Posted by George Hanson., Jr Esq. on Nov 25, 2011
Big Benny on the Lam—Wilson Snatches Victory from the Jaws of Defeat

Big Benny on the Lam—Wilson Snatches Victory from the Jaws of Defeat

The Mouthpiece
By: George Hanson Jr., Esq.

Date: Friday, November 19, 2011
Venue: Bally’s, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Promoter: Peltz Boxing Promotions
Matchmaker: J. Russell Peltz
Ring Announcer: Dean Stone
Referees: Earl Brown, Randy Neumann & Earl Morton

My friend Leon Lam had never been to a professional prize fight. So when I told him about the upcoming match featuring Philly fighter and USBA cruiserweight champion Garrett “The Ultimate Warrior” Wilson defending his belt for the first time against Chuck “The Professor” Mussachio, the Hong Kong born New York-based certified public accountant rerouted his birthday plans to Bally’s, Atlantic City. Lam and four friends, all anxiously anticipating their first slice of the sweet science, checked into the hotel and met me at the entrance to the arena. Noticeably absent from Lam’s posse was our friend and fellow consultant, “Big” Benny Hue, whom we had spent the week in San Juan, Puerto Rico teasing on various topics during breaks from our consulting project. We are not sure if the erudite, entertaining and witty Hue made Friday’s flight out of San Juan to New York because we didn’t see him at the airport. But, I am confident that whatever happened will be another colorful chapter in the ever-growing Big Benny legend rivaling what Lam witnessed tonight in the main-event.

(L-R) A victorious Wilson and Lam.

Lam and his friends seated in the fifth row next to Wilson’s wife and head cheerleader— Janae Martir—saw a fight that will be discussed for many years evoking fond memories of WBA heavyweight champion “Big” John Tate vs. Mike Weaver. On March 31, 1980, ahead on all scorecards in his first title defense, Tate was sent crashing face-first to the canvas and dreamland with a crushing left hook with forty-five second remaining in the fifteenth and final round. Every time the topic of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat is mentioned this fight will inevitable find its way in the discussion. Like Tate, Wilson (10 wins – 5 losses – 1 draw – 4 kos) was making his first defense of the vacant title he won in the same ring on April 23rd in a titillating scorcher of a 12-rounder against the gritty indefatigable veteran Omar Sheika—the same man who beat Glenn “The Road Warrior” Johnson back in 2000. Across the ring from the squat, muscular Wilson in the direct contrast was lanky challenger, Chuck “The Professor” Mussachio (17 wins – 1 loss – 2 draws – 5 kos) hailing from Wildwood, New Jersey. Looking like a young Charles Manson with deep-set eyes and a sinister mustache the likeable fighter who was moving up from the light-heavyweight division is aptly named “The Professor” because despite his pugilistic prowess he is an intellectual who holds a Masters degree in counseling. Standing approximately 6 feet 2 inches with long arms I would wager that Mussachio can tie his shoe laces without bending.

Wilson (R.) going with the overhand right early.

Wilson, decked out in Army fatigued trunks, answered the bell jabbing while dancing on his toes ala´ Muhammad Ali before settling down midway to deliver some wicked hooks to the ribcage of his opponent. Mussachio appeared somewhat tentative and perplexed by the strategy and as he felt the weight of those vicious shots which echoed throughout the arena like someone whacking a tire with a baseball bat. The body onslaught continued through-out the next round as a confident Wilson marched forward, hands down throwing caution to the wind. Mussachio glided around the ring trying to find his rhythm and gather his bearings. Finally, in the third stanza The Professor found his educated jab landing his trademark one-twos avoiding Wilson attempts to decapitate him with leaping left hooks and overhand rights capturing the round giving fresh meaning to the bull vs. the matador paradigm.
The first two rounds in which Wilson out-jabbed, out-boxed and out-punched Mussachio was a fleeting illusion and a distant memory as he abandoned the fight plan and started looking for a one-punch knockout. Never dissuaded by the occasional hard shots that found their mark, Mussachio peppered Wilson with jabs and right hands— side-stepping, changing directions like Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders— to avoid danger. He captured the majority of the next nine rounds leading on all scorecards going into the last round. Wilson oftentimes looked amateurish leaping wildly with hooks and right hands laced with nitro hoping to hit pay dirt and render the Professor hapless and comatose on the canvas. But, Mussachio absorbed the shots that landed and stuck to his plan of jabbing, countering and offsetting Wilson with combinations. Surprisingly, not know for power, Mussachio landed a well-timed short chopping right hand in the seventh round that unless you are intimate with the sweet science went unnoticed. However, its impact and potency hurt Wilson who smiled in an attempt to obfuscate the Professor. This strategy paid dividends because Mussachio never seized the moment.

Wilson (L.) just landed the punch that ended the fight.

Going into the twelfth and final round the entire press-row had Mussachio leading as it was a rebuttable presumption that Wilson needed a knockdown or knockout to keep his title. Hollywood could not have scripted a better ending. Knowing that he had only three in which to perform a miracle and keep his belt, Wilson came out for the final bell— his face a mask of deadly purpose— on a mission to search and destroy. Advancing like a lion in the tall grass creeping up on his prey he inched closer looking for an opening as Mussachio jabbed and tried to keep his distance. Then without warning while Mussachio was recoiling his jab, Wilson launched a devastating overhand right that was at maximum speed when it passed his right shoulder blade on its way to its final destination. In the blink of an eye, the punch landed on the left side of Mussachio’s face splattering him flat on his back as though he was sunbathing on the beach in Negril, Jamaica. The audience was silent as thought the oxygen had been sucked out of the room before erupting in raucous cheers of disbelief. Somehow, the fallen fighter attempted to make it to his feet stumbling forward as Referee Brown waived off the action at 41 seconds of the round. Wilson snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and the legend began. Still there was no sign of Big Benny.

I don’t know if there is another fighter who frustrates me more than Anges Adjaho (25 wins – 6 losses – 0 draws – 14 kos). The native of Cotonou, Benin whose father, the national boxing coach, introduced him to the manly arts at eight-years-old is an immensely talented pugilist. But for whatever reason during fights he takes his foot off the pedal seeking comfort in coasting as was stated by photographer, Chris Toney. Maybe that is the reason Adjaho, who now resides in Buffalo, New York was selected as the fifteenth opponent for young upstart—welterweight Ronald Cruz (14 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 11 kos) of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in a scheduled eight-rounder.

Adjaho was first in the ring decked out in his glittering yellow trunks and matching robe dancing, doing a mean version of the salsa to Cruz’s entrance music for their scheduled eight-rounder. Referee Morton presided over the formalities, the gong sounded and from the onset it was evident that maybe Cruz bit off more than he could chew as Adjaho pressed the action behind a jack-hammer jab. They exchanged body shots but the man from Benin landed the more effective punches in capturing the opening stanza. His success continued in the second round as he hurt his opponent with a vicious left hook to the body that had Cruz wincing doing his best to camouflage the damage. Showing his mettle, Cruz switched to southpaw and captured the third round with some nifty boxing as Adjaho seemed content to follow him around the ring not doing much. The fourth round was confirmation of why Adjaho loses fight despite his high level of skill. Going downstairs he landed a murderous left hook to Cruz’s ribcage that lifted his right leg an inch off the canvas. Cruz grimaced as many in the audience beckoned for Adjaho to go back to the same spot. But we must remember that Adjaho oftentimes defies logic and reason. Instead of turning up the heat and driving more shots to the same sensitive spot, Adjaho slowed down, followed Cruz around the ring throwing occasional head shots.

Adjaho (R.) on the attack, backing up Cruz.

In the fifth round, hammering Cruz with the jab, a supremely confident Adjaho started to showboat instead of concentrating on business. While attempting to counter his opponent, Adjaho slipped to the canvas and Referee Morton erred in recording it as a knockdown. After complaining to the referee, Adjaho not focused as the action resumed walked straight into Cruz’s right cross that sent him to the canvas—a legitimate knockdown. Up quickly, he responded to the eight-count and Morton gave the signal to continue. Instead of holding or getting on his bicycle, Adjaho backed into a neutral corner. Cruz took advantage of the opportunity and unleashed a combination many of the punches missing or barely grazing their mark. Surprisingly, Morton prematurely called an end to the festivities at 2:54 of the round, a technical knockout for Cruz who dodged a bullet. Adjaho’s pleas fell on deaf ears as a cacophony of boos vibrated through the arena. Cruz, to his credit, hung in there with a more experienced fighter and made the most of his opportunity through the tiny chink in Adjaho’s armor. Unlike Wilson, Adjaho snatched defeat from the jaws of victory because he had Cruz’s number but just did not know how to close the show. Still there was no sign of Big Benny.
In a spirited match, Philadelphia junior-welterweight Naim “The Dream” Nelson (2 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 0 kos) won a four-round unanimous decision 39-37 on all three scorecards over tall southpaw Deroy Beaton (1 win – 2 losses – 0 draws – 0 kos) of Toms River, New Jersey by way of Guyana. Beaton’s height and southpaw stance presented some problems for the young pugilist who won by landing to the body and playing the role of the aggressor. This was a pedagogical moment for the young fighter who kept his composure despite a problematic opponent.

I spent fifteen minutes interviewing heavyweight Kevin Franklin (3 wins – 3 losses – 0 draws – 1 ko) in the dressing room. The likeable and insightful Franklin, an Ashbury Park, New Jersey transplant, who now resides in Charleston, West Virginia, had done his homework by watching clips of his opponent on the internet. He had surmised that he would be able to land an overhand right over Bryant “By By” Jennings (10 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 4 kos) often telegraphed left hook in their scheduled six-rounder. Franklin’s strategy was to use the jab to bait his opponent into throwing the left hook then counter with the overhand right. Allow me to paraphrase the great Michael Gerard Tyson by stating that Franklin’s response was impetuous and his fight plan impregnable!

However, another well-documented Tyson quote is “everyone has a plan until they get hit” as was the case as Jennings stormed out the gate and landed his 14-inch gloved fists in the form of a left hook and right hand. Down went Franklin to the canvas—ambushed in the night by the marauding Philadelphian whose grandmother was in the audience watching her baby boy transform into a harbinger of pain and destruction. Shaken, the courageous Franklin was up before Referee Neumann could reach the count of three. The fight resumed and Jennings blitzed Franklin like Baltimore Raven’s linebacker Ray Lewis chasing a rookie quarterback. Pinning Franklin to the ropes, Jennings went beautifully to the body and head raining down a ten-punch combination that forced Neumann to waive off the action and call a halt at 1:51 of the round. And still there was no sign of Big Benny.

Jennings (L.) delivering the thunderous right that sent Franklin to the canvas.

In the fourth bout of the night welterweight DeCarlo Perez (5 wins – 1 loss – 1 draw – 2 kos) of Atlantic City, New Jersey won a hard-fought unanimous six-round decision 58-55 twice and 57-56 over tough and gritty Manuel Guzman (7 wins – 13 losses – 2 draws – 3 kos) of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Guzman caused Perez to fight every round giving him little space and time to rip off anything of consequence. This fight could have easily been scored a draw because Guzman was relentless and rocked Perez on a few occasions.

Unlike Perez, New Jersey’s super-middleweight Antowyan “The Iceman” Aikens (2 wins – 0 losses – 0 draw – 1 ko) was impressive in displaying his vast array of tools from his pugilist bag. This young boxer should be on everyone’s radar because has talent and appears to be a fighter who is going to develop beautifully. Tonight, he used the entire ring, out-boxing the awkward Charles Kirby (1 win – 4 losses – 0 draws – 0 kos) of Philadelphia, posting a unanimous four round shut-out 40-36 on all three judges’ scorecard. This kid is special.

Junior-welterweight Dontre “Pound For Pound” King (5 wins – 9 losses – 2 draws – 2 kos) of Cambridge, Maryland is like butter in a restaurant—he is on a roll! Tonight King made it three in a row winning a unanimous four-round decision 39-37 on all three scorecards over rugged Julio DeJesus (5 wins – 2 losses – 1 draw – 3 kos) of Franklinville, New Jersey. King kept the shorter muscular DeJesus, who resembles a body builder, on the end of his jab leading him in circles using every inch of the ring. Boxing masterfully, King’s movement offset the advancing fighter who threw body shots and right hands with bad intentions. However, the man from Maryland avoided any exchanges and kept his distance as thought he was probing, waiting patiently for an opening. Towards the end of the opening round King landed a chopping right hand that ricocheted off the left side of DeJesus’ dome causing him to wobble and do a two-step. Swept up in the moment King in an effort to close the curtains delivered five consecutive rights as the bell rescued his wounded adversary from an inevitable knockout.

King (R.) crowning DeJesus with a straight jab.

DeJesus demonstrated excellent recuperative powers and was competitive in the second round coming forward and landing several hard body shots as King continued boxing from a distance showing good ring generalship. DeJesus eventually caught up to King in the third stanza rocking him with a good left hook and right hand. However, the ring- savvy King bobbed and weaved avoiding further punishment as bombs exploded over his bowed head as DeJesus tried to knock his cranium off its hinges. King recovered and boxed his way to the end of the stanza regaining control in the fourth round. He won the final round by using the jab and landing straight right keeping the stronger DeJesus out of punching range, right where he wanted him. Still there was no sign of Big Benny.

In the words of Don “Only In America” King, it was a “super-sensational” night of boxing as the main event is forever etched in our collective memories Wilson on the brink of losing the title launched his signature overhand right and rescued victory from the wide-open hungry salivating jaws of defeat much to the astonishment of the delighted capacity crown and Uncle Russell—promoter J. Russell Peltz. Seated behind me in press-row, the Hall of Fame promoter added that he was at ringside the night Weaver wrested the heavyweight belt from Tate with a devastating knockout—March 31, 1980 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Lam and his friends could not have chosen a better night of the sweet science as they were able to share the excitement with Wilson’s wife who was exuberant in shouting instructions as her husband stalked Mussachio. We left the arena satiated and still there was no sign of Big Benny!

Continue to support the sweet science, and remember, always carry your mouthpiece!

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About George Hanson., Jr Esq.

George Hanson., Jr Esq. has written 106 post in this blog.

Hailing from New Forest, Jamaica, Hanson started boxing as a teenager in Philadelphia under the tutelage of former welterweight contender, Dick Turner. He excelled, capturing four Pennsylvania State Amateur Championships—his last while a junior at Drexel University studying Accounting. According to most who have seen Hanson fight, “He is the best fighter never to have turned professional.”

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One Response to “Big Benny on the Lam—Wilson Snatches Victory from the Jaws of Defeat”

  1. Your conversation about Mike Weaver brought up many fond memories of the times Mike and I Jimmy Jackson spent as stablemates We both were managed by our deceased good friend Don Manuel.
    I remember picking Mike up at LAX when he came back from The Republic of Botswana after beating Gerry Coetsee.
    His luggage included lion skin rugs large diamonds and Jim Hill the TV announcer for a straight off the plane interview Mike was a wonderful fighter and a great humanitarian as he told me how he gave away almost $10,000 to the children of Botswana