By Kurt Wolfheimer at ringside
Friday night before approximately seven hundred boisterous fans at Harrah’s Casino in Chester, PA, former Contender series star Omar Sheika (32-11, 21KO’s) and local favorite Tony “Boom Boom” Ferrante (12-3, 7KO’s) waged a give and take ten round middleweight war that was worthy of national television exposure. Eventually Sheika was able to prevail, getting the ten round unanimous decision victory, though two scorecards which had him ahead by a large margin really didn’t tell the real story of the fight. The co-feature of the evening, saw junior welterweight sensation Naim Nelson continue his winning ways with a six round majority decision victory over hard luck veteran Linwood Hurd (3-3-4, 1KO).
For Sheika it would continue his steady climb back to a possible big money fight in the very near future but he was really put to the test on this night as Tony Ferrante came ready to wage war.
Right from the opening bell, Ferrante looked to control the ring, boxing behind a good left jab which allowed him to step in and out of the pocket. In mid round Ferrante began to bull forward and put nice overhand rights up top. Sheika was a veteran though and he eventually settled into a rhythm of his own in the closing seconds with a good four punch combination.
Sheika changed his method of attack in the third, shooting a series of combinations to the body of Ferrante. The Philly native began back up and Sheika found his mark with a bristling five punch combination as the round came to a close. Ferrante’s left jabs dropped to his waste after throwing them, which allowed Sheika to find more spots for good right crosses and he landed a big overhand right up top in the closing seconds of the round.
Ferrante looked to change the momentum again by sending Sheika to the ropes by forcing an inside fight during clinches. Highly respected referee Eddie Cotton seemed to have a bad fight, as he broke the fighters when their hands were free, thus taking away one of Ferrante’s biggest weapons, his vaunted uppercuts on the inside. He did land a few uppercuts, but he couldn’t keep him on the ropes with the quick breaks from Cotton.
Ferrante continued to charge in which resulted in a cut over both fighters left eyes and blood flowed throughout.
Sheika continued to slow down Ferrante, doing great body work even with his back to the ropes. Ferrante continued a bad habit of ducking to the right, which Sheika took advantage of with a deadly overhand right late in the sixth. Stunned, from the shot, Ferrante backed up and Sheika went on the attack. The heavy handed Ferrante was bent over and tried to hold on from a brutal onslaught including perfect mixture of body attack and right hands up top in taking the fifth round.
Ferrante was warned by Referee Eddie Cotton for ducking and yet didn’t warn Sheika for pushing his head down and a constant flow of punches behind Ferrante’s head in the clinches.
Sheika went low in the sixth, which gave Ferrante a moment to recover. The low blow seemed to anger Ferrante and he snapped Sheika’s head back with an explosive uppercut. Sheika seemed stunned but Ferrante was careful and missed a golden opportunity to put Sheika on his heels.
The uppercuts did give Ferrante some confidence and he pushed forward, boxing well early in the seventh. Sheika backed up in mid round, as his reflexes looked good, avoiding major blows from Ferrante. Finally Sheika uncorked one of his game changing right hands which had Ferrante stunned. Sheika jumped on him, reopening the cut eye of Ferrante with hooks up top. Sheika was in charge, but Ferrante wouldn’t back down and led a big charge of his own with several crunching overhand rights in the final minute of the round.
Sheika landed more rabbit punches in the eighth, which referee Eddie Cotton seemed oblivious to. Finally the clinches began to aggravate Ferrante and shouldered Sheika to get out of a clinch. Eddie Cotton immediately took a point. Sheika went back on the attack easily taking the eighth.
Sheika hurt Ferrante who tried desperately to hold on after a big right hand in the ninth. Sheika reigned down ten unanswered punches as Ferrante covered. Sheika appeared moments from having the fight stopped when Ferrante turned the tide with a big right hand. The aggressive Sheika was now the person on the retreat as Ferrante looked to get back into the round.
Ferrante seemed to be a couple of points behind going into the tenth and final round. Sheika played it safe throughout, but Ferrante closed well with several hard hooks and rights in the closing moments.
The fight went to the scorecards with each side confident of the victory. Fight news had Sheika with the victory and would have been satisfied with the decision, but two shocking scores of 99-90 were read off before a much more inline 95-94, giving Sheika the hard fought ten round unanimous decision victory.
A dumbfounded Ferrante spoke on the bout afterward. “I thought I out boxed him. He definitely threw allot of heavy punches. I caught a lot of the punches on my elbows and arms. He hit me about thirty five times in the back of the head. I really don’t understand the referee who didn’t even give him a warning. I thought I won at least a split or majority decision. I don’t know what those two judges were looking at with those wide scores. I am just blown away by those scores.”
A more subdued Sheika was more gracious afterward in his thoughts. “Ferrante was a tough fighter. They don’t get easier at this time. I felt I won though.”
Sheika also appeared frustrated at Referee Eddie Cotton. “Every time I tried to hit him, he would bend down and turn away which led to me hitting him behind the head. The referee never took a point for the constant bending down.”
In the co-feature of the evening, hot Philly lightweight prospect Naim “The Dream” Nelson raised his record to a perfect 5-0 with a hard fought six round majority decision victory over hard luck Linwood Hurd (3-3-4, 1KO) of Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Nelson appeared to be the stronger fighter throughout, but Hurd had his moments, battling well when on the inside.
After six exciting rounds of spirited action, the fight went to the scorecards. One judge saw it even at 57-57 but was overruled as the other two officials saw it 58-57 x2 in favor of Nelson, giving him the majority decision victory.
Radnor PA Police officer and local heavyweight crowd favorite Jamie Campbell returned to the ring and as always was in a war with his opponent. This time the opponent was Lonnie Kornegay who entered the ring with a less than impressive record of 1-5-2, but owned a victory over Willliam Miranda, the same one who handed Campbell his last loss.
Campbell seemed to control the early going behind stiff jabs and sharp combinations. One problem though, was that he would not bring his glove back to cover his face after throwing a punch, which allowed the game Kornegay to connect flush with overhand rights.
Kornegay was gaining confidence and was charging forward and connecting with his share of overhand rights flush on the face of Campbell, much to the dismay of his big fan base. Just when it looked like Campbell would falter in the closing moments of the third with his back to a corner, he caught a charging Kornegay with a picture perfect right hand on the button. Kornegay immediately dropped to a knee. From that point on it was all Campbell throughout the final two rounds as Kornegay held and tired.
All three judges saw the bout in favor of Jamie Campbell by scores of 39-36 x 2 and 38-37 respectively for the unanimous decision victory. The thirty eight year old police office Radnor Police Officer jumps to 4-2, 2KO’s.
Undefeated light heavyweight Fred Jenkins Jr. moved to 5-0, 2KO’s with a four round unanimous decision victory over twenty seven fight veteran John Michael Terry by scores of 39-37 across the board.
There was a pair of bouts featuring fighters making their professional debuts that opened the card.
Glen Mills PA’s Danny Mills scored a second round TKO of Wilmington, Delaware’s Mike Haynes. The fight could have been fought in a phone booth as both fighters went toe-to-toe throughout. Haynes had an all star corner featuring former boxing standouts Mike “No Joke” Stewart and his brother Richard Stewart. Even they could not save Haynes on this day as a big right hand put him on the canvas in the middle of the second, he rose to his feet, but was on unsteady legs and the bout was waived off at the 1:50 mark of the second round, giving Danny Mills the victory.
Tyrone Crawley Jr. had a nearly flawless performance in his pro debut with a one sided four round unanimous decision victory over fellow Philadelphian Hamid Robinson.
Robinson had no answer for the reach and variety of combinations that the southpaw Crawley landed with almost impunity. By the fourth round, Robinson looked like he was in survival mode and Crawley easily outworked him to the final bell. All three judges gave Tyrone Crawley every round by scores of 40-36 across the board.
The matchmakers for what turned out to be a night of exciting boxing were David Feldman and Joey “Eye” Intrieri.