Roy Jones-Lou Del Valle
Derrick Gainer-Kevin Kelley


by GorDoom

What we had here was the best weekend (on paper), of boxing so far this year. Due to the dearth of action this annum, the CBZ’s, “Big Dogs” have been basically caged since the Gatti-Manfredy bout back in January.

Yeah, well ... It be way past time to turn the big dogs loose ... & thanks to ESPN2, HBO & Roy Jones finally coming out of his fistic coma - the CBZ was able to unleash its cynical, snarling, posse/pack of writers on yesterday’s fights.

The torn, bloody chunks of verbiage, that they left in their wake, are hereby presented to you, our too long neglected, fistically challenged readers ...


Roy Jones - Showing Del Valle Who's The Boss

by Thomas Gerbasi

New York - For those of us who have had the pleasure of viewing the boxing coverage on ESPN Classic Sports Network, we've had a chance to see the greats of the sweet science in all stages of their careers. We've seen a young and old Sugar Ray Robinson; Joe Louis losing to Max Schmeling and then destroying him two years later; and a young, brash Cassius Clay growing into the Muhammad Ali the world now calls "The Greatest". And for a generation of boxing fans not even born yet, the "Classic" of our era will be known as Roy Jones Jr. Forget that he has no LaMotta or Frazier to battle. Forget that he has proudly worn the mantle of reluctant warrior. Jones is the best we've got today. We'd better enjoy him while he's here.

Before a raucous, packed house at Madison Square Garden's Theatre, Jones once again showed why he is miles ahead of the rest of the light heavyweight division, with a unanimous decision over New York's own Lou Del Valle.

The Theatre crowd, filled with celebrities (Spike Lee, Jayson Williams, Grant Hill, Allen Iverson, Heavy D, Junior Jones, Thomas Hearns) made their allegiances known early, with chants alternating between "Lou-ie, Lou-ie", and "Roy, Roy". Jones tried to take a page out of Prince Naseem Hamed's book with an elaborately staged entrance from the upper section of the Theatre, but this almost backfired when a fight broke out in front of Jones' entourage. Jones soon made it to the ring, and there was a genuine anticipation for the fight, especially after the lackluster undercard.

The early rounds consisted of a cat and mouse game, with Jones landing the cleaner, crisper shots. Del Valle refused to give ground though, mixing some slick defensive moves with a strong left hand, and a mocking attitude towards his former employer. Through four rounds, the fight was close, but in the fifth, Jones took command with a round which displayed his utter virtuosity in the ring. Jones started the round more aggressively, and he brought the crowd to its feet when he turned sideways, gave a little jig, and landed a shot flush in Del Valle's face. He continued to showboat, all the while landing bombs which seemed to have no effect on the steel chinned New Yorker.

But after the fifth, Jones seemed to sense that he was in command, and he began to coast. For his part, Del Valle seemed to be a bit gunshy about rushing the WBC champion. The end seemed to be near, and around this time I heard the best line of the night, when one of the media quipped "beating Jones is like trying to put a puzzle together in the dark." But just when the crowd quieted down ...BOOM!!!

In the eighth round, Jones got lazy and got nailed with a huge left hand from Del Valle. Roy fell hard to the canvas, the first time he has ever been horizontal as a pro. He rose to his feet, but his legs seemed unsteady. But like a champion, Jones passed his first ever gut check with flying colors. He held on for the rest of the eighth, surviving the stanza, and he proceeded to clear his head in the ninth, even knocking Del Valle's mouthpiece out in the round.

The crowd got behind Del Valle again in the tenth, and Lou responded with a couple of good shots sandwiched around a huge right by Jones. Melissa Salamone, Del Valle's sister, and a pro fighter herself, shouted encouragement from the crowd, using even more energy than her brother.

But if you thought that Jones would rest on his lead, forget it. Roy finished strongly in the Championship Rounds, en route to a clear cut unanimous decision. The scores were 118-109 (2x) and 119-108. I had it 117-110.

Del Valle(27-2), who was told not to come home to the Bronx if he lost, had nothing to be ashamed of, and he should be welcomed home with open arms. And for Roy Jones (37-1), what's to say? He continues to roll through opponents, and there are just so many superlatives we can drop in his lap. Let's just hope he continues to stay active. Because he's our "Classic".

On the undercard, Jones' stablemate, Derrick "Smoke" Gainer (24-4) scored a dominating unanimous decision over Kevin Kelley (48-3-2) in a huge disappointment of a bout. Kelley seemed to be lacking fire throughout the fight, and Gainer was content to stay outside and frustrate "The Flushing Flash" with movement. It worked. And when Gainer did choose to step inside, he was able to hurt Kelley with fast combinations. Kelley was dropped in the first (a slip called a knockdown) and the seventh (no slip), and never really seemed to get off. The scores were 96-94, 96-93, and 96-92. It wasn't even that close. I had it 99-92 If Kevin hit Gainer as many times as he touched gloves with him in a gesture of respect, he may have won the fight. And to the winner goes the spoils. Could we be seeing a Hamed-Gainer fight sometime soon?

In other action...

Heavyweight David Izon (21-3) returned to the ring with a lackluster eight round decision over trial horse Marion Wilson (11-26-3).

Pensacola's Victor McKinnis (14-0-1) scored a fifth round TKO over the Bronx' Luis Rosado (20-4) in a junior welterweight matchup.

HEAVY(282) weight Gabe Brown (6-0) drilled Utica, NY's Calvin Smith (5-10) with one punch in the first round, kayoing him.

Atlantic City's John Brown won a unanimous eight round decision over Lemuel Nelson (11-2) of Pensacola, in a lightweight matchup.

Elvir Muriqi (2-0) decisioned Billy Desser (0-1) . Four rounds. Super middleweights.

In ladies action, Songul Oruc (3-0) decisioned Shakurah Witherspoon (Tim's sister in law)(2-3-1) over four rounds in the lightweight division.

Pensacola Pitches A Shutout

by Pusboil

Two fighters from Pensacola, Florida faced two fighters from New York City tonight. Florida definitely went home the happier state.

The card started off with Kevin Kelly(48-2-2) and Derrick Gainer(23-4) in a rematch of their 1996 fight which Kelley won by KO in the eighth when obviously behind on points. Kelley seemed to want to replay that fight exactly, by starting off losing every round.

We also were forced to listen to some of the most ridiculous statements I have ever heard Larry Merchant and the rest of the HBO staff utter, but see my notes at the end for that.

Gainer was able to pick his shots and pretty much land at will for the first three rounds. Kelley was unable to retaliate in any way and lost all three rounds handily. Kelley’s cornerman Phil Borgia was trying to get Kelley to establish a jab and get something going. Kelley never did this.

Neither fighter threw as many punches as you would expect in a featherweight bout but Gainer was easily getting the best of Kelley.

Three more rounds of Gainer outboxing Kelley followed. In the seventh Kelley was knocked down by Gainer and was looking like he was ready to go home. When he returned to his corner, he had no answers for Borgia’s questions.

The last three rounds were more of the same. Gainer moving and picking his shots and Kelley just getting hit.

The judges had it 96-94,96-93, and 96-92, all for Derrick "Smoke" Gainer. A little gracious scoring if you ask me. I scored this bout 100-88, a complete shut out with two 10-8 rounds for Gainer.

It was evident that Kelley just couldn’t get anything going tonight. Nothing. Zilch. Zippo.

Gainer on the other hand avenges the ’96 loss which he said had haunted him to this day. I don’t think he could beat Hamed but neither would Kelley based on tonight’s performance.

We next saw Roy Jones (36-1) go up against Lou Del Valle(27-1). There had been a lot of trash talking between these two in the days leading up to the fight. A typical case of bad blood between the fighters.

Jones who I have criticized in the past, annoyed me more with his ring entrance. He was accompanied by several dancing girls dressed in boxing apparel on his walk to the ring. I guess it’s Hamed’s turn to beat this.

But to my surprise, Jones was a lot more business and a lot less flash between the bells. There was a lot of posing and head shaking going on in the first round, both fighters attempting to get into their opponent’s head. It was clear that both men wanted to show that the other could not hurt him.

Jones boxed the last part of the second round and almost all of the third from a southpaw stance. This confused Del Valle in my opinion and it looked like Jones won the battle of who was going to be in who’s head.

Del Valle started the fourth off with some wild shots. One left handed landed clean, the rest were pretty amateurish and were glancing blows at best. He did not win the round though as Jones came back and outboxed and outpunched Del Valle the rest of the round.

The fifth was pretty much the same. Del Valle was just not active enough to win this fight. He came in throwing one punch at a time while Jones would throw combinations.

In the sixth Del Valle shook his head more times than he landed punches, obivously the fight plan for him was flushed at this point.

The seventh round brought an accidental clash of heads and a nasty cut opened over Del Valle’s left eye. The fight continued but we wondered how long it could go.

Well, the cut was handled marvelously by Del Valle’s corner and never again came into play. What did come into play was Del Valle’s Left hand. He threw a jab and left hand. The left caught Jones on the cheek/chin area. For the first time in his career, Jones went down. He went down ugly too. Not hurt mind you, but plain old sloppy. One of those, "where the hell did my legs go" knockdowns.

He got up very quickly, shouted an expletive, and continued on. But a little more cautious than we are used to seeing Roy Jones. He fought the next three rounds this way but still won all of them.

He returned to his more usual form in the twelfth round and won that too. The judges had it 118-109, 118-109 and 119-108. I scored it 117-110 for Jones.

Jones answered a few questions tonight and a few more popped up. He showed he could stay cool when faced with adversity. But at the same time, his chin is in question. While Lou Del Valle may one of the tougher fighters Jones has faced lately, he hardly qualifies as a devastating puncher.

I am ready to cast my vote for Jones as the pound for pound champion. He has all the skills. He’s a great boxer, and he can hit. His defense needs work, but most fighters aren’t quick enough to hit him.


-- HBO needs to look at their broadcast team. Merchant during the Gainer fight was awful. Both him and Lampley spent more time mocking the fight than they did reporting it. To mock a fighter because he moves a lot is ludicrous. I guess they must have hated Ali. If the fight is not to their taste that’s fine. But to call it a lousy fight in my opinion is wrong. Both fighters deserve a little more respect than that.

-- Jones’ reasons why Del Valle did as well as he did were a little cheap. He pretty much blamed the knockdown and anything else Del Valle did on the fact that Del Valle was a former sparring partner. He said he was upset that Del Valle never told him he wanted to fight him while they were sparring. Get over it Roy.


by DscribeDC

Roy Jones, Jr.-Lou "Honey Boy" Del Valle
Kevin "The Flushing Flash" Kelley-Derrick "Smoke" Gainer
The Theater at Madison Square Garden
July 18, 1998

Watching Roy Jones, Jr. take apart his opposition always strikes me as a bit like watching the Harlem Globetrotters put away the Washington Generals for time number 10,000,003. It's just sooooo easy. The 'Trotters work from a script, and for a while it seemed that Jones did, too, befuddling nervous, timid boxers with wild, looping shots-from-nowhere, footwork as likely to have come from Rap City as a boxing gym, a ring style that treated defense as an insult. But in his last two bouts, Jones has begun to see something resembling the stirrings of a revolt among opponents that have started to make him work for his W's. Still, his fights, even the "competitive" ones, have the feel of formalities and tonight was no exception.

Hometown boy Lou Del Valle, the WBA 175 lb king, came as close as anyone has since James Toney to giving Jones a sincere test, sending the WBC champion sprawling to the canvas in round eight of their twelve-rounder with a solid left that caught Jones in what looked like a lax moment. But even this was merely a flash knockdown. Del Valle never executed more than a perfunctory follow-up, never showed a desperation befitting Jones' mounting stockpile of rounds, and thus, never came close to taking the WBC strap.

Despite the loss and the judges' lopsided scores, Del Valle deserves some credit. He did what no fighter had done previously and deposited boxing's reigning lb-for-lb king on the seat of his trunks. He demonstrated tons of guts and heart by ignoring a mean cut, taking scores of sizzling body shots and staying on his feet for the final bell. Yet, it must be said that -- eighth round aside -- the fight was hardly crowd-pleasing. The pace was turgid at best, and only three of twelve rounds were remotely in question, the first only because neither fighter did much at all to win it. Some rounds had less fighting in them than a particularly contentious Jerry Springer rerun.

The opening stanza of the contest set the tone, both fighters doing more posing that one would find on a Milan catwalk, working on psych-out moves, jawing at each other and dismissing the power of the few punches that were thrown. Too much of the bout followed this pattern. When punches were being thrown, they were nearly always Jones', the type of bludgeoning right hands to the ribs and belly that stopped Virgil Hill, a rejuvenated left jab, the trademark wide right to the head. Del Valle's moments were few, the eighth round knockdown and bullrushes in rounds three and seven that yielded big crowd pops but few meaningful blows. In the end, Del Valle was too tight, too intent on going the distance, parrying Jones' offense and besting RJ in macho head games. That won't get it done. All in all, the fights in the aisles that impeded Jones' triumphal hip-hop entrance were more compelling.

Although Jones continues to pile up wins and belts (Jones' cavalier joke about adding belts to "his collection" underscored just how meaningless they've become), and now even manages to endow his bouts with something resembling suspense, he has failed to do the one thing he most desperately needs to do: recapture the imagination of the boxing audience.

When was the last time a Roy Jones fight was greeted with anything resembling anticipation? The wags who derided Jones' planned move to heavyweight for a Buster Douglas fight must feel pretty foolish now. With the heavyweight division so painfully weak and full of has-beens (Holmes, Foreman), not-yets (Michael Grant, Chris Byrd) and various and sundry never-will-bes, there is nothing stopping Jones from making the move that lesser-accomplished light-heavies have made many times before. With Evander Holyfield still dodging and weaving to avoid any hope of a Lennox Lewis fight and scraping up bouts with the likes of Henry Akinwande, who's to say the division couldn't benefit from the newsworthiness of a Jones visit? Would a Jones ten pounds heavier than the one we saw tonight really be such a non-factor? Don't bet on it. More importantly, it would create heat and spark interest (albeit not a purist's interest) in Jones' career, a career that threatens to run aground on inferior competition. I, for one, hope that Roy reconsiders.

For the record, this writer had the fight for Jones 117-111, with nine rounds for Jones, two for Del Valle and one round even. The judges, quite justifiably, had the contest a little more lopsidedly for Roy. And I would throw in an honorable mention for hard-working ref Jim Santa, who spent more time tonight mopping up than Schneider the Super.

The more hotly-awaited contest, the rematch of 1996's Kevin Kelley-Derrick Gainer match-up (won by a hopelessly outgunned Kelley in an eighth-round miracle KO), was, if anything, even more anticlimactic, with Gainer using his superior height and reach to wheel his mamba-sleek form around a plodding and relatively "ungainly" Kelley. The Flushing Flash, a veteran of so many tough slugfests, seemed unable or unwilling to cut off the ring, allowing Gainer to slip out of trouble time and time again, offering an irresistible target for Gainer's hard lefts to the head and body and omnipresent, stinging jab. A half-slip knockdown in the first created some controversy, but after getting cleanly dropped in the seventh, Kelley, who had seemingly never been in a bad fight until tonight, rolled over, spit out his mouthpiece and started walking, wide-eyed, back to his corner, dejected and defeated. He never seriously contested after that, the man who once traded hundreds of punches with Troy Dorsey in a record-breaking slugfest landing a mere four shots in a penultimate round in which he should have been going for broke.

Gainer, who seems to have finally exorcized the demons raised by the earlier Kelley loss, appears on the road to bigger, tougher bouts, bouts which the advocacy of stablemate Jones will help him land. Kelley, who has offered fans so many thrilling moments in the past (including a multi-knockdown seesaw battle with Naseem Hamed) should consider retirement. His sleepwalking performance tonight bodes badly for future fights, and virtually eliminates any chance of selling a Naz rematch.

This writer had a ten-point margin for Gainer, 99-89, in this ten-rounder, although the inexplicable charity of the ringside judges, who had much narrower margins of victory, demonstrate that Jones and Del Valle were not the only fighters tonight who had experienced a visit from Santa.

These two unmemorable fights raise only two real questions. Just who were those Fly Girls who bounced and percolated Roy Jones down the aisle, they like writers?

The Theatre Of The Unexpected

byChris Bushnell

If boxing is the "theatre of the unexpected", then you can call July 18, 1998 just another day in boxing. Tonight, HBO presented a Madison Square Garden doubleheader with two fights that promised to be an oasis for thirsty boxing fans. Maybe it was the heat wave that's sweeping America, or maybe it was the highly raised expectations....but this oasis proved to be only a Mirage.

In the first fight, Kevin Kelley and Derrick Gainer were rematching their close 1996 bout, which saw both fighters down and a blinded Kelley turn in an improbable comeback kayo victory. But one of 1996's fights of the year turned into one of 1998's most boring contests.

Young Derrick Gainer was expected to be tentative at first. After all, it was only one left hand from Kevin Kelley that put the lights out the first time they met. So when the first round became a battle of feints, there was little surprise. The otherwise uneventful opening stanza suddenly became interesting when a short punch caught an off balance Kelley coming in, and he dropped to the canvas. Kelley was up quickly and the round ended.

The fight resumed with both fighters continuing their inactivity. Kelley was loaded up and looking for the one-punch knockout and Gainer seemed content to circle the ring, popping Kelley occasionally and immediately backing off. Gainer won a few rounds with this uninteresting game plan, and Kelley won a few rounds when he would occasionally catch Gainer on the ropes.

But something was not right with either fighter. Gainer was clearly tense the entire fight. He was unwilling to trade with Kelley at all. Even when his combinations were fluid, and he seemed to be able to hurt Kelley with every punch, he opted to spend a good deal of time running.

Kevin Kelley looked completely unwilling to fight Gainer. Much had been made in the HBO broadcast of the extensive time Gainer and Kelley had spent on the phone in an impromtu friendship that evolved out of Gainer begging for a rematch two years ago. On a few occasions when Kelley did stop Gainer on the ropes, his combinations looked to be thrown at a sparring session pace. Maybe Kelley was tired, maybe his 52 pro fights have caught up with him, or maybe he just didn't want to hurt his friend.

In the 7th round, Gainer connected with a good uppercut that dropped Kelley back onto the canvas. Laying there, Kelley looked like he didn't want to get up. When he did get up, dangerously close to the number 10, he turned his back to the referee and walked away. It was unclear as to whether he was hurt or quitting, but a distraught looking Kelley finally faced the referee and was shaking his head. After giving him too much time, Arthur Mercante Jr. waved the fighters to continue. They did so, but barely.

The fight continued without any drama or action. Gainer, again, was hardly to blame. Ahead on points in the first fight, it was his unwillingness to "run out the clock" that cost him an important victory. Again ahead on all the cards, he followed his corner's instructions to box and move. Kelley, however, seemed to have no desire, or ability, to win. He was apathetic in the 8th, threw no punches for the first two minutes of the 9th, and after his corner assured him he needed a knockout to win, took off the 10th round in a passive display that represented none of the courage and determination that has characterized Kevin Kelley's 10 year career.

At the final bell, the two men embraced immediately. Derrick Gainer looked relieved that he had finally closed the book on a haunting loss. Kevin Kelley seemed pleased that he ended the fight unhurt and well paid.

Pressed for time, HBO barely spoke to each man. Kelley evaded any talk of retirement...although the big payday of a Hamed rematch now seems lost. Gainer, who had not fought at 126 since his loss to Kelley, will almost certainly return to the 130 lb. division and seek a high profile matchup. I pulled out a tape of Kelley-Gainer I yesterday and noted that Jim Lampley kept mentioning pairing Gainer with Angel Manfredy (talk that evaporated when Gainer was knocked cold). Perhaps it's time to revisit that matchup.

Next up was Pound for Pound claimant Roy Jones Jr. Roy has undergone a personality transplant lately. Prior to this fight, Roy was particularly active in the fight's promotion, was said to be friendly (and available) to writers, and again seemed eager to enter the ring. Perhaps the advice of new promoter Murad Muhammed has changed Jones' outlook, or perhaps he's regained interest in his sport on his own. Either way, he's back where he belongs: in the ring.

Again expectations were shattered, when Roy refused to attack Del Valle in the opening round. Jones and Del Valle's verbal sparring at press conferences had intensified in the weeks leading up to this bout. A cocky Del Valle seemed to raise Jones' ire on more than one occasion, perhaps hoping to lure him into a mistake that would give his counterpunching style a chance. Once in the ring, Roy would have none of it.

The first round was marked with a lot of looking. Unlike the first bout, when the inactivity came from tentativeness, this staredown was all intensity. Both fighters were cocked and ready to fire. Occasionally they did, although only a sharp Jones right to the mouth of Del Valle to close the first caught the attention of the crowd. As in the Hill fight, Jones was able to establish his superior speed almost immediately. His power never wobbled Del Valle this night, but clean shots caused Honey Boy Lou to shake his head 'no' no less than 50 times over the full 12 rounds.

Del Valle's game plan was simple: force Jones to lead, and try and land the counter that will win it. It's a game plan that doesn't win many rounds, especially when low output allows your opponent to do as he pleases. And Roy Jones certainly did that. Fancy footwork, bolo punches, and outrageous head fakes were the garnish on an entree of lead right hands and a devastating body attack that Roy Jones served all-you-can-eat style. At the end of the second round, and then for the entire third round, Roy Jones fought Lou Del Valle left handed. And this was no gimmick, as it was when DelaHoya turned lefty against Whitaker. Roy Jones was amazingly effective from the southpaw stance. In the third, he landed so many looping left hands flush that Del Valle seemed demoralized. Himself a southpaw, Del Valle was completely baffled by Jones' move...a discombobulation that carried over when Jones eventually returned to his "conventional" stance.

Jones patiently out boxed, out landed, out sped, and out powered Del Valle through all of the middle rounds. Particularly effective was the aforementioned body attack. Jones has such wicked handspeed that he is able to throw huge body punches without leaving himself open long enough for a counter. The result was a series of blows that all seemed to match the rib breaking body shot that crumpled Virgil Hill. Del Valle showed great fortitude by absorbing the body attack and fighting on.

Good thing he did...because he made history in the 8th round. After an accidental headbutt opened a nasty gash over Del Valle's left eye in the 7th, Lou finally landed a nice counter punch to Roy Jones' head.....and Roy went down. Although it looked like a slip finally dropped a reeling Jones, the knockdown clearly came at the end of a punch. Roy, who had been sprawled after falling over on his side, was up quick, frustrated with himself, and clearly showing signs that the punch that caught him had caught him good. Jones held on for the remaining seconds of the round and returned to his corner. After the fight, Roy gave Del Valle full credit for a legit knockdown. Calling the punch "a real good shot", Jones made no excuses, even though an argument could be made that a slippery canvas aided his fall.

After the knockdown, the fight continued as if nothing had happened at all....and Jones coasted to a decision that saw him winning every single round except the round in which he was down. Jones improves to 37-1 (32) and adds the WBA 175 lb. title to the WBC belt he already holds. Del Valle was not interviewed by HBO, which was a letdown. Del Valle had acquitted himself nicely in front of a hometown crowd, and deserved a little air time.

-Naseem Hamed has started a cottage industry: the souped-up ring-entrance. Kevin Kelley entered the ring not to music, but to sound clips of Al Pacino (from the film "Devil's Advocate") extolling the virtue of the small fighter. Not to be outdone, Roy Jones entered the ring to a rap tour-de-force. Smoke and lights surrounded a DJ, who was kicking it old school on two turntables. The p.a. system blared with a rap song written and performed by Jones while Roy entered the ring surrounded by four scantily clad dancers. Occasionally stopping the procession to dance, Roy's ring entrance was interrupted by a fight in the stands. Jim Lampley was quick to note that, fearing the tension created by Roy's rap number, the MSG staff had added extra security. I guess we can chalk this up to the East Coast-Gulf Coast rap wars.

-Several months ago, the WBA and WBC announced a 'merger', in which both sanctioning bodies would combine their rules for title fights. Since that announcement, several WBA and WBC title fights have taken place without all of the agreed upon rules in effect...and tonight was no exception. The long standing WBC rule that an accidental headbutt which cuts a fighter results in a one point deduction from the uncut fighter (a rule the WBA specifically announced they would adopt) was not in effect tonight. Despite the referee ruling Del Valle's cut was caused by a headbutt (which replays showed was the correct call), no point was deducted from Jones' score. Two referee's gave Jones 118 points (11 ten-point rounds, plus an 8 point round when he was knocked down) while the third gave him 119. So much for the merger....

-If you want to get a fighter's autograph, perhaps you should start hanging around the Madison Square Garden steam room. Kelley and Gainer, who weighed in at 126 on Friday, entered the ring at 140 and 142 pounds, respectively. Roy Jones came through the ropes only 9 pounds over the 175 he weighed in at while Lou Del Valle weighed over the cruiserweight limit, having gained 17 pounds in 24 hours, weighing in at 192 on fight night. Arturo Gatti would be proud.


Jones-Del Valle

by BoxngRules

Roy Jones W 12 Lou Del Valle
Derrick Gainer W 10 Kevin Kelley

Two interesting matchups emerged in Madison Square Garden on Saturday July 18. Both were highly anticipated but neither lived up to their expectations.

This double-header started out with Derrick "Smoke" Gainer avenging his most recent defeat, making it 7-0 since that 8-round KO loss to "The Flushing Flash" Kevin Kelley in 1996 and 24-4 overall. Gainer scored a controversial knockdown in Round 1 but was dominant from then on. It was essentially a boring performance by Gainer, who in the words of Larry Merchant, wanted to win even if it was ugly.

Gainer put some punches together in Round 7 and once again knocked down Kelley after mostly outboxing him up to that point. Kelley did take the last round but it was not nearly enough to get him the win that he needed to get him a rematch with Naseem Hamed.

The judges had it closer than we thought, scoring it 96-94, 96-93, and 96-92 (I scored it 98-90, respectively). All for Gainer who gets one step closer to a shot at every Featherweight's dreamfight, Naseem Hamed and the WBO title. Kelley's record is now 48-3-2.

In the main event, it was a spectacular fight but wasn't close to what we thought was going to happen. WBC titlist Jones was expected to take out WBA Champ Del Valle easily in this unification match. But not only did Del Valle go the distance, but knocked down Roy for the first time in the Pensacola native's respective career.

Both men weighed in at 175 points but both gained back some weight on the day of the fight. Jones being at 184 at fight time and Del Valle at 192.

Jones connected at will early and nearly took out the Puerto Rican-based Del Valle in Round 3. But Del Valle fought back, gaining the edge in Round 7 until the two clashed heads. It was definitely unintentional, Roy was lunging in to throw a punch and they accidentally bumped heads. Natural southpaw-conventional fighter reaction. Del Valle's eye was badly cut at first and it looked as though it might end the fight.

I gotta hand it to Al Gavin, he did an incredible job on the cut and I only saw it re-open one more time in the bout. In Round 8, the unbelieveable happened as Jones got knocked down! It was an incredible punch by Del Valle but I think it was the way that Jones received it is what caused him to hit the canvas. He was definitely off-balance when he received the blow which caused him to go down. Jones said afterward that it was one of the best punches he ever received.

Jones pounded out the last 3 rounds and still took a unanimous decision nod despite being knocked down. The scores were 118-109 twice and 119-108. I also had it 118-109 for Jones. Del Valle left without a belt and with swollen and cut eyes but gained the respect of me and probably every other boxing fan. As Harold Leterman said afterward, this was truly an accomplishment somewhat like Rocky Balboa against Apollo Creed in the movie Rocky, he went the distance and no one thought he would.

Jones, who is now 37-1 (31), nearly doubled the punches of Del Valle (27-2) in this match in both matters of landing and throwing.

Del Valle can look to this performance and build off of it. Even possibly get a rematch with Jones. The intensity I have seen in Jones in his last two fights was barely apparent tonight, probably because this was only the second southpaw he has fought in his colorful career (the first was Antoine Byrd, KO 1).


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