HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (Hard Rock Live Arena) — Zuri Lawrence, 20-10-4, 1 NC (0 KOs), Wappinger Falls, New York, 238½, won a major upset by taking a clear unanimous decision over former title contender Jameel McCline, 32-6-3 (20 KOs), Clifton, New Jersey, 268½.
McCline, in his second bout since a heartbreaking decision loss to Calvin Brock, figured to reenter the world of world title fights by taking this bout as a stay-busy fight. Zuri Lawrence, a journeyman with no knockout in 34 fights was to serve the purpose of giving some work without being a big risk for “Big Time.” Only someone forgot to tell Lawrence this was the plan.
He started quickly, landing combinations and going to the body against the much bigger and ostensibly stronger McCline. In rounds one through four, Lawrence clearly outboxed and outfought McCline even appearing to the two-time title challenger.
McCline turned up the volume in round five landing occasional combinations and putting his weight on the still-willing Lawrence. In rounds five and six McCline’s heavier punches and better power made the difference and gave him the rounds.
Lawrence, 35, did not quit, however, and he gained a second wind enabling him to land combinations in spurts that clearly bothered McCline in round seven.
McCline desperately tried to gain control in the final rounds only to see Lawrence step up the combinations and sweep the final four rounds.
The loss is a significant blow to McCline’s career and undoubtedly will cause him to tumble out of all the ratings. At age 35, he has little time to regroup and must comeback to the ring with a series of wins if he is to ever regain high standing in the division.
Scoring of the bout was 100-90; 97-93; and 97-93 all for Lawrence. The Sweet Science scored the fight 98-92 also for Lawrence.
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David Tua, 43-3-1 (38 KOs), New Zealand, 245, escaped with a 10 round split decision over Cisse Salif, 17-4-2 (16 KOs), New York, 263, to secure advancement in the division. Despite the split verdict, he appeared to clearly overtake the capable Salif.
Tua and Salif started very slowly landing few punches of consequence in the first two rounds. Tua gained the edge as the fight by outworking his opponent.
Salif’s long lapses between solid jabs and occasional uppercuts enabled Tua to widen the gap as the fight progressed. Tua closed the final rounds with strong body punches and crisp hooks to the head though he never appeared to have hurt the much taller Salif.
For his part, Salif seemed able to land his punches as often as he liked – he just did not appear to want to turn on the heat often enough. As Tua worked, Salif followed closely but did not respond with authority on enough occasions to capture more than two rounds.
The scoring revealed as wide a margin of disagreement as most will ever see. Scoring was 96-94 Salif; 96-94 Tua; and 98-92 Tua. The Sweet Science scored the bout 98-92 for Tua.
Since nearly dropping out of existence since his disappointing draw with a bloated Hasim Rahman, Tua, nearing 33, has been mired in managerial woes. His situation has seeming corrected itself and following a two-year absence from the ring he successfully returned to beat Talmadge Griffis in New Zealand in March. Griffis provided 10 rounds of work for the ring rusty Tua.
Against Salif he seemed to have shaken the rust, but his legendary punch volume was far below his normal output. Further, Salif easily found a home for his jab – his output, however, was a major step below that of Tua.
Salif, 34, came into the bout riding a three-fight win streak against opponents with losing records. While ostensibly a solid puncher considering his knockout ratio, none of his opponents resembled contenders. However, a sturdy chin – he had not been stopped in his 23 bouts – led to a belief that he would give the Tuaman a long workout as he approaches a possible showdown with highly ranked and undefeated American Calvin Brock in January. Salif more than lived up to that belief.
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Edison Miranda, 25-0 (22 KOs), Colombia, 159½, blasted his way to a third round knockout over Sherwin Davis, 18-2 (12 KOs), Indianapolis, Ind., 157, to retain his WBO Latin middleweight belt. Miranda, 24, knocked down Davis, 31, at the end of round one with a wicked headbutt that opened a cut over Davis’ left eye. The cut was not the decisive factor, however, as Miranda ripped to the body and head of Davis clearly winning rounds one and two. In round three, Miranda dug a brutal hook to the Davis’ midsection dropping him for the count at 37 seconds of the round.
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Yuri Foreman, 19-0 (7 KOs), New York (via Belarus), 155, captured a shutout win with a boxing clinic over journeyman Troy Lowry, 27-6 (16 KOs), St. Paul, Minn., 153¼. At no point in the bout did the outcome ever appear in doubt. Foreman exhibited quick lateral movement and snapping punches. Despite the easy win, Foreman, 25, never fully committed to his punches, something, which may prove costly as his competition improves. Lowry, 35, simply did not have the skills or speed to force the action. Scoring was 100-90 by all three judges and The Sweet Science.