By Keith Idec
ATLANTIC CITY — Yusaf Mack systematically sent Omar Sheika toward retirement Friday night.
Philadelphia’s Mack thoroughly out-boxed Sheika throughout their 12-round fight for the vacant USBA light heavyweight title in the main event of an eight-bout card at Resorts Casino Hotel. The 35-year-old Sheika, a Paterson native and Woodland Park resident, said after another one-sided, devastating defeat that he “probably” will retire.
Mack (30-4-2, 17 KOs) won by wide margins on all three scorecards (119-107, 118-109, 118-109). He also connected with a left hook against an off-balance Sheika late in the 12th round that sent the iron-chinned brawler to the canvas for just the second time in his 15-year career.
Sheika (32-12, 21 KOs) got right up, however, and finished the fight on his feet.
“He didn’t hurt me at all,” Sheika said. “I was shocked when I went down, to tell you the truth.”
Mack surprised Sheika with his ability to take a punch, too.
Just when it looked like he had no chance to win the fight, Sheika stopped Mack in his tracks with a left hook in the ninth round. He hit Mack with several other hard right hands during the bout, but Mack never appeared all that hurt.
Mack mostly had his way with the four-time super middleweight world title challenger. Mack, 32, consistently connected with right uppercuts and overhand rights that enabled him to build a large lead on the scorecards.
“I was looking for the one shot a little bit too much,” Sheika said, “but I just felt like if I catch him … I don’t know. I could’ve done a lot of things differently, but I hit him with some good shots, man. He took them. I give him a lot of credit for that. I hit him with some good body shots, some good head shots.
“I was on [him] the whole fight. I was getting hit, but I thought he would tire out, I would keep putting pressure on him and he would quit. He did in those four other fights, but not this one.”
Sheika referred to Mack’s four technical knockout losses to IBF light heavyweight champ Tavoris Cloud, former undisputed light heavyweight champ Glen Johnson, Librado Andrade and Alejandro Berrio. Before beating Sheika on Friday night, Mack had not fought since Cloud (24-0, 19 KOs) stopped him in the eighth round June 25 in St. Charles, Mo.
Sheika had won his previous two bouts by decision, but Mack is a better fighter than fellow Philadelphians Charles Hayward (7-5, 3 KOs) and Anthony Ferrante (12-3, 7 KOs). Sheika beat Hayward by majority decision Jan. 21 in Hamilton, N.J., and defeated Ferrante by unanimous decision Feb. 24 in Chester, Pa.
Those two wins came after Sheika suffered a one-sided, 12-round loss to Philadelphia’s Garrett Wilson (13-5-1, 7 KOs) in a 12-round fight for the USBA cruiserweight championship last April 23 in Atlantic City. Sheika said he belonged at light heavyweight, though, and moved down to prove he could make one last run at earning a fifth world title shot.
That didn’t happen Friday night.
“[Mack] picked us apart,” said Hasbrouck Heights’ Alex Davila, Sheika’s trainer. “He did what he had to do. Omar tried his best, but you’re not going to change a fighter. You’re not going to change his stripes. That’s how he fights. We tried our best and we came up short.”