Before the 12-round main event began on Wednesday Night Fights, a short, heartbreaking documentary was shown about then 24-0 (16) featherweight Marcos Ramirez. His infant son Diego had died on January 20, 2006, and Ramirez and his wife spoke candidly about their unfathomable despair. The Kansas City fighter had previously been profiled by ESPN2 because, along with being on the cusp of breaking into the top 10 in the IBF rankings, he’s a full-time fireman.
With all due respect to Ramirez’s 19-0 (17) Brazilian opponent, Adailton De Jesus, most of our hearts—be it the fans at Kansas City, Missouri’s Municipal Auditorium or those watching on TV—were with the hometown hero. In a fight that was very close and could have gone either way, Ramirez won a wide UD by scores of 117-110 twice and 116-111.
The first six rounds was a tale of Ramirez’s timing versus De Jesus’s speed. Ramirez was generally set to punch and didn’t waste much. He worked the body consistently, was accurate and demonstrated a lunch pail attitude. De Jesus’s faster hands, superior work-rate and better legs were evident. But he often came in fat and Marcos made him pay. When Ramirez landed, his punches were more substantial.
Still, after seven rounds I had Adailton up 69-65, as did ESPN2 ringside analyst Teddy Atlas. Atlas voiced what I was thinking: the local judges wouldn’t have it like we did.
De Jesus had never been past eight whereas Ramirez has gone 10 or more five times. In the eighth, De Jesus stopped using his legs and began standing in front of the stronger Ramirez. A series of straight rights rocked the out of towner. De Jesus began to look ragged in the ninth and had a point deducted when he threw a low blow. With that 10-8 round and the previous one most certainly going to Ramirez, this fight had suddenly become nip-and-tuck even on my (and Teddy’s) scorecard.
De Jesus made a good account of himself in the championship rounds, but not good enough to take a victory in the other man’s backyard. It was a solid main event between two worthy fighters I’d like to see more of.
Cruiser Rob Calloway is something of a throwback. Anyone whose record reads 65-7-1 (52) is old-school. Even though he’s pushing 40, he still managed to fight 14 times in the last two years. Many of his wins have come against soft opposition, but he’s also bravely taken his lumps and losses against heavyweight goliaths like Jameel McCline, Ruslan Chugaev, Audley Harrison and Hasim Rahman.
But against Chris Thomas, who was stopped at 2:38 of the third and fell to 16-8-2 (14), attrition and big hard right hands got the job done.
Calloway isn’t the most gifted boxer, but he knows his way around the ring as well as any active fighter in his class. He earns most of his checks performing on the Midwest circuit—which normally should raise one’s eyebrows—but this guy is fighting better than ever and has the makings of a legitimate fringe contender. I could see him putting on great TV fights against, say, streaking vet like Darnell Wilson or Emanuel Steward’s prospect Jonathon Banks. This Missourian is no one’s easy night.
Middleweights Kevin Finley and Brandon Wooten put on a thrilling, action-packed slugfest for the six rounds it lasted. Teddy Atlas summed up that action thusly: “[This is a case of] both fighters behaving like fighters.” No world beaters, these two gave the KC crowd their money’s worth.
Finley was awarded a UD 54-59, 55-58 and 55-57. Tough customer Wooten didn’t help his cause when a point was deducted for a low blow in the third and numerous warnings were given for head-butting and punches to the back of the head. Finley remains undefeated at 11-0-1 (8) and Wooten falls to 4-6-1 (2).