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Fans boo Torres’ draw at Harrah’s

RENO – Light heavyweight Hector Torres must have known it wasn’t his day when he changed a flat tire en route to his six-round fight with Mervyn Penniston-John at Harrah’s Reno on Friday night.

Torres dictated his fight with a confused Penniston-John, attacking with left and right hooks and making his opponent repeatedly miss with effective head feints. However, the three Nevada Athletic Commission judges didn’t agree on the outcome, scoring the bout a draw.

The disparity in the scoring was reflected on each judge’s scorecard as Al Lefkowtiz had Torres winning 58-56 and Duane Ford had Penniston-John ahead 58-56. Burt Clements of Reno scored it a draw, 57-57. After the tie was announced, a smattering of boos sprang up in the outdoor arena.



“It’s a shame that you’re not only fighting your opponent, but you’re also fighting the judges,” Torres said. “I just wonder how they feel after the crowd responds.”

Even though the 30-year-old Torres worked his regular eight-hour shift as a warehouse driver at Harvey’s Resort & Casino and changed a flat tire on his way to Reno, he took the fight to his deliberate opponent from the opening bell.




“It was superman time,” Torres said.

Like his recent victory over Robert Green, a much taller opponent, Torres (6-1-1) didn’t waste any time loading up his left hook. Torres rocked Penniston-John early in the first with the bomb, but unsure if the Las Vegas-based fighter was hurt Torres didn’t risk going for the early knockout.

“What doesn’t kill you, you learn from it. Next time I’ll be on him and try to knock him out,” said Torres, who appeared to have Penniston-John hurt in the second and third rounds as well after landing a combination of right and left hooks.

Penniston-John (12-1-1) finally began to score with his jab in the fourth round and dominated the three-minute period.

“I was off my game plan the whole fight. In the fourth round I got to feeling a little better and then he got me back into a brawl,” Penniston-John said. “I wasn’t surprised at no time (with the draw). Sure he was winging, but at the end I was catching him with shots. In the fourth round I think I used my jab best and I should have been doing it the whole fight.”

With both fighters sensing the closeness of the fight, the action swung from the middle of the ring to the ropes in the fifth round. Torres lured Penniston-John to a neutral corner, hoping to put him away with an uppercut. A frenetic exchange was interrupted after referee Victor Allegria discovered that Penniston-John had lost his mouthpiece. The break allowed Torres to lean against the ropes as he breathlessly gasped for air.

“I was trying to go underneath him with my punches because he was telegraphing his punches,” Torres said.

If Torres was fatigued at the end of the fifth round, he didn’t show it in the sixth – the first time in his pro career he has gone past the fifth round. He charged Penniston-John from the round’s outset and bloodied his nose. But Penniston-John escaped further trouble when his mouthpiece came out a second time. The break allowed Penniston-John to slow his breathing and swallow a mouthful of water before the wandering mouthpiece was put back in place.

The break slowed Torres’ momentum, even though he finished the fight with two strong left hands.

Torres kept Penniston-John off-balance by alternating between southpaw and right-handed styles.

“We knew who our opponent was going to be, but we didn’t know he was a southpaw,” said Penniston-John’s trainer Thell Torrence. “When he got hit with that shot in the first round, that told him he was a southpaw.”

Following the fight, the commission requested a urine sample from Torres, testing him for drugs.

“They said I had to take a urine test because I was too aggressive,” said Torres, who says the urine samples aren’t mandatory after each fight.

The 12-round main event also ended in a draw, as Ed “Irish” Dalton of Emmet, Idaho, recovered from a first-round knockdown and point deduction for holding against Max Heyman of Albuquerque, N.M.

Dalton, who has a loss to former welterweight champion Thomas Hearns among his seven defeats, showed great resolve in avoiding an early knockout. Heyman decked Dalton with a left-right combination late in the first round and allowed him to stumble through the early part of the second round.

Dalton’s problems continued into the third round as referee Vic Drakulich of Kirkwood, Calif., deducted a point for holding Heyman behind the head. Before the round was over, Heyman opened a potential fight-ending gash under Dalton’s right eye.

In fact, the ringside doctor briefly stopped the fight to examine the cut with 15 seconds remaining in the fourth round.

But the fight started to swing in the fifth round when Dalton became the aggressor and Heyman was content to rest on the ropes.

Despite constant instructions from his cornermen to get off the ropes, Heyman spent the last half of the bout with a weak imitation of Muhammad Ali’s rope-a-dope. Dalton capitalized, even though he lacked the power to drop Heyman to the canvas.

Clements scored the fight 95-94 in favor of Heyman, while 94-94 scoring by Pete McDonald and Ford produced a majority draw.

In other bouts, Jo Wyman of Los Angeles earned a six-round decision against Sandra Yard of Palm Desert, Calif.; Dennis Allen of Minot, N.D., knocked out Mahan Washington of Indianapolis following a break by the referee, 2 minutes and 17 seconds into the second round; and Hector Quiroz of Los Angeles scored a unanimous decision over Daniel Mendez of Hermosilla, Mexico.


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