By Lindy Lindell
Photos by Bob Ryder
The Royal Oak Music Hall, Royal Oak, MI: Weighing a career-low 158.5, Motown’s Darryl Cunningham easily prevailed over toughie Marcos Primera, now 20-24-2. It was practically a forgone conclusion that Cunningham, now 23-2, would beat Primera, the loser of nine straight and 14 of 15, but Primera hadn’t been stopped in those 15 bouts and so practically the only thing that Cunningham and his team could shoot for was to do damage, perhaps even stop the 45-fight vet. Why not? Coming off two good efforts in which he’d done damage over normally tough, veteran fighters, Cunningham’s arrow was pointed up.
It wasn’t to be. One could say that Cunningham won in a near breeze were it not for some troubling moments in the fifth and a competitive final round, the eighth. The margins of victory were large: 79-73 twice and 78-74. Fightnews had it 79-73. But though he pressed the issue after a feel-out first, the Cunningham motor turned on, but it was stop-start the rest of the way. Cunningham’s right jab (he’s a southpaw), was put into excellent use in his previous bout, but it was more of a range-finder this time out as the wily Primera, arms at his sides, ducked low, and moved his head laterally. Few of the jabs landed and none with the desired impact. But Primera wasn’t firing back, and the frustrated Cunningham finally started going to the body in the third. There was zero noticeable effect on Primera during this body attack and he covered up well when Cunningham tried some upstairs shots.
The dull-as-dishwater affair resembling a sparring session was finally enlivened in the fifth, when the advancing Primera landed a couple of clean shots, backing up a temporarily-stunned Cunningham along the ropes, Primera followed up with a couple of more hard blows until the troubled Cunningham tied him up. Initiative gone, Primera went back into his peeka-boo coverup and the sparring session resumed until the final round. In the eighth, with sugarplums and thoughts of a Curtis Stevens knockout dancing in his mind, Primera tried another desperation knockout attempt, but Cunningham was ready this time, and all Primera got for his exertions was a bloody nose. When Detroiter Cunningham gets to be a grandfather, he won’t be able to tell his grandchildren about this fight because he won’t remember it.
After his unexpected loss in his last fight, middleweight Alex Hloros, 15-3, now billing himself out of Mt. Clemens, perhaps deserved a gimme this time out, and he got that with an easy trashing of the inept Alan Moore, 2-11, with a two-round dust off.
In a third scheduled eight, Detroit middleweight Willie Fortune, 11-0, hammered away, particularly in the second, against the one-time decent Ivan Ledon, 12-12-1. Ledon thought things over between rounds two and three and, realizing the pay was the same to sit or fight, chortled, “Uncle” to the referee and the fight was waved off with a TKO3. One would hope that the commission would put a black spot next to Ledon’s name when the bout sheet is turned in. Hey, the kiss-off worked in the Shirley Jackson story “The Lottery”. Why not here?
The undercard did not consist of many rounds, but two boxers called attention to themselves with scintillating performances and in one, featuring the pro debut of the very good amateur, super-featherweight James Smith, produced with his pro-debuting dance partner, Adam Alvarez, the most action-packed round of boxing in a Michigan ring in many moons. Credit matchmaker Carlos Llinas with finding Alvarez, who was dropped thrice by body blows, but who did not go quietly. It was all over in just a single round, but Smith, who must be the aggressor in his fights because of his extreme lack of height, was met with a furious counter-attack that bespoke from Alvarez, “You may beat me, but you’ll know you’ve been in a fight.” Smith brings get-out-of-your-seat excitement to the dance. A second Detroiter, light heavyweight Charles Brown (2-0) destroyed the smiling-though-it-all (before-during-after) Anthony Kelly, first brushing though his nonsense attack and then depositing his man with a true knockout, delivered with a freight-train right. The punch was so decisive and the effect so immediate that referee Dale Grable called the fight at just :42.
In other under card action, a second Detroit featherweight, Jafar Kirtley (2-0), easily blew away the diminutive Raymond Torres (0-3) in one; Lightweight Miguel “Silky Smooth” Gonzalez of Cleveland (15-2), in a bout that looked good on paper, outclassed Eric Ricker, 3-7, knocking him out in four after dominating him in a rematch that had Ricker pulling an unexpected win in their first contest; and the undefeated Michael Moore (8-0), last seen in a Detroit ring four years ago, found the normally tough Chris Grays (9-22) easy meat and dispatched him with an uppercut before a minute of the first had expired.
Good, enthusiastic crowd and an additional huzzah to Llinas for mixing things up and not having all the losers come out of the same corner.