Andre Ward Wins, Pocket Rocket Retires

BY David A. Avila ON June 20, 2008
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CAYMAN ISLANDS-Andre Ward proved he is now a legit professional style prizefighter and popular Wayne “Pocket Rocket” McCullough, a former world champion, called it a career on Friday night.

Before a crowd of more than 5,000 at the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal in Georgetown, it was California’s Ward who dazzled the island crowd with blistering combinations in gaining the NABO super middleweight title against Ravelo (18-3, 12 KOs) on Friday.

Ward was impressive.

“Ravelo was an awkward fighter,” said Ward.

For two rounds Ward merely tested Ravelo’s speed and power before increasing the tempo and increasing the punishment with speedy and accurate combinations that had his opponent’s head snapping backward for seven rounds.

A left-right combination dropped Ravelo on the ropes but the referee did not rule it a knock down. After getting up, Ward walked in with an other flurry of punches that floored Ravelo and this time it was counted. The former Dominican Olympian beat the count but arose to find Ward unloading vicious shots. Ravelo’s corner tossed in the towel but Smoger let a few more punches fire then stopped the fight at 2:37 of the seventh round for a technical knockout.

“I used a quick left hook to blind him then landed a right hand to knock him down,” said Ward, who was seldom hit with any return punches. “He doesn’t see left hand punches real well.”

Ravelo, who boxes for the Contender Promotions, was able to withstand many of the earlier blows by Ward, especially the left hooks. But after the fifth round, a steady flow of right hands began wearing down the Dominican.

“Before the fight I was telling myself this is going to be my best fight,” said Ward. “I was saying to myself I was going to win by knockout.”

Ward’s performance shows there’s another star in the making in the super middleweight division. The former amateur standout never danced and moved as in the past. Instead he stalked Ravelo and fired combinations with accuracy and power.

The too quick fighter has arrived.

As one potentially great fighter emerges, a great fighter leaves.

Ireland’s McCullough, who received one of the loudest welcomes of the night, just couldn’t catch lightning in a bottle as he boxed well at times, but couldn’t step on the gas enough to keep his California opponent from landing big blows.

The former world champion McCullough retired after the sixth round and retired for good against California’s Juan Ruiz (22-5, 7 KOs) who captured the vacant NABF featherweight when the Irish fighter did not come out after the sixth round.

“This is probably my last fight,” said McCullough (27-7, 18 KOs) who was actually ahead on two of three judge’s score cards in a close fight. “I’ll be retired after tonight and I want to thank everybody.”

McCullough, 35, actually won the last two rounds against Ruiz, but his wife Cheryl McCullough, who is also his co-manager, asked to stop the fight.

Ruiz was thankful for the opportunity and is the new titleholder.

“This guy has all the heart in the world,” said Ruiz who lives in Santa Clarita. “He’s the best.”

Other bouts

Ronald Hearns (19-0, 15 KOs), the son of the great Tommy Hearns, battered Kansas tough guy Jose Luis Gonzalez (12-4-1, 10 KOs) for six rounds before his corner tossed the towel at 2:01 of the seventh round for a technical knockout.

The first three rounds were competitive but after a barrage of body blows  by Hearns, the Mexican from Kansas visibly slowed and was taking too many punches. Though he was never knocked down, it was a wise decision to stop the fight.

“The key to the fight was the body shots,” said Hearns, whose father was in the corner. “He (Gonzalez) came to fight.”

USBA heavyweight champion Eddie Chambers (31-1, 17 KOs) knocked out Raphael Butler (31-5, 24 KOs) with a five-punch combination at 2:23 of the sixth round that sent him through the ropes.

From the first round Chambers snapped the jab in Butler’s face though the Minnesota fighter was pretty busy with his own jab. But “Fast Eddie” proved though smaller in size, his quickness in delivering punches makes a difference even with much bigger heavyweights.

A quick left right staggered Butler and another three punch combination sent Butler through the ropes for a knockdown. The referee Bill Clancy began counting as Butler struggled to get up. Though Butler beat the count the referee looked in his eyes and stopped the fight for a knockout.

“I set him up with a jab and caught him with a left hook,” said Chambers. “It was over.”

Butler said he had his equilibrium off kilter with jabs to both his right and left ears.

“He popped me with his left jab,” said Butler.

The win keeps Chambers in the heavyweight title hunt.

Cayman Island native Charles “Killer” Whitaker (31-12-2, 19 KOs) dominated Minnesota’s Troy Lowry (27-9, 16 KOs) after a tentative first round. Knockdowns in the third and fourth came at the end of the round to save Lowry, but Dr. Paul Wallace advised the referee Jose Rivera to stop the fight at the end of the fourth round for a technical knockout of the junior middleweight bout.

Ty Barnett (14-0-1, 10 KOs) of Washington D.C. dropped Pavel Miranda (15-2, 8 KOs) with a pinpoint left hook at 25 seconds of the fourth round for the count. It was a terse battle between the junior welterweights up till the crushing blow.

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