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, April 30, 2005

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Broadway Boxing’s Chin Checkers



Jaidon “The Don” Codrington (8-0, 8 KO’s) made easy work of Etienne Whitaker (32-16-2, 21 KOs), knocking out the Ohio opponent at 1:44 of the 1st round.  Whitaker was caught with a perfectly timed short left hook and was unable to stand for several minutes.  Before connecting, Codrington softened up Whitaker with a vicious body attack.

Once, Codrington threw a punch well above the beltline. Whitaker looked to the ref—not because it was low; it hurt.

NY Boxing commish, Ron Scott Stevens, was no more than fifteen feet away from Whitaker, as he lay motionless on the canvas.  I wonder if he was thinking: Whitaker’s lost seven of his last ten, six by KO—all within two rounds or less.  Or did he consider: This poor guy, in spite of passing his medical, was unfit to box? 

Gleaming prospects like Codrington are built up on hapless Midwestern opposition like Whitaker.  That’s the way it’s always been, and probably will continue to be—Lord knows, if it weren’t for them, there’d be no “Broadway Boxing” cards. But Mr. Stevens—who in many respects has been a welcome commissioner—made a big spectacle of suspending 42-year-old Evander Holyfied’s license, due to his lackluster performance recently against Larry Donald and he now loses more than he wins.  What I infer from Mr. Stevens’ action -- other than that it’s grandstanding and hypocritical -- is that one life is more valuable than another.

Robert Semidei (122 pounds), a winner of multiple NY Golden Gloves titles, made his pro debut against 0-3 Jenkins Alvarez.  Don’t be misled by Alvarez’s record.  He’s a tough customer who came to win, but has had the misfortune of being matched against superb talents making their pro debuts. Apollo Welch and Roberto Benitez beat him, and they’re expected to go places. 

Every minute of this 4-rounder had non-stop action.  Both fighters were aggressive and looked to starch each other, but Semidei got awesome leverage on his faster, harder, cleaner shots; mostly hooks, uppercuts and overhand rights.  He also slipped and slid around the ring beautifully, when he took a break from brawling.  Alvarez only had a predictable forward-march style. 

Not sure if I saw Semidei throw a jab, or not.  I had the sense that the macho Puerto Rican thought they’re for sissies -- though I’m sure he’s got a fine one, should he ever use it.  Scores were 39-37, all for Semidei.     

Local super middleweight KO artist Curtis Stevens (aka, one-half of the “Chin Checkers,” the other being the aforementioned Codrington) learned more in his 6-round unanimous decision over journeyman Shannon Miller (20-30-8, 15 KOs) than he has in his previous 6 bouts combined. 

Miller is a well-traveled journeyman -- he’s fought Tarvis Simms, Robert Allen, Syd Vanderpool, Librado Andrade and Yusef Mack, among others.  He came to survive, and knew how to do it far better than anyone Stevens had faced as a pro.  

Before last night, Stevens had not fought a full 8 rounds, and the combined record of his opposition is 15-20.  While he’s looked devastating in his KO wins, one wonders if Stevens (6-0, 6 KOs) and his large, ego-pumping fan base shouldn’t keep things in perspective. 

Last night proved this.  When Stevens had Miller on the ropes, he’d load up a few shots to the body and head, then wait for Miller to wilt.  When Miller wouldn’t give him the satisfaction, the slugger from Brownsville seemed at a loss and just posed -- boxing doesn’t seem to be part of his repertoire. 

The once-boisterous crowd had mellowed to a deafening hush.  Their silence registered on Stevens face like a liver shot.  While Stevens doled out plenty of punishment and took a unanimous decision (60-54, 60-53 and 59-55), it was a disappointing outing for him. 

For those viewing the fight—even the hometown fans that would hate to admit it—it was the kind of performance from a young prospect that tempers enthusiasm, reminding one of the many levels a boxer must pass (with flying colors) before he can face the best and attempt to lay his claim to greatness.

In first bout of the evening, jr. lightweight Terrence Thomas (1-3-1) used his legs and a busy jab to win a unanimous decision against a plodding Washington Hago (1-1) of Queens, NY. Judges scored the 4-rounder 39-36 twice and 40-35, all for Thomas.

Victor James (1-1), a hefty heavyweight from Bridgeport, CT, gutted out a split decision victory over Union, NJ’s Rudolf Pierre Louis, who made his pro debut.  Scores were 39-37 twice, 37-39.   Louis was a good six inches taller than his opponent and looked in shape.  But it was James who pressed the action and had more gas in the 3rd round, where the momentum clearly turned in his favor. 

A Wacky Moment In An Otherwise Banal Fight
During the 4th and final round of the James-Louis fight, something took place that would’ve impressed magician David Copperfield.  It was a first for this reporter and, presumably, everyone else in the house. 

Midway through the round, Louis’ mouthpiece either slipped or was knocked out of his mouth.  When the ref eventually halted the action -- where he’d customarily retrieve it, have it washed off, and reinserted -- it vanished.  For several minutes, frustrated ringside officials, including New York State boxing commish Stevens, searched the ring, and thereabouts.

(Louis’ corner, who didn’t bring a backup, was reprimanded by the officials for negligence.)  The restless crowd booed; the fighters got cold; and Louis got a much-needed breather.  Then, out of the balcony, an object flew into the ring.  At first I thought it was a piece of fruit or a plastic beer cup thrown by an unruly fan. It was a clear mouthpiece. 

The ref scrutinized it on the canvas, shrugged and jammed it in the fighter’s mouth—not even bothering to have it washed off by Louis’ corner!  A galvanized Louis fought hard for the remainder of the round.  After the bell, seemingly displeased with his effort, Louis flung the mouthpiece back into the crowd. 

Broadway Brawling
It was one of those nutty nights, transporting me back to when Midtown had some grit. 

A wild brawl broke out after the Resto-Warrick bout.  Fists flew, chairs were launched, and blood flowed like wine (from one busted up nose). 

In an ill-advised attempt to play peacemaker, promoter Lou DiBella jumped into the fray; he was quickly spat out like VW bug that crossed paths with an Oklahoma twister.  He was visibly shaken for several minutes – though unhurt.

 (Lou, a bit of advice from someone who took in the fracas from the sidelines: stick to legal wrangling and verbal disputes, which you’re better at.  Just make sure there’s halfway-decent security next time.)






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