Fitz Report–Wade Scores TKO With Seconds to Go
On January 29, Fights at the Fitz rang in the new year with six competitive bouts at the Fitz Hotel and Casino in Tunica, Mississippi. Some of the fighters, meanwhile, got their own bells rung, as half of the fights didn’t go the distance.
The middleweight main event featured Dominic Wade (9-0, 7 KOs), named one of the top prospects for 2011 on ESPN’s “Super 25” list. Wade was already gearing up for an appearance on Friday Night Fights on February 18, but first he’d have to get past the more experienced Brian Norman (17-10, 5 KOs).
Wade began the fight briskly, and quickly found a home for left hands to Norman’s body, dominating the round, though Norman was able to land a quick combination just before the bell. Wade’s corner, sensing his early control of the fight, urged him between rounds, “Take your time!”
Norman came out stronger in the second round; though Wade showed off a solid defense, Norman snuck in some body shots, as Wade continued his own attack on the body with hard lefts.
The third round saw Wade popping stiff left jabs in Norman’s face and working in quick left-right combinations. Norman, meanwhile, seemed to gain confidence, though a slip put him on the canvas and temporarily interrupted his momentum.
In round four, Wade kept the fight in the center of the ring, circling Norman and jabbing, and hitting his target with quick rights. Norman backed Wade against the ropes and landed some body shots, until an uppercut from Wade nudged Norman toward the center of the ring again.
Wade continued working in lefts to the body and rights to the head, picking Norman apart in what would be a definitive fifth round. After Wade landed several right-left combos on the button, with no response from Norman, referee Randy Phillips stepped in for a standing 8-count, but allowed Norman to continue. Norman, now in survival mode, leaned in and tied up as he heard the 10-second bell and was able to close out the round, albeit barely standing.
Norman came out for the last round jabbing at Wade as he tried to regain his legs and shake off the cobwebs. Though his punches had lost some of their pop, he was able to land when he pressed Wade into a corner again. However, once Wade got off the ropes, he landed left hooks at will, and some jolting rights that caused Phillips to step in for another standing 8-count; Wade also landed a late punch during the separation when Norman’s hands were down, adding to his troubles. Phillips let the fight continue, but it was only a matter of time until a reeling Norman was saved by the ref at 2:52 of round six.
The opening bout of the evening went the distance, as welterweights Dedrick Bell (5-4, 4 KOs) and southpaw Josh Williams (2-1, 2 KOs) put on an entertaining four-round show for the sold-out crowd. Bell had his back to the ropes more often than his corner would have liked, but he was also landing the more telling shots, frequently catching Williams with rights as he came in. By the second round, the left side of Williams’ body practically glowed scarlet courtesy of repeated rights to the body, and by the final round, blood flowed freely from Williams’ nose. Ultimately, the quicker, stronger Bell received a unanimous decision win from the three judges at ringside.
The second fight would also have officials tallying the judges’ scorecards. Orlando Utsey (3-0, 3 KOs) found a tough, evenly matched opponent in Marquis Jackson (2-3, 2 KOs). Jackson found success by dipping low and throwing uppercuts, while Utsey answered with quick combinations. Fought mostly at close quarters, the fight was back-and-forth throughout, and both fighters obviously sensed a close fight when they came out trading punches in the final round. Gerald Deming had the fight 39-37, Mack Thornton scored an even bout at 38-38, and Ressia Mullens called it at 39-37, giving a majority decision to Utsey.
Heavyweights took the stage for the shortest bout of the night, between Jonathan Perry (1-0, 1 KO) and Glenn Hayes (1-2, 1 KO). Though both fighters weighed in about the same—210 for Perry, 209 for Hayes—Perry clearly looked in better shape, and in this case, looks weren’t deceiving: Perry came out quickly and put Hayes down with a right hand from which he barely got up. Hayes tried to tie up and hang on, but he looked like a beaten, overmatched fighter. Phillips stepped in and called an end to the fight at 1:22 of round 1.
The only women’s match of the night was a flailing affair between welterweights April Ward (7-2, 7 KOs) and Lisa Bolin (3-4, 2 KOs). Ward entered the ring to “We Will Rock You,” but thanks to Bolin’s slippery, awkward style, Ward was unable to rock Bolin throughout the fight. As the calm, flat-footed Ward struggled to land clean shots, Bolin suffered from not placing her punches and wailing wildly in close quarters. After four rounds, a shock went through the crowd as Bolin handed Ward her first defeat, by split decision: Thornton and Mullens scored the fight for Bolin (40-36 and 39-37, respectively), while Deming had Ward winning, 39-37.
In the final fight before the main event, super middleweight Morgan Fitch (2-0, 2 KOs) took on Nathan Bedwell (3-5, 2 KOs). After a slip in the first round, the southpaw Bedwell was most successful when advancing behind jabs, but Fitch, with a clear height and reach advantage, landed more effective hard rights. In round two, Bedwell unsuccessfully attempted to complain to the ref about a body shot he thought was low, and tensions rose when both fighters continued to throw post-bell at the close of the first two rounds. Though Bedwell landed a second-round uppercut that snapped Fitch’s head back, Fitch closed the round with a series of echoing body shots. The first knockdown came in round 3, courtesy of Fitch’s crisp rights; Bedwell got up and stuck out his tongue, but he was clearly in trouble. He absorbed more punishment as Fitch backed him into a corner, until Phillips stopped the fight at 2:09 of round 3.
The next Fights at the Fitz will be on March 19, 2011.