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01/24/2004 Archived Entry: "Pemberton wins battle of steel balls"

Pemberton wins battle of steel balls
By J. D. Vena
Photo by E-Double

Pembertonvs.Sheika1280 (581k image)

Did you ever think you’d see a better fight than the first Ward-Gatti war? Last night at the Fox Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino, the same venue which hosted the 2003 Fight of the Year (Toney-Jirov) and the first memorable battle between Scott “The Sandman” Pemberton and Omar Sheika, those in attendance may have seen a fight that ranks with the best of them: the Pemberton-Sheika rematch.

Their first bout last summer was voted by ESPN2 analysts as the best fight on their network of 2003. It is likely, they won’t have another one this year that compared to last night’s epic war. In a battle of indomitable wills, Pemberton, 168, of New Bedford, MA rallied from two knockdowns to do the unthinkable and floor the iron-chinned Omar Sheika of Paterson, NJ and stop him in the 10th round.

Sheika, 168, was the sharper of the two in the first round, effectively countering Pemberton with fast left hands. As it turned out, the first three minutes was the only round of the fight that would lack pure drama. Pemberton opened the second round more aggressively and even bloodied Sheika’s nose, but Sheika opened up with a right and a left hook combination that dropped Pemberton on his butt.

“I’m a notoriously slow starter,” admitted Pemberton. “Sometimes I get in the ring and I think I’m in there with Superman. It’s only after I get hit a few times and hit him back that I realize that my mind is playing tricks on me. When he dropped me I was hurt but I knew where I was and what I had to do.”

As he had in their first fight, Pemberton got up and survived the round and would later discover that Sheika is every bit of a super human. In the third round, the first of many round of the year candidates, Pemberton began nailing Sheika with his vaunted right hands and Sheika appeared stunned by a few of them. Both fought with reckless abandon to win out the round landing hurting shots, but it was Pemberton‘s round.

Sheika fared better in the fourth round as he won most of the heavy exchanges but Pemberton, who began swelling Sheika‘s left side of the face with right hands won another action-packed fifth round.

The sixth round saw a 2nd round of the year. Sheika hurt Pemberton against the ropes and when Pemberton fell into the ropes, referee Gary Rosato ruled it a knockdown. After Rosato‘s count, Pemberton charged Sheika and hurt him with a series of long right hands, nearly enough to pull out the round. Pemberton wailed on a spent Sheika in the 7th and the two took turns pounding each other in the 8th.

Sheika began the 9th pinning Pemberton against the ropes with combinations, but after Sheika tired himself out, Pemberton began nailing Sheika with head-turning right crosses, which were clearly hurting him.

“The way you beat a left hook is with a right hand because it usually gets there first,” Pemberton explained. “As they always say, the closest distance between two points is a straight line.”

Somehow Sheika managed to get through the round, but stumbled into the ropes just before slumping on his stool. It was clear that there was nothing left in this warrior and since his corner and the referee weren‘t ready to stop it, Pemberton decided to end it for him. Moments into the tenth round, a more or less defenseless Sheika absorbed a brutal eight-punch combination until hitting the deck for the first time in his career.

Sheika bravely rose to his feet but Pemberton wouldn’t relent until Rosado finally called a halt to what will surely be this year’s fight of the year. CompuBox noted that Pemberton, who successfully defended his NABF title, outlanded Sheika in the 10th by a margin of 24-1.

“I know I have the power to stop anybody,” Pemberton declared after winning his biggest fight and improving to 27-3-1 with 21 knockouts. “Sheika is such a tough guy but no one is going to stand up to my punches if I keep hitting them like that.”

Sheika, now 23-6 with 16 KO’s, was taken out of Foxwoods on a stretcher to nearby Backus Hospital. It was assumed that he was taken there for precautionary reasons. Whether Pemberton and Sheika are fighting each other again or against other opponents, hopefully, these two warriors of the Ward and Gatti mold will be paid the money they deserve. The two are clearly a couple of the sport's most exciting performers.

When the CBZ last spoke with Pemberton regarding the progress of Peter Manfredo, Jr., we were told that the only thing missing from young Peter’s repertoire, was world class power. If Pemberton is correct, that couldn’t be good news for Sherwin Davis of Indianapolis. In last night’s co-feature, Manfredo made a powerful statement when he stretched the undefeated Davis for the count.

Manfredo, 153, drilled the lanky Davis with a crisp left hook with under a minute left in the first round. Davis hit the mat and was clearly hurt. Luckily for Davis, referee Johnny Callas administered a lengthy count, which kept Davis afloat for the remainder of the round.

In the third, Davis nailed Manfredo with a hard left uppercut. Though it was unclear if he was stunned or not, Manfredo responded with sound combinations that kept him from losing what appeared to be a closer round than the previous one. Manfredo then took the fight on the inside where he went up and downstairs with whatever opening Davis would give him. Davis would respond with long shots, which occasionally grazed Manfredo.

In the sixth, the two began to exchange right hands. Manfredo’s went around Davis’ left glove, smack dab in the temple. Davis hit the canvas once again and this time, Callas’ count continued all the way to ten.

“I knew that he was beginning to slow,” said Manfredo. “When he started throwing the right, I knew I could catch him.”

Manfredo improved his mark to 20-0 with 10 KO’s, while Davis, 17-1 with 11 KO’s is removed from the unbeaten ranks.

In an exciting rematch of two New England middleweights, Martin “The Irish Assassin” Thornton, 158, of South Boston and Bobo “The Bull” Starnino, 158, of Providence battled to a four round draw. In their last meeting on Halloween, Thornton, behind on the scorecards, landed a crunching right hand in the 4th and final round that dropped Starnino for the first time in his career. Starnino barely made it to his feet but could not continue. Last night, Thornton, originally from Galway, Irleand seemed to have a better first three rounds but the determined Starnino finished with a flourish and a left hook which stunned Thornton. The scores were 39-38 for Starnino while another had Thornton winning by a tally of 38-37, and the other had it 38 a piece. The two, who should be poised for at least one or two more fights now sport nearly identical 6-1-1 records, with Thornton scoring 2 KO’s (one more than Starnino).

Once again, Brooklyn’s Richard “The Alien” Grant almost proved why he’s almost incapable of scoring a win inside the distance. Going into last night’s first bout of the evening, Grant had only registered two knockouts in 34 fights. Despite dominating the fight and visibly hurting Dave “The Hammer” Hamilton, 162, of Hansen, MA on a number of occasions, Grant, 169 ½, would pose and circle his wounded foe instead of finishing Hamilton when he had his chances. That was until he finally opened up in the 6th and final round, while a worn out Hamilton sat on the ropes and absorbed Grant’s punches without any resistance. Referee Charlie Dwyer halted the bout at 2:32 of the 6th. Grant is now 15-10 while Hamilton is now 15-11-2 with 5 KO’s.

Promoter - Jimmy Burchfield's Classic Enertainment & Sports
Network - ESPN2

Replies: 6 Comments on this article

Great fight.

Posted by KC @ 01/26/2004 01:26 PM EST

Club fight? You are crazy! Scotty would annihilate Charles Brewer now and I would bet my house on it. Echols was SCARED of Scotty and Lacy barely beat Richard Grant - whom Scotty croaked.

Posted by Club fight? @ 01/26/2004 01:07 PM EST

If you remember correctly, Pemberton was wiping the floor with Brewer until getting caught and not allowed to continue. Steve Smoger has cut all three of his losses short. I'm not saying Pemberton was definitely going to win that fight, but seeing how he recovers from being hurt, suggests that he had a legitimate shot to win that fight.

Also, if you recall, Echols was the guy who refused to fight Pemberton and pulled out of their scheduled fight with three days notice. I don't need Ring Magazine to tell me who is good. It's clear that Pemberton and Sheika aren't blessed with the skills of say, a Brewer or Calzaghe, but they make up for it in their heart and KO power. All you have to do is watch that fight and see for yourself.

Posted by">JD Vena @ 01/25/2004 07:19 PM EST

You need to get a copy of Ring magazine, not to many fighters better than them at 168? Come on.. I can name, just off the top of my head plenty of fighters who either have or could wipe the floor with ethier of them. Antwun Echols, Jeff Lacy, Charles Brewer, ect..

Posted by">Sal @ 01/25/2004 04:56 PM EST

I thought it was definitely more than a club fight, considering that there may not be many guys at this weight better than them. But I agree, this fight could have ended in a tragedy. As Max Kellerman stated after the fight, it should have been stopped the round before, probably by Sheika's corner.

Posted by">JD Vena @ 01/25/2004 09:56 AM EST

A club fight that nearly ended in a tradgedy as Sheika was out of gas from the 3d round on.

Posted by Mike-d @ 01/24/2004 02:25 PM EST

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