REPORT BY RAY KILGORE, PHOTO’S BY JESSE KELLEY AT RINGSIDE
Last Friday night at the Grand Casino Hinckley Amphitheater, “Golden” Caleb Truax defeated KeAndrae Leatherwood by TKO in Round 10 in the main event on a seven-card bout filled with action.
DeLorean Caraway improved to (10-1, 5 KOs) with a split decision victory over Gilbert Venegas, (15-30-5, 8 KOs)
Caraway started in attack mode by throwing a hard right jab, followed up by several good rights and lefts to Venegas’ head. Venegas remained calm as Caraway landed crisp shots.
But Venegas got the message and came back with his own ammunition, trying to attack Caraway’s head and body. But Caraway wasn’t fazed by the blows, as he circled and continued to land fast blows.
Caraway continued where he left off in the first round, moving his shoulders left and right, hunched over, trying to bait Venegas. But Venegas indicated that he wasn’t going to play Caraway’s head games.
So Caraway went on the offensive, back to using his jab and fast combinations to Venegas’ head and body. However, Venegas took the shots well; he often pushed in response and landed some good shots in return.
To Caraway’s credit, he, too, was unhurt by his opponents power or body shots, as he mocked Venegas and toyed with him by poking out his chin. Again, Venegas didn’t fall for any of Caraway’s ploy’s and stuck to boxing.
However, when Caraway got down to business, he was pinpoint accurate and reliably fast, landing punches on Venegas at will.
But Venegas was never out of the fight and got in some good shots to Caraway’s head which, as the fight went on, resulted in a mouse under Caraway’s right eye.
Venegas started the round with several hard shots to Caraway’s head. And at times during the round, he forced Caraway to either hold, back up or circle—which Caraway took advantage of during most of the round, by moving and hopping side to side on his toes.
Venegas tried to landed combos of his own, but Caraway was too sharp and fast as he landed good rights and lefts on Venegas’ head and body.
These three rounds were similar to one another. Caraway showboated at times but also showcased his boxing skills and seemed to get down to business more so then he did when he met Venegas in the ring in 2016.
Several times during the fight, Caraway had Venegas off balance, which sometimes gave the impression that he was hurt. Similarly Caraway’s speed caught Venegas at the right times to give a similar effect, confusing viewers as to when fighters were injured and when they were just caught off guard.
Toward the end of the final round, Venegas’ right hand snapped Caraway’s head back a few times. Caraway attempted to duck, bending to his left and tried to block blows with his shoulders, but some caught him flush. However, when Caraway was at his best in the fight, he made Venegas look slow, off balance and ineffective.
As the final round came to a close, both men landed some nasty blows, but Caraway’s speed, jabs, rights and lefts were enough to give him the victory by a split decision as the judges’ scores read: (54-56, 60-54, 59-55)
Adrian Taylor improved to (4-0, 3 KOs) in a shutout performance by taking a unanimous decision over Tristan James (1-0-1, 0 KOs)
Although James showed confidence at the start of round one, it was clear that his punches were going to have little impact on Taylor. James landed several good right hands as he circled, trying to establish a flow to the fight. Taylor pushed the action by going to James’ body on the ropes and landing overhand rights. At times during the fight, both fighters posed and attempted to feint, trying to entice the other into their trap. When the action picked up, it was Taylor who dominated, and all three judges felt the same as they scored the fight: (40-36, 40-36, 40-36)
Ramiro Hernandez improved to (9-0, 7 KOs) by defeating Nate Rubin (4-1, 2 KOs) by unanimous decision in a solid fight.
Hernandez started the round by throwing light jabs, probably to set the tempo and to get a feel for how Rubin might react. Rubin continued to wait, then going to Hernandez’s body, and landing an occasional hard jab of his own. At this point, Hernandez picked up the pace and threw hard jabs at Rubin’s body. Rubin wasn’t bothered by Hernandez’s shots, but throughout the fight he turned southpaw repeatedly; this gave the impression that he was either confused by Hernandez’s work or that he was having issues with finding a solid stand to work from and focus on his game plan.
Both men picked up the pace as Hernandez went to Rubin’s body and head. He smirked throughout the fight, whenever Rubin did his work. But to his credit, Rubin was never out of the fight, giving Hernandez a dose of mockery back as he, Rubin, dropped his hands and stuck out his face as if to suggest that Hernandez had better come with more on his punches if he was going to win the fight in general, and by stoppage in particular.
Rubin landed very good head and body blows as each man took turns as the aggressor. But Hernandez, leading dangerously with his right jabs and exposing himself to counter blows, took control of the round by moving side to side and landing good right hands and body blows, all the while suggesting to Rubin that he was only giving him a sample of what was to come in the later rounds.
The boxers traded blows, but for most of the round Hernandez pushed forward, landing good blows as Rubin landed an occasional right or left but not enough to slow Hernandez down.
Similar to the earlier rounds, it was Hernandez who landed the better jabs, combinations, and worked Rubin’s body well. Whenever Hernadez landed a good left or right, Rubin would copy him by doing the same. This might have been Rubin’s downfall, as for most of the fight he got in good shots. But because he mimicked Hernandez’s tactics, Rubin gave the impression that he had no real game plan–which wasn’t the case–and fell bait to Hernandez’s game plan. All three judges felt the same, as they scored the fight for Hernadez by scores of: (60-54, 59-55, 59-55)
Al Sands improved his record to (20-2, 18 KOs) as he gave Mengistu Zarzar (6-1, 5 KOs) his first defeat by TKO before the start of round eight.
Zarzar started the round by throwing a flurry of blows that backed Sands to the ropes and forced him to hold. Sands wasn’t hurt, but he needed to regroup as he worked his jab and tried to follow up with good right hands. Both boxers kept up an intense pace, as Zarzar looked for blood and a devastating knockout, his blows coming wide and looping home to connect on the taller Sands.
Throughout the fight, Zarzar had to adjust his African gear trunks, and this continued adjustment forced him to stop his momentum. But as the round came to a close, Zarzar started to take little deep breaths (and this would become a major issue as his breaths got deeper and deeper) as Sands moved forward, going to Zarzar’s body and head.
By early in round two, it became clear that Sands’ experience and more solid boxing skills might, at best, give him a close decision. But Zarzar was very determined throughout the fight. Zarzar landed some good power shots, as he ducked his head and attempted to go for broke.
To Sands’ credit, he took Zarzar’s blows well, only appearing to be stung a few times in the fight. He started to back Zarzar into the ropes and land body shots and overhand rights, which mostly missed. Zarzar ducked down like a man who had dropped his mouth guard and was trying to pick it up as he came back with wild overhand rights that oftentimes missed but looked dangerous. One small mistake Zarzar made was that as he attempted to duck down from either his right or left side stance, he left himself open to uppercuts; Sands figured that out and started to touch Zarzar with uppercuts on occasion.
Rounds 3 and 4
Zarzar started to look tired as he took deep breaths like a man who had taken a puff of his asthma inhaler. It was difficult to understand why Zarzar needed to continue to take such heavy breaths, but Sands showed discipline and applied pressure as he worked Zarzar’s head and body. Zarzar, to his credit, wasn’t having that, and he fired away with his own aggressive right hands. But as the men exchanged hard blows, they often fell into each other; one such incident caused a clash of heads, and Zarzar received a bad cut over his right eye.
Zarzar continued to adjust his trunks, which at times seemed to interfere with the match. He would do some good work in the inside, but had to back up to adjust his trunks, although Sands’ good jabs, body work, and pressure also played a factor in Zarzar needing to back up and readjust.
Sands tried to chase Zarzar down, as the fighter looked exhausted. Zarzar was now reduced to one big telegraphed blow followed by a minute of waiting before he attempted to land another hard one. But in between Zarzar’s occasional one punch blow and movement, Sands walked Zarzar down, willing now to expose himself in his efforts to let Zarzar know he was the better boxer, one who was willing to exert his control and power over Zarzar.
Zarzar continued to take deep breaths and attempt to land a haymaker, but he was able to connect with Sands in a way that caused Sands to change his game plan. And although Zarzar continued to retreat and hold, it appeared that now he was doing so because Sands’ blows were having impact and starting to make Zarzar understand that he, Sands, was not going to be intimidated by Zarzar’s occasional hard blow. Sands worked behind his jab and started to land good right hands. It was difficult to tell if Zarzar’s nose was now bleeding or if the visible blood was due to the blood that continued to fall down from Zarzar’s eye.
Early into the round, Referee Mark Nelson called time so that the ringside physician could take a closer looked at Zarzar’s eye. After a few seconds, the fight was allowed to continue. And once again, Zarzar had to adjust his trunks shortly after the exchange in the inside, in which Sands got the better of the two, working Zarzar’s body and following up with hard right hands.
At one point, Sands connected with a hard right, and following that up with a solid uppercut. Zarzar was rocked badly, as he was forced to hold and lounge into Sands as Sands backed up somewhat, trying to land a hard uppercut.
Although Zarzar never gave up, refusing to give anything but his best, Sands’ boxing experience told the story of this fight, and this chapter almost closed when Sands walked though Zarzar’s big overhand right, appearing unfazed by the blow. By now Sands was in control of the fight for sure, and Zarzar had little chance of winning unofficially on the cards without a knockout. As the round came to an end, Zarzar looked hurt, tired, bloody, and all but out of the fight on the score cards.
Zarzar attempted to dig deep and give it one last effort, but Sands was very confident that the fight was his as he hit Zarzar at will, rocking him several times and forcing Zarzar to stumble back. As the round came to a close, Zarzar returned to his corner where the fight was stopped by the doctor. Although Sands was landing unanswered shots at the end, the stoppage came as a bit of a shocker to fans and those ringside because Zarzar was not given time to attempt to recover between rounds.
Ve Shawn Owens improved to (7-0, 7 KOs) over Brandon Phillips (1-3) by TKO in round 2.
Owens started with a relaxed posture, but that was tossed to the wayside as his attack turned aggressive right away. Owens landed good overhand rights, but Phillips wasn’t going to allow Owens to run the fight by being a passive target. Phillips returned with his own jab and landed some good right hands of his own.
As the fight went on, Owens developed a habit of leaning back with his body and head upward, exposing himself to good counter shots from Phillips. And had Phillips been a hard puncher, it would have been interesting to see how Owens would have absorbed the blows, having left himself so vulnerable.
But clearly Owens had enough foresight to figure what Phillips was and wasn’t able to do, and Owens, to his credit, took advantage of Phillips’ weakness and hit him with jabs and over hand leads which appeared to hurt Phillips.
Sadly with boxing, many fighters are judged by their records, which makes life hard when they are unknown, as was the case in some of the fights Friday night. Many of the fighters’ recorders were not the most impressive, but their efforts and developing skills proved that this would not define them. This was evident in Phillips landing several hard shots to the right side of Owen’s head. And some of Phillips’s shots forced Owen to pause, not hurt but forced to rethink his game plan, which appeared to be moving forward and throwing hard shots with little care for what was coming back.
Owens’ corner yelled for him to relax and go back to his fundamentals of working behind the jab and throwing combinations while picking his shots. Owens’ efforts paid off as his continued aggression and more effective blows repeatedly to Phillips’s body and head left Mark Nelson with no choice but to call the fight off with 2:45 left in the round.
Anthony Palmisano improved to (2-0, 2 KOs) by stopping Ivey Nixon (1-2) by TKO in round one.
Nixon started well, able to connect on Palmisano with some good right hands. Palmisano never appeared hurt, but he did back off his attack, albeit momentarily. As Nixon continued to land blows, Palmisano was able to pin Nixon on the middle rope and connected with a hard right hand that sent Nixon face down. Nixon, to his credit, struggled to his feet and beat the ten count. But once the action resumed, Palmisano had his way, landing too many good blows. And thankfully referee Gary Miezwa had seen enough and called the fight at 1:58.
Markus Morris improved to (11-3, 7 KOs) by TKO over Tony Lee (11-2-1, 3 KOs)
Lee hadn’t fought in several years, and to his credit looked quite well as he bounced on his feet and was clearly the faster of the two boxers early on. Morris pressed the action and was also able to connect with some good right hands as Lee was forced to hold at times.
As Morris, who had been clearly the more active fighter over the past several years, moved forward, he seemed largely unconcerned with Lee’s power. But he got caught with a big right hand that hurt him badly as he retreated to the middle ropes. Lee teed off on him until Morris, who was now gaining his senses, held on.
Morris landed a feint jab and followed up by missing with right hands, as Lee bounced side to side, circling the ring and looked for openings.
Early into the round, Morris attempted to set the tone by throwing a jab and following that up with right hands. He pushed forward while Lee tried to use ring generalship. As the round wore on, Lee again landed a hard right to the head but this time, Morris fought back. And at the closing of the round appeared to hurt Lee with a hard overhand right that made Lee’s leg go unsteady for a moment.
At this point, both boxers seemed to care little about skill; they each wanted to put the other to sleep. Lee circled the ring some more as he landed a good right to Morris’s head. And as Lee backed to the middle ropes, looking for the perfect shot, Morris feinted a right hand to Lee’s head but concentrated on his body as Morris landed thudding left hooks to Lee’s midsection that sent the fighter down.
Lee beat the standing eight count, and the fight continued. Lee tried to move to readjust, but Morris landed with a hard left to the body followed by a right hand to the head that knocked Lee’s mouth guard out. Lee was clearly hurt, as he had a delayed response before going down. Referee Gary Miezwa started the count, as Lee was on one knee with his right hand on the ropes before Miezwa waved off the fight at 2:16.
In a rusty early performance, Caleb Truax came on strong and improved to (28-3-2, 18 KOs) by stopping a game KeAndrae Leatherwood (20-5-1, 13 KOs) in round 10
Make no mistake a year ago Truax would have probably taken care of Leatherwood in spectacular fashion. But rather than age catching up to him, Truax’s slow early round performance was clearly due to having not fought in a year.
Leatherwood was the faster of the two, as he landed decent jabs and tried to follow up with some good right hands. Early on, Leatherwood’s movement and speed kept him in the round as Truax tried to adjust.
Leatherwood started round two the same way he ended round one: by throwing jabs and connecting on Truax’s head with clean shots. But Truax never appeared hurt as he focused on Leatherwood’s body, and he never lost his composure while he let Leatherwood continue to throw.
Truax paused the action, and as the round went on, he tried to engage Leatherwood, but Leatherwood started to hold (a common issue throughout the fight) as Truax tried to push forward. While Leatherwood was the fast of the two, Truax focused on the body as he used the veteran tactic of not changing his facial expressions to give Leatherwood any indication of whether he was bothered by his lack of rust.
Leatherwood was able to get in some good body shots and right hands. But Truax appeared to be starting to out think Leatherwood, as he kept his head tucked into Leatherwood’s chest and worked his body. It appeared Truax might have realized that Leatherwood didn’t have the ability to utilize his uppercuts.
Truax changed up his game plan and started to circle and work Leatherwood’s head now, using jabs and throwing occasional right hands. But once again it appeared that Truax was focused on ring intelligence as he picked his harder shots while Leatherwood relied on pure boxing skills, which only left him at times to tie Truax up when Truax started to get going. Leatherwood was warned by Nelson for the excessive holding on the inside.
Rounds 5 and 6
These rounds were similar to one another as Leatherwood found a home with his jab while throwing right hand leads. Truax, meanwhile, kept his attack targeted on Leatherwood’s body going for the most part, but also mixing in uppercuts and right hands now.
At the start of this round, Leatherwood landed some good body shots of his own, but Truax’s body blows were far stronger. And once again, Leatherwood at times showed no game plan and resorted to holding so much so that Nelson deducted a point from Leatherwood in the round as Truax began to find his groove and open up more.
Rounds 8 and 9
These rounds started the same, as Leatherwood fired early and Truax was able to adjust a little more; he landed a solid blow, and Leatherwood’s mouthpiece fell out. When the fight resumed, Leatherwood continued to hold, and once again Nelson warned Leatherwood. Truax got in a strong right to the side of Leatherwood’s head just as the bell sounded. The Minnesotan had shaken off any rust he might have had and was putting his pressuring combinations together nicely. Leatherwood’s mouth hung open and bled from what appeared to be one of Truax’s nasty uppercuts. It was later reported that Leatherwood had a broken/dislocated jaw yet valiantly fought through the injury.
Truax remained in charge, as he went to Leatherwood’s head and body causing the boxer to lose his mouthpiece again. When the fight resumed, Leatherwood had another point deducted for holding. But at that point Truax had worked over a tired and hurt Leatherwood, who was still severely bleeding from his mouth. And at one point while the fighters were working on the inside, Truax landed a good uppercut that hurt Leatherwood. Truax followed with several more shots, and Leatherwood went down. He made the count, but he was tired, hurt, and his mouth was a bloody mess. At this time Referee Mark Nelson called time so that the doctor could examine Leatherwood’s mouth. After a few moments the fight was stopped at 2:23 of the 10th and final round.