Posted by George Hanson., Jr Esq. on Apr 27, 2011
Look At Me Now! Featuring: Johnson, Mansour & Charles

Look At Me Now! Featuring: Johnson, Mansour & Charles

The Mouthpiece  – George Hanson Jr., Esq.

Date:     Saturday, April 2, 2011
Venue:   Bally’s – Atlantic City, New Jersey
Promoter:          Pound For Pound Promotions
Ring Announcer: Henry Hascup
Referees:          Earl Brown, Ricardo Vera & Earl Morton

There are many similarities between being a pugilist and a pugilist who writes about the sweet science. Both require that you control your expense of energy and that you truly sacrifice yourself for your art. Thus:

Alexander “The Great” Johnson

<When it comes to doing this
   I be banging on my chest
   And I bang in the east
   And I’m banging in the west
   And I came to give you more
   And I will never give you less
  You will hear it in the streets
  Or you will read it in the press.
  Do you really want to know what’s next?

What’s next? I hope it’s not a lawsuit by rapper Busta Rhymes for borrowing the above lyrics from his flow on the hit single Look At Me Now with Chris Brown and Lil’ Wayne. But I couldn’t find more appropriate words to describe the swagger of the victors of tonight’s bouts, especially Oxon Hill, Maryland’s Alexander “The Great” Johnson (10 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 4 kos) who strolled into Atlantic City and defeated one of the hottest prospects in the super-middleweight division—NABF champion Farah “The Quiet Storm” Ennis (17 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 11 kos) of Philadelphia.

During our pre-fight interview in the dressing room, Johnson displayed an air of humble superiority reminiscent of the great fighter whose name is on the gym where he trains—Sugar Ray Leonard. I took note as we discussed everything from boxing styles to reggae music. The dreadlocked Johnson, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Bob Marley, took me for a twist when he engaged me in Jamaican patois and our conversation continued like we were on the corner of Duke Street in downtown Kingston. He later told me that he wasn’t from Jamaica but learned how to speak patois by hanging around my people. Johnson, his trainer Zeke Thompson-El and manager Diana Hall were all confident that Ennis would suffer his first defeat. I couldn’t help recalling that the last time a fighter bearing the moniker “The Great” and his trainer prognosticated victory. It was late January when WBC junior-welterweight champion Devon Alexander and his trainer, the ever boisterous Kevin Cunningham, predicted the demise of WBO champion Timothy Bradley. The rest is history as Alexander put the “p” in pusillanimous instead of pugilist and conceded to Alexander claiming his vision was severely impaired from an accidental head-butt, quitting after the 10th round—a performance that deserved an Academy Award nomination.  However, tonight would have some of the same drama, but the results would be different as Johnson told the entire world, “Look at me now!”

The southpaw Johnson was absolutely brilliant with a meticulous performance by which all others will be judged. He fought with calm intensity and pure unashamed passion without definable restriction proving that his personality and ring character are one and the same. Ennis, despite losing his first fight will

Johnson (L.) attacking as Ennis slips on the outside.

learn from this setback. He showed the temerity, stamina and mental toughness of a true Philadelphia warrior. It is safe to surmise that both these gentlemen are the future of the super-middleweight division. The opening round was the traditional “feeling out” stanza with both men probing for opening and searching for chinks in the other’s armor. Johnson was relaxed as he stalked Ennis. Surprising was how much larger Johnson appeared than his opponent. The fight settled into a certain rhythm in the second round as Johnson worked his way in with the jab, the southpaw stance appearing to befuddle Ennis who retreated while searching for a place to land power shots. Ennis captured the third round by landing a strong right during an exchange. However, it was Johnson who continued to outwork him round after round while advancing. The man from Maryland dictated the pace by using his southpaw jab and shoulder rolls to avoid return fire He stayed calm as if he were seated in Starbucks drinking a chai latte while reading the Wall Street Journal.  

By Round 8 I noticed that Ennis was bleeding from a cut over his right eye. Wiping the blood out of his eye with his glove, Ennis never wavered or panicked. He captured the round by landing a few good combinations. Unlike Devon Alexander in January, Ennis showed courage and an indomitable spirit to win. Referee Vera had the ringside physician examine the cut in Round 9. The fight resumed and Johnson closed the show by fighting toe-to-toe with the hard-hitting Ennis until the final bell. Johnson captured a ten-round split decision by scores of 98-93 and 97-93. The lone dissenting judge in need of Lasik surgery saw it 95-95—a draw.  “Look at me now!”

I heard that heavyweight Amir “Hardcore” Mansour (12 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 9 kos) of Wilmington, Delaware could punch. However, I had no idea that he was delivering the kind of power that could level an entire building. The bald- pated fighter, a southpaw version of “Iron” Mike Tyson, is a heat-seeking

Mansour (L.) walks away as Ferreyo is out cold on the canvas.

missile hell-bent on rendering his victims comatose. Tonight, I sat in my ringside seat in disbelief along with the rest of the audience as Mansour’s performance almost cancelled the main event. The bell rang and Mansour rapidly exited his corner from a crouch advancing towards his opponent Hector Ferreyo (21 wins – 9 losses – 0 draws – 12 kos) of Laredo, Texas in a scheduled eight-rounder. The taller and heavier Ferreyo kept his distance working behind his jab in an attempt to keep his shorter adversary at bay. The round followed the script of the bull versus the matador as the Texan held his own. There was roughly a minute remaining in the round when Ferreyo threw a lazy jab and with the alacrity of a King Cobra, Mansour coiled, his leg firmly planted on the canvas, and unleashed a well-timed right hook that flew at warp speed over the Texan’s punch like a stealth bomber under North Korean radar. The wickedly violent punch crashed off Ferreyo head rendering him unconscious as he fell to the canvas. 

Referee Earl Brown could have counted to a thousand and it wouldn’t have made any difference as the medical team rushed into the ring. We held our collective breaths as the fallen fighter laid silent receiving medical attention. Time stood still as we all were now concerned whether or not we were witnessing a ring fatality. Fortunately, Ferreyo was revived after what seemed like eternity and left the ring on a stretcher. Mansour was declared the winner at 2:08 of the opening round. “Look at me now!”

Had I not been born a Jamaican I would want to be a Haitian. I have always had a deep heart-felt respect for the Haitian people and their rich history of resistance, which culminated in the Haitian Revolution from 1791-1804. Led by the great Toussaint L’Ouverture and later Jean-Jacque Dessalines, Haiti became the only nation whose independence was gained as part of a successful slave rebellion. You must grasp the significance of this in order to understand the essence and fighting spirit of lightweight Osnel “Prince” Charles (7 wins – 2 losses – 0 draws – 0 kos) of Atlantic City, New Jersey by way of  Haiti. In the squared circle, the fearless Charles’ sharp aggression, focus, and smiling face denote commitment and nobility in endeavor. Riding a six-fight win streak after a less than pristine start to his professional career, Charles has been like butter in a restaurant—he is on a roll. Thus, I was confident that Chris Green (4 wins – 2 losses – 0 draws – 1 ko) of Ashbury Park, New Jersey wasn’t going to thwart the Haitian’s march up the ranks of the lightweight ladder.  Green should have worn track and field spikes instead of boxing shoes. Or maybe this bout should have been held later in the month at the Penn Relays at Franklin Field because from the onset it became a track meet with Charles in hot pursuit.

Charles (R.) finally cornering Green.

Green ran from Charles like actor Wesley Snipes attempting to get away from the Internal Revenue Service. The fleet-footed fighter’s only blow of consequence was a head butt in the first round that caused a gash over Charles’ left eye. Round after round Charles chased Green while landing body shots attempting to slow him down. But Green was more Carl Lewis instead of Joe Louis dashing around the ring hastily trying to avoid punishment. After six rounds, Charles won a split-decision by scores of 60-54, 58-56, and once again another prime candidate for Lasik surgery masquerading as a boxing judge saw it for Green 58-56. I scored all six rounds for Charles.

In the opening bout of the night Vineland, New Jersey’s junior-middleweight Thomas “Cornflakes” Lamanna (1 win – 0 losses – 0 draws – 0 kos) proved that he was no ordinary cereal in his scheduled four-round bout with winless Bobby Bynum (0 wins – 2 losses – 0 draws) of Bailey, North Carolina. I would assume that it is easier to locate Big Foot or an honest mechanic than it is to find a good boxer from the state of North Carolina. The Tar Heel state continues to produce a crop of opponents who appear on fight night as if it’s the first time they have ever laced on a pair of gloves. The fictional Bootney Farnsworth played by Jimmie Walker in Let’s Do It Again, the 1975 film starring Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby is a Hall of Famer compared to the boxers that I have seen from North Carolina. Thus it was no surprise when Lamanna dropped Bynum three times in the opening round forcing Referee Brown to call a halt at 1:36 warranting a temporary name change from “Cornflakes” to “Special K.”

Bantamweight Steven Johnson (6 wins – 2 losses – 0 draws – 4 kos) did not make the trip from his hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri to Atlantic City because he was in need of a respite from his job as a supervisor in a saw mill. The likeable southpaw who works full-time and trains at night is serious about both professions, running hills in preparation for his showdown with prospect Victor Valenzuela (8 wins – 1 loss – 0 draws – 1 ko) of

Johnson (R.) launching a right hook.

Passaic, New Jersey. The lanky Valenzuela, despite his length, is equally adept at fighting on the inside as he is from long range. Valenzuela was taking the opening round by working on the inside with some terrific uppercuts to Johnson’s sides and midsection. However, while dancing on his toes, Johnson caught him with a hook on the shoulder. More off-balance than hurt, one of Valenzuela’s gloves touched the canvas and was rightfully noted as a knockdown by Referee Vera. Valenzuela rebounded and captured the next two rounds with some excellent inside work hurting Johnson with a hook in Round 2 and switching to the southpaw stance in the third while continuing his assault on the shorter fighter’s ribcage.   

The next three rounds belonged to Johnson who was relentless, cutting off the ring and working at a torrid pace giving Valenzuela some of his own medicine by placing shots to his solar plexus and sides. Round after round Johnson outworked his opponent throwing caution to the wind and sticking to him like a tic on an elephant’s behind. Johnson captured a well-earned six-round unanimous decision by scores of 59-54 and 58-55 twice. “Look at me now!”

In a four-round junior-middleweight bout Steve Martinez (8 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 7 kos) of Bronx, New York jeopardized the probability that Independence, Missouri’s John Eric Marriott (3 wins – 2 losses – 0 draws – 3 kos) upon retirement from the sweet science will be a coherent person with charm and charisma by slamming him with punches for twelve minutes—causing his soft brain to slam on the inside walls of his skull. Despite the drubbing, Marriott ate the shots and rarely took a backwards step showing extraordinary durability. How he withstood the onslaught makes a compelling argument for donating his skull to medical science upon his ultimate demise to the upper or lower room depending on how he’s led his life. Maybe Martinez’s seven knockouts have been against soft competition or pugilistic thespians south of the Mason Dixon Line—hmm like North Carolina or South Carolina.  Nevertheless, the indefatigable Marriott was upright at the end, losing a unanimous decision 40-36 on all three judges’ scorecards.

With Forever Young, the hit single by rap mogul Jay Z, blaring light-heavyweight Bobby Rooney (11 wins – 3 losses – 1 draw – 6 kos) of Bayonne, New Jersey made his way to the ring with Beetlejuice—the 4 feet 3 inch comedian/radio personality from the popular Howard Stern Show— leading the way like a pint-size Moses parting the Red Sea.  Rooney is a talent manager and the rambunctious little man who humorously

Rooney (L.) jabbing Armstrong.

graced me with a photo-op in the dressing room is his famous client. Beetlejuice hastily ushered Rooney to the ring appearing like he had another appointment. I guess Rooney didn’t want to disappoint Beetlejuice because he made short work of Adrian Armstrong (3 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 3 kos) of Springfield, Missouri. The bell rang for their scheduled six-rounder and Armstrong retreated to the ropes, gloves held high impersonating Muhammad Ali doing the rope-a-dope.

Instinctively, Rooney raked him with vicious hooks to both sides of his rib cage in an attempt to bring his guard down. Armstrong stayed on the ropes playing possum throwing a few shots. During one of these exchanges, Rooney connected with a right hook to Armstrong’s left glove that was simulating an earmuff. He then dipped his legs two inches while turning the hook into an uppercut that split his adversary’s gloves and connected squarely on his chin. Armstrong was hurt as Rooney smashed him with a straight right that sank him to the canvas. The fallen fighter made it to one knee when Referee Brown reached the count of eight and decided that he was in no condition to resume fighting. Rooney was declared the winner by technical knockout at 2:03 of the first round.  I wondered where Beetlejuice had gone since I didn’t see him in the ring. “Look at me now!”

Similar to his friend, actor Denzel Washington Jr. in The Hurricane, Los Angeles heavyweight Damian “Bolo” Willis (29 wins – 2 losses – 1draw – 22 kos) gave an Oscar-deserving performance by pitching a virtual shut-out against rugged Aaron Lyons (12 wins – 9 losses – 1 draw – 9 kos) of Las Cruces, New Mexico, by bloodying him and forcing Referee Morton to stop this one-sided affair at the conclusion of the ninth round. Lyons was bleeding profusely and had to be protected against his own valor since he would have continued fighting. Despite being outgunned Lyons managed to win a few rounds and demonstrated great courage and stamina. However, it was Willis’ night and he won by technical knockout at 3:00 of Round 9. “Look at me now!”

Every trainer wants his fighter to be a world champion. However, the road to the title is oftentimes a windy road with twists, turns and obstacles. We must remember that the great Joe Louis suffered his first defeat as a young contender when he was kayoed by Max Schmeling in 1936. It was Schmeling’s greatest performance as he shocked the boxing world. Tonight Alexander Johnson surprised everyone by defeating Farah Ennis who was on the autobahn highway speeding rapidly to a title shot. With only eleven fights, I have to mount my soapbox and proclaim that Johnson at this stage of his career is better than all the belt-holders! Like Louis, Ennis will learn from this setback and continue his journey to a championship. It was indeed a night filled with superb performances with each victor making a statement, sending a message saying, “Look at me now!”

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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