By Paul Gallegos at ringside
(Huge photo gallery of the event going up later today)
Ten months ago, England’s Audley Harrison was at a crossroads with knuckles. The boxing world is about speed, agility, power, defense, and an iron chin. Harrison has all of these attributes, but his hands had failed him. Last night at the Pechanga Casino in Temecula, CA Harrison’s hands made a welcome return on the Best Damn Sports Show Period.
Harrison is still looking to make a name in the heavyweight division. His opponent, Robert Davis, needed this win to try to get into the heavyweight picture. Both men were seeking something that the heavyweight division hasn’t had a lot of in the recent past: respect.
Neither man was willing to mix it up through the first four rounds of their scheduled ten round contest. Harrison scored a “knockdown” in the opening frame, it seemed more like a push and a stumble rather than a punch landed. Replays and Harrison’s actions clearly showed that there was never any damage to Davis except for an automatic two point round against him.
Davis was content to allow Harrison to bring the action and the pace to him. Without an aggressor, the fight became a bit of a bore until Harrison figured out that his surgically repaired knuckle was going to survive the punishment of a fight. Once Harrison’s confidence began to settle in, so did his jabs.
Working off a stiff right jab, Harrison (18-0, 13KOs) began controlling the action from the outside and continually snapped the head back of the increasingly frustrated Davis. Though Harrison was unwilling to get into any wild exchanges, Davis (31-7, 19KOs) did have his moments in the fifth landing a solid combination which momentarily stopped the onslaught of Harrison.
The tough Davis would only have moments while Harrison built up points and while figuring out how to land more meaningful bombs. Half way through the fifth round, Harrison started to utilize a very nice body attack that ever so slowly began to cause Davis to drop his hands. This was all that Harrison would need in this most professional of efforts.
“It took me a little while to get going because I was being cautious of my hand,” said Harrison. “I wanted to impress, and when I hit him, I hurt him.”
Harrison from Edmonton, England eventually found his mean streak in the seventh round. Pummeling Davis in the corner for the majority of the round, Harrison unloaded and caused Davis to violently stagger across the ring and flail into the turnbuckle. Referee Raul Caiz Jr. wisely called a halt to the action at the 2:41 mark of the round.
In a night of heavyweight action, Kirk Johnson of Nova Scotia, Canada scored a technical decision over an outclassed Yanqui Diaz of Las Vegas, NV.
Johnson (36-2-1, 19KOs) set the pace early and scored often with powerful shots to the face and body of the slower but game Diaz. The body shots were the key in this one as Diaz had no answer for the more powerful and deliberate puncher in Johnson.
A loud clacking of heads in the 5th round caused a major cut over the nose of Diaz (13-3, 8KOs) and sent this one to the scorecards. Johnson would walk away with a technical decision victory.
Former Golden Gloves champion Malcolm Tann, hailing from Chandler, AZ, tasted the canvas early in the first round against hard-hitting Derek Bryant of Philadelphia, PA. Tann, did the dance for the rest of the round barely surviving the wicked punching power and speed of the surprising Bryant.
Bryant would continue to pound on Tann during the start of the second and third. Tann would come back and smack the body and face of Bryant to potentially steal the end of the third. Though Tann was the busier of the two fighters, Bryant ((18-4, 15KOs) carried the heavier hands. Tann’s jaw is becoming more and more suspect as the competition improves.
Tann (16-1, 8KOs) would out hustle the more powerful Bryant to win a close unanimous decision with scores of 76-75, 77-74, and 77-74.
Another Golden Gloves champion who is starting to make a bit of a rumble in the heavyweight division is Travis Walker of Tallahassee, Florida. The lean heavyweight would need only forty-eight seconds of the first round to destroy Carlton Johnson of Portsmouth, VA in their scheduled six round contest. Walker improved to 11-0 with 9 KOs with Carlton dropping to 15-12 with 10 KOs.
Finally, Lorenzo Reynolds of Saginaw, Michigan utilized speed, power and slick movement to dominate Carlos Barragan of Guaymas, Mexico to earn a unanimous decision in their 6-round welterweight fight.