By Jeff Reiners
The Quad Cities’ biggest professional boxing event in years was held Saturday night at historic Danceland Ballroom in Davenport. Fans were treated to a 7 bout card featuring local prospects looking to build their record and gain valuable pro experience. The aptly termed “Downtown Showdown” kicked off with Grand Rapids, MI heavyweight Jordan Shimmell (6-0, 6 KO’s) stopping 46 year old Clinton Boldridge (10-19-1, 8 KO’s). Shimmell, a veteran of 165 amateur bouts, out classed the slower Boldridge before dropping him for the 10 count in round two.
Shimmell takes his trade seriously.
“I’m trying to go world wide. My plan is to become heayweight champ. Obviously that’s long term. For now I’m staying active taking as many fights as I can find,” he said following his victory.
Chicago’s 2012 Golden Gloves champion at 165 lbs Limberth Ponce made his pro debut on the under card Ponce demonstrated why he beat all comers at Chicago’s famed tournament, stopping an overwhelmed Nick Christensen (2-0, 2 KO’s) in the first round.
Ponce’s blazing hand speed was evident in the opening seconds as he continually banged home 3 and 4 punch combinations. His talent was enough to easily overcome the size advantage he spotted his opponent.
Friday night there was controversy at the weigh in when Colby Courter (1-0, 1 KO) did not make the contracted weight for his bout with top Iowa prospect Lance “Lay Em Down” Williams (4-0, 4 KO’s). Williams has a considerable local following who will have to wait until 2013 to see Lance in the ring.
Another standout amateur from the area, Travis Thomas, made his pro debut at welterweight. Thomas made easy work of Alroic Carson (0-2) stopping him by TKO in the 2nd. Thomas is touted as a 9 time state boxing champion and was impressive in his hometown.
Joe Perez of East Moline (3-0, 3 KO’s) extended his knockout streak battering Brian Strickland over two one sided rounds. Strickland is the son of infamous journeyman Reggie Strickland, himself a loser of 276 professional fights. The elder Strickland worked his son’s corner in a losing effort.
Perez is off to bigger and better things. He leaves Tuesday for San Diego, CA where he’ll train with Basheer Abdullah. Abdullah grabbed headlines last summer during the Olympics when he was banned from working the corner of U.S. boxers. The ban was enforced because of a rule violation Abdullah committed prior to being named head coach of the U.S. Olympic team.
“(California) is a bigger, better market. My coach is out there now waiting for me, talking with Golden Boy Promotions. I might need a few fights under my belt to build my record. We’re working our way up now,” Perez told me after the bout.
Two veterans of MMA tried their hand at boxing and produced a highly entertaining scrap. Joe Jordan (1-0) used a stylish, hands at his waist style to bedazzle Jason Medina of Moline, IL(3-12, 3 KO’s).
Jordan was much too slick for Medina, peppering him with straight punches throughout the 4 round bout. The judges correctly awarded Jordan a unanimous decision for his effort.
George Carter Jr. has been the feature prize fighter at Danceland Ballroom in 2012. He scored another crafty decision win to remain unbeaten at 8-0 with 4 KO’s. His opponent Alex De Leon (4-3-1, 4 KO’s) came out with a fury, rocking Carter more than once in the opening rounds. Like he’s done in the past, Carter came back strong scoring with searing left hands fired from the southpaw stance.
De Leon visibly lost steam as the fight progressed, but demonstrated why he’s never been stopped by going the distance with the more polished Carter.
The gracious Carter says he had much room for improvement.
“We’re going to continue to do whatever it takes to get to the top. This is home to me. I’m grateful for the opportunity to fight here.”
The main event was a spirited affair that made you forget you were watching a 0-1 fighter against a 11-7 fighter.
Both Leonard Overstreet and Gilbert Venegas brought a legion of fans from their respective side of the Mississippi. Chants of “East Mo” (East Moline) and “DP” (Davenport) echoed inside of the ancient Danceland Ballroom.
The ring was surrounded by a standing room only crowd in an atmosphere only seen when city bragging rights are up for grabs. It was a good old fashion turf war with little more than pride on the line.
Gilbert Venegas may be recognized as the guy who fought Jesus Soto Karass to a draw back in 2007. Out of action for three years he outworked Overstreet on the inside for most of the bout as his raucous cheering section screamed for more.
Overstreet attempted to match the pace, but appeared a bit rusty coming off a 4 year layoff. It remained close as neither man gave an inch, spurred on by the emotional crowd.
Heading to the decisive 6th there was a feeling that the fight may be on the table.
And it was.
The fighters stood and traded for the final 3 minutes. At the bell, each fighter and their supporters thought they had won. In the end the judges handed Venegas a close unanimous decision rendering scorecards of 58-56, 58-57 and 57-56.
There was a controversial no call of a potential knockdown in the final round which if ruled differently, would have changed the verdict.
Overstreet immediately called for a rematch and Venegas indicated he’d be happy to grant one.
“If they want us back, we’ll come back,” Ovestreet said as he embraced his rival following the fierce battle.
The event was held in association with Calkins Sports Promotions and Armer Boxing.