By David Robinett at ringside
Twelve years ago, a 37-year old journeyman fighter named Paul Nave made his mark in the boxing world by scoring an upset victory, followed by two more hotly contested rematches, against former light welterweight titleholder Greg Haugen. Nave retired a year later in 1999, capping off a then 14-year career on a high note. Now over a year into his quixotic comeback, the 49-year old “Marin County Assassin” Paul Nave, (19-8-2, 8 KOs), is undefeated in his last four fights, turning in his most impressive performance to date, a devastating third round knockout of Minnesota club fighter Daniel Schlienz, (7-20-1, 4 KOs), in a scheduled six-round welterweight bout Friday night at the Marin Center Exhibit Hall in San Rafael, California.
“I feel pretty good you know,” remarked Nave after the fight, “I lost a lot of weight last week and you always worry if you’re going to be a little weak after that, but I hydrated well and I felt good out there.”
For a 49-year old fighter, Nave looked pretty good too. Of course, it helped that his opponent came in having lost 9 of his last 10 fights, including a decision loss to Nave last November. However, unlike recent fights featuring Nave’s contemporaries Hector “Macho” Camacho and Evander Holyfield, this fight featured steady action, very little holding, and kept the crowd entertained from beginning to end.
In round one both fighters took some time finding their range, air-jabbing with Nave circled Schlienz in the center of the ring. About a minute into the round, Nave began to connect with slow, albeit effective, left jab-straight right combinations, setting up left hooks to the body and right hands to the head. Nave opened round two with a double left hook, followed moments later by another stiff left hook to the head. Schlienz did not offer much resistance until late in the round, with some body work along Nave’s beltline that caused Nave some discomfort.
Nave picked up in round three where he left off for most of round two, circling Schlienz with an effective jab followed at times by the left hand, before dropping Schlienz with a straight right hand that caused a delayed wobble before the Minnesotan stumbled to the canvas. Schlienz rose on very unsteady legs, and after absorbing a clubbing left hand that left him wobbling into the ropes, Nave closed the show with a right hook worthy of any current young champion, knocking Schlienz out before he hit the canvas with a terrifying thud. Referee Marty Sammon immediately motioned to the ringside physician, who tended to Schlienz for several minutes before he walked out of the ring with assistance. Schlienz was taken to the hospital for observation after the fight. The official time of the knockout was 2:35 of round three.
Nave acknowledged that he was pushing the action more in this fight. “I came out a little more aggressive [than in the first fight with Schlienz],” said Nave. “I try to box more now, and that’s what I was doing the first couple of rounds. But I started to see that I was hitting him pretty good and he was getting hurt, and so I pressed him a little more and I happened to catch him real good with that right hand.”
Nave stated after the fight that he hoped to step up the level of competition and fight more frequently as he admittedly wants to see how far his comeback can take him.
Divine Intervention for “The Baptist”
The opening bout of the evening provided one of those quintessential boxing moments as previously winless John “The Baptist” Dunham, (1-5-1), dramatically snatched his first victory from the jaws of defeat, using a late knockdown to earn a split decision over Herman Bacho in a four-round welterweight bout. One judge scored the bout 38-37 for Bacho, while the other two judges scored the bout for Dunham 39-36.
Bacho, who was making his pro debut, started slowly, allowing the more experienced Dunham to establish his jab and outwork the youngster in a moderately paced first round. The “Baptist “ continued to christen Bacho into the pro ranks early in the second round with a stiff right hook to the head, before Bacho started to find his rhythm and fire back with a stinging right hook of his own that seemed to hurt Dunham late in the round.
Bacho’s pressure started to wear Dunham down in round three, and although Dunham was still effectively catching Bacho coming in with jabs and lead right hands, by round four it was clear that Dunham was running on fumes. In the last minute of round four, Dunham was in full retreat, with Bacho landing big right hands at will. It appeared that Dunham would not survive the round when suddenly, as Bacho was lunging forward again for another big right, Dunham unloaded a straight left-right hand combination that dropped Bacho to the canvas with seconds left in the round. Bacho beat the count and made it on unsteady legs to the final bell, but Dunham’s late “Hail Mary” sealed his dramatic win.
The joy on Dunham’s and his cornermens’ faces upon hearing he had earned his first victory was clear to see. “It felt really good,” said Dunham, after the fight. “I got a little tired because I had to go to the steam room to cut some weight, and that takes up a lot of your energy. [In the last round] My manager was yelling at me to let my hands go. I hit really hard, and I was able to catch him with a good shot and put him down.”
Dunham said he hopes to get into the ring again later this month on the undercard of the Andre Ward vs. Allen Green bout in Oakland, California on June 19.
In Other Action….
In a rematch of a hotly contested bout last November, Luis Alfredo Lugo, (10-13-1, 5 KOs), turned the tables on Jaime Rodriguez, (5-7-3, 2 KOs), earning a split decision victory by scores of 58-56, 58-56, 55-59, in a six-round lightweight matchup. Rodriguez won their last bout by unanimous decision in a contest that some ringside observers felt could have gone either way, and this bout was no different, with the taller, rangier Rodriguez having success fighting from distance, and the shorter, more aggressive Lugo answering back with the more effective work inside. In the end two of the judges favored Lugo’s aggressiveness and good body work, while a lull in rounds four and five by Rodriguez before he caught a second wind might have cost him the win..
In a battle of undefeated light middleweights, James Montgomery, (2-0-1, 0 KOs), earned a unanimous decision over comebacking Ulysses Caballero, (4-1-1, 0 KOs), by scores of 39-36, 39-36, and 40-35, in a four-round bout. Montgomery was simply faster and more accurate than Caballero, who was returning to the ring after an eight-year absence.
Caballero took three rounds to really get going, in the meantime being peppered with accurate left jab-right hand combinations by Montgomery, who effectively moved around the ring to avoid, and then pick off, the forward-moving but inactive Caballero. Early in round three Montgomery dropped Caballero with a straight right hand, but Caballero regained his composure quickly after the knockdown and started to come on towards the end of the round. Caballero appeared to be building up momentum in the fourth round against the fading Montgomery, but in a four-round bout it was too little too late and Montgomery escaped with the victory.
The four-bout card was promoted by Paul Nave’s Liberty Boxing Enterprises.