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  FightWorld, February 2004

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Fight Night In Gotham

 

 


Last Thursday night, fledgling boxing promoter Oscar De La Hoya (Golden Boy Promotions) put on the first card of the year in New York City. The event, televised on HBO Latino, was held in a stately Greek Revival building in midtown, Gotham Hall.  It was formerly a bank, which was fitting since fans and media alike were robbed of the chance to see Venezuelan lightweight Edwin Valero (12-0, 12 KOs), the main reason we were all there to begin with. 

Valero, who has KO’d all of his opponents in the 1st round, failed a MRI.  He will now undergo a battery of neurological tests to determine whether he is fit to continue boxing—his pro career may have ended as quickly as it began.  Had the New York State Athletic Commission cleared him to fight, he would’ve faced his most stern test in Francisco Lorenzo, a safe bet to give the 23-year-old some rounds. 

Everyone from the rapper Fat Joe to the mustachioed painter LeRoy Neiman had a discontented air about him.  (Though this might have been due to the endless Steely Dan that played over the speakers before the card officially began.)  Yet, as resolute New Yorkers, folks held out the hope that some kid might seize the moment and shine.

In place of the cancelled bout, junior lightweights Ivan Valle (19-5-1, 16 KOs) of Los Mochis, Mexico, and Shamir Reyes (14-2-2, 6 KOs) of Brooklyn, were bumped up to the main event.  Reyes is short and stocky with a baby face.  He has smooth muscles, looking like he could easily trim down to junior featherweight.  He entered the ring first to the sounds of Middle Eastern music and wore a kufi under the hood of his gown.  He also pays tribute to his Puerto Rican heritage with a tattoo of the flag on his right bicep.  Watching Reyes pray before doing battle in his white shorts, one worried for his safety.  In the opposite corner, the black-clad Valle was considerably taller and leaner, possessing a welterweight’s frame.  He has a menacing quality, even when he smiles.  As the pro-Reyes crowd booed him, Valle appeared to grow bigger and scarier as he threw uppercuts at the air that blurred like a propeller.  The Golden Boy-promoted Mexican may have been far from home, but it was clear the hometown kid was the “opponent” this night.

The southpaw Reyes came out in the 1st round moving laterally in either direction, as Valle stalked the smaller man and tried to cut off the ring.  When Valle had Reyes cornered, he hesitated to let his punches go . . . as if waiting for the perfect KO shot that refused to present itself.  When Valle did throw something, usually a lazy jab followed by a straight right, the Brooklynite would slip under it, counter with effective overhand rights, and spin out of the way.  Valle would smile and mock his foe to suggest these shots had nothing on them.  I guess he thought scoring points this way round after round lacked machismo?  For this is the form the following 9 rounds took: Reyes boxing successfully and Valle mocking his effort, but doing little in return.

After he got off, Reyes would often lunge headfirst and then hold.  Valle complained to the ref about the billy-goating from the 2nd round on, but it looked accidental, and no point was taken.  The innocent-looking Reyes used his head, figuratively and literally, much like Evander Holyfield.  Where does one draw the line between dirty and crafty?  I’ll call it craft this time.  The slickster even threw the occasional rabbit punch and a low blow in the 3rd round that was somewhere south of Chile—a point was taken for this unsubtle foul.

When the fight wasn’t fought in the corners, Reyes worked the perimeter of the ring with well-timed jabs and just enough lefts, right hooks and body shots to keep the forward-moving Valle honest.  Neither fighter was ever hurt or in trouble.  But Reyes employed a stick-and-move blueprint borrowed from Cory Spinks’ triumph over Ricardo Mayorga last December: Something genuine boxing fans admire, but is lost on the kind of Philistines who watch stock car racing solely for the accidents.

The scorecards read 94-94, 96-92, and 97-91 for Reyes.  Looks aren’t everything.  Reyes, 22, turned pro at 16 and learned to box when he was just out of diapers.  He’s trained by Victor Machado, who has worked with world champions such as Wilfred Benitez and Greg Haugen.  Reyes may never become a bona fide champion but he could develop into a solid contender. 

In the co-feature, light heavyweight prospect Aneudi Santos (10-1, 7 KOs) from Freeport, New York suffered the first loss of his professional career, dropping an eight round majority decision to journeyman Sam Reese (11-10-4, 4 KOs).  Santos has the unusual distinction of going to college full-time (Hofstra) while being promoted by Lou DiBella.   

Reese, 33, a southpaw out of Newport News, VA, kept a busy jab throughout the fight, outworking Santos in the judges’ estimation.  The majority of boxing writers in attendance felt that Santos did enough to win, as he landed the harder blows.  In round 3 Reese was nearly out on his feet as he lay against the ropes, but an over-anxious Santos was unable to finish him.  The 21-year-old needs to develop physically; he looks closer to a big middleweight than a light heavyweight.  He also needs to buckle down and learn the value of an educated jab to set-up those power shots he so fancies.  A disappointed Lou DiBella commented after the decision, “[Santos] was headhunting, no body shots, no combinations!"   Scores were 76-76, 75-74, and 77-75 for Reese.

Undercard Action:

The most entertaining fight of the night was the opener between Guyanan Rodney Tappin (4-2, 3 KOs) and Allen Conyers (5-0, 3 KOs) of the Bronx.  These local welterweights engaged in a 6-round slugfest.  Conyers was awarded a majority decision, though no one would have protested a verdict going the other way.

Brooklyn light heavyweight Shaun George (8-0-1, 5 KOs) thoroughly outclassed Deandre McCole (2-3-1) over six forgettable rounds.

Pasqual Rouse (15-8-3, 9 KOs) of the Yonkers dominated Antonio Oliveros (3-4-1) who, despite a 1st round knockdown, ended the 4 round fight on his feet.

 

 

 

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