One look at Skipper Kelp's battered face after fighting 12 hard rounds with U.S. Boxing Association welterweight champion Tony Martin told the whole story last night at the Pikesville Armory.
After receiving a boxing lesson by the older and more tested Martin, the Saigon-born Kelp had blood gushing from above and below both eyes, his face matching his crimson trunks.
A desperate rally by Kelp in the eighth, ninth and 10th rounds failed to impress the judges, who gave Martin (33-5-1) a unanimous decision by 117-111, 118-110 and 120-108.
Martin, 35, of Philadelphia, making the first defense of the USBA title he won from Kip Diggs in April, does not plan to fight much longer.
"I only want to fight three or four more times," he said. "I want a chance to fight the winner of the Pernell Whitaker-Wilfredo Rivera [World Boxing Council] title fight Friday night.
"I don't know why I'm only rated seventh by the IBF [International Boxing Federation]. It's time for me to get some respect."
Using his experience and superior skills, Martin kept Kelp (23-4-1) on the defensive the first four rounds with ripping hooks and short, chopping punches.
"I knew Kelp had a lot of early knockouts, so I had to take charge early," he said. "Regardless of what the media says about my power, I can hurt people. But I have more fun beating them up."
In other bouts:
Diggs (27-1) made quick work of Curtis Peoples (16-5-3), stopping the Palmer Park fighter three minutes into the first round to capture the North American Boxing Federation welterweight title.
After letting Peoples force the action in the first two minutes, Diggs caught his rival in a neutral corner and never let him escape.
"I was focused and ready, and landed some great punches. No ifs, ands or buts about it," said Diggs, who suffered his only loss to Martin on a 10th-round knockout in April.
Baltimore cruiserweight Courtney Butler (13-2-1) survived a first-round knockdown to gain a six-round decision over Ron Carter (7-4) of Dayton, Ohio.
Local welterweight Ed Griffin (14-2), making his first appearance since leaving Mack Lewis' gym, stopped Roland Commings (22-18-2) of Youngstown, Ohio, at 2: 43 of the third round.
Unbeaten middleweight Rufat Baku (9-0) of Pikesville dominated late substitute Horace Watterson (6-31-1) of Baltimore, stopping him 56 seconds into the second round.
Pub Date: 9/18/96