By Jesse Kelley at ringside
After years of anticipation, the state title fight between local heavyweight rivals Raphael Butler (35-8, 28 KO’s) and Joey Abell (25-4, 24 KO’s) ended in a no contest Friday night at the Target Center in Minneapolis. After some confusion over whether the bell had rung to end the first round (it had), a vicious combination to the head by Abell sent Butler crashing to the canvas. The fight was originally ruled a Butler DQ win, but was later changed to a no contest.
Butler stalked Abell early, pumping a stiff jab in the southpaw’s face. Abell fired back straight lefts aimed at Butler’s chest. Butler continued to come forward and landed the bout’s first big punch, a right uppercut that sent Abell back a few steps. Seemingly unfazed, Abell quickly pressed Butler back with three hard lefts that crashed into Butler’s jaw, putting him back to a corner. A barrage of head punches put Butler down to a knee moments later. Butler rose to his feet to continue dazed, but able to fight. The bell rang to end the round at the exact time referee Bobby Brunette waived the fighters in to continue.
Both Butler and Abell instinctively stopped before punches were thrown but Brunette continued to step backwards out of the fighters way momentarily. Abell turned his eyes back to Butler and went on the attack, landing a crushing three punch combo to the head just as Brunette began to jump back between the fighters to separate them, which sent Butler timbering to the canvas.
Butler’s cornermen entered the ring enraged and screaming that the punches were after the bell while Butler lay motionless and Abell stood in a corner with a look of uncertainty as to what just happened. Team members of both fighters rushed the ring and an all out brawl broke out.
When the mess was cleared, Abell told Minnesotaboxing.com that he didn’t hear the bell but stopped coming forward because Butler had stopped. Butler stated that he heard the bell and was going to go back to his corner. He never saw the punches coming. The Minnesota Boxing Commission have now officially called the result a no contest because the round had ended before the punches were landed. Abell was not disqualified because the fighters were told to fight. Afterwards, Brunette stated that he also did not hear the bell. Both Abell and Butler hugged afterwards and agreed to a rematch.
In other action, Canadian Larry “Razor” Sharpe (24-7, 12 KO’s) stunned hometown favorite Zach Walters (24-5, 19 KO’s) at :56 of the first round. Sharpe landed a hard straight left to the liver seconds into the fight that Walters later admitted he was never able recover from. Sharpe followed up with wild swinging lefts and rights to the head that put Walters to a knee. More body punishment and head punches followed from Sharp that put Walters to his knees again and the fight was waived off by Brunette. Sharpe has been recently fighting at 154 but said afterwards that he felt much stronger and comfortable for this bout at light heavyweight. Sharpe also stated that he would like to return to Minnesota to face another local favorite, Matt Vanda, who was rumored to be facing Walters before hand. Walters said that he would be retiring from the sport, following the defeat to Sharpe.
Tomi Archambault (1-1) was declared the winner over Ronnie Peteson (3-1) after Peterson said he hurt his shoulder following the conclusion of round two and was unable to continue. Archambault methodically stalked Peterson with aggressive combination punches while Peterson looked to counter with single flashy shots while the bout lasted.
Gary Eyer (7-0-1) remained unbeaten with a unanimous decision victory over blood and guts brawler Levi Cortes (3-1). Eyer and Cortes traded bombs for six rounds with two knockdowns scored by Eyer being the difference maker. Scores read 58-54, 57-56, 57-55 for Eyer.
Dave Peterson (12-0) dropped Silas Ortley three times behind a thudding body attack on his way to a TKO win at 1:22 of round four.
Tony Lee (1-0) scored an impressive unanimous decision victory in his pro debut over Hector Orozco (1-4). Lee put Orozco down early with a speedy head combination in round one. Orozco recovered and showed his toughness by coming forward for four rounds but couldn’t find a consistant way to deal with the speed and power of Lee. Scores read 39-36, 39-36, 40-35
Boris Shishporenok (7-1) defeated debuting Will Gillette (0-1) at :57 of the second round. Boris fought behind a solid jab but ran into winging shots from Gillette in round one. A well placed left hook dropped Gillette in round two but Gillette seemed to recover quickly and get to his feet but the bout was surprisingly stopped as Gillette and his corner protested.
Savarino Garcia (1-0-1) won a unanimous four round decision over Jacob Dobbe. Garcia had the upperhand throughout with constant pressure punching but couldn’t put away Dobbe, who showed an iron jaw and heart. Scores were 40-36, 40-36, 39-37.