Rahman/Sykes; Kid Diamond/Huerta: In a Night of Questionable Decisions, Rochester is the Real Winner
15.06.07 - By David J. Kozlowski - ROCHESTER, NY – Ron Resnick knows how to run a good boxing event. That’s good, since his Resnick Productions, in association with Top Rank, brought “War at the Armory II” to Rochester, the first big boxing event in the area in some time. Hasim Rahman headlined the main event, with Kid Diamond in the featured bout; the event was nationally televised on Versus.
Article posted on 15.06.2007
The main event was a lackluster affair in which the NABF Heavyweight Championship was awarded to Hasim “the Rock” Rahman, who improved to 42-6-2 (33), rather than the game Taurus “the Bull” Sykes. The Rahman who fought Sykes was a far cry from the man whose thrilling upset victory over Lennox Lewis in 2001 gained him respect and the heavyweight championship of the world..
The current incarnation of Rahman, the one coming off a twelve round TKO loss at the hands of WBC champ Oleg Maskaev, was boring and frustrating to watch. He rarely let his hands go, and spent more time holding Sykes than fighting him. In what should have been a confidence builder for Rahman (Sykes is 25-3-1, but has only 7 KOs), instead exposed him as a fighter well past his prime—one who cannot be considered among the best in the weight class. The fact that he still gets title shots speaks only to the well-documented weakness of the division.
If Sykes had fists instead of pillows at the ends of his arms, Rahman would have been out by the fifth. Sykes attacked Rahman with a barrage of hooks from both sides, often landing cleanly to the head. For Sykes, the ninth round was costly. He had a point deducted for hitting low (he was warned twice earlier in the fight) and was knocked down right before the bell. In the tenth, Sykes glove touched the canvas, but it was ruled a slip. Even with the 10-7 round, this author had Sykes winning 95-93. He simply outworked and outfought Rahman. Even Resnick noted “I’d have a hard time scoring it for Rahman, even with the knockdown.” For better or worse, the judges disagreed.
In the featured bout, and “Fight of the Year” candidate, “Kid Diamond” (Almazbek Raiymkulov) retained his NABF Lightweight title belt and improved to 25-1-1 (14 KOs) with his split decision victory over challenger Miguel Angel Huerta. Kid Diamond is best known for his hard-fought draw in 2005 with Joel Casamayor. This was his fifth win in a row since being TKO’d in the final round of a bout with Nate Campbell two years ago. Kid Diamond was impressive tonight, but Huerta stole the show.
The Kid started slowly, and Huerta wasted no time in taking advantage, landing power punches at will. By the third round, the Kid started getting sharper, especially when leading with straight rights, but he was still getting caught with power head shots. The fifth round, the best round of the year so far, featured nonstop action with both fighters landing multiple power shots. By the seventh, it was apparent that Kid Diamond had no answer to Huerta’s onslaught. The Kid landed punches, but Huerta seemed to counter every time. The Kid spent most of the fight with one hand at his belt and the other chest high. This cost him in the eleventh, when Huerta scored a flash knockdown. The Kid was up immediately, only to find himself down again in the twelfth, although it was ruled a slip.
The judges scored the bout 116-111 for Huerta (the same as this author’s scorecard), and 114-113 twice for Kid Diamond, handing him a split decision and allowing him to keep the NABF Lightweight Championship belt. The crowd booed relentlessly during the Kid’s post-fight interview. “It was a fantastic fight,” said Resnick, “it sets up a nice rematch on a big network.”
Kid Diamond has a lot to work on, but whether he will ever be a real contender remains to be seen. His record is impressive, but his 14 knockouts prove the point that he may not have the power to be effective fighting the way he did in this bout. Regardless, a rematch with Huerta has the potential to be epic. Huerta lost the fight on the cards, but won the audience. Before leaving the ring, he went to each corner, pointed to the crowd, tapped his heart, and bowed to tremendous ovation.
On the entertaining and surprisingly exciting undercard, up and coming super middleweight Donovan George improved to 14-0-1 (12) with his impressive three knockdown first round TKO over Cory Phelps, 11-3 (7). Other results included welterweight Cory Peterson, 6-0 (4), scoring a fifth-round TKO over Jonathan Tubbs, 10-3-1 (3); crowd-favorite super lightweight Kenny Abril improving to 6-3-1 (3) with a unanimous decision over Damon Antoine, 5-15-1-1 (3); super bantamweight Harvey Murray, 1-0-1 (1) overwhelming Harvey Phillips, 0-3, who could not get off his stool to start the second round; super featherweight Ella Nunez improving to 3-2 with her unanimous decision over Linda Ludwig, 2-1; and in a battle of pro debuts, cruiserweight and former MMA fighter Sean Thompson scoring an easy first round TKO over Hipolito Fonseca.
In a night that saw one great fight, one boring fight, one terrible decision, and one questionable decision, what was the bottom line? Boxing is alive and well in Rochester. The quality of fighters on this card and the reasonable ticket prices, combined with the reputation of Rochester as one of the best small sports towns in the country, are a formula for success. The local talent drew a good crowd, as many of Resnick’s fighters have a large local following. Ron Resnick should have no trouble in building upon this success. Resnick Productions is currently planning its next event for the first week in August at Frontier Field in Rochester, New York, and can be found online at www.resnickproductions.com. Top Rank has various fights planned throughout the summer, and can be found at www.toprank.com.
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