Report by Kerstin Broockmann
Photos by Scott Dray
HAMMOND, IN, October 2, 2010 — Despite the absence on the card of several scheduled bouts, there was still plenty of action on tap for Hitz Boxing’s appropriately titled “Irish Invasion” show on October 2 at The Venue at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, IN. Numerous changes left spectators with just five bouts, but there were enough fireworks for a longer evening.
Irish middleweight Andy Lee, from Detroit’s Kronk Gym via Limerick, headlined against veteran Troy Lowry, returning to the ring in short order after defeating Michael Walker by 8th round TKO on September 17 at the UIC Pavilion. The 40-year old Lowry, who had faced contenders such as Peter Quillin, Matt Vanda and Yuri Foreman, could not find an answer for the Irish southpaw, going down five times en route to being stopped at the end of the fourth round. Chicago-based Irish super middleweight Henry Coyle returned to the ring to continue his quest to get back into contention, winning his second bout since a disappointing loss against the experienced Neil Sinclair in his home country. Unlike his last outing, which saw him win after a second round arm injury forced his opponent to quit, Coyle’s foil on this occasion, Mustafah Johnson, would not give up, leaving Coyle using all his weapons to stay inside the taller man’s range. Welterweight John Lewus looked for his third win of the year at The Venue in his quest to make up for lost time after a layoff of over a decade, but came up just short. Former Chicago Golden Gloves champion and fan favorite David Latoria faced his stiffest test to date as a professional and passed with flying colors. Rounding out the card, bantamweight Jeremias Correa made his successful professional debut against the more experienced but unimpressive Harvey Phillips.
Chicago’s Jeremias Correa (130lbs.) made his professional debut against Cleveland’s Harvey Phillips (126lbs.) in a super featherweight bout scheduled for four rounds. The first round featured some damaging shots from both sides, with Phillips beginning the action with two crosses to the body. A straight left from southpaw Correa followed by a flurry of shots backed Phillips into the ropes. Phillips got on his bike at this point, moving back most of the round, with Correa working his jab in pursuit. Phillips snuck in another good straight to the body, but Correa controlled the round, eventually driving Phillips back into his own corner where he pinned him with body shots that clearly took their toll as Phillips made only a slight attempt to answer. Round two picked up where the first left off. Correa immediately took the fight to Phillips, stalking him first into the red corner than the neutral corner and methodically breaking him down with body shots. Though Phillips escaped the onslaught briefly, it wasn’t long before he found himself pinned in the blue corner, being raked by body shots and short hooks, with Referee Bill Heche instructing, “Show me something.” Phillips tried, but the damage was clearly done. Phillips was unable to answer the bell for Round 3, moving Correa’s record to 1-0, 1 KO, while Phillips drops to 0-8.
Super-Welterweight John “Bad Boy” Lewus (24-4, 20 KO’s, 147lbs.) returned to action for the third time this year against Toledo’s Gabriel Morris (3-7-1, 0 KO’s, 149.8lbs.). The “Bad Boy” ran into a cross upon coming out, but kept his feet. Both boxers found their marks with overhand rights, with Lewus putting together some nice one-two combos. Morris was effective in using his jab to keep his shorter opponent at bay when he chose to do so and started to put together some good combinations as Lewus began dropping his hands in the latter half of the round, handily out-boxing his opponent.
Round Two started with an exchange that Lewus got the better of, forcing Morris against the ropes. However, Morris extricated himself with a powerful right. The action continued back and forth, with both boxers finding their marks, Morris the busier and Lewus the more powerful puncher. At the end of the round, both fighters appeared to be too tired to press any advantage they gained. Morris was lobbing more punches, but Lewus avoided with some good head movement. It appeared that Morris outworked Lewus in this round.
Technical difficulties with the corner padding delayed the beginning of Round 3 at the bell. Refreshed after their unexpected break, both boxers came out faster than in previous rounds, with Lewus taking an early advantage with a full out assault. Lewus worked his jab while looking for a big right, forcing Morris back with a powerful combination that, while it left its mark, also seemed to tire him. Morris did not capitalize on his opponent’s fatigue and again allowed himself to be forced back, despite creating some good openings. This round belonged to Lewus.
The final round found Lewus looking for a knockout, walking Morris down and backing him into the ropes, often leaving his hands down between assaults. Again, Morris did not pursue the openings Lewus showed him. Morris was clearly too tired to be effective and Lewus threw flurries at will. Though Morris tried to stay in the game, and landed some good crosses to Lewus’s exposed head, he could not maintain enough momentum to pose a serious threat to Lewus. The judges scores had it 38-38 once, 39-37 once for Lewus, and 39-37 once for Morris, for a draw. Lewus moves to 24-4-1, 20 KO’s, while Morris moves to 3-7-2.
Chicago-based, Geesala, County Mayo-bred Irish Super-Middleweight Henry Coyle (155lbs.), now 12-2, 10 KO’s, continued his return to contention in a six-round bout against tough Indianapolis warrior Mustafa Johnson (160lbs.), who fell to 8-8-1, 2 KO’s. Coyle entered to the strains of live bagpipe accompaniment and was greeted by raucous cheers from the clearly pro-Irish crowd. Keeping a close guard, Coyle looked for openings, while Johnson probed with his jab. A flurry from Coyle marked the first significant action. It was followed by another, moments later, ended by a clinch by Johnson. In the latter half of the round, Coyle forced Johnson to the ropes and assaulted him with a flurry of hooks to body and head. Johnson escaped and the round ended as it began. Coyle took this one decisively.
Round two saw Coyle entering more aggressively, but Johnson countered well. Unfortunately, there was also a fair amount of holding on both sides. Coyle pressed the action more effectively as the round progressed, peppering Johnson’s body and then coming on top. He also continued to demonstrate his ability to use his head in more ways than one, often leading with his head, and using it as a third limb to put Johnson where he wanted him. This drew several warnings from Referee Celestino Ruiz. Johnson came back well to land his own powerful combo, including a cross that had Coyle briefly on the ropes. Coyle returned the favor shortly after escaping, gaining the upper hand at round’s end.
Coyle launched himself at Johnson in Round Three and tried to keep the attack going, though Johnson did a good job of avoiding direct shots. However, an accidental head butt early in the round hurt Johnson. After this clash, Coyle used his jab more in this round, which made for a cleaner battle. Both boxers held tough and alternately took the advantage, though Coyle was definitely the aggressor.
Johnson started Round Four, with Coyle countering. Johnson brought the fight to Coyle in this round, a strategy that served him well. When Coyle muscled him back into the ropes, Johnson did the same, appearing to hurt Coyle with a flurry of well-placed body and head shots at one point. Towards the end of the round, Coyle again resumed dominance, but Johnson did enough early on to take this round.
The fifth round began with Coyle the aggressor, but it was another accidental head butt that did the most damage to Johnson. Though sluggish for a bit, Johnson recovered and went to work, landing a sharp combination. Coyle again muscled his way into the inside, trapping Johnson against the ropes, but not working his position as effectively as in previous rounds. This round was close, but narrowly went to Coyle.
The sixth and final round started with an exchange in the center of the ring. Johnson seemed determined to remain center, but a cross from the lunging Coyle caught him and left him stumbling to the ropes. Though he escaped, Coyle continued his attack, driving Johnson to the opposite side of the ring with wild but powerful punches. Johnson struggled in this round, though when he was able to use his footwork, he countered effectively. Otherwise, Coyle was able to smother any attempts at offense, and his aggression and body shots proved too much for Johnson in the end. The judges scored the bout 58-56 twice and 59-56 once for “The Western Warrior” Henry Coyle. It was not a pretty victory, but Coyle proved his mettle against a tough foe.
Heavyweight Chicagoan David “Diesel” Latoria (5-0, 3 KO’s, 6’, 2”, 230lbs.) faced off against Blaine, Minnesota-based “Russian Giant” Yevgeniy “Boris” Shishporenok (6-1, 6 KO’s, 6’6”, 273lbs.) in a highly entertaining and physical four-round bout. Latoria opened the action by slipping a jab and going for Shishporenok’s body, setting the tone for the bout, with the mobile Latoria moving well against the lumbering, hard-punching Russian. Throwing a left-right combination inside the Russian’s looping shots, Latoria felled the bigger man, who beat the count, but seemed rocked. Latoria charged again and dropped the Russian again with a left hook. Again, the Russian beat the count. Latoria drove him back with another straight punch combination that nearly rendered the same result. Shishporenok’s foot slipped back through the ropes as he tried to steady himself and he caught himself on the press table. The Russian redoubled his efforts, rocking Latoria with a few hard punches before finishing the job by throwing him across the ring and onto the press table. The round ended with both boxers looking to finish.
Round two saw the Russian in pursuit, flicking his jab and following up with big rights. Latoria would get inside and throw effective combinations, but had trouble finding his range. A jab-cross combination from the Russian sent Latoria to the canvas, though it appeared to be more of a slip, and, apparently, to Latoria felt like a push. Latoria was unhurt and re-engaged immediately, again landing some effective combinations.
Round three featured some boxing, with Latoria clearly the more proficient at this approach. He landed several punishing combinations, including a jab-cross-hook that clearly hurt Shishporenok. Latoria also accidentally hit the Russian in the back of the head as he moved to avoid a combination. Another flurry from Latoria featured some body shots, one of which the Russian claimed was a low blow, though it looked fair to this observer.
The final round saw toe to toe action, with the Russian in pursuit, though Latoria landed the more effective shots, including a left hook to the head that again dropped the big man. As the round progressed, Latoria became better at avoiding shots, while the Russian seemed to tire, allowing Latoria to box to the finish. All judges gave the win to Latoria with scores of 40-32, in the toughest bout of Latoria’s career. Latoria is a skilled and mobile heavyweight, and it was good to see him in a battle that demanded that he show these attributes.
Scheduled for 10 rounds, the main event of the evening featured another Irishman, southpaw Andy Lee (163lbs.), now 24-1, 18 KO’s, facing off against St. Paul, MN, veteran Troy “TNT” Lowry (26-11, 16 KO’s, 164lbs.). Lee worked effectively off his jab, following up with right hooks and launching a straight left when he found an opening. Though Lowry boxed well initially, finding his own way up the center with a few solid right crosses, Emanuel Steward protégée Lee started timing him as the round progressed and landed far more effective punches.
In the second, Lowry tried to use his jab, but struggled with Lee’s southpaw stance. Lee started working the body with uppercuts, hurting the older man. A left cross from Lee sent Lowery to the canvas. Lee continued to land his right jab followed by hard hooks to the Lowry’s body and head.
Round three saw Lee using his uppercut to set up overhand lefts, dropping Lee twice within the first minute of the round with this combination. Lowry continued working behind his jab, occasionally finding an opening for a straight shot to body or head. Lee also went back to his jab/hook combinations, following up frequently with hard lefts to Lowry’s head.
Lowry came out looking strong in round four but was unable to find an opening as Lee continued to break him down, throwing right hooks to Lowry’s body and head. A straight shot to Lowry’s head opened a cut over his left eye, while Lee’s right shovel hook had Lowry gasping on several occasions, before he dropped him with this punch. Repeatedly attacking the body, Lee saw he had his opponent in trouble. A left hook to the chest at the bell dropped Lowry for the final time, giving Lee the TKO victory at 2:59 of the fourth round. This victory may set up Lee for a fight at Madison Square Garden against countryman John Duddy. Lee looked impressive as he used a full arsenal to break down his game opponent, not trying to rush into a knockout, but exposing weaknesses, creating openings and exploiting the opportunities he found or created.
Though Miguel “Macho” Hernandez will have to wait for his shot to get back in the win column after scheduled opponent Antwun Echols was pressed into service as a late replacement for Ray Oliveira against Joey Spina in Connecticut (losing by third round TKO), and other changes decimated the originally scheduled card, the evening showcased some fine boxing, with Jeremias Correa making an impressive debut, David Latoria showing his chops against a giant Russian knockout artist, and Kronk Gym product Andy Lee showing off the skills that he and his trainer hope will soon put him in world title contention.