Norris gains split decision in heavyweight main event

November 15, 1996|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

Two days ago, world heavyweight contender Olin Norris did not have a clue as to who his opponent would be in the main event at Michael's 8th Avenue in Glen Burnie last night.

But Norris won't soon forget Marion Wilson. "The best 10-18-3 fighter in the world," almost derailed the title ambitions of Norris by battling the former cruiserweight champion to a split decision.

Gary Camponechi gave Norris (49-4) a 99-91 margin and Ken Chevalier favored the fighter from San Diego, 96-94. But Jodi Wingfield backed Wilson, 96-93.

Mike Marley, a Don King aide serving as Norris' consultant, filed a protest.

"What was that guy [Wingfield] watching," he asked. "If this fight had been in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, Norris would have won almost every round. But because this guy Wilson was fighting in his backyard, they gave him a break."

Wilson, a known spoiler who boasts an upset of Mike Hunter and a draw with Ray Mercer, made the first half of the fight competitive by utilizing his jab and landing an occasional hard right but seldom put punches together.

"I thought I started to wear him down with body shots in the sixth round," said Norris, whose brother Terry, the junior middleweight champion, watched from ringside. "I knew he would be in there for the distance. No one has ever stopped Mo Wilson."

Scott Woodworth, who wrested control of Norris from King, said, "This was a good match for Olin. We want to keep him as busy as possible. We were looking for a place to put him in the main event and a durable opponent. We found both."

Norris is ranked No. 2 by the World Boxing Organization and fifth by both the World Boxing Council and the International Boxing Federation.

"I wouldn't mind fighting the winner of the Oliver McCall-Lennox Lewis fight for the WBA title," he said. "I've already beaten McCall, but I really would like a chance to fight Evander Holyfield. He was supposed to fight me after winning the title from Buster Douglas, but I never got my chance."

Norris will have to wait in line, however, for the Holyfield-Tyson match already being negotiated.

"In the meantime, I will fight anybody anywhere," Norris said. "Like the man says: Have gloves will travel."

In the scheduled 12-round match for the NABO heavyweight title, Jerry Ballard (19-1) of Washington stopped Vincent Boulware (29-10) of Houston at 1: 34 of the second round.

Pub Date: 11/15/96

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