Photos and report by Rocco Morales
Just as is the case today, in December 1984, the heavyweight championship was splintered and divided amongst three different champions. However, instead of two of the champions being Ukranian and the other being British, back in the day American boxers still ruled the heavyweight division and the titlists were Americans Larry Holmes, Pinklon Thomas and Greg Page. 1984 is significant because it was also when the wildly popular Battle In The Ballroom began an amazing 26 year run and helped to bring boxing to a new crowd of boxing who could enjoy an evening of boxing in a hotel ballroom rather than in a grungy old arena.
Flash forward 26 years and hundreds of events later, Thursday night saw what was the final show in the long and storied Battle In The Ballroom series at the Irvine Marriott prior to its evolution into what will be a new evolution known as Fight Club OC.
In main event action, a four round junior welterweight contest, junior welterweight Artur Bernestyan outclassed and outworked gritty challenger Demetrio Soto.
Bernestyan, a fleet footed and fast fisted southpaw, worked from all angles, boxed well, traded when he had to and left little doubt in the eyes of the judges who each scored the fight 40-36 in favor of Bernestyan, originally of Armenia but now fighting out of Glendale, California.
The Armenian fighter was able to pile up the points by way of his jabs, uppercuts and body work, including one body shot that sailed below the belt and caused a 1 minute break in the action while Soto recomposed himself in the corner.
While neither fighter was seriously hurt by a legal blow, it was a good action fight that the 1,312 sellout crowd in attendance appreciated. With the victory, Bernestyan remains undefeated and raises his record to a perfect 6-0 (2KO) while Soto drops to 5-3 (4KO).
Semi main event action, a four round heavyweight battle, former University of Miami fullback, Quadtrine Hill, looked quite ordinary as he labored to defeat obese Enrique Lobatos who makes Chris Arreola look like Chris Byrd, in comparison.
Hill controlled the first round but the southpaw Lobatos, who resembled a heavier Mexican American version of former heavyweight contender Joe “The Boss” Hipp, would come back strong in the second round and win the third round big.
Going into the fourth round, it was anybody’s fight but, unfortunately for Lobatos, he would completely run out of gas and wasn’t able to let his hands go the way he did in the third round. Hill took advantage of this to win the fourth round decisively allowing him to secure a unanimous decision victory. By scores of 39-37 on all three judges scorecards, Hill improves to 3-1 (1KO) while Lobatos drops to 1-2-1.
In supporting action, in a real snoozer of a fight, Terrell Hendrix defeated Ryan Davis in a four round light heavyweight contest. Davis fought hesitantly the entire time but Hendrix lacked the skill or power for either a knockdown or a knockout against his overmatched opponent. With the victory, Hendrix improves to 5-1-1 (2KO) while Davis drops to 0-5.
In other action, a four round junior welterweight contest, Ricardo Garcia made his debut a successful one by dominating his gritty opponent, Manuel Sanchez. Due to an accidental headbutt, Sanchez was badly cut on his hairline, ala Abner Mares recently against Vic Darchinyan, and this, at least made for some nice visual effects as the match itself was not especially memorable. Garcia improves to 1-0 while Sanchez drops to 0-3.
In opening action, a four round junior welterweight contest, Marcus Robinson met the toughest 0-6 opponent he will likely ever meet in Alfredo Rivera and had to work hard to escape with a majority decision victory. Each fighter was floored in the first round but Robinson was able to use his handspeed and mobility to neutralize the aggressive straightforward style of Rivera.
Robinson, by being a mere fraction better than his 0-6 opponent, improves to 2-0 by scores of 40-36 (twice) and 38-38, while the hard luck Rivera drops to 0-7.
Battle In The Ballroom goes out in glory after 26 years but Fight Club OC emerges as its successor with six shows scheduled for 2011. Fight Club OC, presented by Roy Englebrecht Promotions, makes its highly anticipated debut on February 24th at The Hangar at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa. For ticket information, visit www.fightcluboc.com