Blue Horizon Boxing Promotions – with promoter Vernoca L. Michael and matchmaker Don Elbaum leading the charge – and with Randall “Tex” Cobb, Eric Harding, Matthew Saad Muhammad and Cyclone Hart on hand to pump up the crowd – presented a six-bout card last week at the Blue Horizon in Philadelphia.
The festivities got underway with two fighters making their pro debuts in a heavyweight four-rounder. Fighting out of the red corner and wearing black trunks, Ray Boyer, weighing in at 220 pounds and hailing from Warren, Ohio, got it on with Brooklyn’s Rodney Ray in the blue corner, weighing 212 pounds and wearing green camouflage trunks. Neither of these gents is ready for the pro game, yet here they were, winging punches and hoping for the best. The fighters appeared evenly matched in the first round – both men got in their licks – but Boyer had a slight edge. Boyer connected early in the second stanza and drew first blood from Ray’s mouth. Ray’s jaw may or may not have been broken, but Rodney Ray fought on. He caught Boyer on the ropes, delivered a beating, and stole the round. Ray controlled the action in the third round with wide, loping punches that found their mark. The fourth and final round revealed the problems of both fighters. Stamina was an issue; as were balance and meaningful punching. Halfway into the round Ray connected with a solid right that hurt Boyer. It looked like Wobble City for the Ohioan. The ref Eddie Cotton stepped in and called a halt to the action at 1:39. A TKO victory for Rodney Ray in his pro debut.
The second fight of the night was a four-round contest between light heavyweights. Hometown favorite Louis Robinson (2-0 1 KO) met William Gill (2-1 1 KO) from Tom’s River, NJ in a close, competitive fight. With speed and precise counterpunching, Robinson took round one. The first half of the second round was a carbon copy of the first – until Robinson caught Gill with a short right which stunned him and had him running at the bell. Gill came into his own and took control of the fight in the third. Gill looked stronger and faster and landed the cleaner, more effective shots. Round three was Gill. So was the fourth. It looked like Robinson let the fight slip through his hands in the final round. The judges tallied their scorecards and gave the bout to Robinson by a split decision.
Fight three was another light heavyweight four round bout featuring another fighter named Robinson from Philadelphia. Kareem Robinson (3-0 3 KOs), wearing black trunks with red trim, got it on with Henry Mayes, in black trunks and hailing from Baltimore, Maryland. This rock-‘em-sock-‘em affair saw Mayes get off to a fast start and trap Robinson in the corner. The Baltimorean landed and put the guy from Philly down. Robinson beat the count, cleared his head, and turned the tide on Mayes. The pug from the City of Brotherly Love knocked Mayes to the deck. Mayes got to his feet and beat the count, but just barely made it to the end of the round. Round two picked up where round one left off. Mayes clocked Robinson and dropped him. Robinson rose on shaky legs, and Mayes caught Robinson again. He went down another time. Referee Eddie Cotton had seen enough and waved off the fight. Mayes scored his knockout victory at 2:14 of the first round.
The fourth fight at The Blue spotlighted two unbeaten super middleweights. Local phenom Saeed Hawkins (4-0 2 KOs), fighting out of the red corner and wearing black trunks with yellow trim, punched some sense into Michigan’s Ryan Franklin (2-1 2 KOs), wearing white trimmed with orange, green and black. It appeared at the opening bell that the fight was a mismatch that wouldn’t last long, and this once appearances weren’t deceiving. At the opening bell, Hawkins caught Franklin with a jab followed by a hook which stunned Franklin. He was trying to regain his senses when Hawkins caught him again with a series of combinations – and down went Franklin. The ref Ron Auret stepped in. Saheed Hawkins kept his unbeaten streak alive with a dramatic knockout at 2:24 of round number one over Ryan Franklin.
Fight number five was an eight round cruiserweight special. Emanuel “Chukwu” Nwodo (15-4 12 KOs), a big favorite hereabouts, took the fight to Hilario Guzman (6-14-4 1 KO) from the Dominican Republic. Nwodo, wearing white trunks with blue trim, has some crunch in his punch. Nwodo controlled the action in round one with a crisp jab followed by accurate rights. Guzman, wearing red, white and blue, fought back, but his punches were wide, leaving him vulnerable to counters. The first round went to Nwodo. Round two was a better round for Guzman. He was the busier of the two fighters in the first half, landing shots to Nwodo’s head and body, but Nwodo came on at the end of the round to pocket the second. Round three was the best round of the night, as both men traded bombs. Guzman took the action to Nwodo. Nwodo connected with lefts and rights and began to slow the Dominican down. When the bell rang to end the third, Nwodo had Guzman trapped on the ropes. Round Nwodo. Having rediscovered his jab, Nwodo used this punch to good effect in round four. Guzman took everything Nwodo had to offer and landed some blows of his own, but Guzman was too limited, too unskilled, too there for the taking, to put many dents in Nwodo’s armor. Another round for Nwodo. The fifth was give and take. Both men staggered the other. Nwodo did the most damage, but Guzman would not go down. The round went to Nwodo. Nwodo took complete control of the fight in round six. Guzman took it all and came back for more. Another round for Nwodo. It finally all came together for Nwodo in round seven. A short left hook put Guzman on the canvas. He beat the count and went on the offensive. He should have beaten the count and gone on the defensive, because Nwodo cornered him and unloaded. Guzman’s corner figured the gig was up and threw in the towel. They weren’t in America to see their guy get killed. Eddie Cotton called it at 1:22 of the seventh. Nwodo wins again.
The sixth and final fight of the night featured a tilt between two Philadelphia welterweights. Ivan “Mighty” Robinson (32-9-2 12 KOs), the third Robinson of the night, wearing red and fighting out of the blue corner, met Tyrone Winchkler (12-10-2 5 KOs), in the red corner and wearing black trunks, in a drab six-rounder. Robinson was one helluva fighter in his day. His two epic wars with Arturo Gatti in 1998, both of which Robinson won, put this pugilist on the map. But there isn't much left of Ivan Robinson these days. His speed is gone. He reflexes are gone. His punching power, such as it was, is gone as well. Robinson was out of shape but managed to win the first round. Round two was a lackluster three minutes that saw Robinson perform as if underwater. Winchkler worked his opponent’s soft mid-section to win the round. The old Robinson, or new Robinson, put in an appearance in round three and showed occasional flashes of his former brilliance, but it was beside the point in this mismatch. Round three went Robinson. Robinson won the fourth. The fifth round pretty much summed up the bout. It brought to mind a quote describing an opponent’s tactics from the Hall of Fame light heavyweight champion Bob Foster: “He hugged me ever more than my wife.” Robinson won the round. The packed house had been waiting all night for Ivan “Mighty” Robinson to put in an appearance. He finally let it all hang out in the sixth and final round and turned up the heat. Winchkler made it through the round, but lost the decision to Ivan Robinson.