American heavyweights create new hope in Reno
RENO – With the recent dethroning of boxing’s last remaining American heavyweight champion, it was thought that heavyweights from the U.S. had been buried.
To look for a new crop of American gladiators, one needed to look no further than Reno on Saturday night, as three rising heavyweights staked their case to the future of the heavyweight division. “Fast” Eddie Chambers, “Koncrete” Kelvin Davis and Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola all turned in solid, crowd-pleasing performances, moving them one step closer to world-class recognition in the sport.
Chambers of Pittsburgh, Pa., overcame a slow start to stop game Texan Dominic Jenkins at 2 minutes, 17 seconds of the fifth round to improve to 27-0 with 15 knockouts.
The pace was slow for the first three rounds as Jenkins attempted to smother Chambers, who looked like an orthodox version of Chris Byrd. Midway through round five a right hand by Chambers, after a combination to the body, hurt Jenkins. Chambers continued to smother right hands to Jenkins, who tried to hold on. Referee Jay Nady stepped in and made what appeared to be an unusual stoppage off of a clinch where the two fighters were entangled.
Chambers’ speed, however, was apparent once he got comfortable in the ring. Jenkins fell to 9 wins, 6 losses and 1 draw.
Next up was Reno’s Davis, who was making his first appearance in his hometown in nearly five years. Northern Nevada’s only world champion in history had the crowd in a raucous mood from the moment he made his ring walk, a welcome sight to Kelvin and his brother/trainer Kelly.
“The love we’ve been getting the last week, it’s been really nice. It kind of changed my opinion because I was upset at how much love he got when he won the title, which was no love,” Kelly said. With his ferocious stare and gladiator-style silver and black trunks, Davis dominated Chicago’s Chris Thomas for the second time in his career. Kelvin, who looks and fights like Mike Tyson, punished Thomas throughout with hard punches that where sounding off throughout the arena. A right to the body, followed by a vicious left hook, dropped Thomas toward the end of the first round. Davis went for the kill in the second.
A low blow, however, stopped the action and Thomas was in no hurry to continue as he took most of the five-minute break allowed to recover, much to the dismay of the crowd. Davis continued to punish Thomas and in the fifth round he unleashed a barrage of punches that forced referee Kenny Bayless to step in and stop the contest at the 49-second mark.
With his 17th knockout, Davis, the former IBF cruiserweight champion, raised his record to 22-4-2. Thomas dropped to 16-6-2.
The third featured heavyweight on the card was Riverside’s Chris Arreola. Arreola improved to 17-0, scoring his 15th knockout at 2:59 of round four over Damian Norris of Las Vegas via Cuba. Norris held his own for the first three rounds as he outjabbed Arreola and threatened the Mexican-American’s perfect record in jeopardy.
But Arreola came alive in the fourth and a chopping right hand left hook combination floored Norris. Arreola then landed two more right hands, the second of which lifted and dropped Norris as if he had been body slammed. The bout was stopped at 2:59 of the round.
With the loss, Norris fell to 8-2. Afterward, Arreola, who had a small but enthusiastic cheering section in the top rows and sparred with Hasim Rahman in preparation for the fight, spoke about how he carries pride into the ring.
“When I get hit, I don’t give a (damn). If you hit me once I’m gonna hit you three times,” he said.
All three heavyweight bouts were part of the undercard for the HBO Boxing After Dark main event between Paul “The Punisher” Williams and two-time former world champion Sharmba Mitchell. Mitchell started out unusually fast to try to offset the taller Williams. The strategy worked early but in the third round a left uppercut, right hook, straight left combo from the southpaw floored Mitchell. Mitchell weathered the storm but was dropped three times in the fourth round and the fight was stopped at 2:57 of the round.
It was another step for Williams, who improved to 31-0 with 23 knockouts and is the No.-1 ranked welterweight contender by the World Boxing Organization, a title currently held by Mexican Antonio Margarito. For Mitchell, who dropped to 57 and 6, it may have been the last hurrah of the elite boxing status that he had enjoyed for the better part of the past 10 years.
Rounding out the card were two Washington D.C. prospects who are handled by up-and-coming trainer Barry Hunter. Lightweight Ty Barnette improved to 8-0 with six knockouts as he outclassed an overmatched and debuting Rubin Jacoby of Colorado Springs at 2:59 of the first round. Barnette’s stablemate Maxell Taylor patiently outworked Tampa’s Oscar Gonzalez to earn a unanimous four-round decision. The highly skilled Taylor pitched a shutout on two of the three judge’s cards and won 39-37 on the third card.
Among celebrities in attendance were former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis and boxing analyst Max Kellerman, who were part of the HBO commentating group; heavyweight contender Tony “The Tiger” Thompson; and NBA star Steve Francis, who escorted Mitchell into the ring.