By Gary “Digital” Williams
In 2012, professional boxing in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia turned out to be a year of great possibility and missed opportunity.
The year began with the area basking in the glow of Lamont Peterson’s world championship win over Amir Khan last December. The glow, however, faded through the first few months of the year as allegations of a mystery man at the title bout in DC gave way to Peterson testing positive for synthetic testosterone, which forced the cancellation of the Peterson-Khan rematch. The WBA stripped Peterson of their title but the IBF allowed Peterson to keep their belt. Peterson was inactive in 2012 as negotiations for a defense against Zab Judah fell through and one against Kendall Holt were ongoing.
A few pro Beltway Boxers had solid years. Middleweight Tony “Mo Better” Jeter bounced back from a tough end of 2011 to win two regional titles, the most-talked about contest of the year and get ranked among the top middleweights in the world. Featherweight “Mr.” Gary Russell, Jr. maintained his status as one of the best feathers in the world with some solid knockout work. Former WBO Junior Welterweight champ DeMarcus “Chop Chop’ Corley remained extremely relevant scoring two big upsets and winning a NABF title. Prospects Venroy July and Dusty Harrison were among those who maintained solid, undefeated status.
However, a number of locals had opportunities to put themselves closer to championship competition but did not step up to the plate. Heavyweights Seth Mitchell, Maurice Byarm, Tony Thompson and former world champ Hasim Rahman lost important, nationally-televised bouts as did junior welterweights Tim Coleman and Ty Barnett and super middleweight Scott Sigmon.
The future looks very bright for the Beltway region as 21 boxers made pro debuts. Many of the newcomers came with strong amateur pedigrees. Locally, the region was very active, hosting 20 cards in 2012. DC had nine pro cards, the most held in the Nation’s Capitol since 2003. Northern Virginia hosted seven, two more than 2011. Maryland, however, fell to just four cards in 2012.
Now, here is the best from 2012:
The Beltway Boxing Rookie of the Year for 2012 is:
Duane Mobley (7-0, five KO’s), heavyweight, Upper Marlboro, MD
Yes, the 37-year-old Mobley was not the highly-decorated amateur that the area was known for. However, Mobley made more of his first pro year than anyone else, fighting seven times and traveling out of the area on a couple of occasions.
Mobley started his career with a solid, four-round unanimous decision win over Dennis Benson at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, VA on February 11. Mobley’s next four bouts would end in knockout victories, although in his third bout against Baltimore’s Kevin Johnson at Henderson Hall in Arlington, VA on June 23, Mobley faced some adversity when Johnson knocked him down in the first. Mobley recovered and went on to stop Johnson in the third.
Mobley traveled to Rising Sun, Indiana for a first-round knockout victory and had a win by disqualification in Norfolk, VA in his last outing in October. We’ve heard it say that heavyweights age differently than other boxers – we’ll see if that benefits Mobley in 2013.
The 2012 Beltway Boxing Prospect of the Year is:
Thomas “Top Dog” Williams, Jr. (11-0, eight KO’s), light heavyweight, Fort Washington, MD
The 25-year-old son of the former heavyweight contender fought five times in 2012 and scored knockouts in his last four contests. Three of his performances were in Texas, Alabama and California. Williams’s last two bouts raised positive eyebrows, especially his first-round knockout of Harley Kilfian on August 4 in Mobile, AL.
However, Williams’s tough fifth-round knockout of Mexican Ricardo Campillo on December 8 in Anaheim, CA opened some doors for him. The win was against a guy with a winning record on the west coast. This was a good, gritty performance that has led to Williams’s first scheduled eight-rounder coming up on January 12 in Sunrise, FL. This was a very solid year for Williams and has made him deserving of this selection.
The 2012 Beltway Boxing Knockout of the Year is:
Kevin Rivers KO 1 over Bobby Wooten, November 3, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC
One-punch knockouts are somewhat common in boxing but when the one punch is the ONLY punch a boxer throws in a bout, the knockout becomes special. Such was the case when Rivers fought Wooten. Wooten is more known for his mixed martial arts skills and attacked Rivers by clutching and grabbing Rivers’s left hand. Wooten didn’t last long as the rookie Rivers still had his right hand. One punch and 31 seconds later, the bout was over. Simply brutal.
The 2012 Beltway Boxing Bout of the Year is:
Brandon Quarles vs. John Mackey, six-round majority draw, October 27, George Mason University Patriot Center, Fairfax, VA.
The 26-year-old Quarles battled the 38-year-old Mackey for six spirited, exciting rounds and learned a lot along the way. The first bit of education came in the first round when Quarles had to battle against adversity when Mackey scored a flash knockdown. Mackey, meanwhile, fought very well throughout the contest and might have pulled off the upset.
However, Quarles used the second bit of knowledge gained in the bout – the ability to come back and score a knockdown late. Quarles managed to knock Mackey off his feet with 10 seconds to go in the final round. Mackey got the nod on one card, 57-55 but the other judges saw the draw at 56-56. By the way, this is the second time Mackey, originally from Washington, DC but now living in Birmingham, AL, has been in a Beltway Boxing Bout of the Year in the BATB era.
The 2012 Beltway Boxing Card of the Year:
October 27 at George Mason University Patriot Center, Fairfax, VA – Jimmy Lange vs. Tony Jeter, Brandon Quarles vs. John Mackey
The hype on the main event on the card had built for weeks. The excitement level of the bout matched that. Quarles-Mackey, as stated before, was the bout of the year. Also on the card, there were solid pro debuts by Jerry Odom and Antoine Douglas as well as quality upset wins by out-of-towners Damon Antoine and David Warren Huffman. Also there was a solid contest between rookies Mark Baltimore and Immanuwel Aleem and a win by Harry Joe Yorgey over local Zain Shah.
The 2012 Beltway Boxer of the Year is:
Tony “Mo Better” Jeter, (15-3-1, 10 KO’s), Middleweight, Stevensville, MD
The year did not start well for Jeter as he was still licking his wounds from his fifth-round TKO loss to Jose Felix in November of 2011. Jeter’s first priority was to avenge the loss, which he did on his first self-promoted (Jeter Promotions) card of the year on February 25 at Club One Fitness in Millersville, MD. Jeter won an eight-round unanimous decision over Felix and captured the UBO (Universal Boxing Organization) All-Americas title.
Yes, the title was a minor one, but it did prove to be a stepping stone to better things. On September 22 in another self promotion at Club One, Jeter didn’t make it easy on himself by choosing a quality opponent in Tyrel Brown who was 7-2 at the time of the bout. With the vacant WBC Fecarbox title and a top 30 rating in the WBC on the line, Jeter turned a very competitive bout into a fifth-round TKO victory with a series of right hands.
However, it was Jeter’s performance – and victory – over Jimmy Lange on October 27 that opened the most eyes around the boxing world. Jeter walked into “The House Jimmy Lange Built” – The Patriot Center and took it right to Lange in his own backyard. Despite coming perilously close to being disqualified with four points deducted for low blows, Jeter won a 10-round split decision over the more highly-regarded Lange.
Jeter finished 2012 with two regional titles, a number 29 rating by the WBC and a top 15 ranking in both the USBA and NABA. This is a quality year in anybody’s book.
To see the complete 2012 Beltway Boxing Year-in-Review, go to www.boxingalongthebeltway.blogspot.com