By Jose E. Santiago
Photos: Ozzie Santiago
Last night at the luxurious Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel in the heart of Atlanta GA on a card promoted by Greg Barckoff’s The Big Rock Out, Zahir “King” Raheem and Paul “The Truth” Delgado dazzled their hometown crowd with an excellent exhibition of flash and power. The crowd was also treated with the The Big Rock’s presentation of “The Ring of Honor” to legendary Atlanta and boxing great Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield.
In the main event former WBC International lightweight champ Zahir Raheem (31-3 18KO) was pitted against cagey Mexican veteran Roberto Valenzuela (53-54 43KO). From the sound of the opening bell Valenzuela looked out of his element as he simply could not avoid shots from Raheem’s flashy style. Using angles and fancy footwork Raheem worked behind a simple one two combination executed by very fast hands. About two minutes into round one, Raheem landed a crushing right that wobbled Valenzuela. With a calm demeanor, Raheem continued to pepper his foe and ended the round with a brilliant body attack capitalized with a left hook to the head at the sound of the bell.
In round two Raheem stayed true to his fight plan by working to the body only to set up shots to the head. With about ten seconds left in the round Raheem landed yet another perfect one-two combo that landed square on Valenzuela’s chin. Valenzuela hit the canvas near the neutral corner. In an attempt to utilize most of the count to recoup, Valenzuela attempted to get up at the count of nine, but immediately wobbled backwards forcing referee Brian Stutts to stop the contest at 2:56 of round two.
In the co-main event, Paul “The Truth” Delgado (24-9-1 4 KO) used his patented brilliant boxing style to outwork and outbox the game, but outgunned Chad Greenleaf of West Virginia.
In the first round Delgado began with a dedicated plan of working the body of Greenleaf. Greenleaf appeared not sure of how to handle the initial attack and often found himself unnecessarily switching from orthodox to unorthodox. When switching to the southpaw stance Delgado would pepper Greenleaf with straight rights to the head. In an effort to possibly impress the judges and steal the round Greenleaf let off an onslaught of eight shots in the last ten seconds, but it was futile. Delgado clearly won the round.
In the second Delgado pressed the action and landed a few vicious left hooks to the body of Greenleaf. Looking a little complacent with his performance Delgado appeared to lose his focus and briefly let his guard down to which Greenleaf capitalized and landed a straight right to the head of Delgado. The shot appeared to snap Delgado back into his game plan as he finished the round using angles to work off of his jab.
The third round once again went Delgado’s way, but with a brief scare. With about a minute left in the round both fighters stepped in to land body shots and a clash of heads sent Delgado down wincing. Referee Jim Korb immediately stepped in a ruled it a head butt. After a few seconds of recovery Delgado ended the round with a barrage of shots that raised the Atlanta faithful to their feet at the bell.
The fourth was more of the same; Delgado using angles and lead rights to dictate the pace. Other than a few shots landed by Greenleaf in the middle of the round it was Delgado’s round as he landed his biggest shot so far that buckled Greenleaf who was close to going down but was saved by the bell.
In the fifth it appeared that a sudden momentum swing would make things interesting as Greenleaf started the round well by landing shots to the head and body of Delgado, but for no apparent reason Greenleaf let off of the gas pedal allowing Delgado to re-establish himself as the more dominant fighter. Greenleaf did well in the round and could have possibly outworked Delgado for the first time in the fight.
In the sixth and final round, realizing that he was behind Greenleaf came out strong in an attempt to score a miraculous come from behind win. Greenleaf did well and at one point in the round landed three straight right hands that rattled Delgado. Delgado stayed focused and rather than ride out the round he delighted his hometown fans by landing a nasty looping right hand that dropped Greenleaf in the red corner. Greenleaf was visibly hurt but did manage to get to his feat at the count of nine with only a few seconds left in the round.
All three judges unanimously scored it for Delgado 60-53 twice, 64-54