The long subway ride from the West Village (downtown Manhattan) to Fordham Road in the Bronx was not something I was looking forward to. It didn’t help matters that the goal of the trip was to see a card at the Paradise Theater featuring jnr. middleweights Terrence “Heat” Cauthen and Raul Frank.
I’d rather watch midget wrestling than see these two square-off. They have difficult styles to watch and need to be matched perfectly to have even a slim chance of producing a good scrap. But fighting each other? Cruel and unusual punishment.
It wasn’t so bad, actually. Most of us in press row caught up with each other through the first seven rounds of the bout, which was for Cauthen’s USBA light middle belt and more significantly a #2 ranking in the IBF. Others caught up on some sleep.
While my eyes faced the ring, I can’t describe the action in great detail. These two have a gift, for shutting down an audience’s senses; it’s like mass hypnotism. Members of the press—normally responsible professionals—kept asking each other, “Do you know what’s happening? I haven’t been paying attention.”
Essentially, Cauthen employed a peck-and-run strategy, while Frank unsuccessfully attempted to cut off the ring. That’s it. Each round was devoid of drama or anything meaningful to report. (After each round following the first, I jotted “SAME” in my notepad.”)
Then, at the end of the seventh, something wild happened. Almost everyone missed it, as their attention lay elsewhere. But I caught it!
The southpaw Cauthen leaned in with a punch that carried the momentum of his body forward. Frank, who was on the ropes, avoided the punch by moving his head forward and to the right. His thick skull caught Cauthen perfectly on the temple. Cauthen’s body froze and he fell backwards as if he had been shot at close range. The fighter beat the caont but was in no condition to continue. Referee Mike Ortega halted the bout at 2:59, and ruled it a TKO in Frank’s favor. Frank goes to 28-5-3 (14) while Cauthen drops to 32-4 (9).
No one saw the punch, because there was none. But almost no one was sure. Maybe it was something short and sneaky, they thought? Relative chaos ensued. HDNet, who taped the fight, eventually set up a monitor that replayed the incident. All who viewed it saw clearly what had happened.
At the time of stoppage, Cauthen was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards: 59-55 twice and 60-54. In the case of an accidental headbutt after the fourth round (and I do think it was accidental, in spite of Frank’s history of using his head as a third fist), they are supposed to the scorecards. Cauthen should have been declared the winner.
This decision will be appealed by Cauthen’s promoter, Joe DeGuardia (Star Boxing) and a hearing with the New York commission is scheduled for this week. BN will keep readers informed as to the ultimate result.
While the main-go was not inspiring, there were a couple bouts on the undercard that I was anxious to see. 20-year-old Eric Hunter is a featherweight to keep your eye on. He won a UD (58-56, 59-56, 59-55) against rugged, wily vet Pasquelle Rouse, now 19-12-3 (11).
A fellow boxing writer chastised me for comparing the 6-1 (3) Philly fighter Hunter to “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather. A know-it-all, this writer refused to see that I was not predicting Hunter as the next greatest fighter on the planet, only that he bears an uncanny resemblance to Floyd’s fighting style. He’s a marvelous counter puncher; standing right in the pocket, he’s as elusive as a ghost; he wastes nothing; and when he needs to use his legs, he moves with the ease and grace of Kenyan.
How did he get that loss so early in his pro career? Just the week before, on Jan. 19, he fought on Friday Night Fights and lost a SD to unheralded Carlos Vinan. That Hunter wasted no time getting back into the ring, and handled such a tough customer in Rouse, demonstrates he is a serious character.
Another prospect I’m keeping tabs on is the Bronx’s Joel Castillo. The Dominican-American was a top-flight amateur a few years ago. Fighting at 165, he was right in the mix with Andre Ward, the Dirrell brothers and Joe Greene. Advisor Johnny Bos believed that of all these fighters, Castillo had the most pro-ready style.
But after missing the US and Dominican teams for the 2004 Olympics, the pro offers were sparse. Depressed, Castillo had reportedly gained around 80 pounds. (I had seen him on the street a few times and had to do a double-take: “Didn’t that used to be the great Joel Castillo?”)
Well, he’s back. Now 5-0 (3), he fought journeyman William Gill, eking out an entertaining MD by scores of 39-37 twice and 38-38.
Castillo is intelligently shedding the weight slowly. He weighed 171 but is clearly a middleweight. Gill looks like a full-fledged light heavy. While his skills are crude, in his last fight, Gill had enough to stop former U.S. Olympian Dante Craig in one round.
Fighting in front of his Bronx fans for his first time as a pro, Castillo tried to close the show in quick, spectacular fashion. The normally slick boxer-puncher looked as sloppy as I’d ever seen him. He took some hard punches from Gill, now 6-13 (5), and had some scary moments in the third.
After the bout, a disappointed Castillo explained that he had torn cartilage from his rib early in the first and was in too much pain to generate torque on his punches. More than this, he implied that it just wasn’t his night. “I’m only human,” he said. “Nobody’s perfect.”
This night, Castillo was merely an exciting and fierce gladiator. He is much more than this. A fighter of this promise deserves a pass. I, for one, will reserve judgment for another year when he is hopefully picking on guys his own size.
Heavyweight Vaughn Parham scored a first-round TKO over Travis Waters.
3-0 welter Tommy Rainone won a MD over John Lipscomb, now 2-7.
Featherweight Maureen Shea upped her record to 9-0 in winning a UD over Elizabeth Villareal, now 2-2-1.
Atom weight Suzannah Warner went to 7-3 with a third-round TKO of Nancy Bonilla.