Good Sport: Pugilists not at rest

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by Anthony HarrisonAnthony Harrison

The bell rang. The crowd silenced. The only thing heard in the Greensboro Coliseum was the whistling of the A/C, the shuffling of feet on the mat and the soft pit-pat of gloves on muscle.

The crowd kept uncomfortably quiet at first.

But once the first fight gained pace — after Sumner Martin landed a nice, audible jab to Nathan Petty’s face — someone shouted, “Felt that one!”

After those placid moments, the audience shouted a few Woo!s, and more haughty exclamations followed.

Saturday Night KO Fights escalated slowly, but only when the fights prompted appreciation.

That first fight wound up being a predictable decision towards Martin, who extended his record to 2-0 against a mediocre veteran.

The second fight promised more.

Two lightweights took the mat, both ready to fight in their own styles.

Reidsville’s Raheem “the Dream” Lynn, in his professional debut, bounced around his corner with a wide smile on his face. However, Jairo “the Mexican Assassin” Vargas Fernandez out of Mexico City, undefeated after three bouts, took the mat to his mariachi theme sans emotion, draped in a Mexican flag.

The first big hit came from Lynn, who knocked Fernandez down to a three-count. The crowd buzzed hard, thinking the fight was done. But Fernandez struck like a mongoose against a king cobra — lunging low, heaving uppercuts.

Both men scrapped quickly, but Fernandez eventually started landing his southpaw against Lynn’s right-hand defense.

Fernandez attacked during the middle of the second round, throwing Lynn into his own corner, jabbing him with a few combos to the jaw.

“C’mon, Peanut!” someone shouted. “Goin’ back to the block after this! Give us a show!”

Yet Fernandez ground the newbie into peanut butter.

The bell dinged.

Lynn couldn’t help but express humiliation against his corner, leaning with his arms across his battered face.

I wouldn’t like to call him a hometown disappointment, though. He had heart. He lost his first fight, but if Lynn can regain confidence, he can only improve. The Dream faced off against an Assassin, and showed his worth.

The next bout proved to be a real stunner.

William Gunther, some Viking from Lynchburg, Va., took on upcoming Greensboro heavyweight DJ Haynesworth. The crowd heavily favored the hometown man.

So did the fight.

Before I could even scramble down the aisle to snap some pics, Haynesworth beat Gunther to a pulp against the ropes, leaving him dazed and groggy, and driving him in with body shots until throttling Gunther with quick jabs to the head.

Within 29 seconds, the refs called a TKO for Haynesworth.

While some of the crowd roared in appreciation, many booed, standing up and throwing their hands in an act of bull.

“That was over quick,” one man said.

“Yeah, too quick,” his friend laughed.

The crowd got their fill with the later bouts, though.

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Perhaps the most exciting thrills occurred between welterweights “Sugar” Ray Terry and Travis Davidson. They were about the closest matched — within a pound — and they beat the holy hell out of each other. It seemed the closest bout of the night, with Davidson landing devastating left hooks against Terry’s constant jabs.

But Terry wore Davidson down.

With each punch, Terry seemed to spray a shower of sweat off Davidson into ringside; then he got a nice shot on Davidson’s nose, leaving it rosy with blood.

The officials eventually called the fight for Terry in a unanimous, 40-36 decision after four rounds.

The second heavyweight bout proved to be more of a show than the first.

Stacey Frazier, a power puncher weighing 260 pounds, went up against traditional boxer Trevor Bryan, 29 pounds his junior.

Bryan capitalized on his lighter weight, floating and keeping his hands up. Frazier kept his arms down, patient, waiting to see if Bryan would lower his defenses for a possible hole to slam.

After an atrocious first round, Frazier knocked Bryan down hard.

The crowd thought Frazier finished him, but the lighter pugilist came up throwing punches. A flurry of combos against Frazier’s abdomen culminated in a shot to the nose, leaving the bigger man dazed.

The bell rang to end the round, but the ref came out and said, “At the end of Round 2, the blue corner has decided his man has had enough.”

Trevor Bryan extended his record to 17-0.

During the last bout — which saw many leave due to boredom or bedtime — Frazier sat in my row, cocky even following defeat.

“[Bryan] was scared the whole time,” Frazier said, “and he couldn’t hurt me at all. There was nothin’ he could do to hurt me. Nothin’. Nothin’.”

Frazier picked up his bag and left.

The main event — welterweights Ty-Kee “the Zombiemaker” Sadler and Maurice Chalmers — deserved a column itself.

Their fight lasted all eight rounds.

The crowd preferred Chalmers.

Though Sadler dodged about with his sprite footwork, he still took a hard shot to the solar plexus in the second round.

A man to my side kept yelling to Chalmers, “Hit ’im in the body! Quit with that jab-jab-jab! Hit ’im in the gut, fool!” Chalmers’ jabs counted, though, especially following a rally by Sadler.

The announcement of a split decision kept the crowd on the edge of their seats with eager ears awaiting the results.

Chalmers took the belt by only a few points.

For a sport where men simply pound each other, it was a close call.