By Brian Grammer at ringside
Photos: Bob Barton
St. Louis’ Pageant Theater was hot and stormy, both inside and out, as Steve Smith’s Rumble Time Promotions put on a “Night of the Elite” Saturday night. Deandre “The Bull” Latimore (21-3, 17 KOs) continued his climb to another light middleweight title shot with a resounding 3rd round TKO victory over journeyman Darien Ford (11-20, 4 KOs). Latimore was exceedingly sharp as he displayed a new found strategy to get back to the top of the 154 lb rankings. “No more bull from me,” the victorious Latimore exclaimed, “I saw in training that I needed to move my feet more and that gave me much better defense.”
The St. Louis native, who faced fellow St. Louisian, Cory Spinks, for the IBF light middleweight title in April of 2009, made those words ring true as his new found movement unsettled Ford throughout the contest. After a first round that saw Latimore on his toes and bobbing his head to avoid the challenger’s shots, “Bull” unleashed the power that he has displayed in his career which has made him a favorite in the Gateway City.
A right hook followed by a big left to the side of Ford’s head, knocked the challenger off balance and down to the canvas early in the 2nd round. After that, Latimore sensed that he had his man in trouble and he used the new tactics learned in the gym to his complete advantage. Firing uppercuts and left hands, Latimore dropped his opponent twice more in the round. Referee Steve Smoger took a very close look at Ford after the third knockdown but did not stop the contest at that point, feeling that the fighter could continue.
It wouldn’t last for long, however, as a left cross from Latimore early in the third, caused Ford to stumble across the ring. Latimore kept up the attack, moving and turning as Ford tried desperately to tie up “The Bull”. A right hook, followed by a devastating left hand, was all that Ford could take as he went down for the final time. Referee Smoger, who had given Ford as much latitude as possible by allowing the challenger to continue into the third round, waved the fight to a halt at 2:46.
When asked about the change in tactics coming off of three fights that went the distance, Latimore said that he needed to realize that he can be “a slick fighter who can make offense come from good defense.” He continued to say that he is “ready for anyone at 154” and he has his sights set on a world title.
Promoter Steve Smith said that they will begin negotiations as soon as possible with the management team of undefeated James De La Rosa (20-0, 12 KO) as the next step in Latimore’s title aspirations. Smith went on to say that Deandre is fighter who is “hungry and ready to have a world title around his waist.”
The night’s co-feature saw New Zealander Chauncy Welliver (43-5, 14 KOs) retain his WBC Continental Americas Heavyweight title in a unanimous 12 round decision over Joell Godfrey (9-4, 5 KOs). Welliver’s cross-armed defense and unorthodox style caused Godfrey all sorts of trouble and the challenger was unable to mount any sustained offense all night. The champion used effective body shots to frustrate Godfrey and to move him around the ring. Neither fighter was ever in serious trouble although there was plenty of bone-crushing blows landed by both combatants. The judge’s scorecards were needed to decide a victor in this contest and in the end, they gave the nod to the defending champion. Judge Brett Miller scored the contest 115-113, while the other two judges, Mario DiFiori and Robert Hecko both had it 117-111.
Preliminary card action featured an evenly matched 4 round Jr. Welterweight bout, where Steve Cox (2-2, 1 KOs) used his aggressiveness and left hooks to force Jake Thornton (2-1, 1KOs) against the ropes and win a majority decision on scores of 39-37, 39-37 and 38-38.
175 lb Kevin Engle (18-3, 15 KOs) used his experience and power to knock Dominic Brown (0-1) down with a big left hook in the first round, followed by two right hands to the body in the second to score his 15th knockout. Referee Steve Smoger stopped the contest at 1:35 in the second round.
Geraldo Robles (10-9, 5 KOs) survived a bruising 6 round junior welterweight bout to score an upset against Don Juan Futrell (22-4, 10 KOs). Because both competitors had planned to take this fight to the inside, this contest was fast paced and unfortunately foul filled. Referee Mike England was forced to deducted 1 point from Futrell in both the 3rd and 5th rounds for low blows and another point in the 5th for hitting behind the head. The action was chest to chest throughout the contest and Robles took advantage of the close quarters to land his right hand and eventually knocked Futrell down in the sixth. Both fighters traded combinations right up to the final bell and when the scorecards were announced, Robles had completed the upset on scores of 60-52, 59-51, and 58-52.