By Shamus Young at ringside
Super middleweight Kingsley “Sharp Knuckles” Ikeke (26-3, 14 KOs) won a ten round split decision over Mark “The Machine Gun” Woolnough (19-5, 6 KOs) to claim the NABA 168lb title on Saturday night at the Emerald Queen in Tacoma, Washington. Woolnough pressured Ikeke, and outworked him in most every round, but it was Ikeke landing the harder punches. In the end, judges scores it 96-94, 96-94 for Ikeke and 97-93 for Woolnough. Fightnews had it 95-95.
Ikeke was the seasoned veteran who had a previous title shot and had been ranked highly by every major sanctioning body. Woolnough had something to prove, and was a former Canadian champ who was a good prospect in the early part of this decade, but took a long layoff, and had fought sporadically since coming back in 2007.
Ikeke had a huge reach advantage over Woolnough, but rarely used it. The fight was mostly fought on Woolnough’s terms, inside, and against the ropes. Woolnough consistently outworked Ikeke, and even when Ikeke was able to bring the fight into the middle of the ring, Woolnaugh had the higher work rate. Woolnough’s problem was that Ikeke was clearly the more powerful man. The problem for the judges was to decide what was more meaningful—Woolnough’s cavalcade of punches that scored but didn’t hurt Ikeke, or Ikeke’s scattered but hard shots. In the end, the judges scores it 96-94, 96-94 for Ikeke and 97-93 for Woolnough. Fightnews had it 95-95.
In the co-main event, Heavyweight Lateef Kaoyode moved to 8-0 by battering the game Leo Bercier (8-10-1) over most of three rounds out of a scheduled six . Bercier came out winging, and Kayonde calmly piled punches on him, scoring a body shot knockdown in the first and two knockdowns in the third which led referee Louis Jackovny to call the bout at the time of 2:12 of the third.
In undercard action, Battkou Otgonchuluun, now 3-0, took an easy four round decision at a catchweight of 128 from Jose Gomez, now 2-3, over 4 rounds. Otgonchuluun’s amateur pedigree showed immediately, as his footwork always placed him for a perfect counterpunch. Otgonchuluun also has serious pop for a featherweight, so his counterpunching set him up for two knockdowns in the first round. After the first, Gomez realized that he was getting countered, and stopped punching so much. That led to a strategic bout, and Otgonchuluun wasn’t as good at manufacturing offense as he was at countering it, so it went to decision. Otgonchuluun still won 40-34 on all cards and with Fightnews.
In a 4 round bout, Sergey Kovaley, 3-0, scored a first round stoppage over Michael Birthmark (1-4) at light heavyweight. Birthmark came out with a lot of activity, and Kovaley stood there flat footed and blocked it. Kovaley was looking to place a shot, and he soon got it. Right on the temple of Birthmark. Somehow, Birthmark got up, and managed to finish the round. During the end of that round, Kovaley whacked Birthmark all over the ring. The corner stopped it at the end of the round.
Francisco Reyes, who is a hot prospect at lightweight, with an amateur background and the sort of punch to be a pro, was putting his 2-0 record on the line with Ralph Prescott, who came in at 0-3. Both guys were from the Seattle area, and knew each other. Prescott fought his ass off, but Reyes was too quick and powerful. In the second round, Reyes had a chance to finish the fight. Prescott was on queer street. Reyes looked at the ref and seemed to be looking for a stoppage, and when that didn’t happen, he didn’t pull the trigger. The fight ended up going the distance. Reyes was dominant the rest of the way, Prescott rallied hard in the last round and got in a few good shots. Scores across the board were 40-36 for Reyes.
At a catch weight of 190, Milon Kadryov won a hard fought four round UD over Matt Halvorsen. Early in the fight, Kadryov’s power overcame Halvorsen’s tenacity. The southpaw Kadryov was consistently finding a spot for the straight right. Halvorsen was dropped in round three, and it seemed like it was over. But Halvorsen fought back, and Kadryov was so tired in the last round that he could have been knocked out. Halvorsen was so tired he couldn’t take advantage of it. . Kadryov got a unanimous decision with scores of 39-36. 38-37, and 40-35. Fightnews had it 39-36. Kadryov moves to 3-1, Halvorsen’s to 3-6.
In the opening bout, Heavyweight Vince Thompson took a UD in his pro debut over Fred Miller (now 1-1-1). The action was sloppy, particularly in the footwork, which was always squared up. Thompson distinguished himself with more accurate punching and a higher work rate, and won an easy UD. Scores were 40-36 twice and 39-37 once. Fightnews had it 40-36.