By Lindy Lindell at ringside
Photos: Bob Ryder
Two straight rights to the grill of Thomas Amarro, and Detroit’s undefeated junior-middleweight Tony Harrison had him set up. But Amarro, probably thinking that another buzz-inducing right was on his way, left his right side open and when the left hook followed shortly thereafter, it was all over except for the counting.
Dubbed the Night of the Knockouts III at Detroit’s MotorCity Casino Hotel, the Greg Ahrens production played to a near-capacity crowd at that venue’s Sound Board; the crowd, including a large contingent of Harrison’s followers, erupted into such an infectious rage of glee that the thoroughly pumped Harrison, after slapping a gloved five with legend Thomas Hearns, joined his well-wishers onto a platform just below ringside by scaling the top rope. The over-the-top celebration for Harrison (12-0, 9 Ks) over novice Amarro, (2-1) was way disproportionate to what was “just a tuneup,” but it was great theatre, partly because the outburst was so unexpected.
The Detroit boxing fan (count this journalist as one) is starving for action and has been since the heyday of Hearns; hopefully, the powers that be and those with the influence at MotorCity Casino Hotel are ready to step forward after more than a dozen years of showing at best lukewarm interest. When Detroit became the first major city in the U.S. (Vegas was a small town when the when casinos were introduced there in the 1950s), it was believed by boxing cognoscente that with the expiration of the contract of USA Boxing, mostly at the Palace of Auburn Hills, at the turn of the century, that the three casinos would pick up the slack. Despite the probes of the most successful promoter at the time, Bill Kozerski, who had a decade-long run of USA television at the Palace, and many others, including the late Emanuel Steward, the “hope” that boxing would thrive in the Motor City has met with disappointment and increased pessimism by those wishing for a turnaround.
This is not the time and place to trot out a laundry list of why Detroit casinos should entertain the sport of boxing in their midst. Nor is it the place to go beyond the mere reiteration of the opposing viewpoint: that the casinos have sound reasons for not welcoming the sport, especially since everything in casinoland is predicated by the Great God Drop. Still, when the next pitch is made to sell the sport to MotorCity Casino Hotel, the presenters of said pitch would do well to include a tape of Harrison’s knockout of Amarro and the excitement it generated.
In other action, middleweight Darryl Cunningham, 28-4, gave his best performance in two years in decisioning a stubborn Ruben Galvan over eight rounds; the shutout on all three cards was predictable, but this time out Cunningham flashed combinations in earnest that sometimes bordered on flurries.
The action welterweight Lanardo Tyner, 29-8-2, easily destroyed a hapless Gabe Morris of Toledo with three knockdowns (one questionable) in the first. Tyner was so disgusted with the weakness of his foe that he very nearly laid leather on him after flattening him in a corner for the third knockdown. Matchmaker Carlos Llinas had plugged Morris in on very short notice into the gap, but only reluctantly, when another opponent had fallen out.
That wasn’t the only fallout that necessitated a mismatch, much to Llinas’ discouragement, but the evening still proved to be, if less than a classic night of boxing, a sometimes entertaining one due to Harrison’s magic and a very good matchup between two novice but skilled junior-middles Alegandro Hernandez, Detroit, and Anthony Kelly, Toledo, a contest that ended in a majority draw.
In other action, undefeated Windsor, Canada, heavyweight Ali Mansour (12-0), easily toppled the once tough Dione Craig with three knockdowns in the first; the wild-swinging, pint-sized featherweight James Smith, Detroit, overwhelmed a surprisingly tough Mateo Soto in one round; Dwayne Williams decisioned Drew Morias in a battle of local lightheavies; and Mara Marquez, Detroit, sporting a Boy George haircut, stopped an overwhelmed Tiana Barber, Toledo, whose hair and Marquez’ punches kept getting in her face, in two heats.