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Report/gallery: Mack vs. Sheika

Ringside report by Kurt Wolfheimer
Photos by Ray Bailey

Yusaf “Catter” Mack (30-4-2, 17 KOs) captured the vacant USBA light heavyweight belt with a dominant twelve round unanimous decision over rugged Omar Sheika (32-12, 21 KOs) Friday night at the Resorts Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The eight bout card promoted Nedal Abuhumoud of Nedal Promotions and Andre Kut of KEA Boxing Promotions also had an entertaining co-main event featuring undefeated super middleweight Derrick “Take it to the Bank” Webster (13-0,7 KOs) who got off the canvas not once, but twice to capture an eight round unanimous decision over the tougher-than-expected Sabou Ballogou (8-5, 3 KOs).

The Mack versus Sheika contest provided an interesting contrast of styles. Mack, a fast starter and fluid boxer/puncher climbed into the ring to face the constant forward pressure of Sheika. It was a crossroads battle of former world title challengers looking to make it back to national stardom and a potential world title contention.

Mack, who fights out of the renowned Shuler’s Gym in Philadelphia, PA, looked to rebound from his last bout which was an unsuccessful challenge against IBF light heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud (June 2011).

Sheika of Patterson, New Jersey, had a two consecutive win streak, including a hard fought unanimous decision over durable veteran Anthony Ferrante in his last bout (February 2012). Sheika at thirty five years of age, had publically avowed that he had trained hard for the encounter knowing that a victory and the USBA belt would once again catapult him back into title contention.

Mack had been known to wear down when fighting pressure fighters such as Sheika and Sheika had vowed the he would break him down.

It was clear right from the opening bell that Sheika wanted to press the attack as he worked the body whenever possible to crack Mack’s will and wear him down. Mack was on his “A” game though and his quick cat like counters smacked the face of Sheika.

The rounds continued with Sheika trying to pound the chiseled body of Mack. Sheika however, had no answer for the hand speed of the fighting Philadelphian who just kept blasting away with brutal combinations up top while using a tight defense to deflect much of the body attack from Sheika.

Sheika had some good moments in the third as he banged the body but Mack continued to bounce right hands off the face of his opponent. Mack’s work upstairs opened a small cut above the left eye of Sheika during the round but veteran cut-man Joey “Eye” Intrieri kept the laceration from bleeding throughout the contest.

Mack stepped up the attack in the fifth round with several good uppercuts when working inside which snapped Sheika’s head back while they fought in the center of the ring. Sheika was game though and continually stuck to banging the body.

However, the rounds kept piling up on the scorecards for Mack.

The face of Sheika appeared reddened and puffy as the contest progressed due to the heavy pounding from a steadfast Mack.

Sheika was too proud to back down, even landing a few good overhand rights of his own that kept the rounds competitive.

In the eleventh round, Sheika went for broke and tried to trade with the faster hands of Mack in hopes that his constant body attack had done its’ job. Mack seemed fresh though and held his own during the exchanges.

Sheika looked gassed as the penultimate round came to close.

In the twelfth round Mack put an exclamation point on his performance with a left hook which floored Sheika. Though tired and hurt Sheika valiantly got back up and was able to survive until the final bell.

All of the judges tallied the bout by scores of 119-107 and 118-109 twice for the new USBA titleholder Yusaf Mack.

Mack was adamant that he wants a world title fight. He was especially hopefully of a rematch with Tavoris Cloud.

WEBSTER SURVIVES A BATTLE

In the co-feature of the evening, undefeated super middleweight prospect Derrick “Take it to the Bank” Webster (13-0, 7 KOs), had quite a scare in having to get off the canvas twice to pull out the eight round unanimous decision victory of Sabou Ballogou (8-5, 3 KOs).

Webster seemed content in the early going to use his six foot-four inch frame and exceedingly long reach to keep the heavy handed, but plodding Ballogou at bay. As the round passed, Webster seemed in control and he continued to mix in combinations behind good footwork and movement. Ballogou could only land the occasional overhand right, which kept Webster on his toes.

Webster continued to dominated the early rounds with his piston-like jab, effective combination punching and ring generalship.

Webster seemed to be incensed in the fifth from a shot which caught him flush so he stepped up and traded with the powerful clubber from Togo. He would eventually get back to his game plan of boxing and movement.

It looked like Webster was coasting to the unanimous decision victory when Ballogou landed a huge haymaker in the seventh round.

Webster crashed to the canvas.

Webster barely beat the count and looked in serious trouble.

Referee Lindsey Page seemed to take extra time to make sure he was okay before sending him back out.

Sabou Ballogou knew this was his opportunity and went after him wailing away with wild abandon. Webster’s fans begged for him to hold on but he chose to trade away.

Moments later, Webster would taste the canvas for the second time. This time Webster rose to his feet and was leaning on the ropes.

Referee Lindsey Page took a close look at him before letting continue.

Once again Webster chose to go toe-to-toe and landed a strong left hand counter that slowed Ballogou.

The heavy punch output tired Ballogou and he looked gassed as Webster survived the round.

The referee gave him even more time to recover as he spoke with both fighters before starting the eighth and final round.

Ballogou knew he was behind on the cards and desperately tried for the knockout, but Webster had recovered and was bouncing off some good combinations of his own. He even backed Ballogou in the closing thirty seconds.

A short right wobbled Ballogo who retreated. Webster swung away but missed with every shot while Ballogo leaned back to avoid the shots. Unfortunately Ballogo lost his balance and fell into the corner as the final bell sounded.

Referee Lindsey Paige called it a knockdown even though it seemed from this writer’s perspective that a punch did not cause him to fall.

All of the judges saw the fight clearly for Derrick Webster by scores of 77-72 across the board giving him the eight round unanimous decision victory.

RODRIGUEZ EXPLODES ON CRABTREE!

KEA Boxing prospect Juan “The Beast” Rodriguez (9-0,4 KOs) let the beast out as he blew away Daniel Crabtree (3-5, 3 KOs) with a destructive second round knockout in their four round welterweight affair.

Rodriguez of Union City, New Jersey looked in control right from the bell as he peppered Crabtree of Hilliard, Ohio throughout the opening round with short combinations, behind a pawing jabs. Crabtree came to fight though and tried his best to keep his opponent at bay with a couple of right hands, but Rodriguez was not having it and banged the body at the end of the first and early in the second.

“I dug the body and I could hear him hurting,” said Rodriquez. “My corner kept telling me to go down there and set up the knockout.”

It was not just a knockout, but the kind of KO that people talk about well after the fight as Rodriquez caught Crabtree with his hands down, sliding out to the left from an exchange with an explosive left hook.

Crabtree was unconscious the moment the punch connected directly on his chin and he fell on his back. Referee Allan Huggins didn’t even bother to count, immediately calling for the emergency medical technicians into the ring.

After several minutes, Crabtree was able to get up and walk out of the ring on his own recognizance.

The time of the knockout was 1:59 of the second round.

LAMANNA OUTCLASSES WILSON

Popular middleweight prospect Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna (8-0, 5 KOs) of Milville, New Jersey continued his winning ways with a six round unanimous decision victory over Sean Rawley Wilson (5-10, 1 KO).

“Cornflake” – with his fans loudly cheering him on – easily outworked Wilson throughout the bout. Wilson did test the beard of LaManna a few times with a couple of haymakers but his chin passed with flying colors. Lamanna stayed tall using his height and reach advantage to dispense stiff jabs and combinations from the outside. LaManna swept every round on the scorecards for a tally of 60-54.

SANTIAGO-SWAIN KEEPS THE FANS ON THEIR FEET

Wilkins Santiago from Lorain, Ohio moved to 5-0 with 1 knockout as he dropped Alando Swain (5-2, 1 KO) of Trenton, New Jersey once on his way to a well deserved six round unanimous decision victory during a middleweight encounter.

Swain looked confident as he boxed in the early going, stepping in and out of the pocket. Santiago changed the momentum in the third, with good body work and a heavy left up top in the closing seconds of the round.

Swain went on the attack early in the fourth as Santiago looked to be gassed. A counter right by Santiago wobbled Swain, who went on the retreat. Santiago seized the opportunity and bounced Swain off the canvas with two overhand rights. Swain was able to get up but was clearly stunned. Santiago pursued his opponent as the partisan crowd from Jersey pleaded with Swain to hold on. Wilkins showed why he has only one knockout as he let him off the hook.

Swain recovered quickly between rounds to come out strong at the opening bell. Both fighters had their moments during a back and forth fifth round. Each combatant looked exhausted in the sixth, but it was Santiago who was the busier fighter right up until the final bell.

All of the judges saw it in favor of Santiago by the scores of 58-55 twice and 57-56.

YOUNG AND CALDERON GO TO WAR!

A pair of hard hitting welterweights Anthony “Juice” Young and Jose “Baby Calderon” Calderon waged a back in forth four round war during which each fighter tasted the canvas.

Young appeared to be the better boxer in the opening round as he was more effective during the early exchanges. His foot movement frustrated the heavy handed Calderon throughout the round.

But the momentum can change in the blink of an eye in the ring. Moments later the advancing Calderon caught Young stepping away with a big right hand. Young landed flat on his back on the canvas. Young rose to his feet but Calderon jumped on him banging away with big right hands and combinations. Eventually Calderon’s tank ran dry and Young bounced back in the closing second with a few stinging combinations of his own.

The more polished Young took control in the second as he stepped in and out of the pocket with hooks to the body and tight combinations up top. Calderon returned fire, but missed badly which allowed Young to connect with a good liver shot and follow-up counters.

The man nickname “Juice” finally squeezed the orange and deposited Calderon on the canvas with a right hand of his own early in the third. Calderon rose to his feet and fought back but Young was just too slick. Young boxed his way throughout the remainder of the third round plus the fourth and final round to capture the unanimous decision by a tally of 38-36 across the scorecards.

Young ups his record to 4-0 with 2 knockouts while Calderon falls to 4-2 with 4 knockouts.

CURIEL DOMINATES FOSTER

Patterson, New Jersey junior middleweight David “Riot” Roman Curiel (3-0, 1 KO) continued his winning ways with a workmanlike four round unanimous decision victory over Dominique Foster (0-1-1) of Hilliard, Ohio.

Both fighters started out cautiously as they tested each other out in the opening round. Roman began to take charge early in the second, winning the early exchanges with a couple of solid right hands. Foster had his best moments in the middle of the third as he tried to apply pressure although Roman answered back and kept the round close. Both fighters swung away as the bell sounded to end the round. The heavy output appeared to have exhausted both fighters but Roman had enough to outbox Foster right up until the final bell.

All of the judges saw the contest in favor of Curiel by scores of 40-36 twice and 39-37.

BUJAJ LOOKS IMPRESSIVE STOPPING VETERAN CASTILLO

Albanian cruiserweight Stivens “Superman” Bujaj (8-0, 6 KOs) looked impressive as he stepped up his opposition and scored a fifth round stoppage over cagey Ecuadorian veteran Livin Castillo (16-13, 10 KOs) in the opening bout of the evening.

Castillo had just come of a split decision loss to former heavyweight contender Jameel “Big Time” McCline. Castillo was the most experienced fighter that the twenty-one year old Bujaj had faced but he was not intimidated.

The heavy handed Bujaj seemed the faster fighter right from the opening bell as he timed the aggressive Castillo with counters. Late in the second round, Bujaj took control and was beating Castillo to the punch, while stepping in and out of the pocket. Castillo tried fight back and did land the occasional heavy counter from his southpaw stance, but he continued to absorb punishing blows to the face. By the fifth round both eyes of Castillo were nearly swollen shut. Bujaj stunned him with left and then planted a right uppercut, which forced the puffed up Castillo to cover. Bujaj stepped up the onslaught and after ten unanswered shots Referee Lindsey Page mercifully stepped in to call a halt to the fight at 1:53 of the fifth round.




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