|The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire -- Oct. 8, 2000|
Trading Places, Johnson Jumps to the TopUNCASVILLE, CT
By JD Vena
Almost a year ago, Oleg Maskaev made a pretty good name for himself when he knocked fellow heavyweight contender, Hasim Rahman clean out of the ring. In a thrilling sequence, Maskaev sent Rahman out of the ring and head first onto the floor with a single right hand. As a result of his sensational win, the Russian born Maskaev became an overnight success and was discussed as a threat to any heavyweight holding a title. In May of this year, Maskaev kept the chatter going when he pummeled giant Derek Jefferson, a fighter who had also made a name for himself the night Maskaev vanquished Rahman. Last night, 1992 Canadian Olympian Kirk Johnson made an even better name for himself when he knocked Maskaev out cold and out of the ring.
I would have been satisfied with a win but winning like this makes an even bigger statement, said the winner.
It certainly opened many eyes of those who were expecting Maskaev to win in such spectacular fashion. For the past few years, many had doubted Johnson's abilities as a fighter as well as his status as a contender. In one of Johnson's earlier bouts, Al Ice Cole nearly snatched Johnson's unbeaten record when Cole caught Johnson with punishing right hands over Johnson's low left. That is why your writer expected Maskaev, who counters well with his right hand over his opponent's left guard would eventually catch Johnson some time during the bout. That did happen on one occasion as the closing of the first round, but the damage wasn't enough to deny the cagey Canadian. It was Johnson who ended up capitalizing on his opponent's mistakes.
During the fourth round, just when it appeared that Johnson, 232 ½, was putting himself in danger along the ropes, Johnson landed a brutalizing left hook flush on the chin of the massive Maskaev. Maskaev, 230, staggered backwards and on to his backside. Though Maskaev grappled to his feet, it was clear to many onlookers that his trip to the canvas would soon be repeated. Johnson then trapped Maskaev along the ropes and did not let up on his helpless foe until knocking him out of the ring with a blistering five-punch combination. Unlike Rahman, Maskaev was at least caught before falling off the ring apron by the officials at ringside. With the concern now for Maskaev's safety, referee Dick Flaherty declared the contest over at the 51st second of the round.
The thrilling finish of Johnson's efforts was just icing on the cake. What more or less ended the fight for Maskaev was his initial fall. The picturesque left hook thrown by Johnson is what sealed his victory.
I noticed that when I was throwing my looping right hand that he'd pull straight back, explained Johnson. When he would do this, he never brought his left glove back to cover his face. So I threw a right hand to miss him on purpose so he'd make the mistake and that's when I brought in my left hook. I was just making him do what I wanted him to do. I'm not a big puncher, I'll be the first to admit that, but when I catch someone clean like that, they’re going out.
The victory catapults Johnson (30-0-1, 22 KO's) over Maskaev (20-3, 15 KO's) to the top of the heavyweight title picture, where he feels he has deserved to be all along. This win should make everyone know that I never went anywhere, said Johnson. People said that I was scared of Maskaev when I pulled out with an injury in May. It's been the injuries that have held me back. I had a torn calf muscle and before that I had bone chips in my left elbow. This fight shows that I deserve to be at the top and hopefully I'll be given my chance to fight either Lennox Lewis or Evander Holyfield.
Whether that happens anytime soon, now the boxing world will have the name of Kirk Johnson to pass around when they're talking about legitimate threats to the heavyweight title.
In the co-feature to HBO's Boxing After Dark feature, Lance Mount Whitaker, 253 ½, of Granada Hills, CA, made a strong statement for himself when he battered Robert Davis, 236 ½, of Akron, OH, with a slew of right hands, dropping him three times in the process. From the outset, Whitaker had an easy time landing his choppy right hand around Davis' left glove. Shortly into the second round of their scheduled ten-rounder, Davis was felled after being stunned with one of those right hands. Moments later, the 6'8 giant bounced Davis up and down the ring like he was Bill Russell with a basketball. Earlier in his career, Davis was able of pulling himself off the canvas and win in three different bouts. This time out, he wasn't as successful against the improved behemoth. After the third and final knockdown, referee Charlie Dwyer enforced the three knockdown rule at 2:29 of the frame. With the victory, Whitaker's record improves to 22-1 with 17 KO's. Davis l oses for the first time in his career of 23 fights.
In other bouts: Andre Kopilov, 241, of Brooklyn, NY, stopped Tim Pollard, 246, of Louisville, KY at 1:48 of the first round. Kopilov is now 5-1 with 3 KO's while Pollard is now 6-9-2 with 5 KO's. Owen Beck, 222, of Negril, Jamaica WU6 over Taures Sykes, 236, of Brooklyn, NY. Beck is now 7-0 with 3 KO's while Sykes is now 12-1 with 5 KO's. Vaughn Bean, 217 ½, of Chicago, IL WU8 over Robert Smith, 350 (reportedly, the scale's maximum), also of Chicago. Bean is now 37-2 with 28 KO's while Smith is now 8-8-2 with 4 KO's. Gerald Nobles, 244, Philadelphia, PA WU8 over Agustin Corpus, 226, Monterrey, Mexico. Nobles is now 17-0 with 14 KO's while Corpus falls to 8-10-2 with 7 KO's In the swing bout, Dayton Wheeler, of Philadelphia, PA drew with Marcus Johnson, Gary, IN over 6 rounds.
Promoter Cedric Kushner Promotions
Ring Announcer Mark Beiro
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