February 26, 2000
For some veterans, there comes a time in their career when they decide
whether or not they want to hang around for some paydays or give their
original goal one more shot. Though the paydays can be handsome at times,
the fights require a tremendous risk.
Friday night at the Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet in Cranston, RI in front of
his supportive New Bedford, MA fans and an ESPN2 Friday Night Fights
broadcast, "Sucra" Ray Oliveira gave his career a significant boost by
ending the unbeaten streak of Brooklyn via Guyanan native, Vivian Harris.
In a gut-wrenching performance, Oliveira (38-7-1, 16 KO's) proved that he had
plenty more than the experts thought he had in upsetting Harris. Though
Oliveira has beaten more distinguished fighters in the past in Tracy Spann and Charles "The Natural" Murray, the win was of
greater significance in that it catapulted the 31 year old back into title
"(The victory) was great because I had more doubt in this fight than any
of my fights before," said the victor. "They said I was all done and that
I'd be a stepping stone, but I proved to be more than that."
Indeed he did. From the outset, it was clear that the Cape Verdean New
Bedfordite had prepared for Harris. With the experience of facing the tall,
lanky fighters in the past, Oliveira used a steady attack to slow the
inexperienced Guyanan native who was ten years Oliveira's youth.
In 1997, Oliveira had faced Vernon Forrest, who's natural strength at
welterweight appeared to be too much for the natural 140-pounder despite
going the full 12 round limit.
As Oliveira had stated previously, Harris started extremely fast with
constant pressure but the cagey Oliveira seemed to figure out Harris'
approach early on. Besides Oliveira's typical body attack, he rediscovered
a weapon in which he hasn't had much success with in recent years: the jab.
"I wanted to get the jab back," said Oliveira. "When they mentioned
(Harris) as 'the next Tommy Hearns,' I got mad. When I was an amateur,
people use to say that I had the Hearns jab and I wanted to show him who had
the better one."
Oliveira showed him that jab all night long. Though they didn't have
the same numbing effect as a Hearns ramrod jab would have, they seemed to
stop Harris in his tracks and keep him off balance as he followed Oliveira
around the ring. Harris did find success in his pursuit, but he seemed to
never get on track to release his reputed power.
Going into the 10th and final round, Oliveira who has been a victim of
many close decision losses, decided to finish the fight in convincing
fashion. Oliveira wound himself up for three minutes of non-stop punching
as the two traded relentlessly throughout the round. Oliveira however,
plenty of solid shots as he timed Harris with hooks and right crosses. With
the crowd chanting "Sucra! Sucra!" Oliveira summoned his followers to their
feet and enough energy to overwhelm Harris.
In the end, neither Harris nor the judges could deny Oliveira's
inspiring effort. Judges Walter Stone and Robert O'Brian had it 97-93 and
Jerry Macaron had it 98-94 for the rejuvenated Oliveira. Your CBZ columnist
had it a marginally closer 97-94.
"He's a good fighter and should treat (loss) as a learning experience,"
said the gracious winner. "He is a tremendous puncher and can still go a
long way. I was just too much for him tonight."
Oliveira now has snatched the undefeated record from two of his last
three opponents. This past summer, Oliveira defeated another NY prospect in
Chiat Salman. Unbeaten in his last nine outings, Oliveira is once again a
force in the division. Whatever direction Oliveira is headed, even if he
isn't offered a well-deserved title shot, last night's win was a sweet win:
sweet as sucra.
In the co-feature, highly ranked Andrew "The Eagle" Murray, also a
Guyanan residing in NY, stayed in the welterweight title picture by
defeating Larry Marks, Wilmington, DE by unanimous 10 round decision.
Murray (27-4-1, 18 KO's) dropped Marks twice in the third and fourth rounds
won by scores of 98-90 twice and 99-89. Though Murray was the deserving
winner, it appeared
that Marks had deserved a better verdict as Murray slowed his pace by fights
Local Butterbean favorite, John "The Big Greek" Mihalos, Cranston, RI
lost a four round Butterbean-like fight to Lawton, Oklahoma's Rodney McSwain
(6-10, 1 KO). "Big Greek," 274 falls to 7-3, 2 KO's.
Another local favorite, "Irish" Jeff Horan (2-2, 2 KO's) faced the same
nemesis that issued his first loss only to be knocked out again. Matt Hill
(3-4-1, 2 KO's) who scored a 1st round KO in Horan's debut last year was
this time mercilessly beaten to a pulp before Referee Joe Lopino halted the
bout at :43 seconds of the second round. After Horan's brutal first round
knockdown, he should have never been allowed to continue.
Liz Mueller of Hartford, CT scored an impressive second round knockout
over debuting Michelle Taylor of Pittsfield, MA. The bloodied Taylor fought
bravely but Mueller was simply too much for the novice.
"Baby" Joe Mesi, 231 ran his record to 16-0 with 14 KO's by pounding
Massachusetts Cruiserweight Champion, John Rainwater, 194 of Worcester into
submission. Though Rainwater had landed some crisp left hooks which
to bother the Albany prospect, he for the most of the contest sat on the
ropes and absorbed a head and body beating until surrendering to Referee
Lopino at 2:58 of the third round.
In a six-round war that involved local favorite, Gary "The Tiger
(pronounced 'Tigah' among his many supporters) Balletto found going the
limit for the first time being an unpleasant experience. Glen Forde of
absorbed heavy punches by Balletto in the first round only to drop the Rhode
Islander at the round's end. Though Balletto suffered a nasty gash over the
left eye compliments Forde's southpaw right hook, he battled his way back
into the fight hurting Forde on several occasions throughout the fight. As
a result of their seesaw fight, the judges scored the fight a split draw.
In the card's swingbout, ever-impressive Bobby Tomasello 131 of Suagus,
MA destroyed Richard "Matador" Dinkins 131 of Mobile, AL. Tomasello now
10-0 with 4 KO's was effective in bulling the "Matador" with a succession of
ruthless power punches. A left hook wobbled Dinkins (10-12-1, 8 KO's) into
his own corner in the first round and Tomasello finished the job at 2:39 of
the second round on the strength of three brutal knockdowns.
Promoter: Jimmy Burchfield's Classic Entertainment & Sports Television:
ESPN2 (The Duece)
Matchmaker: Teddy Panagiotis
At Ringside: JD Vena