McCall, Joppy punch their way back

Rahman undercard wins lift 2 fighters

November 18, 2001|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

LAS VEGAS — Late fight: Last night's title fight between Hasim Rahman and Lennox Lewis ended too late for this edition. A complete report can be found in later editions or on the Internet at http://www.sunspot.net.

LAS VEGAS - Five years ago in a World Boxing Association title rematch with Lennox Lewis, Oliver McCall left the ring in tears, having suffered an apparent nervous breakdown. When the fight was stopped, Lewis regained the crown he lost to McCall by second-round KO just three years earlier.

But last night at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, a single blow by McCall may have thrust him back into the heavyweight picture. Trailing by seven points on one card, and five on two others, McCall (39-7) scored his 29th knockout with a smashing right hand to stop London's Henry Akinwande at 2:13 of the 10th round.

Akinwande (40-2-1, 26 KOs) was coming off a first-round knockout of Maurice Harris in June and never had been down or out in a fight. His only previous loss came against Lewis when he was disqualified in five rounds for excessive holding, but he lay motionless as referee Kenny Bayless stood over him and reached the count of 10.

"I trained five weeks for this fight and I was ready," said McCall, 36, who was licensed only this week by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. "They told me to warm up three times before I came out, but it didn't matter because I was ready to fight. I don't care who I fight next. I'm going to be in better shape and I'm just happy to be back."

McCall, who also used a right hand to knock out Lewis in 1994, was on borrowed time. Already on probation for drug-related charges, in May he was arrested and charged with assaulting police and resisting arrest. McCall was permitted to leave his hometown of Martinsville, W. Va., for three days to take the fight. He arrived only Thursday night, and said he still felt "jet-lagged" in the ring.

Akinwande spent the first few rounds landing his jab against McCall. But with his fists held high around his ears, McCall seemed unaffected by Akinwande's punches as he waded in and wore down his man.

In rounds four and five, McCall started to reach Akinwande with whipping uppercuts and hooks to the head and body. In the sixth round, he wobbled Akinwande with a left uppercut, then jerked his head downward with a chopping right that forced Akinwande to hold. Four right hands and an uppercut wobbled Akinwande in the ninth.

"I made Akinwande frustrated by blocking a lot and making him hit my arms. Once he felt my power, he knew I would catch up with him," said McCall, who won only four of the 27 rounds on the judges' cards. "I told my corner the cards didn't matter, I was going to knock him out. When he went down, I knew he wasn't getting up. Now I'm going to go back, continue my drug counseling. It's good to be clean and sober."

In a bout of local interest, Seabrook, Md., resident William Joppy bounced back from his loss to Felix Trinidad to decision Englishman Howard Eastman.

Joppy survived a 12th-round knockdown from consecutive right hands to the jaw to win a majority decision, 114-112, 115-112, and 113-113.

Earlier, Christy Martin (44-2-2, 31 KOs) won a 10-round unanimous decision over Lisa Holywine (14-8-1, six KOs) in the lone women's bout on the card.

In the night's first bout, Venezuela's Yober Ortega (32-3-1) scored his 22nd knockout 36 seconds into the fourth round, earning the vacant World Boxing Association title against fellow Venezuelan Jose "Cheo" Rojas (16-5, 10 KOs). It was the fourth straight victory for Ortega, the third consecutive by knockout. Ortega lost the first two rounds, but picked up the pace in the third before finishing Rojas in the scheduled 12-rounder.

Guyana's Wayne Braithwaite (17-0) earned his 11th straight knockout, stopping previously unbeaten, No. 1-ranked contender Louis "The Lion" Azille (16-1-2, 14 KOs) at 2:09 of the third round in their cruiserweight elimination bout. Azille, of Jersey City, N.J., had won three straight before the scheduled 12-rounder.

In an uneventful 10-round, super welterweight bout, local favorite Roshi "Mongoose" Wells improved to 15-0-1 with a majority decision over Seattle's Kenny Ellis (24-4-2, 15 KOs).

Also Puerto Rico's Jose Quintana (10-2-2, six KOs) took an eight-round, unanimous decision over Terrell Hargrove (6-3, three KOs) of Louisville.

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