By Saúl Berríos-Thomas
Nestled just over the West Virginia border, in a ballroom filled with Pittsburgh fight fan, a full weekend of fights excited from the opening bell until the lights were turned off the next night.
Cupid’s Knockouts at the Serbian American Cultural Center in Weirton, W.Va. put on by Made Men Promotions featured a full amateur tournament and nine professional fights over two nights. While some fighters pulling out and an anticlimactic decision in the main event may have lessened the sparkle, but the event was an overall success.
The main event on Saturday night was a six round fight in the junior welterweight division. Bill Hutchinson, of Pittsburgh, (8-1-3, 4 KOs) faced Greg Coverson, of Detroit, (3-7-3, 2 KOs). Coverson had the nickname “Two Face” and as an ode to that had shaved only half his face. Coverson was aggressive, testing Hutchinson. Hutchinson took his attacks well and waited to find god openings. Hutchinson worked the body better than he ever has. Hutchinson was calm despite the crowd’s reactions to his punches. Coverson had the speed advantage, but the body attack worked well to slow him down. Hutchinson was not moving his head effectively, but his footwork was decent as he avoided the issues that often come with a lefty against a righty. Hutchinson walked down Coverson and cut the ring off well. Hutchinson controlled the pace of the fight and was able to find Coverson whenever he wanted to. The fight went to the judges’ decision. The judges scored it 58-56 Hutchinson, 58-56 Coverson and 57-57 a draw. The fight was a draw. The fight was very close and the decision was probably close to accurate.
Coverson, who got his nickname from a collarbone injury that forced him to train the opposite side of his body, noticed that Hutchinson was loading up on his right hand.
“He powered up so hard. The harder you throw the slower your shot is. He didn’t throw a double or triple jab before he landed, he just threw one shot,” Coverson said.
His trainer, Tom Yankello, feels like some of that may come from his desire to please the crowd.
“He was looking for one big shot, trying to land a knockout, instead of just letting his hands go,” Yankello said. “He’s trying to be the crowd pleaser. He is trying to perform.”
Even Hutchinson admitted that.
“I’d be lying to you if I said that I didn’t want to entertain the crowd. It 100 percent is my goal to give the people their money’s worth every time that I fight,” Hutchinson said.
There was some disagreement about the scoring of the fight, but no one seemed to agree with the draw.
Coverson thought he won.
“I won five out of the six rounds and they gave him a draw,” he said.
Yankello thought Hutchinson won.
“It was a good, competitive fight. I thought [Hutchinson] won four rounds to two,” he said. “I thought he did enough to win the fight.”
But Hutchinson took responsibility for not getting the win.
“It is frustrating. I’m not going to sit here and make excuses. I should have fought better,” he said.
Hutchinson said he had to go to the body, which he did well, to slow Coverson.
“I just noticed that as I was touching him he was running, which I don’t really blame him for, but that was part of his game plan. He didn’t want to sit there and trade with me,” Hutchinson said. “The body was my way to stop him. I figured if I touched him to the body a little bit then I could get him to trade with me.”
Yankello isn’t worried about the long-term impact a third draw could have on Hutchinson’s career.
“He is one of those guys that knows how to deal with adversity … He could come right back and have the best fight of the career,” he said.
The co-main event was a heavyweight fight scheduled for four rounds. Branden Hinkle, of Ashtabula, Oh., (3-0, 3 KOs) faced George Oiler, of Glenn Morgan, W.Va., (0-3). Hinkle an MMA standout is just starting his boxing career. Hinkle was active early tagging Oiler with good punches. Hinkle was able to knockdown Oiler twice in the first round as he was letting his hands fly at will. Hinkle knocked down Oiler early in round two after a violent exchange in which both fighter threw every punch they had. Hinkle made it to his feet, but had not recovered and the referee stopped the fight. Branden Hinkle won by knockout at 2:15 of round two.
The third fight was a middleweight four round bout. Justin Steave, of Weirton, W.Va., (1-0) was up against Clifford McPherson, of Cleveland, (2-16-1, 1 KO). Steave had impressive defense. He landed a few good shots in the round one. The fighters took their time feeling each other out. McPherson kept his right hand too high so that it was not protecting him. Steave was able to exploit that and land under and around it. Steave did good work inside when the fighters were locked up. His use of his free hand allowed him to work the body well, which paid off quickly as McPherson was breathing heavily through his mouth by round two. The biggest problem for Steave was his inability to land his right. He would load up on it and telegraph it, which made it ineffective because it was easy for McPherson to see coming. Steave’s fundamentals were sharp and they were the deciding factor when the fight went to the cards. The judges scored the fight 40-36, 40-36 and 40-36 all for Steave. Justin Steave won by unanimous decision.
The second fight was a light heavyweight fight set for four rounds. Jeanpierre Augustine, of Boston Ma., (1-0) fought Mike Davis, of Cincinnati, Oh., (1-19). Augustine was all over Davis from the opening bell. He was landing high quality hard punches often. It didn’t appear that Augustine was hit with a punch until there were about 30 seconds left in the first round, but this was largely due to Davis’ affinity for clinching whenever possible. Augustine’s defense was not great which you might expect of a fighter making their debut. He mainly relied on his above average foot speed to evade danger. Augustine left his front hand low, which caused him to lose much of his hand speed, but did create an odd angle. By round three Augustine was initiating some of the clinches, which indicated he might have been tiring. The fight went four rounds and the judges scored it 40-36, 40-36 and 39-37 all for Augustine.
The first pro fight Saturday was a four round fight in the lightweight division. Sonny Fredrickson, of Toledo Oh., (1-0, 1 KO) faced Roosevelt Archie, of Burgettstown, Pa., (0-1). Fredrickson came out quick and was dominant early. Both fighters were making their pro debut, but Fredrickson has much more amateur experience. In the first round the amateur standout Fredrickson scored two quick knockdowns and the second one finished Archie. Fredrickson was devastatingly quick and threw sharp punches in between Archie’s wide looping shots. Sonny Fredrickson won by knockout at 1:08 of the first round.
The heavyweight amateur tournament finished up on Saturday with two semifinals fights and the final fight. The semifinalist who won their fights were Chris Nemeth, of Follansbee, W.Va., and Jordan Roussos, of Crafton, Pa. Nemeth was by far the smallest participant in the tournament, but he used his speed well and was deceptively powerful. He outworked his opponent in the preliminary bout by moving and using his quickness to get inside and land then getting away without taking any damage. He used the same technique in his semifinal bout and scored three standing eight count, the third was the end of the fight as the referee ruled it a knockout. Roussos was the biggest fighter in the tournament and also the most powerful. He scored an amazing knockout in his fight on Friday by landing a quick left and right combination. His opponent wobbled and fell and the fight was immediately stopped. His semifinal fight was more of a challenge as he faced a big opponent with decent power. It was a very close fight and if it wasn’t for a knockdown he scored in the finals seconds of the fight he may have lost the fight, but his power once again showed and he was able to land a thunderous shot that hurt his opponent. The final fight was just before the co-main event. Nemeth was wild but he was able to hit Roussos early. Roussos was head hunting, but he was missing a lot with his right. In the second round Roussos leveraged his weight well to slow down Nemeth. Nemeth appeared content to survive as he never threw too many punches, but Roussos controlled the action and landed a few good punches. The judges gave the decision and the tournament victory to Roussos.
The main event on Friday was a six round featherweight bout. Ronell Green, of Wheeling W.Va., (10-0, 5 KOs) faced Johnny Frazier, of Las Vegas, Nev., (2-21, 2 KOs). Green was quick out of the box. He landed several good punches and showed his ability to transition from body to head with ease. Frazier was able to land some clean shots as well. Green was chasing Frazier early because he wasn’t able to cut the ring off. In the fourth round a right hand from Green capped off a strong combination. It dropped Frazier, who was stunned but got back to his feet and finished the round well. Frazier was game and proved to be a really tough opponent who could move around the ring well and block some of Green’s punches. Green was faster which allowed him to land first and when he landed he did more damage. Green’s footwork id not great and he tends to throw flatfooted punches. He also gets inconsistent with his lead foot. The fight went to the scorecards and they read 60-53, 60-53 and 60-53.
The fight before that was a junior middleweight matchup of four rounds. Josh Baker, of Bridgeport, Oh., (2-0) faced Gabriel Morris, of Toledo Oh., (4-26). Baker was able to land more effective shots. He was the more active of the two fighters and he got Morris against the ropes several times. While Baker didn’t have one punch power, he showed good fundamentals and he landed several quality punches. He tired quickly, but that is probably due to his inexperience. The fight went to the judges’ cards, which read 40-36, 40-36 and 40-36 all for Baker. Josh Baker won by unanimous decision.
The second fight was a four round Cruiserweight matchup. Randy Campbell, of Bowerston, Oh., (3-12, 2 KOs) faced Joe Jones, of Washington D.C., (4-0, 3 KOs). Jones came out very calm and relaxed. He took everything Campbell had to offer and then he started to quicken the pace. He landed several hard punches to the body and head. When jones wanted to he could avoid Campbell’s punches completely, but when he wanted to do damage he would sell out to hurt Campbell. Campbell protected himself well and never ate any of Jones’ hardest shots. Jones was very arrogant in the ring and it was obvious he was never bothered, but he did not finish the fight. For the first time in Jones’ career the fight went to the scorecards. The judges had it 39-37, 40-36 and 40-36 all for Jones. Joe Jones won by unanimous decision.
The first fight was a junior middleweight bout set for four rounds. Anthony Walls, of Akron Oh., (0-8) faced Renan Ruiz, of New York, N.Y. (3-1, 2 KOs). Ruiz was the aggressor and had Walls on his heels right away. Ruiz worked the body well which opened up the tough defense of Walls. In the second after a flurry from Ruiz, Walls Fell and it was rued a knockdown. Ruiz, a southpaw, and Walls, who fights right-handed, crossed feet a lot and this may have been what caused the fall. Ruiz was first in he exchanges and he was landing the more effective punches. Ruiz had a below average defense and Walls was able to land. Walls doesn’t have much power so the punches weren’t a threat but Ruiz’s defense needs work. The fight went to the cards and the judges scored the fight 40-35, 40-35 and 40-35 all for Ruiz. Renan Ruiz won by unanimous decision.
While there haven’t been many local fighters who have recently made it into the national picture, there is help on the way. Some of the young fighters who either fought this weekend or were supposed to have fought this weekend are poised to make a run at world titles. While this will not happen overnight many of the fights this weekend are stepping stones for a fighters rise to prominence
Photo courtesy of Made Men Promotions.