This past Saturday I had the privilege of attending Premier Boxing Champions on NBC on the campus of my alma mater at George Mason University. Aside from returning to a familiar and welcoming environment, I was fortunate enough to see some of the great boxing icons in attendance, and those in the ring, who put on a great show in Fairfax.
Beginning the evening, hometown favorite Jimmy Lange scored a TKO victory over the inexperienced Mike Sawyer. It was truly gratifying to once again be ringside to watch a fighter whose successes and failures I’ve followed since the first time I saw a live fight, in 2008. As aging alters any fighter’s style, so it seems time has affected Lange, who threw almost exclusively power shots on the inside against Sawyer.
The night progressed with more great action and fast-paced fights, each undercard bout ending quickly as the result of a stoppage.
The first televised fight of the evening featured two solid prospects with great talent, with the proven Terrell Williams taking on Prichard Colon, who was expected to win and move on to bigger things. His attire was flashy to match the lasting impression he intended to make on his first fight broadcasted on a national network.
While Williams showed skill and discipline from the beginning, Colon’s speed, accuracy and agility stole the show through the early rounds, even as Williams landed impressive combos in spots. When Colon did appear hurt and frustrated in the fourth round, he dropped down and threw an uppercut reminiscent of Andrew Golota, blatantly striking Williams in the groin. The referee at first appeared to disbelieve Williams, but through the fighter’s protestations instructed him to return to a neutral corner to begin his five minute period of recovery. Abruptly, the referee proceeded to penalize Colon two points for the shot. While fans ringside and viewers at home suspected the blow was intentional, it was unusual for such a significant penalty to be called without warning, as Riddick Bowe might agree. Unfortunately for Colon, the blow only served to motivate Williams.
When the fight resumed, it was Colon on his heels as Williams took control of the pace with fierce combinations and impressive accuracy. Colon appeared to get his rhythm back but had trouble escaping Williams shots. At one point turning completely around to avoid a shot, Colon was hit in the back of the head. He collapsed to the floor and rubbed the back of his head, briefly consulting with the ringside physician briefly. The body language appeared to viewers as melodramatic and possibly a response to the penalty he was given for the blow to Williams.
As it appeared that the fight would go to the score cards in round 9, Williams finally connected with enough force put Colon down twice, despite desperate attempts to clinch and stay standing. When he returned to his corner at the end of the round only seconds after the most recent knockdown, his trainer mistakenly began undoing the lacing on his gloves with the mistaken assumption that the previous round had been the last (there were no round card girls, nor announcements for each round). The referee informed the corner of the mistake and gave the team several seconds to make an attempt to re-tape the gloves. When the time for the round to start came, the referee called the fight for Williams by disqualification. Fans in attendance were happy to see the seemingly cleaner fighter come away with the win, but we were all unaware of just how badly Colon had been hurt. After all, he managed to stay on his feet fairly well for several seconds after the combinations that led to his knockdowns. Unfortunately, appearances can be deceiving in a sport as violent and subtle as boxing, as an former amateur fighter like myself should know very well. Colon was transported to the hospital shortly after the fight where he underwent an operation to relieve pressure on his brain. He is still in critical condition and did suffer a brain bleed. As a fan and former fighter, I regret my own obliviousness to the severity of his condition. I speak for everyone when I say we hope he makes a full recovery and can return to the sport if he wishes, to demonstrate the immense skill he so clearly possesses.
On a brighter note, in one of the most unexpected and fortunate experiences of my life, Anthony Peterson made his way through my section of the crowd greeting fans after his scintillating 30-second knockout of Mike Oliver. He backed his opponent to the ropes almost immediately with combinations and pressure fighting, landing a devastating body shot to end the fight. Anthony is a great fighter whose talent is less widely known than his brother’s, but may yet achieve the stardom Lamont has enjoyed. He also happens to be a very friendly guy, even being willing to pose for a picture with a devoted fan who mistakenly called him by his brothers name…
In the main event, Lamont Peterson struggled against Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz but was able to come away with a victory, landing more punches over the course of the fight even though all those in attendance saw that Diaz landed the more telling blows. Congratulations to the victorious Peterson brothers, and thank you for the privilege of seeing your talent on display near my home town once again.