It was one of those "don't snooze or you lose" kind of pro boxing shows at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie Friday evening.
Just under eight rounds of boxing marked what was the fastest show in Anne Arundel County since pro boxing returned to the county in August 1987.
Highly touted heavyweight Thomas "Top Dog" Williams of Washington and upstart locals Bobby "The Maryland Mauler" Haarhoff and Alfonzo "Too Good For You" Daniels knocked out their opponents in rapid succession.
Glen Burnie's Jeff "Persecutor" Passero was the only winner on the four-bout card to go the distance. Passero (19-7-1) took a unanimous four-round decision over Darrick Johnson (3-6) of Kinston, N.C., with all three judges scoring it 39-36.
Passero, 34, showed surprising resilience in his legs all four rounds. He was in much better shape than in his return to the ring last November after a 10-year layoff and clearly outboxed Johnson.
"Cliff has been training me hard and I feel great," said the 145-pounder of his trainer, Cliff "The Hammer" McPherson of Glen Burnie who recently moved his training facility to the Conte Building in Annapolis. "It's the best shape I've ever been in."
With three bouts canceled due to two boxers from out of town not showing up and another failing to travel to Rockville for a neurological test on fight day, Passero's outing opened the show.
"The fans love knockouts, and they got three of them tonight, but I just wish we could have given them more bouts," said Josh Hall of Round One Promotions.
"The canceled fights were out of our control."
Haarhoff (4-0-0) jumped into the ring amid the boisterous cheers of his own cheering section, a group of about 20 buddies and former classmates who follow him around. The entourage trails nTC him up to the ring as he makes his entrance and leaves no doubt as to whom they're rooting for.
The left-hander, who trains at Jeff Novotny's Crofton gym, seems to feed off the noisy group as they stand and cheer in unison for him. Their encouragement may have helped keep Haarhoff out of first-round trouble in his scheduled four-round light-heavyweight bout with Laurel's Jesse "Sly Fox" Brown (1-2-1).
Brown went right after Haarhoff in a match-up of left-handers. Normally the aggressor, Haarhoff found himself dodging Brown's strong punches and using caution most of round one.
Round two was a different story as the 22-year-old Haarhoff measured Brown and at the 2:30 mark unleashed a sharp jab followed by a long left that put Brown on the canvas.
The 23-year-old Daniels (6-0-0), who also is a Novotny protege, had an easy time in his scheduled six-round junior light-heavyweight bout with Ivory "Tip Top" Teague (4-14-0) of Washington.
Sitting at ringside, Boyar "Sugar Boy" Chew of Annapolis, who was not on the card, predicted, "This will be over fast."
Chew was right as Daniels used a series of sharp combinations to knock out Teague at 1:11 of the first round.
All that was left was the scheduled six-round heavyweight main event, and Williams sent the crowd home early with another first-round knockout.
Williams (8-0, five knockouts) danced the first two minutes as the 280-pound Jerry Wallace (7-2-0) of Kinston, N.C., was on the attack.
Suddenly, Williams went in and pummeled the mid-section of Wallace before landing a powerful right to Wallace's head. Wallace went sprawling partially out of the ropes near his corner with his head landing near his stool.
Williams, who is under contract with Bob Arum's Top Rank Boxing, had his fifth knockout at 2:16 of round one, and the brief show was over.
"I can't believe it, we're ready for some more boxing," said Bill Turc, echoing the sentiments of many of the fans.
Arundel High grad Denny Neagle attended his first pro boxing show at Michael's with his dad, Denny Sr., and said he "is very optimistic about the upcoming season" with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The former University of Minnesota left-hander says he is "in the best shape of my life," thanks to trainer Frank Costello. Neagle has been working with Costello, the former University of Maryland trainer, at Costello's gym in Bowie.
Last season, Neagle appeared in 50 games, mostly as a long reliever with the Pirates, and had a 3-5 record with an ERA of 5.31 in what was his third year in the majors.
L He started his major-league career with the Minnesota Twins.