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Tarver tames Aguilera, wins heavyweight debut

Ringside report by Jeff Zimmerman
Photos by Robert Hughes

The “Magic Man” and former four-time light-heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver (28-6, 19 KOs) was the star attraction at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma, Friday night, where he won a fairly easy 10-round decision against Dominican Nagy Aguilera (16-5, 11 KOs).

All judges scored it 98-92.

Fighting on “ShoBox – The New Generation,” where he is now a broadcaster, the 41-year-old Tarver may no longer be part of the new generation, but he believes he can lay claim to a piece of the vaunted heavyweight title.

At the beginning of his heavyweight debut, though, Tarver appeared tentative. It seemed his jump up two weight classes and a long layoff while fighting the aggressive Aguilera may have been a mistake. In addition, Tarver hurt his shoulder early in the fight, but he shook it off and it was never an issue.

Whatever Tarver lacked in heavyweight fights and at the advanced age, he made up with his ring generalship and overall experience. By the third round, Tarver started to take control of the fight by backing Aguilera into a corner where he would stay through most of the fight. Although Tarver was not unleashing a barrage of punches, he was throwing enough that landed with regularity to, both, the body and head.

Through the middle rounds, Tarver caught Aguilera with some devastating uppercuts that got the crowd roaring. Tarver only had to weather an occasional counter attack by Aguilera and was never in jeopardy, at least until the 10th round.

Aguilera knew his only hope for victory was a knockout, and he went after Tarver as the round began. Tarver, knowing he was well ahead on the scorecards, went defensive to win his heavyweight debut.

If this was supposed to be the Magic Man’s coming out party in the dysfunctional heavyweight division, his performance was far from magical. Tarver though, thought he passed with flying colors.

“With a 17-month layoff and at 41-years-old, [I scored myself an] A+,” he said. “I had a real guy in front of me; a live guy he wasn’t going to lay down, you saw that he took some tremendous shots. Anybody with any less heart would have been knocked out, but I take my hat off to Nagy. He came to win, but the decision wasn’t in doubt. He had to knock me out to win the fight and that put a guy in a desperate situation.”

Tarver said he had little problem absorbing a heavyweight’s punches.

“I didn’t get hit with much. I’m always conscious of the punches. We are not that brave where we are going to stand in there and take unnecessary punishment. He caught me with some elbows in the head and sometimes head butts but that’s part of war.”

The former champ said his name should attract big names in the heavyweight.

“They know I have a big name out there, so any type of fight that makes sense. We are not going to be naïve to think that we are ready for the Klitschko’s and David Haye right now but if they get me two more training camps, they better look out.”

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Porter pummels Munoz for NABF strap

2008 US Olympian Alternate, Shawn Porter (17-0, 13 KOs) bloodied the face and dominated the game Hector Munoz (18-4-1), 11 KOs) to claim the vacant NABF welterweight championship at 2:05 of the ninth round when Munoz's corner finally threw in the towel at the urging of promoter Gary Shaw.

In the fifth round, an unintentional head butt opened a deep cut to the right side of Munoz's head and from that point on, Munoz was a bloody mess as Porter was landing blows from all angles. Munoz, however, continued to call for Porter to fight. Porter did not disappoint as he landed with powerful shots to the head and body of Munoz. Before the start of the sixth round, the doctor reviewed the damage and let the fight to continue.

Another unintentional head butt caused another cut on the other side of Munoz’s head and it seemed only a matter time that the fight would be stopped. But even after a couple checks by the doctor, the fight continued at the disgust of most in attendance. Porter was winning every round convincingly and it seemed like a stoppage would make sense.

However, after another two rounds of pounding by Porter, Shaw ran over to Munoz's corner pleading for them to stop the fight. After another 30 seconds or so and what appeared to look like confusion, Munoz's corner finally threw in the towel and Referee Gary Ritter stopped the carnage. Munoz was a warrior throughout and wanted to finish the scheduled ten rounder for the NABF title but the stoppage came at the right time if not a couple of rounds too late, as Porter came away with the victory and the belt.

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Dirrell dominates Salmon

Anthony Dirrell (20-0, 17 KOs) toyed with the outclassed Daryl Salmon (16-6, 4 KOs) to finish with an over powering right off of a combination at 2:34 of the 3rd round.

Dirrell started off slowly in the first round but quickly found his range and began hitting Salmon with combos to the body and head. Salmon was almost out with a second left in the 1st round as Dirrell caught him with a low blow. Lucky for Dirrell, Salmon recovered and the round ended. Dirrell, brother to supermiddleweight sensation Andre, showed he is ready for top notch competition and should be fighting for a title in the near future.

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Kayode TKO’s Mendoza for NABF belt

Lateef Kayode (14-0, 13 KOs) dominated Epifanio Mendoza (30-10-1, 26 KOs) to capture the vacant NABF cruiserweight title when Mendoza's corner informed referee Jay Nady to stop the fight at the conclusion of the fifth round.

Kayode fought a near-perfect match overwhelming Mendoza with ferocious shots to the head and the body. It was the shots to the body that almost cost Kayode the victory. He had to be warned by Nady on two occasions for low blows and was finally deducted a point in the fifth. It did not matter as Mendoza's corner had finally seen enough and Kayode got the belt.

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Hearns halts Kliewer

Ronald Hearns (26-1, 20 KOs), son of "The Hitman", was dropped in the first round by unknown Robert Kliewer (10-12-2, 5 KOs) but came back with a devastating TKO at 2:24 of the sixth round of the scheduled eight-rounder. However, there was a bizarre sequence of events in the final round before the TKO took place.

Hearns dropped Kliewer with combos after chasing him across ring. Kliewer survived the onslaught but Hearns dropped Kliewer again with a combo and overhand right. Kliewer came back with fire and Hearns dropped him for the third time, although it appeared to be a slip. Once again, Kliewer got to his feet and right away, Hearns was on top, knocking him down again (this time, it was ruled a slip but appeared clean.) Another flurry by Hearns put Kliewer on the canvas again but once again it was ruled a slip. Finally, Hearns had enough, and dropped Kliewer with yet another flurry in which the referee waved it off for the technical knockout.

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