Story by Lindy Lindell, Photo’s by Bob Ryder
“The thing I’ve noticed in boxing is that it is always the B fighter who finds himself on the losing end when a fight is stopped due to some irregularity.” This remark was uttered by the late Cedric Kushner, still relatively early in his boxing career as a manager-promoter when, while waiting for a flight at Chicago’s Midway Airport following a fight the previous night in 1984 in which Tony Tucker had been awarded a two-round stoppage win over Dave Johnson.
There had been a collision of heads and Johnson, loser of many in a row, abdicated to the undefeated Tucker. Kushner was right: It would take someone with a damn good memory to remember more than a couple of instances in which this was not the case.
Saturday night, this was the case at the Dearborn Civic Center when two of the three A fighter-B fighter contests were stopped when the B fighter “couldn’t continue.”
Joseph Laryea (pronounced Lie-ee) from Accura, Ghana, suddenly fell to the mat in the second round in his bout with A fighter Sonny Frederickson in a junior-welterweight contest; it seems that Laryea cracked a metacarpal bone in his right hand. A ringside doctor affirmed this, and I don’t doubt it. But I kept thinking that boxing is the only sport where one can work for fewer than the contracted amount of rounds and still get full pay.
Another “happenstance” occurred in the fight that followed when Leon Lawson, Flint, the A fighter, was awarded his ninth victory (no losses) over Joe Hughes, Indianapolis, when Hughes sustained his third loss (six wins). Again, the B fighter, Hughes, found himself on the wrong end of the stick, even though he should have been granted a technical draw. The ending came when there was a clash of heads at the end of the second round; Lawson had won the first two rounds on all three cards and was awarded a win, the unintentional butt notwithstanding. It was deemed that Hughes’ corner couldn’t stop the cut and Lawson, clearly the better fighter, was given a gift win. After all, Hughes was the B fighter, wasn’t he?
These two fights led to the finale, a “joke” of a fight that loser and B fighter, Leonardo Tyner (35-16-2), Detroit, shut out (on two cards) by Andreal Holmes, Flint, (9-0). I do not mean that Tyner is a joke of a fighter or that Holmes is either, but the circumstances of their matching, was arranged by New Yorkers who got what they wanted for a fee in exchange for a win for their boy, Holmes. The New Yorkers wanted a nice pelt for their boy, and Tyner, who “retired” two months ago after a decisive loss, fit the bill. One, too, can’t blame Tyner for asking for more money for participating in this ugly match that saw the always trying, aggressive 5’5″ Tyner against an adversary about 10 inches north of that.
The mutt and Jeff affair between Holmes and Tyner quickly lapsed into a kind of exhibition that called on Holmes’ defensive skills and Tyner’s inability to reach his man, try as he might. Tyner deserves credit for trying to make a fight of it, but Holmes was content to parry and stick, with few serious punches attempted. Tyner continued to bore forward, and Holmes had little trouble in avoiding his wind-up shots; toward the end of round five, Tyner, perhaps recognizing that his forays into the Holmes body bag were fruitless, started yelling to folks in the Holmes corner, the first of which was, “Shut up, bi*ch!” and this continued in the final heat, all in good spirits as Tyner had those in Holmes’ corner and Holmes’ supporters laughing. Holmes swept the six rounds on two of the three.
There were no fewer than seven other fights involving unheralded boxers, but all came to fight, much like promoter Vi Tran’s last show. That one, also at the Dearborn Civic Center, packed the house, but the same venue this time was half or 60% full. The promoter, working harder than ever, insured that her Second to None banners were properly in place; that photographers were shooting above the ropes; and a lot of sponsorship was represented, including Better Made Potato Chips and Harpo’s Concert Theatre, but who can figure it? More than a few souls have gone broke trying to figure out this racket. Don Elbaum said, “You’ve gotta have an attraction,” and that’s about as close as one can get to get the peeps to plunk down the very competitive dollar required. Now that the newspapers no longer cover boxing, that once-valuable resource has gone bye-bye, contributing to moribund state of the sport in practically all of the Mid-West.
I didn’t see anyone on the undercard who might be linked with the phrase “possible prospect,” but I’ve always got my eyes open. For the record, there were four winners on the undercard and six others involved in three draws: Featherweights Juan Nobles and Deron Smith had a technical draw due to a head butt in the first; Clay Collard held the undefeated Tipton Walker even after six rounds in a super-middleweight bout; William Hill TKO’d in 3 Angel Lerma, welterweights; Sinan Fradi had to get off the deck to decision Cody Baker in a four-round welterweight scrap; James Taylor bested Kendrick Latchman in a four-round junior-lightweight bout; Tommy Robinson beat Labaron Briggs, a Kronk boxer, featherweights; and in a tightly-contested draw, Jose Homar Rios, all the way from Fargo, North Dakota, drew with local boxer Jalen Stephenson, junior lightweights.