The CBZ Newswire

Lee Halts Walker, Novikov Outpoints Perez at UIC

by on Sep.18, 2010, under Boxing News

By Juan C. Ayllon at ringside
Photos by Belle

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CHICAGO, September 17, 2010 – An estimated 2,000 fans cheered.  Tonight, Ireland by way of Detroit, Michigan’s Andy Lee (162 lbs., 22-1, 16 KO’s) showed flashes of brilliance and took another step closer to the upper echelons of boxing, as he halted Chicago’s rugged Michael “The Midnight Stalker” Walker (19-4-2, 12 KO’s) at the UIC Pavilion.    

Wearing the red Kronk boxing trunks trimmed in gold and trained by the Kronk legendary trainer, Emmanuel Stewart – the one who seems to specialize in redeeming taller, standup European boxers like Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko – Lee towered over the ebony hued Walker who stalked around the ring in white with black trim, sporting the initials “OIM” (One in a Million Boxing of Merrillville, Indiana).  

Lee was an undefeated prospect with all sorts of upside — some thought he was a superstar in the making — when he ran into Brian Vera, a boxer with some modicum of talent, but at 15-1 certainly not to be mistaken as a future world champion, in March 2008. Having knocked him down in the first round, Lee got caught and was shockingly stopped in the seventh round. Since then, he’s been rebuilding his case for consideration in a world championship fight and, ultimately, stardom.

The first two rounds saw Walker thoroughly out-boxed, reducing his offense to lunging forays as right jabs, straight lefts and uppercuts to head and body kept him at bay.  A straight left drew a loud collective “ooh” from the crowd and appeared to hurt Walker.

Walker slipped to the mat following a left hook in the third.  Lee was measuring him with a probing right jab.  He jabbed and crossed, while Walker lunged in behind a winging hook, but for all his effort, he slipped to the mat again, and fell backwards into the ropes as he ran into Lee’s shoulder.  Nodding at the frustrated Walker, it was as if Lee was saying, “I’ve got you now.”

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A pair of lefts appeared to stun Walker, who continued to press in the fourth while Lee set him up with jabs and sought to time him with malevolent lefts.  Walker had a few moments of success, most notably in the waning moments of the round when the two simultaneously landed rights to the head.

In the fifth, a straight left buckled Walker’s legs, an uppercut stood him straight up, and a thwacking right slammed hard into his side. 

Walker (left) bounces a hook off the side of Lee's head.

Walker (left) bounces a hook off the side of Lee's head.

Suddenly Walker pounced, bouncing lefts and rights to the head of Lee, who appeared stunned.  Covering, he recovered, stepped to the side and jabbed free. In control again, he scored with lefts and rights to close out the round. 

That’s it – again!” shouted Walker’s corner, as Walker mauled and landed in close in the seventh stanza.  Even as Lee edged, he leered in harms way as he traded freely with his stubbier counterpart. 

However, Walker’s threat was short-lived.  In the eighth, a straight left stunned him.  Shouts of “Andy! Andy! Andy!” thundered from the crowd.  Measuring carefully with a jab, Lee landed with increasing frequency and oomph.

Lee (at left) drives Walker back to the ropes with a sharp right jab.

Lee (at left) drives Walker back to the ropes with a sharp right jab.

A right hook rocked Walker.  An uppercut stunned.  Retreating to a corner, he absorbed heavy punishment.  Concussive lefts and rights slammed home.  Walker covered up in a corner, his head bobbled by thumping lefts and rights.  He was still standing, but he wasn’t punching back.  Referee Celestino Ruiz had no choice but to halt it.  Stepping in, he waved it off at 2:03 into the eight round.  The crowd roared with lusty approval.  Lee had won by technical knockout.

Novikov (left) and Perez trade along the ropes as referee Gerald Scott looks on.

Novikov (left) and Perez trade along the ropes as referee Gerald Scott looks on.

Kopeysk, Russia’s Anton Novikov (148 lbs., 17-0, 6 KO’s) had to dig deep in overcoming Chicago’s rough and tumble Luciano Perez (152 lbs., 17-11-1, 15 KO’s).

The first round witnessed saw some thudding blows and ungainly moments as southpaw Novikov and righty Perez traded, grappled and tied up in close.  “You guys stop wrestling and let’s fight,” referee Gerald Scott ordered near rounds end.  Novikov owned the greater preponderance of effective blows. 

Perez (right) swings hard to free himself from the ropes.

Perez (right) swings hard to free himself from the ropes.

In the second, a straight left knocked Perez back on his heels and into the ropes.   It could have well been ruled a knockdown, but he bounced back and stalked his man.  A right hook caromed off the head of a wide-eyed Perez, who was consistently being beaten to the punch.  Perez dug a left to the hip and missed with a right.  Storming forward, he had Novikov covering and retreating.

Perez charged out and forced a brawl at the beginning of the fourth, battering Novikov with crunching lefts and rights, forcing him to cover and make a stand. After absorbing some abuse to head and body, he fought his way free of the ropes, circled and reestablished the jab.  Suddenly, it was Perez fighting with his back to the ropes, as spearing straight lefts and rights rained down on him.  Powering his way out to rings center, he rotated as Novikov circled, jabbed and crossed him.

Novikov (right) batters Perez along the ropes.

Novikov (right) batters Perez along the ropes.

Novikov drove home more straight lefts in the fifth, but the fight was far from gone in Perez’ heart.  Instead, he battered back with ponderous straight rights and hooks, forcing Novikov to rely more on ring science and guile to rack up points and edge his stubborn foe.

In a hard fought sixth where both combatants unloaded heavy crosses, Novikov tired and nearly went down from a wild left hook that crashed into his jaw.  Moments later, he was thrown to the ground by a reenergized Perez.  Referee Scott warned Perez for that.  And then the bell rang. 

Novikov holds on tight.

Novikov holds on tight.

The seven was telling as Perez walked through a hard straight left and knocked Novikov back on his heels.  Heeding his corner’s instructions, Novikov jabbed and moved more.  Bulled to the ropes behind thumping rights, he clutched his antagonist in desperation, drawing a warning from referee Scott. Yet, he grabbed hold again and weathered the aggressions of this stampeding bull.

Kicking off the eighth and final round, Novikov circled and ran.  A right slammed into his head and knocked him into the ropes.  A left hook rocked him.  Swinging wildly, Perez alternatively battered and missed.

“Move!  Move, move!” shouted trainer Mike Garcia.  “Jab, jab!”

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Novikov jabbed, moved, dropped in an occasional stiff straight left, and grabbed, boxing his way clear of the swarming fists, shoulders and head of Perez.  Bleeding from a cut high on the forehead from a clash of heads, Novikov landed more blows, tallied points and appeared to edge the hotly contested round. 

It was all a formality after the final bell, as judges scored the bout 79-73 twice and 78-74 for Novikov. 

Referee Pete Podgorski circles as Granados (right) tries to penetrate Titsworth's defensive shell.

Referee Pete Podgorski circles as Granados (right) tries to penetrate Titsworth's defensive shell.

Cicero, Illinois’ Adrian Granados (143 lbs., 4-0, 2 KO’s) pitched a virtual shutout versus Omaha, Nebraska’s Trenton Titsworth (141 lbs., 3-8-1, 2 KO’s).

“Touch him, touch him, touch him!” shouted the cornerman of Titsworth, an ungainly, stork like fighter who stood a good head taller than Granados.  But, touch him, he hardly did, instead holding his gloves tightly to his chin and keeping his elbows tucked close to his sides as Granados banged away for the greater balance of round one.

Titsworth landed one sneaky right up the middle midway through another similar round, revealing his strategy:  Try to smother and frustrate Granados into making a careless mistake.  However, a Granados right drilled between the gloves near rounds end shook him up.  Moments later, the bell gave the beleaguered fighter momentary reprieve.   

Titsworth (left) drives a left into the face of Granados.

Titsworth (left) drives a left into the face of Granados.

Absorbing more abuse to head and body, Titsworth sent spray flying from Granados head with another jarring right in the third.  Regrouping, Granados pounced, but sure enough, he was stunned by another right to the chin and retreated to a corner where he covered up and regrouped before launching another fusillade.  Redoubling his efforts, Granados rocked Titsworth with a right to the chin.  Shouts of “Adrian!  Adrian!” from the stand buoyed his efforts as he punished Titsworth for the remaining 30 seconds of the round.

Granados (right) batters Titsworth.

Granados (right) batters Titsworth.

The beating continued in the fourth, where Granados teed off with thumping lefts and rights.  Titsworth nearly went down, but held on for dear life along the ropes.  And the fifth and final rounds saw Titsworth hugging for dear life repeatedly, as he was battered to and fro.  Granados tapped his own chin, mugged and pot-shotted.

Judges scored the bout 50-45 twice and 50-44 for Granados, who won by unanimous decision.

Referee Celestino Ruiz watches closely as Kozaev (left) batters Thompkins.

Referee Celestino Ruiz watches closely as Kozaev (left) batters Thompkins.

Michigan City, Indiana’s Marcus Thompkins (147 lbs., 5-1-1, 2 KO’s) did his best, but fell way short against Vladikavkaz, Russia’s Aslanbek Kozaev (144 lbs., 12-0, 4 KO’s) over six rounds. 

Pumping a crisp and fluid jab, Kozaev tagged Thompkins several times with sharp lefts and rights in the first, ducking and covering well when Thompkins countered in the first round.

Former Ultimate Fighting Championships heavyweight king Andrei Arlovski barked out instructions in Russian, while trainer Mike Garcia ordered their charge, Kozaev, to jab.  And jab he did.  And cross, rip to the body and step around as he pitched a near shut out in the second. 

“Body, body, body!” Garcia shouted, as Kozaev strafed Thompkin’s head with a fusillade of lefts and rights.  Thompkins landed the occasional right or left, but found himself retreating, covering and recoiling from rapid fire lefts and rights in the third.

A left hook to the head stunned Thompkins in the fourth, a round in which he stepped up his power punching and administered a steady thumping. 

Kozaev (left) works Thompkins over along the ropes.

Kozaev (left) works Thompkins over along the ropes.

Shouts of Aslan, Aslan, Aslan!” rang out from Kozaev backers as he took his attack into hyper drive kicking off the sixth.  Thompkin’s supporters bellowed out counter cheers from the bleachers.  A big right buckled Thompkins knees, who sagged under follow-up blows, but managed to cover, clear his head, jab and counter his way free. 

Judges scored the bout 59-55 twice and 60-54 for Kozaev. Celestino Ruiz served as referee.

South Bend, Indiana’s Cesar Martinez (165 lbs., 1-1) and Chicago’s “Hollywood” Mike Jimenez (1-0, 1 KO) traded freely as they fought a pitched and entertaining give and take bout that had fans at the edge of their seats while it lasted. 

Suddenly, a right hand drilled Martinez to the chin.  Martinez pitched forward, flat on his face.  Rising after several seconds, he looked down when referee Pete Podgorski looked into his eyes.  An experienced ref, Podgorski didn’t like what he saw and he waved it off at 43 seconds into the third round, garnering Jimenez a technical knockout win. 

Ramon Valenzuela (right) grimaces as he attacks Chris Grays on the ropes.

Ramon Valenzuela (right) grimaces as he attacks Chris Grays on the ropes.

Chicago’s Ramon Valenzuela Jr. (158 lbs., 2-0, 1 KO) defeated Traverse City, Michigan’s Chris Grays (160 lbs., 9-21, 2 KO’s) in the opening four-rounder, but he was fortunate that Chris Grays can’t punch, as he occasionally caught and stunned the free-swinging prospect Valenzuela with sneaky counter rights.  Nevertheless, Valenzuela won pulling away with his raw-boned aggression, dropping Grays with a crunching body shot in the fourth and final round, as judges scored the bout 39-36 twice and 40-35 for Valenzuela.  Gerald Scott served as referee.

Kaunas, Lithuania’s Donatas Bondarevas (156 lbs., 9-1-1, 3 KO’s) wasted little time taking it to Minot, North Dakota’s Michael Davis (154 lbs., 5-8, 4 KO’s).  Trapping him in a corner, Bondarevas floored him midway through the first with a straight right to the chin.  Another left-right dropped Davis the adjacent corner.  Taking an eight count, Davis survived the round.

“Sometimes tough is not enough,” said a smiling referee Pete Podgorski from ringside, as he watched Bondavares take Davis apart.  To his credit, Davis charged out behind a hardy two-fisted assault, but it wasn’t enough.  Battering him in a corner, Bondarevas finished it with a right to the head.  Referee Celestino Ruiz waved off the bout at 53 seconds into round two.  Bondarevas had won by technical knockout. 

He packed the much heavier hands, but Chicago’s Antonio Canas (141.5 lbs., 2-0, 2 KO’s) briefly found the going tougher than anticipated versus Bloomington, Minnesota’s David Laque (140 lbs., 2-6-1, 2 KO’s).

Battering Laque with bruising shots early on, in the second, he found himself repeatedly backed into the ropes by Laque.  Clearing the ropes, Canas battered Laque’s head to and fro, as they traded in close.  Laque hung in there tight, absorbing punches, and firing back.  However, a deep cut high on Laque’s scalp forced his corner to call a halt to the bout, garnering Canas a technical knockout win at one second into the third round.

Igram, Russia’s Evgeny Gradovich (126 lbs., 4-0, 3 KO’s) steamrolled St. Joseph, Minnesota’s gutsy Steven Johnson (123.5 lbs., 5-1, 4 KO’s).

Taking charge early, Gradovich dropped Johnson with a right to the head in the first.   Rising, Johnson boxed his way clear, retreated, and did his best to stave off the attack.

“You’ve got to be first – get that body,” Johnson’s corner exhorted in the second.  But try as he might, he was simply being overpowered. 

Digging to the right side with hooks and thumping the head  with lefts and  rights, Gradovich was  pitching a virtual shutout. 

And then Johnson hit him low, gaining him momentary reprieve. 

No matter.  The battering escalated.  Lefts and rights rained down and, within a minute, Johnson collapsed to the deck, courtesy of an accumulation of blows capped off by a left hook to the head.  Referee Pete Podgorski stopped the fight at 2:14 into the third round. 

 

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Belle with Andy Lee (center) and acclaimed Kronk trainer Emmanuel Stewart.

Belle with Andy Lee (center) and acclaimed Kronk trainer Emmanuel Stewart.

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