RIVERSIDE, CALIF.-Maybe some of that speedway is rubbing off as Indianapolis?s Franklin ?Yah Yah? Lawrence survived a few right hands from big Lance Whitaker (35-7-1) then mounted a counter attack in the middle rounds that resulted in a knockout over the former contender on Saturday.
?Speed kills,? shouted Lawrence (13-2-2, 9 KOs) after the win.
With only two weeks notice, both Lawrence and Whitaker signed on the dotted line as replacements for two other heavyweights that dropped out. Before a large crowd at Riverside Convention Center to see a hybrid mixed martial arts and boxing card by MEZ Sports.
Nobody left disappointed.
Former heavyweight contender had the drop on Lawrence in terms of experience, but perhaps the short preparation period wasn?t a good thing for the veteran.
In the first round Whitaker landed a one-two combination in the opening seconds that left Lawrence?s right eye swollen. But he survived the punch and by the end of the first round had Whitaker teetering with his own blows.
Lawrence began to feel comfortable with Whitaker?s size and was able to land some good punches and absorb some too. But little by little it was obvious that the bigger boxer?s stamina was going to be an issue. The shorter Lawrence seemed to be able to catch Whitaker every so often with a big right hand.
In the seventh round, Lawrence began peppering Whitaker with short left and right counters. Not big shots, but short pot shots that kept coming and forced Whitaker to take a stand. He tried to land a right that missed and Lawrence fired a counter left hook to the chin that landed with crunching impact. Down Whitaker went and he wasn?t getting up as referee Jack Reiss counted him out at 2:59 of the seventh round.
?Yah Yah is in the house,? shouted Lawrence to the crowd. ?Everybody is a champion in the first round. From then on I went all out.?
Lawrence captured a regional IBO title that places him as a contender in the heavyweight division.
James ?Lights Out? Toney was doing analysis for television.
?You could see that coming,? Toney said.
Other boxing bouts
Perris?s Anthony ?Baby Assassin? Villarreal (10-3) floored San Diego veteran Benji Garcia (14-17-3) three times before knocking him out at 2:12 of the bantamweight first round.
Idaho?s David Lopez (3-2-3) and Hawthorne?s Arron Robinson (5-2-2) fought to a six round junior middleweight draw. Both had their moments. Lopez pulled out the draw by stunning Robinson in the sixth round.
Whittier?s Alex Luna (3-0, 3 KOs) knocked down Mexico?s Ramon Flores two times in the first round. Flores was unable to continue due to a bad cut over his right eye. Luna won by technical knockout at the end of the junior lightweight first round.
Lancaster?s Helaman Olguin (1-1) won by technical knockout over Perris?s Anthony Sanchez (0-3) at 1:29 of the heavyweight first round.
Rancho Cucamonga?s Roberto Vargas landed a single left hand to knock out Temecula?s Corey Grant and win the MEZ Sports featherweight title at 4:14 of the first round. Both fighters are wrestlers so it was surprising to see the pair fight primarily on their feet. Vargas had the better chin and better power.
?I wanted to keep it up on his feet,? said Vargas. ?I loaded up on my left hand.?
Riverside?s Lorenz Larkin (7-0) used a leaping knee to the temple followed by two quick lefts and rights to knock out San Diego?s Rick Slaton (10-2-1) at 1:06 of the first round.
?I got hit, I felt it, he has heavy hands,? said Larkin a light heavyweight. ?Keep looking out for me.?
Corona?s Richard Schiller was plain too strong for Tijuana?s Yahir Reyes. A rear naked choke at 1:27 of the third round forced Reyes to tap out.
San Bernardino?s Peter Baltimore immediately took Pasadena?s Muammar Salamae to the ground and wrangled a rear naked choke at 1:20 of the first round to force a submission.
The next card at Riverside Convention Center is Nov. 19.