By Patrick Connor, photo by Portland MMA
For the first time in more than a decade, professional boxing was a welcome diversion on a Saturday night in Portland, Oregon.
Marquice Weston, Britton Norwood and Nicholas Jefferson all triumphed on Portland's first professional fight card, thanks to former super featherweight champion Steve "2 Pound" Forbes and partner Christina Lunzman. The two made their promotional debut with 2Pound Sports and Entertainment at the Jackson Armory in front of a lively standing room only crowd.
In the main event, the 6'6" cruiserweight Weston brought his record to 12-1-1 with 6 knockouts by smacking around Armando Ancona en route to a seven round unanimous decision. Weston, a Tacoma, Washington native, out-worked the tentative Ancona. The action fell short of what heated words the two exchanged at the weigh-in may have suggested, as Ancona fought with a bloodied face for the final three rounds and couldn't muster a single one on any judge's card. Ancona falls to 8-7-2 with 5 knockouts.
"It was good for me to pace myself and be wise, not tire myself out," Weston told BoxingScene.com, adding, "[Undefeated Spokane cruiserweight] Pat Ferguson... He can get that action all day. He's not gonna come get it until it's worth the money, so let's keep building it up."
Former Detroit Golden Gloves champion James Ballard is no longer undefeated as he found himself laid out by light heavyweight Britton Norwood at 2:58 of round 3, after appearing to control most of the action against the awkward southpaw. In the 3rd, Mississippi native Norwood wobbled Ballard, 9-1 with 3 knockouts, before the two collided and the latter went down. No knockdown was called, however, and when action resumed Ballard backed directly into a massive shot that leveled him and sent his head bouncing off the canvas, ending the fight. Afterward Norwood, now 5-1-1 with 4 knockouts, screamed into the microphone, "I played a sucker to catch a sucker. And I caught a sucker tonight!"
Tacoma welterweight Nicholas Jefferson stayed unbeaten after overwhelming a winless Jesse Barich and stopping him at 1:24 of the 1st round. Nicholas, an amateur standout in the Pacific Northwest, moves to 3-0 with 3 knockouts, while Barich is 0-4.
Marco Russell, 2-1-2 with 0 knockouts, nabbed a decision over Portland native and crowd favorite Oscar Hernandez in a junior middleweight contest. Hernandez finished the four-round bout with a crimson mug and a his hair all mussed over his face as Russell couldn't miss with his right hand. Hernandez's record goes to 1-2-1 with 0 knockouts.
Oscar Herrera, another Portland resident, found far more success against Shawn Harwood, as both were making their pro debuts. It quickly became clear that Herrera, 1-0 with 0 knockouts, was in a different class than the wily, 0-1 Harwood, who hit the deck in the 1st round.
The card also marked Oregon's first ever pro-am fight card. On the amateur portion, Angel Martinez, Koa Gabriel, Kevin Evans and Lorenzo Caldera all won ABO amateur titles created by 2Pound Sports and Entertainment.
When Forbes moved back to his hometown last year, he was determined to bring the fights back. An eager crowd welcomed the fights right back to where they used to thrive.
"I was nervous because I didn't know who'd show up," Forbes said. "But there was a lot of action, some upsets. I'm really pleased. Boxing is supposed to be back here."
Follow Patrick Connor on Twitter at @PatrickMConnor