By David Robinett, Photos: Jan Sanders/SHOWTIME
2004 U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Andre Ward continued his march towards fighting for a major title with a unanimous decision over Henry “Sugar Poo” Buchanan through 12 one-sided rounds in the main event Friday night on ShoBox: The Next Generation from the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, California. Ward, defending his NABO/NABF Super Middleweight title a few hours south of his hometown of Oakland, California, controlled the bout throughout, landing nearly at will against fellow prospect Buchanan, while Buchanan could only muster a defensive jab and little else in return. In past fights Ward has been criticized for a lack of aggression, particularly against overmatched opponents, however in this fight it was Buchanan’s defensive posture and unwillingness to engage that prevented Ward from getting a stoppage.
The first round started well for “Sugar Poo”, as he landed a pair of stiff jabs following a miss by Ward to open the fight. Both fighters circled cautiously in the center of the ring for much of the round, though Ward appeared to have the best moment of the round with a short left hook coming out of a clinch that caused Buchanan to stumble off-balance.
The next two rounds featured Ward, left hand to his side and right hand cocked against his chin, trying to time Buchanan’s jab with some success, landing several two and three-punch combinations including a sharp left hook that repeatedly stung Buchanan both to the head and body. Nevertheless Buchanan was able to remain competitive with his jab followed by an occasional right hook.
The bout turned completely in Ward’s favor though in round four, as Ward flummoxed Buchanan by turning southpaw, a strategy that Ward, a natural lefty, has utilized many times in the past. Ward’s southpaw stance appeared to disrupt Buchanan’s timing and jab and Ward took advantage, rocking Buchanan with a straight right hand followed a few moments later by a flashy four-punch combination that stopped Buchanan in his tracks. The action slowed in round five, in large part due to Buchanan choosing to keep his distance, even after Ward returned back to his conventional stance.
There was little to distinguish the remaining several rounds, as the defensive-minded Buchanan backpedalled and jabbed while Ward worked in for short, effective combinations before resetting and doing it again. Ward at times seemed to stifle his offense by not continuing to attack Buchanan’s body in the later rounds as he had done in the earlier rounds, as well as repeatedly throwing punches directly into Buchanan’s gloves when Buchanan would cover up, but these were minor squabbles as all three judges scored a shutout for Ward, 120-108. The victory boosts Ward’s record to 18-0, 12 KOs, while Buchanan falls to 17-2, 12 KOs.
With another solid win on his resume, Ward expressed his desire to step up his competition.
“I’m not really one of those guys at this point in my career that says, ‘I have to have a belt in ’09.’ We’re just going to see what’s on the table,” explained Ward. “(Still) We are looking for a big, big year in 2009. We’re taking our time, but we’re kind of on a fast-pace at the same time.”
Molina Dominates Allotey!
In the ShoBox co-feature, Southern California’s John “John” Molina kept his unbeaten record intact with an easy knockout win over Ghanian Joshua Allotey, dropping his challenger once and out with a left hook to the body at 1:28 of round three in a scheduled eight-round junior lightweight bout.
Molina, not related to former Puerto Rican great John John Molina, though as Molina explains, “It gets a little confusing,” showed some of the former champion’s chops in overwhelming Alottey with a blistering body attack leading up to the knockout. In rounds two and three, Molina delivered several vicious hooks to the body, particularly with the right hand, before a borderline low blow incapacitated Alottey several minutes early in the third round. Alottey appeared to be in great discomfort as he writhed on the canvas, attempting to get up several times before finally making it to his feet.
When action resumed Molina seemed hesitant to go back to the body during several exchanges until finally delivering a textbook left hook to Alottey’s side that dropped him immediately. This time the blow was legal and Alottey did not attempt to beat the count. Although the knockout was the result of the left hook, the accumulation of heavy blows to the body, including the low blow, appeared to drain Alottey as he went down on the first punch to the body after the long pause in the middle of the round.
The loss drops Alottey to 16-7, 14 KOs. Molina on the other hand, improves to 15-0, 11 KOs, and acknowledged what many ringside observers agreed upon: that he is a future contender if he continues to progress.
“I’ve been told I have the full package,” said Molina. “It’s all about putting it to use. It’s like having a Ferrari, you just got to learn how to drive it.”
Moreno Stays Busy
Following the ShoBox telecast, in the final boxing match of the evening on the dual boxing and mixed martial arts card, WBC female Minimumweight Champion and pound-for-pound entrant Carina Moreno, (21-1, 6 KOs) toyed with Sharon Gaines (11-12-1, 3 KOs) in a non-title eight-round flyweight bout. Scores were 79-73, 80-72, and 80-72 in a startling mismatch.
It was thought that the bigger Gaines, who along with Moreno weighed 109 lbs. but has fought nearly 20 lbs. heavier at times, would give Moreno some trouble with her size and reach advantages, however it was the speed and accuracy of Moreno that overwhelmed Gaines and left her fortunate to finish the fight. There was an ugly moment towards the end of the fight where Gaines, just having had replaced her mouthpiece which was knocked out moments earlier, reached out to tap gloves with Moreno but was instead clocked with a right hook from the normally more sportsmanlike Moreno. Perhaps Moreno was frustrated having to face such overmatched opposition, but in any event it served to punctuate the fact that Moreno has reached a level in women’s boxing where worthy challengers are few and far between.
Quezada Flattens Boose!
In the featured undercard bout, local heavyweight Manuel “El Toro” Quezada, (26-4, 16 KOs) won his 15th consecutive bout, stopping Eric Boose, (14-4-1, 8 KOs), with one punch ten seconds into the fifth round of a scheduled eight-round bout for the somewhat incongruous WBC Caribbean Heavyweight title.
The bout between Quezada and Boose was a rematch of an April 2006 decision loss for Boose who, while facing a much-improved Quezada, started off much better the second time around. Boose was cruising through the first two rounds and half of the third round on the strength of a stiff jab and a few short combinations against the sluggish Quezada, until a crushing straight right hand by Quezada sent Boose reeling back into the ropes. Referee Dan Stell could have called a knockdown on the basis of the ropes keeping Boose on his feet, but chose not to. Boose seemed to recover quickly but was stung by another Quezada right hand just prior to the bell.
In round four Boose decided to play it safe with gloves held high in front of his face, peeking out only briefly to throw his still useful left jab while Quezada seemed content to bide his time. Quezada had only a few minutes to wait though, as immediately following the bell to start the fifth round, “El Toro” unloaded another hard straight right hand that crumpled Boose into a heap. The referee briefly started to administer a count before waving the fight over, much to the delight of Quezada and his local fans in attendance.
“King” Arthur Tames the “Black Kobra”!
In another bout of note, old warhorse “King” Arthur Williams, (46-15-1, 30 KOs), used his guile and ring experience in schooling former world champion kickboxer Dewey “Black Kobra” Cooper, (17-3-3, 10 KOs), through the first half of their ten-round bout for the WBC USNBC Cruiserweight title, then held off his younger foe late for a majority decision victory, 95-95, 96-94, and a somewhat wide 98-92.
This bout was also a rematch, following their first fight last October which Williams won by technical decision in the fifth round after suffering a cut due to an accidental headbutt. In this bout, after giving away the first round fighting in the center of the ring and suffering another cut by accidental headbutt, Williams started fighting almost entirely of his back foot and employing a continuous pawing job, which appeared to confuse Cooper.
Unlike previous bouts where Cooper generally lets his hands go freely, Cooper spent more time trying to get around William’s left hand, held out in front like a tree branch. When Cooper would make awkward attempts to move in and punch from either side, Williams would counter effectively, particularly with his right hand. Williams’ strategy of fighting moving backwards caused Cooper considerable difficulty in finding his range, as many of Cooper’s punches would land well short. However, beginning in round seven, Cooper began to step up the pressure and started to close the distance between him and Williams, catching Williams going back several times with left hooks and straight left hands. Sensing danger, the 44-year old Williams began to fight flat-footed, still countering effectively but clearly uncomfortable with the increased tempo of the fight. Fortunately for Williams, the cut suffered in the first round over his left eye was not a factor as the bleeding eased up early.
Cooper continued to pressure Williams in rounds eight and nine, with success, but by the final round he too appeared gassed with the fast pace, allowing Williams time to recover and coast to the bell with the decision.
In Other Undercard Action…
Lemoore native and professional mixed martial artist Poppies Martinez, (2-0, 1 KO), continued his journey into the boxing world with a questionable four-round majority decision over late replacement Yonas Gebreegziabher, (1-3, 0 KOs). This bout was the typical boxer versus slugger matchup, with Martinez attempting to land slow, clubbing blows against the faster, more accurate, but lighter-handed Gebreegziabher. One judge scored the middleweight bout even at 38-38, while the other two judges scored the bout 39-37 for Martinez, drawing a mixed response by the hometown crowd.
Local fighter Ruben Cuellar used early momentum from a first-round knockdown to edge James Ventry by split decision over six rounds in a junior welterweight matchup. One judge scored the bout 57-56 for Ventry while the other two judges scored the bout for Cuellar, 58-55 and 59-54. Cuellar scored the knockdown seconds before the bell ending the first round, with a short left hook to the temple as the fighters were working out of a clinch. Cuellar continued to land the heavier blows through the first half of the fight until Ventry’s better jab and boxing skills seized the momentum late from a tiring Cuellar, but not in enough time to take the decision. Cuellar improves to 3-1, 1 KO, while Ventry’s record evens out at 7-7-1, 4 KOs.
Impressive young junior welterweight Mike Dallas, Jr., (6-0-1, 1 KO), scored an easy four-round unanimous decision over journeyman Anthony Martinez, (21-28-3, 9 KOs). Scores were 40-35, 40-36, and 40-36.
Middleweight Tony Hirsch, (8-1-1, 4 KOs), also cruised to an easy four-round unanimous decision, besting Anthony Cannon, (4-11, 1 KO) by scores of 40-35, 40-36, and 40-36.
The dual boxing and mixed martial arts card was promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions in association with Antonio Leonard Promotions.