This weekend didn’t feature anything juicy on cable, but a decent fight was offered for free on Friday—provided you have a high-speed Internet connection—by the website Maxboxing.com.
Super middleweights Antwun Echols and Rubin Williams fought to a 12-round draw at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Scores were 114-113 Williams, 115-111 Echols, and 113-113. Normally, no one is pleased with a draw, but considering it was an exciting, competitive scrap that you didn’t have to shell out for it, and the novelty of watching on your laptop is still fresh, I heard no complaints. The 10,000 plus noisy fans in attendance were similarly pleased.
This website has been offering live boxing cards over the past year. And some real compelling ones too, such as Kermit Cintron-Mark Suarez (although few saw got to see it because of technical difficulties). Usually you have to plop down about $10 (less if you’re a member). It foretells the future of sport, and I see equal parts good and bad in it.
Without going off on a tangent, I’ll say the good is that as this format becomes more common—and TV execs stay fixed in an anti-global perspective—boxing fans the world-over will get to share the sport collectively. We can envy the World Cup and rabid football fans a bit less. The bad is that, for now, the fights must be viewed through a mini-screen that is smaller than a postcard. It doesn’t matter how majestic your LCD monitor is, if you go full-screen the resolution sucks. Another negative is that as long as past generations got to see boxing on network TV, I will always pay grudgingly. It doesn’t matter if I’m helping support kindred spirits and not further lining the pockets of Time Warner or Don King.
But this night I had nothing to bemoan. Maxboxing had done me righteous.
Antwun Echols had given Bernard Hopkins 22 rough rounds back in 1999 and 2000. If he were fighting in his prime today, he’d be a certain middleweight titlist. He was a fierce puncher with a mean streak that even B-Hop struggled to quell. Now 31-6-3 (27), he has gone the route of the dangerous journeyman-contender, losing to Anthony Mundine and Kinglsley Ikeke along the way.
How much he had left in body and spirit was in question going into this bout with the younger (30) Williams. In a week when two of my favorite sweet scientists—James Toney and Emanuel Augustus—got old, I am pleased to say Echols didn’t. Or at least for one night made 35 look damn good.
Echols set a torrid pace at the beginning of the fight. He drove Williams to the ropes and asked some questions of him that many of us have had since 2003, when Colombian slugger Epifanio Mendoza KO’d him in 42 seconds.
But as when he fought Jeff Lacy in 2005, the now 29-2-1 (16) Williams fought well off the ropes, remaining calm and picking off the majority of shots with his arms and gloves.
In the middle rounds, Williams further proved that he has a worthy chin, as the two traded hard blows. (We’ve long known about Echols’s toughness and durability.) The older man threw straight left-rights and withering hooks. The younger one demonstrated a fine jab, which he followed with precise body work. He even forced the action occasionally and put Echols on the ropes.
Unfortunately for Williams, some of his aggressive body attach worked against him, as a few punches strayed south. Ref Frank Garza penalized him two points, in rounds seven and nine. A cut in the corner of his right eye didn’t help matters.
From the fans’ perspective it did, however.
The last three rounds saw toe-to-toe slugging, neither man backing down. Just when Williams seemed to get the best of his fading elder, Echols punched back with vengeance.
Both men improved their stock with their gutsy performances. Echols proved that his previous two lackluster performances were not due to fading legs and reflexes. Williams showed that the fire in his belly is equal to his impressive skills. Both have likely earned a TV date with a top-tier name at 168.
Maxboxing improved its stock in my book by showing this Silverhawk-promoted card for free—including five of the undercard bouts.
Mary Jo Sanders raised her record to 23-0 (7) when Gina Nichols sustained an elbow injury and had to stop after the second round. Nichols fell to 11-6-2 (8).
Cedric Boswell, a heavyweight with the potential to make big waves in the division, faced a woefully overmatched Robert Kooser. He kissed the canvas three times in 1:12 of action in the first. Boswell goes to 23-1 (18). Kooser went to 9-7 (8).
Middleweight Ronald Hearns, the son of the all-time great Hitman, was also matched with a poor opponent in 44-year-old Daniel Neal. A downward-arching punch that barely made contact with Neal’s face, put Neal down for the full count. The bout was called at 48 seconds into the first. Neal’s body language didn’t suggest a hurt man, but he did paw at his eye while he lay horizontal. Afterwards, the eye didn’t concern him. A proud Ronald, now 12-0 (10), was much more upset than his hapless opponent, who fell to 9-17 (3)—but has gone 2-17 since 2004.
Super middle Damon McCreary looked explosive and ferocious in getting rid of James North in at 1:49 of the first. McCreary, who lost five years of his career serving a prison sentence, is now 12-0 (9). North fell to 8-16 (3).
The opening bout of the night was a four-rounder between James Lester Jnr. and Peter Cantu. A highly decorated amateur from Detroit, Lester couldn’t keep the aggressive, heavy-handed Cantu at bay and lost the decision. Cantu is now 8-6-1 (6), Lester’s 3-2 (1).