with his movement and combinations.
The fourth round saw two motivated fighters going toe to toe before Littleton found a more productive range for his punches, putting his weight behind every shot. However, Wilson managed to get inside for a few jarring flurries, driving Littleton against the ropes in the last third of the round. Littleton managed to spin out and turn the tables on Wilson and win the exchange, even without his mouth guard. This round was difficult to call, with both boxers demonstrating impressive skills and poise.
Littleton used his punching power to wear down Wilson with body shots at the opening of the fifth round. Throughout the round, Littleton seemed to find the more effective shots, pinning Wilson against the ropes barrages of shots to the body and head. While Wilson could not seem to get off the ropes, he stayed dangerous, countering with his own effective uppercuts and hooks. Eventually, he worked his way out, but the round ended before he was able to get revenge.
The final round proceeded at a slower pace, though neither fighter was about to back down. The action seesawed, but Littleton seemed to be able to put together more effective combinations, while staying out of the way of Wilson’s assaults. Again, the round was close, but Littleton seemed the more dominant puncher.
The final scorecards showed the difficulty in scoring this quality bout, with one judge calling it 58-56 for Wilson, one calling it 59-55 for Littleton (which is what this reporter saw as well) and the final score reading 57-57 for a draw. Though Littleton did not get the win, he certainly proved himself to be a worthy contender to watch against a skilled and experienced opponent whose record and ring work shows his own ability to give others in his weight class a hard time. It was the kind of draw one could certainly argue about, but a great display from both men.
Heavyweight David Martin III (6-0-1, 5 KOs, 213 lbs.) of Hammond, IN, may have thought that he would make a short night of it against the far less experienced Joshua Clark (1-1-1, 1 KO, 222 lbs.) of Lexington, Kentucky, but Clark missed that memo, instead drawing Martin into a war. Clark landed the first blow of a first round that started tentatively, though Martin landed the first effective combination, appearing to rock Clark and setting the tone for the rest of the round. Martin dominated the round, though Clark used some judicious holding to escape the ropes on the only occasion he found himself in the corner. Clark seemed to get a little more confident as the round drew to a close, landing a flurry of shots to body and head (with an accidental low blow in the mix).
Clark built on his aggression from the end of the first in the second round. Though Martin was able to land some punishing shots over Clark’s guard, Clark’s activity kept Martin covering and searching in vain for shots for most of the round. Near the end, a brutal right hook to the body followed by shot to head nearly dropped Martin, who survived the round supported by the ropes, grinning (in appreciation?) at his opponent’s surprising strength or the well-timed bell.
The third round revealed the damage that Clark’s activity had caused, with Martin’s face showing signs of wear, most worrisome being a badly swollen right eye, which Clark continued to pick at with sharp jabs and hard hooks throughout the round. Martin covered well and avoided too much more damage, despite some thudding shots to the body and the continuous attack. Though not as effective, Clark still dominated the round, with Martin getting in some dangerous counters when he saw the occasion.
Clark continued as the aggressor in the fourth, though his punch output and power dropped considerably. He compensated by moving around the periphery of the ring, peppering Martin with shots from the outside, again favoring left jabs and hooks, as well as a few long-range uppercuts. Martin was finding his way back into the action, sitting on his punches and cutting off the ring to give Clark a taste of his knockout power.
Knowing that he needed to step up his game to win decisively, Martin came out firing in the fifth round. Though Clark continued to be active, his punches had lost a lot of their pop. Martin covered and walked down his clearly tiring opponent, starting to do some major damage in the second half of the round with his powerful left hand that gave him the round beyond a doubt.
Clark came out looking worn but determined in the sixth round, and, while he found himself in some tough spots, he managed to withstand the overwhelming firepower of the fresher Martin, who was looking to end the fight with big shots. Clark found enough energy to attempt to keep Martin at bay with shots from the outside while trying to move out of range, but Martin repeatedly hurt him with brutal shots to the body and head, rocking Clark on several occasions and nearly finishing him with a sustained volley at the end of the round. Though one scorecard may have shown a late-round bias for Martin, reading an implausible 59-55, the other cards reflected the round-by-round battle accurately, finding the action even at 57-57, giving Clark’s early aggression and Martin’s late-round resurrection the credit they deserved. Martin remains undefeated, but not untested.
Bridgeport, Chicago’s Johnny “Bad Boy” Lewus (26-5-1, 21 KOs, 143 pounds) was back in the ring against the less experienced but motivated Hugo Guarneros of Veracruz, Mexico (138 lbs.) in what was to be a six-round bout. Lewus, shorter and stockier than his opponent, worked effectively behind his jab for the first half of the first round, before succumbing to the temptation to trade shots. For a while the exchange was even then Guarneros began fully exploiting his reach, landing repeated unanswered straight shots and opening a cut over Lewus’s eye. Lewus kept launching bombs, but found himself with his back to the ropes taking punches over a guard that was too low or wide open. The second round looked like it would be more boxing than brawling as both fighters were taking more care in finding their shots. Lewus’s low guard again proved to be his Achilles heel, as Guarneros began working the cut over his eye with well-placed right crosses. By round’s end, Lewus’s face and trunks were streaked with blood. Though Lewus wanted to continue, the cut proved too deep to patch between rounds and his corner wisely advised against continuing, giving Guarneros the well-earned TKO and improving his record to 4-10-1, with 3 KOs.
Bridgeport, Chicago Lightweight Frank Scalise (133 lbs.) made quick work of Superior, Wisconsin’s Randy Ronchi (132 lbs.), who suffered his fifth KO loss in as many fights. After some awkward shots from both fighters, Scalise took advantage of Ronchi’s non-existent defense to land a left hook that sent Ronchi to the canvas. Though he recovered his feet, Ronchi was unable to continue, and the referee stopped the bout at 50 seconds of the first round for the TKO victory, improving Scalise’s record to 4-1, with four KOs. Ronchi may want to consider another line of work.
Undefeated Cruiserweights Dimar Ortuz (186 lbs.) and Atlanta, Georgia’s Donta Woods (180 lbs.) faced off in a six round bout. The first round was tough to call, with both boxers finding ways to effectively land punches. Ortuz strafed Woods’s head, while Woods landed hard blows to the body before coming up to land hooks over Ortuz’s low hands.
In the second round, Woods stayed at the end of his punches, where his more polished technique allowed him to keep Ortuz outside where Woods could shift his weight into an arsenal of body and head shots that seemed to have Ortuz in danger at times.
In the third round, Ortuz made the fight his own, driving Woods into the ropes with will and body weight and then unleashing short shots on the inside. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. Woods struggled to stay in the center of the ring and was not able to regain his range.
The fourth and fifth rounds mirrored the second and third, though the intensity of the battle increased while both boxers lost a little of their technical skills in the process. Woods came out swinging in the fourth, raking Ortuz with body shots and setting the pace of the fight, avoiding most of Ortuz’s attempts to push him back against the ropes and countering effectively when he found himself there. Ortuz was the first to pull the trigger in the fifth, and kept his advantage throughout, punishing and wearing down Woods with a very physical onslaught, leaning on him with head, shoulders and elbows, which, while it slowed Ortuz’s own punch output, smothered Wood’s ability to retaliate.
The final round belonged to Ortuz, who battled Woods for control through the initial minute before imposing his will, again pushing the tired Woods back, and dropping a right hook on him that sent Woods to the canvas midway through the round. Woods got up and re-engaged, but another flurry sent him down again. From that point, Woods simply tried to withstand the relentless barrage from Ortuz, who trapped him in the corner to end the round. Effectively brawling against the boxer, Ortuz fought a rough, occasionally ugly fight, but his relentless attack and determination earned him the win, moving his record to 5-0, 3 KOs, while Donta Woods’s efforts to box came up short and he suffered his first loss, with his record now standing at 8-1, with 7 KOs.
Over six rounds, Chicago Light Heavyweights Mike Kurzeja (5-0-1, 4 KOs, 170 lbs.) and Gerald Taylor (5-4-2, 2 KOs, 174 lbs.) battled for the World Senior Boxing Council Middleweight title. Though Taylor demonstrated a more varied boxing technique, he could not match Kurzeja’s power.
The first round was close, with Taylor using his jab to establish his range and throwing combinations that kept Kurzeja at bay early. Near the end of the round, Kurzeja began timing his opponent, landing effective body shots under Taylor’s straight punches and following up with flurries that threw Taylor off balance.
Balance was to be a major problem for Taylor, who had difficulty landing his punches with enough weight behind them to do damage and often lost his footing, slipping several times in the course of the bout, and seeming to have little ability to withstand flush shots. Despite this, Taylor’s boxing ability made for a close second round, as he avoided Kurzeja’s attempts to land a big rights by countering and slipping. Sometimes one punch can effectively turn the tide, and Kurzeja landed one of his crashing rights in the final third, rocking Taylor and driving him back into the ropes before launching a flurry that led to Taylor going down-it was hard to tell whether a specific punch was the cause or tangled feet, but Taylor was clearly in trouble by the end of the round.
Taylor looked to be outworking Kurzeja in the third and fourth rounds, but in the category of effective aggression, Kurzeja dominated. Taylor moved and put together good combinations in the third, though Kurzeja’s less frequent shots kept Taylor off balance. In the fourth, Taylor worked behind his jab and boxed well, but Kurzeja again scored with the most effective combination of the round. Using his jab to push Taylor back, Kurzeja unleashed a flurry of body shots and hooks against Taylor, who eventually got off the ropes and back into the action, but Kurzeja’s aggression had taken its toll.
Both boxers looked to be tiring in the final rounds. Kurzeja’s body shots were the telling punches of the rounds. Taylor threw combinations that certainly made their mark, including doing some serious damage to Kurzeja’s nose, which was swollen and bloody by the end of the bout. Kurzeja’s right hand and body shots kept Taylor fighting to keep his feet under him. While Taylor stayed active, he could not find the power he needed to outpunch Kurzeja, despite his willingness to trade (particularly in the fifth). In the end, all the judges rewarded Kurzeja’s power and accuracy with a unanimous score of 60-53, giving the 44-year-old the inaugural WSBC Middleweight title.
In the main event, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Robert Hawkins (23-20, 7 KOs, 245 lbs.) initially looked to be a reluctant opponent, though he still managed to give Chicago Heavyweight and WBA Fedelatin title-holder Fres Oquendo (35-7, 22 KOs, 220 lbs.) seven rounds of work in a bout scheduled for 10. Oquendo methodically stalked Hawkins in the first round, using his jab to set up occasional rights, but mostly to keep Hawkins from wanting to engage, which seemed to work. Though Hawkins showed some good defense, he rarely launched an offense.
Hawkins came out with renewed determination in the second round, trying not to be daunted by Oquendo’s counter-punching and throwing some early combinations that Oquendo covered to avoid before once again going on the offensive, finding a home for his left hook and mixing in some solid body shots while continuing to stick his jab in Hawkin’s face. Hawkins mostly reverted to defense in the latter half of the round.
Hawkins literally launched himself at Oquendo in the third round, throwing himself across the ring. Though he had some early success, Oquendo stared catching him with counters and tying him up when he came inside. Coming off the ropes, Oquendo threw a left hook-right cross combination that sent Hawkins to the canvas. Hawkins recovered and put in a valiant effort to stay in the fight, but was clearly starting to feel the effects of Oquendo’s body shots, which Oquendo was deploying with more frequency, while continuing to pepper Hawkins with outside shots. Shortly after the first knockdown, a combination dropped Hawkins for a second time in the round.
As Hawkins came in head first to launch another attack in the fourth round, Oquendo was warned for holding Hawkins’ head down, in an exchange that was becoming too frequent. Hawkins was managing to throw a few more punches, though Oquendo continued to walk him down with a stiff jab. Near round’s end, Oquendo landed a right that drove Hawkins to the ropes and nearly dropped him, followed by a series of body shots. Hawkins held, causing referee Kurt Spivey to break the action before Oquendo could take advantage of his position.
Oquendo dominated the fifth round, though Hawkins stayed aggressive. The close quarters fighting and holding drew a lecture from Spivey about keeping the fight clean. The last third of the round showed off both boxers’ skills, though Oquendo was clearly dominant, finishing the round with a brilliant series of three punch combinations that Hawkins could not counter.
In the sixth round, Oquendo pressured Hawkins with jabs and heavy body shots, foiling Hawkins’s attempts at offense with head movement and counterpunching. A groin shot from Oquendo resulted in a time out for Hawkins to recover, after which Oquendo went back to work. As Hawkins tried to come in, again leading with his head, Oquendo would shoot an uppercut through his guard. Hawkins ended the round with his back to ropes.
In the seventh round, Oquendo opened up immediately with shovel hooks to the body of Hawkins. Hawkins seemed determined, but kept meeting Oquendo’s uppercut when he came inside. Backing up Hawkins with his jab, Oquendo would wait until Hawkins was near the ropes and unleash a combination. Hawkins was clearly outclassed. As it turned out, Hawkins would not answer the bell for the eighth round (possibly due to a leg cramp-he was clearly in distress between rounds), and the TKO victory was awarded to Fres Oquendo at 3:00 of the seventh, though the only outcome that was in doubt at that point was when the win would come for Oquendo, who had won every round to that point. Though Hawkins was game and clearly had some skills, he was in too deep to pull out a victory even before his body gave out.
Though Fres Oquendo was the main draw on the card, it proved to be an exciting evening of bouts, with two action-packed bouts ending in draws, a smattering of knockouts and enough surprises to keep things interesting.