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  Hair, Noise Makers, & Double Mouth Guards: Boxing at Bally’s Atlantic City

By Tim Donaldson
Photos: "Sugar" Ray Bailey


Sometimes it is the little things that decide a fight. A fighter can go away to training camp, eat the right foods, and spar against the best opponents, but when they step into the ring, none of that seems to matter anymore. At that moment, it is the here and now that matters. They have the prescribed number of rounds to prove that they are the best. Everything they did before the fight only matters if they win that fight, and the fight will decide everything they do after. But for that short amount of time while they are in the ring, they must focus on one thing. That one thing is winning. This is particularly true when you have two good fighters going at each other. In fights like these, it really is the little things that make all the difference.

That is exactly what happened in Middleweight Brandon “Flawless” Gonzales’s victory over Ossie “The Ghanaian Gladiator” Duran. Nicknames don’t always tell much about the fighters, but in this case, they do. Ossie Duran is a tough puncher. When his gloves hit Gonzales, the sound would reverberate through the ballroom. Gonzales, on the other hand, was all about technique. Maybe he wasn’t going to knockout Duran, but he could out score him. This was obvious from the first round. Gonzales was using more movement and throwing more punches. Duran was throwing the stronger punches. Duran rocked Gonzales with a right half way through the first round.

Compared to Gonzales, Duran looked stiff. He was constantly stalking Gonzales in the second round. Although Duran was walking through Gonzales’s punches, Gonzales was the fighter being active. The third round started with Gonzales throwing and landing. The two were fighting toe to toe, neither backing down. Duran started to take the fight to the body and rocked Gonzales with a hard left hook. Gonzales came right back with a combination. Duran used that left hook throughout the fight. In the fourth round, Duran rocked Gonzales with it three times. This time Gonzales started to keep some distance between the two.

It was in the fifth round that things got a little strange. The referee called time for hair. Ossie Duran’s locks had fallen into his eyes, making it hard for him to see. His corner had no scissors, and his trainer at first looked to be trying to rip the locks from his head. When they had finally fixed the hair problem, Duran seemed to come back with a vengeance. He took the fight to the body of Gonzales and landed several left hooks to the head. But Duran was messing with his hair the entire round.

Gonzales came out aggressive in the sixth round. He was using a lot of movement. Duran just kept stalking him down. But it wasn’t only movement that Gonzales was using. He was outworking Duran throughout the round. Only at the end did Duran throw a hard shot, knocking Gonzales back. The seventh round was much like the sixth. Gonzales kept moving and throwing more than Duran. Duran landed several hard shots, knocking Gonzales back near the middle of the round. Near the end of the round, Duran again rocked Gonzales, this time with an overhand right to the head.

By the eighth round, both fighters were tired. They started fighting toe to toe, but Gonzales would resort to holding as soon as he found himself in any kind of trouble. Duran still seemed the more powerful puncher, and a knockout was not inconceivable. But Duran was throwing everything in short bursts, never enough to finish Gonzales.

So it ended in a split decision. Two judges gave it to Gonzales, both scoring the fight 77-75. One judge saw it for Duran and scored the fight 78-74. It was a fight destined to be a split decision. Scoring a fight is subjective. For the one judge, Duran’s power had to be the deciding factor. For the other two, they must have preferred Gonzales output along with his footwork.

In the co-main event, Welterweight Artemio Reyes defeated former Olympian Javier Molina. When Reyes made his way to the ring, the noisemakers began. And it seemed the more his fans used them, the more active he became. For anyone outside of the ballroom, they must have thought that it was New Year’s Eve.

Molina’s best round was the first. At the opening, Molina was slipping punches through the hands of Reyes. He would land a punch and then move, giving Reyes little opportunity to land anything of consequence. It wasn’t until the end of the round that Reyes landed a few good shots, chasing Molina half way across the ring at the time.

In the second round, Molina tried to stick to his game plan of land a shot and move. Molina was constantly fighting with his back up close to the ropes. Reyes was able to catch him there a few times. Even though Reyes had a definite height advantage, he was the one preferring to fight in close. For much of the round, Reyes was backing Molina up. Molina continued to fight against the ropes in the third round. Reyes was landing most of his shots to the body. Molina was slowing down. Molina kept trading with Reyes, but not with the intensity that he had shown in the first round. Reyes just kept up his attack on the body.

In the fourth, Molina was trying to keep some distance. He couldn’t fire an effective shot with Reyes crowding him. When Reyes made his way in, he would go to the head and body. Reyes rocked Molina with a right to the head near the end of the round.

The fifth opened with Molina firing off a couple quick shots. Reyes appeared unaffected. The chants for Reyes filled the ballroom, as did the sound coming from the noisemakers. Reyes was punishing Molina throughout the round, knocking Molina off balance at one point. Reyes carried that momentum into the sixth round. He kept coming forward, walking through Molina’s shots. Reyes just kept pounding Molina’s body with lefts and rights.

In the seventh, Reyes changed his tactic some. Reyes was now going for the chin. Maybe he thought Molina was ready to go down. Molina, however, had a little left in him. He managed to fire a few hard shots, including an overhand right. Reyes was backing up and having trouble connecting. Molina tried to keep it going in the eighth round but could not. Reyes was punishing Molina every time he tried to come forward. Reyes controlled the majority of the eighth and final round. Two of the judges scored the fight 78-74, while one scored it 77-75.

Junior Lightweight Jason Sosa defeated Anthony Allen. Allen’s defeat must sting for two reasons. First it was his pro debut. Second his mouthpiece seemed to have something to do with it. From the beginning, it was obvious that Allen’s mouthpiece was not a good one. He came out with his mouth wide open, and when the referee told him to shut it, it became obvious that he could not. In the first round it looked as though Allen was the better fighter. He was doubling up his left hook; he was jabbing more; and he definitely outworked Sosa. In the second, the action was stopped twice for Allen. The first was to tie his shoe. Then he caught Sosa on the ropes. Sosa fought back, knocking Allen’s mouthpiece out. This seemed to change the momentum of the fight. Sosa was now the one catching Allen on the ropes. Allen had to fight his way off twice. Sosa then managed to knock Allen off balance, causing his glove to touch the canvass and costing Allen the round due to a knock down. The third round was much t
he same. Allen was constantly fighting his off the ropes. In the fourth Allen started to stage a comeback. He was giving Sosa all he could whenever he tried to get in close. But then Sosa backed Allen into the ropes and again knocked out his mouthpiece. This time the referee took point for it. All three judges scored the fight for Sosa: 38-36, 39-35, 40-34.

The one knockout of the night came at the hands of Junior Welterweight Ramon Ellis. Both he and Jesse Crawford have losing records, and both were anxious to get a win. The first round was a back and forth brawl. Crawford controlled the first half of the round, and Ellis controlled the second half. The knock down came at the end of the second round. Ellis knocked Crawford down ten seconds before the bell. Although Crawford got back up, the referee decided he was in no shape to continue.

Junior Welterweight Korey Sloane won by majority decision over Jason Sia. Sia controlled the first round. Sloane looked as though he needed time to warm up. Sloane looked stronger in the second round, but by the middle of the round, both fighters looked tired. Sia started the third round aggressively, backing Sloane around the ring. Then Sloane got Sia on the ropes and wouldn’t let him off. Sia finally resorted to holding Sloane. When the two were separated, Sia could be seen taking a deep breath. Even though Sia rocked Sloane with his left several times in the fourth round, it was Sia that looked as though he had been through a war, blood coming from over his left eye. One judge saw the fight as a draw. The other two scored it 39-37 for Sloane.

Heavyweight John Lennox won all four rounds against Donnie Crawford. Although the fight was more of a brawl than a boxing match, Lennox always had the upper hand.

In the opening fight, Kevin Womack Jr. won by unanimous decision over Korey Pritchett. Womack had the height advantage and was faster. Although Womack’s punches didn’t seem to be hurting Pritchett, he was outworking him. All three judges scored the fight 39-37.


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