By Mike Greenhill at ringside
Salisbury, Maryland’s favorite son, middleweight prospect Fernando Guerrero, grabbed the interim NABO middleweight belt with an entertaining 10-round majority decision over Ghanaian-born Ossie Duran, now fighting out of Paterson, New Jersey, on a cool night at Arthur Purdue Stadium, the ballpark of the Baltimore Orioles’ Class A minor-league team, the Delmarva Shorebirds.
Photos: Mike Greenhill
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Guerrero and Duran were cautious with each other in the first two rounds, and Duran appeared to outwork Guerrero in the third, thanks to a body attack, but Guerrero made it a street fight in the fourth, scoring with superior speed and power during their exchanges.
Guerrero wobbled Duran with a straight left in the sixth, but Duran survived the onslaught and even landed some shots toward the end of the round, showing tremendous heart. The hometowner kept the pressure on in the seventh, exhibiting a variety of punches, landing with uppercuts with both hands, right hooks to the body, jabs and lefts to the head. Guerrero was cut on the outside of the left eye by an accidental head butt in the 8th, but continued to be the agressor. Duran was scoring with rights and body shots, but was not active enough when openings invited flurries. When forced to war he did, but he was not the initiator. Duran was credited with a knockdown by referee Gary Camponeschi in the 10th, but Guerrero claimed it was a slip, and virtually everyone in the park agreed. The two combatants finished with a torrid exchange as the near-capacity crowd of almost 6,000 was on their feet.
The scores of 96-94 and 97-93 for Guerrero made up for a rather dubious 95-95 tally. Guerrero thus takes the NABO interim middleweight title, rising to 16-0 (13). Duran falls to 23-8 (9).
In the night’s opener, Baltimore middleweight Omar Sims, 3-1-3, survived two first-round knockdowns to salvage a draw with Rock Hill, South Carolina’s Ken Dunham, 6-10-1. Cruiserweights Francois Ambang, 2-4-1, of Mechanicsville, PA, by way of Cameroon, fought to a 4-round draw with Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Ariel Espinal,6-10-3, while Fernando’s taller brother, cruiserweight Alex Guerrero, 2-0, won a unanimous 4-rounder over Rodricka Ray, 2-4-1. The big shocker of the evening occurred in the night’s second bout, when Denver lightweight Juan Santiago, 10-2-1, scored a TKO win over highly touted Tyrone Barnett of Washington, D.C., now 16-1.