By Lindy Lindell
Photos: Bob Ryder
Amid fallouts, rejected blood tests, and a sub-par performance by featured heavyweight Juan Goode, Darkside Boxing, a new fight group on the Motor City fight block, broke through with a lively, 6-bout card that had an appreciative crowd at Detroit’s Masonic Temple roaring their appreciation.
It was refreshing.
“Look,” one pundit pointed out: “The winners are coming out of different corners.”
The bouts were held in the mid-sized venue at the historic Masonic Temple, where earlier in the year a Showtime card and an ESPN match had been televised from auditoriums ranging from 3000+ to about 500. Last night’s card checked in the middle-sized venue of slightly less than 1500.
The show was sponsored in part by Ron Cameron’s Sports Talk (Cameron, a broadcasting institution in SE Michigan, pulled featured junior-middleweight Lane Staal from the show due to a draw two weeks before in which he had sustained a bad knockdown in a bout in Grand Rapids, but promises he will be on the next show on January 10); Mid-Michigan Boxing; and Tarick Salmaci Productions.
Promoter Nasser Beydoun told this reporter that inasmuch as Detroit boxing had fallen in a kind of rut over the last several years, he and his team wanted to bring local boxing back to something like its former glory of its days in the 1980s. In this fallow period, especially since 2000, with the death of, first, the Kronk Gym and then of the man closely associated with that iconic incubator of talent, Emanuel Steward, in 2012, Detroit boxing has become dreadfully predictable with not only the winners sure bets, but also the same opponents were ferried in whose losses had numbered into the double-digits in succession and who in some cases had never won a single round!
With this kind of negative atmosphere, Detroit began to lose its best fighters (National Golden Gloves champion Erick DeLeon signed with a major promoter and 2000 Heavy GG Champ, Lonnie Zaid had a stop-start career that netted him just five fights in more than a decade) to promoters and managers with an environment more conducive to developing talent.
Hopefully, with Darkstar and perhaps another group that is making soundings about promoting in Detroit in 2014, the Motor City will be in the business of producing horses that can finish the race.
To say that featured boxer, heavyweight Juan Goode’s performance, was a disappointment is an understatement. Matched with the inactive 4-6 plodder Sam Comming, Goode, who tuned with an easy win two months ago after an 18-month layoff, showed little of the boxing ability and none of the power he had wowed this journalist with in building up to 5-0 (all knockouts) in previous fights. Against Comming, Goode won easily enough, but after two rounds, Comming seemed to gain confidence and Goode didn’t have much for him in attempting to blunt his advances beyond a good defense. Both fighters seemed enervated by the 10-second warning ending the 4-round fight, and flailed away to the delight of the crowd.
All bouts were four-rounders except for a scheduled six involving featherweight Ahmed Majed Mahmood, 1-0-1, Basra, Iraq (fighting out of Detroit) stopping a game Matthew Jacob Soto, Wyoming, MI, in two. Matchmaker Ira Kendrick had his job hampered by fallouts, but he was happy to put two undefeated light-heavies together, with Toledo fighter Paul Parker, 6-0, smashing Detroiter Dwayne Williams to the canvas with a right and stopping him in the third. Williams, 3-1, did not react to rights to the face in the first two rounds and Parker muscled up in the third, floored his man, badly shaking him and the fight was stopped seconds after Williams arose.
In other action, Rick Graham, Detroit, and Peter Bianca, Toronto, junior-middleweights, battled to a spirited draw, in a contest of pro-debuters; Antonio Urista, a 3-0 Detroit junior-middle, outscored a pro-debuting Mponda Kalunga, Toronto, who did a serviceable imitation of Muhammad Ali (a cornerman was wearing an Ali t-shirt) until he had to come down off his toes and fight; and in a second battle of pro-debuters, Ali Eljami, Detroit, was bested by Tony Brooks, Sterling Heights, the difference being a knockdown scored by Brooks in the third.
World-renowned referee, Frank Garza, who judged the card this evening, button-holed me at the end of the evening. “I want to go on record,” he said. “This was the best card I’ve seen in Michigan this year.” Point taken.