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11/18/2006 Archived Entry: "McGee & Figueroa Wage War, but End up with ‘No Contest!’"

McGee & Figueroa Wage War, but End up with ‘No Contest!’

Story and photos by Juan C. Ayllon at ringside

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Figueroa (right) launches a left while McGee covers

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. – It was a war.

While it lasted, female boxers Rita Figueroa and rival Mary McGee provided Exhibit A of what exactly today’s flagship heavyweight division is missing.

Fighting for the INBA Super Lightweight Title, the atmosphere was electric. Stylistically, it was very much like Jake LaMotta versus Sugar Ray Robinson. And, oh, what a barn-burner it was! Fans roared and cheered throughout the duration of their battle. However, things went terribly awry in the fourth round with a clash of heads, abruptly terminating their bout.

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McGee tears into Figueroa, who fights back, on the ropes

Starting fast in the first round, McGee drove Figueroa to the ropes with a two fisted fusillade. There, she unleashed a frenzied assortment of lefts and rights to head and body while Figueroa alternatively covered and fired back. For a second there, it looked like it might be another patented McGee blowout.

Taunting Figueroa, however, she soon tasted her own medicine. Gathering herself up, Figueroa slammed hard lefts and rights to her head. It was a tightly fought round, with Figueroa moving McGee backwards and forcing the issue at rounds end.

If there was any misunderstanding earlier, Figueroa established in the second that she clearly sported the strength advantage. Taller and younger by 17 years, McGee had an edge in speed.

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Figueroa (right) storms back

Driving McGee to the ropes, Figueroa tagged her with hooks to the body and head. McGee taunted her at the two-thirds point, sticking her chin out and tried to take over the round. However, that only made things worse. Storming back with a furry, Rita again walked her down, driving her to the ropes and ripping hard left-right combinations. Faster afoot, McGee landed some sharp left-rights of her own.

In the third, Figueroa continued forcing the action, repeatedly pinning and pounding McGee on the ropes with clubbing lefts and rights to the head, shoulders and body. McGee broke free and speared with the jab and several crosses. Make no mistake about it: this was a war. McGee played matador to Figueroa’s bull. However, like a bull pinning a picador’s horse to the fence, once again, Figueroa drove McGee back to the ropes, where she systematically battered her fleeter foe.

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McGee attacks Figueroa

In the fourth, McGee demonstrated her best work at rings center. Moving side to side, she unleashed crisp jabs and spearing rights. Again, Figueroa repeatedly backed her up. As the two slugged furiously, Figueroa suddenly pulled away, clearly pained from their heads colliding in close. She was cut badly over the outside of her left eye. The doctor examined it. “Accidental butt” said Spivey. Moments later, the bout was halted and declared a “no contest.”

McGee collapsed in her corner, crying bitterly. Promoter Octavius James and, later, Rita Figueroa comforted her. As announcer Joe York later said, “She wanted this fight like a cocaine addict wants a fix.”

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McGee covers as Figueroa returns the favor

Neither fighter had anything to be ashamed of. They fought a gutsy battle like two warriors. The judges had the fight scored 29-28 McGee, 29-28 Figueroa and 30-27 McGee at the time of the stoppage. Because the fight ended inside of four rounds, it was ruled “No contest.”

McGee and Figueroa remain undefeated and will simply have to do it again. At age 20 and 137 lbs., McGee, hailing from Gary, Indiana, remains at 7-0 with four knockouts. Chicago's Figueroa, 37 and 138.75 lbs., stays at 9-0 with three knockouts.

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McGee cries bitter tears

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Octavius James consoles McGee

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Figueroa (right) consoles McGee as Octavius James looks on

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Octavius James holds both fighters' hands up

* * *

Undercard Results

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Holmes (left) hooks Welby with a left

In the co-main match, DeMotte, Indiana’s middleweight Jimmy “The Fighting School Teacher” Holmes (14-0-1, 7 KO’s) engaged in a terrific back and forth battle with Winnepeg, Canada’s Brooke Welby 32-16-4, 10 KO’s). Appearing close to being stopped once or twice, Holmes regrouped and fought bitterly until the final bell. Judges scored the bout a majority draw with scores of 77-75 for Holmes and 76-76 twice.

Holmes dominated the first round with crisper and more effective aggression, landing crisp rights and stepping over to his left to bang away. This was a strategy he would try to employ to negate Welby’s right hand power.

In the second, Holmes started out strongly, stepping to his left and slamming in hard lefts and rights.

Suddenly, Brooke landed a hard right over the top. Brooke forcibly pushed his head down while in close. Again, he rocked Holmes with a right that had him holding on momentarily. Brooke banged in a left that jarred moments later.

In the third, the two took turns teeing off on one another in close. Holmes rocked with a left hook and Brooke snapped his head back with a long left. Fighting in a phone booth, the two traded in close. Suddenly, Brooke complained of a low blow near rounds end and, unacknowledged by the ref, caught a left to the head for his troubles as the bell rang.

In the fourth, the two traded again at close quarters, battering one another back and forth in close. No one appeared to dominate, as they largely smothered their blows by the close proximity to one another.

Standing head to shoulder in the fifth, the two continued battering one another in close. Suddenly, Brooke was badly hurt by a blow at the beltline. He complained of a low blow. The two reengaged hostilities at close quarters.

Brooke drove a right hook just above the right side beltline that visibly hurt Holmes. Surging with both fists pumping, he drove Holmes backwards. This appeared to be Brooke’s best round, as he bombarded Holmes, who covered for the most part.

Someone in Holmes’ corner said, “Now let your hands go. You’re waiting too long!”Holmes covered and caught a right the head as the round wound down.

In the sixth, Brooke hurt Holmes with a left hook to the abdomen and pounced with both fists. This appeared to be his moment. Covering, Holmes recovered and began battering Brooke in a corner. The two traded in close again.

Brooke battered his left with a ripping right hook and came back up to the top with a left and right hook. Holmes was being out hustled down the stretch.

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Welby (right) snaps Holmes' head back with a left hook

In the seventh, Homes jabbed hard. Then, he caught a straight left to the head. His more seasoned opponent appeared the fresher of the two, as he worked him over the top again. Holmes appeared shot. However, mustering up reserves, Holmes landed a left and right hook to the head a right left right. A big right to the head followed, then another huge left hook. The two traded fierce blows in close. Hanging in tough, he answered a heavy left hook to the head with a right to Welby’s face. He ripped another sharp left-right combination to Welby’s head.

Surging, Holmes bored in, jarring Brookes with a wicked overhand right to the head near rounds end.

In the eighth and final round, Holmes started strongly. However, his surge was short-lived. A stupefying right to the head sent Holmes stumbling and nearly floored him. Righting himself on the ropes, he desperately grabbed hold of Welby and held on. A big left smacked Holmes head solidly. Holmes unleashed a flurry. Catching a right to the head, he banged in a right uppercut.

The two grappled and slugged in close.

Brookes slung his head up like a bull and was warned. Tearing into Holmes with both fists, he staggered him. Lurching forward, Holmes unleashed a flurry at the final bell. Both raised their hands.

Afterwards, Holmes said, “I thought I pulled it out at the end. However, a lot of rounds could have gone either way. We were that close.”

Asked if this is his last fight, he said, “I’ll wait and see how my foot heals up. I hurt it in the gym.”

Welby said, “I thought I clearly won that fight. I hurt him several times. He was grabbing onto the ref, the ropes—anything to keep from going down. If that’s not a knockdown, then what is?

“I hardly sparred for this fight. I have a full-time job. If we fight again, I’ll go into training camp for six weeks,” said Welby. “He was tough. I’d heard he wasn’t that tough, but he hung in there. He also hit hard. He hurt me a couple times, but I hid it by putting my head on his chest.”

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Galvan (left) has Paul covering defensively on the ropes

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Hammond, Indiana’s Former INBA Light Welterweight Champion Ruben “the Modern Day Warrior” Galvan (26-10-2, 9 KO’s) dominated Brian Paul (4-15-3 KO’s), stopping him inside three rounds. Paul hails from Lima, Ohio.

In the first, Paul jabbed with some success. However, Galvan began breaking him down with lefts and rights to the body and occasional jarring blows over the top. The effective work appeared to belong to Galvan, by and large.

Galvan began taking it to Paul increasingly in the second. Absorbing sharp jabs and crisp rights, he ripped telling blows to Paul’s longer body and battered him about the head in brief bursts, dominating offensively.

The bell ending round two only delayed the inevitable. Repeatedly trapping Paul on the ropes in the third, Galvan battered him to body and head, finally dropping him with a right uppercut. The battering continued, with a standing eight count and Referee Kurt Spivey finally waving it off at 2:50 into the third.

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Parker (right) cracks Porter with a long right hand

Highland, Indiana’s heavyweight hopeful, Michael Parker, 33, 207 lbs. and 4-0 with four knockouts had his knockout string broken, as he pitched a near shutout versus Farmerburg, Indiana’s James Porter, 33, 224 lbs. (3-8-1, 1 KO). In the process, he survived a scary moment and passed with flying colors.

Prior to the bout, Porter’s trainer was overheard saying to Indiana boxing commissioner Jake Hall that Porter didn’t bother running in training, but was a strict walker.

It showed. His rotund physique paled in comparison to the taller, more statuesque and ripped Parker.

This translated to a sloppy, mauling affair. In the first, Parker affected most of the effective aggression, using his height and speed advantage to good effect, jabbing and punishing with heavy rights. Porter kept him honest with sturdy counters and a lot of rough grabbing.

Parker continued to outbox and out punch Porter in the second. At one point, Porter feigned like he was hurt on the ropes and, when Parker attacked, he came alive. However, Parker maintained a superior work rate and piled up points.

In the third, taking a heap of abuse, Porter spun him around in a corner and attacked. However his rally was short lived. Near the end of the round, Parker bounced a jarring right uppercut off Porter’s jaw. The bell gonged moments later, and the two tapped gloves and exchanged respectful looks in close.

The fourth round witnessed Parker attacking with a vengeance. He drove Parker back with ponderous roundhouse blows.

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Porter (right) on the attack pins Parker in a corner

Parker attacked, throwing the whole of his body behind ripping lefts and rights to the body and dome of Porter’s head.

As the two traded blows in close, Porter dug a low blow and slammed a right to the jaw, nearly knocking him through the ropes.

As Referee Spivey tended to a prone Parker, Porter yelled, “Get the F—up, B--!”

Before allowing the action to resume, Spivey issued a stern warning to Porter.

Reengaging, Porter drove Parker back winging heavy blows up and down. Digging his heels in, Parker slammed back with both fists. Gaining leverage, he drove Porter back to the ropes. Using his head alternatively to steer and push Porter, he slugged furiously with both fists. In doing so, he smothered Porter’s counters. It appeared that he had his bell rung earlier, and was trying to avoid getting caught again.

Spivey warned Parker for using his head.

Suddenly, Porter spun Parker and drove him back to the ropes, unleashing a flurry of looping lefts and rights.

Once again, the momentum changed, as Parker drove back Porter on his heels. The fight ended with Porter, back to the ropes, catching mostly smothered punches to the body and head.

As expected, the judges scored the bout 40-36 each for a unanimous decision victory for Michael Parker.

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Guzman (right) attacks Maley with a vengeance

Loosing on two cards going into the second, Ft. Wayne, Indiana’s lightweight Jose Guzman, 1-0, scored a scary knockout over Whiting, Indiana’s harder punching Mike Maley (1-3, 1 KO).

In the first, Guzman pressed strongly, but appeared to be winding quickly, as he spit out his mouthpiece. Jumping on him, Maley caught him with several straight lefts and buckled his knees with a pulverizing third left.

Borrowing a page from the philosophy that the best defense is a good offense, Guzman tore into Maley with both fists, only to get a brief reprieve for a missing mouthpiece. Guzman pressed the action. Keeping Maley on the defensive, he avoided punishing blows from the heavier handed Maley. Guzman spit out his mouthpiece again near rounds end.

In the second, Maley knocked Guzman’s mouthpiece out with a stiff right to the head. Storming back, Guzman jarred Maley with a barrage of snapping rights. Ref Bill Paige called one point for spitting out mouthpiece.

Resuming, Guzman caught Maley with a pair of rights and had Maley hanging on. As the two reengaged, Guzman ducked under a wide right hook. The busier of the two, Guzman walloped Maley with another looping right hook to the temple. A right hook stunned and a punishing right to the head dropped Maley hard. He rolled over, clearly finished. Referee Bill Paige called the knockout at 1:50 into round two.

“Maley was leading on two of the three cards at the time of the knockout,” said Joe York.

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Referee Kurt Spivey raises Navarro's hand in victory

Lightweights Pedro Flores, 133 lbs, 1-0-0 and Jose Navarro 130 lbs., 1-2 fought a scrappy bout while it lasted. However, almost inexplicably, Ft. Wayne, Indiana’s Flores quit in his corner between the second and third rounds, gaining Chicago’s Navarro a TKO at 00 into the fourth round.

The two took to slugging right away. In the first, Navarro stunned with a left to the head, dug a right hook to the side that had the crowd going, “Ooh.” Flores landed a pair of rights to the head that appeared to stun Navarro near rounds end. However, it was noted at ringside that Flores has a cut high on the scalp ostensibly from a clash of heads.

Once again, in the second round, the two took to trading solidly early on. Navarro butted Flores to the chin unintentionally. Navarro pressed the action, driving Flores back with pressure, thudding lefts, rights and the occasional butt. Slugging back, Flores came back with his head a minute later. Flores landed a potent uppercut. However, he caught a heavy right t the jaw. Navarro landed the more effective and clean blows.

Just prior to the third, Referee Spivey called a halt to the bout, citing the doctor okayed the fight to continue, but the fighter refused to come out for the next round.

All in all, from McGee-Figueroa to Navarro-Flores, Octavius James’ One in a Million showed that, while today’s heavyweight division at its pinnacle may be languishing, boxing is alive and well in Merrillville, Indiana.

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Ruben Galvan celebrates with his children

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Referee Bill Paige visits at ringside

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Acclaimed fighter Marty Jakubowski (left) visits with Howard Fink, Merrillville's economic development director (Fink was also a high school student of Juan C. Ayllon's).'s Chris Guzman is on the far right

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Welby and Holmes pose for a photo after the fights

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Brooke Welby and Juan C. Ayllon pose for the camera afterwards

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Jimmy Holmes and his wife celebrate after the fights

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WoodHollow's smokin' resident DJ strikes up the tunes at the "After Party"

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Ring announcer Joe York visits with the ringcard girls at Octavius James' "After Party" at WoodHollow Bar & Grill

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Site coordinator, Tye, with a couple friends at the party

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Joe York gets ready to dig into the "After Pizza"

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