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Boxing News, May 5, 2006

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Brownsville, Brownsville…
But Menacing Ghetto Chant Doesn’t Scare the Squirrel



“A funny thing about people,” legendary matchmaker Johnny Bos said after the April 20th installment of Broadway Boxing. “They have pride in the neighborhood where they’re from, the city from they’re from, the state where they’re from...”

This explained why Brownsville, Brooklyn’s Curtis Stevens, who faced journeyman Carl Daniels, was the night’s main attraction, though technically not the main event.  Facing his biggest test, the super middleweight Stevens raised his record to 12-0 (10 KOs), while the wily vet Daniels dropped to 49-8-1.

Whenever Stevens fights at the Grand Ballroom, hundreds of mostly young black men gloomily chant, “Brownsville…Brownsville…” Their dirge suggests something savage, forbidding, and lethal awaits the opponent.  At 21, Stevens is that ghetto’s latest hero to fit the profile.

The two most famous warriors to come out of that area are Riddick Bowe and Mike Tyson. It’s been roughly 17 and 20 years, respectively, since those heavyweights were at Stevens’ stage of development. 

Chances are the section of St. Louis, MO, where Carl Daniels grew up was no picnic, either. A hostile NY crowd wasn’t going to have the 17-year pro sucking his thumb in the fetal position.  He’s a former WBA junior middleweight titlist.  He went 10 rounds with Bernard Hopkins. Recently, he was matched with undefeated prospects Chad Dawson, Joachim Alcine, and Joey Spina, all of whom are equal to, or better than, the guy with Brownsville tattooed across his back.

In the first round, a double left hook by Stevens dropped the southpaw Daniels. He got up at four. There was time left on the clock; a less experienced fighter would have been finished.  But Daniels held, moved out of range, and timed just enough sneaky lefts and rights to disrupt the stocky puncher.

Daniels, nicknamed “The Squirrel,” resembles that cute tree-climbing rodent; he winds a dizzying amount of circles and is impossible to catch. He moved clockwise into Stevens’ dangerous right hand, yet usually remained out of harm’s way. Stevens followed him, disregarding the knowledgeable crowd’s exhortations to “cut off the ring.”  

Daniels was buckled by a shot in the third, and smartly tied up the younger man while he regained strength in his ancient legs.  He danced through the fourth.  In the sixth, a fierce combo (lead right, left upstairs, left hook downstairs) hurt Daniels.  Brains and will kept him vertical. Stevens still couldn’t close.

Stevens’ cutman was busy going into the seventh. The forward-marching prospect ate many of Daniels’ light but well-placed counters, leaving him with two angry eyes and a bloody nose. He held his hands high and brought them back fast after getting off, but his head rarely moved.  His trainer Andre Rozier yelled in code, “Tick tock, tick tock!”; his counsel went ignored.   But the seventh was a big round for him. He stopped looking for a perfect Sunday punch and battered what parts he could—elbows, arms, ribs, shoulders, hips, kidneys. The ref was on the verge of jumping in several times.  The 10-second warning was—suspiciously—closer to: 30.  The slippery vet’s experience saw him through. Just as it did in the eighth and final round. Stevens earned a unanimous decision: 79-71, 79-72, 77-74

Daniels more than earned his paycheck. He fought 10 pounds over his natural weight, and would’ve been forgiven had he surrendered midway though. Stevens deserves credit for never being discouraged—considering his work is usually over before breaking a sweat. A boxer with his power and size (5’7’’ at best, and 169.25) would do well to box out of a crab-like crouch. Joe Frazier, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, even a young Bert Cooper, are men worth emulating.  Advertised on his trunks and robe was a company called “Snack For Life”; his smooth midsection confirms his enjoyment of the product.  At a trim 160, he could have fans the world-over chanting his song: “Brownsville…Brownsville.”

* * *

The actual main event was a 12-rounder pitting South African bantamweight Silence Mabuza  (now 19-1) against Mexico’s Ricardo Vargas (now 39-11-3). At stake was the IBF Bantamweight eliminator, to face the champ Rafael Marquez, who beat them both in 2005.

This bout featured perhaps the two finest boxers to ever square off during the two-year history of this fight series. Yet, the crowd’s reaction brought to mind something I once heard a promoter say: “Boxing is like jazz—the better it gets, the less people like it.”

While Mabuza easily took the unanimous decision (120-107, 117-111 twice), it was a one-sided affair that wasn’t altogether uncompetitive. Mabuza was stopped on cuts the first time he fought Marquez.  Barring more bad luck, he should give Marquez a tough scrap next time around.

A two-time Olympian for the Dominican Republic, middleweight Juan Ubaldo Cabrera moved his record to 5-0 (4 KOs), stopping Frank Armstrong with a single left hook to the body at 3:00 into the first round.

Arklow, Ireland’s James Moore (now 6-0, 5 KOs), a veteran of over 300 amateur fights, made short work of Chuck Orso.  The junior middleweight’s left hook to the liver appeared every bit as damaging as Carbrera’s. Time of stoppage: 1:24 of the first.

The normally electric middleweight Peter Quillin (now 4-0, 3 KOs) won a lethargic UD over feather-fisted Tomas Padron. All three judges scored it 39-37.

Super middleweight Jerson Revelo of Newark, NJ via Dominican Rep. connected on a crushing right hand to Donnell Wiggins’ jaw.  This was yet another one-punch first-round KO. Revelo, improving to 16-1 (11 KOs), has great size and power, a fine amateur pedigree, and looks to be a future contender. Crossroads fight with Curtis Stevens anyone? 





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