Tarver able to earn draw against Kayode
Both fighters believe they should be declared winner. Earlier, Wright loses in comeback bout.
By Robert Morales, Staff Writer
Bad blood often brings out the best in a given fight. But when one of the fighters is 43, that bad blood might not mean as much.
Antonio Tarver, the 43-year-old, entered his cruiserweight fight against Lateef Kayode on Saturday as a former light heavyweight world champion and current Showtime boxing analyst. He and Kayode have grown to dislike each other quite a bit because Tarver has criticized Kayode while commentating on his fights.
Tarver looked every bit of 43 for the first half of the fight, and it appeared that so-called bad blood wasn't going to deliver anything but a one-sided bout. But Tarver found a home for his lethal left cross in the second half of the fight, and managed to come away with a draw in front of about 5,000 at Home Depot Center.
Antonio Tarver, right, and Kateef Kayode exchange punches in the 12th round of their cruiserweight bout at Home Depot Center. The fight was judged a draw. (Jae C. Hong, The Associated Press)
Max De Luca scored it 115-113 for Tarver. David Denkin had it 115-113 for Kayode and Dave Moretti had it 114-114.
There were no knockdowns, but Tarver staggered Kayode (18-0-1), of Nigeria, with a hard left cross in the eighth round.
Tarver had an even better ninth round, connecting with an abundance of left hands to the head of Kayode.
It was quite different from the way the first half of the fight went. Kayode put on the pressure, landing some nice right hands and stiff left jabs.
But the tide turned.
"I beat this guy," said Tarver, of Tampa, Fla. "I dictated every round. I hit him with clean shots all night long. He was sloppy, just like I've said he was. He was just slapping and never landing. I swept him after the sixth round. From the sixth to the 12th, it was a shutout.
"I was slow to start; that's all he had on me. Maybe I fought down to his level. I don't know. He swung and missed all night long."
Tarver is 29-6-1.
Kayode, 29, said he was angry with the decision.
"Everybody knows I won this fight," said Kayode, of Nigeria. "I'm the strong man. I came to fight. Power is my name and I did my job. I'm better than him."
Kayode then said that the decision was a draw because Tarver works for Showtime, which televised the bout.
"I moved and jabbed and I was never hurt," Kayode said. "I beat him."
Former junior middleweight champion Winky Wright took three years off from boxing, and then Saturday squared off with a young lion by the name of Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin.
Early on it appeared Wright (51-6-1) made a big mistake, especially when he was decked with a right hand by Quillin in the fifth round. Wright took some serious punishment in the eighth, too.
But the 40-year-old from St. Petersburg, Fla., distinguished himself respectfully enough, if only because he lasted all 10 rounds, losing to Quillin (27-0) via unanimous decision.
Quillin, who is ranked as high as No. 5 in the world in the middleweight division, won by scores of 97-92, 98-91 and 98-91.
Wright knew he lost.
"He won the fight, no doubt at all," Wright said. "My timing was off. He was moving a lot, he was awkward. He fought a good fight and he came prepared."
Wright said if he continues to fight, he will move back down to junior middleweight.
Quillin, 28, said he liked his performance.
"I'm very proud," he said. "It was hard work for me. I give all the credit in the world to Winky as well. I threw a lot of punches and made him fight me. He was very smart and crafty. I had to watch for his shots.
"I don't know how it went in there, but I know I hit him hard."
Prior to Saturday, Delvin Rodriguez had been a pro for about 13 1/2 years and had fought just once for a title. Rodriguez, of Danbury, Conn., therefore was thrilled to get another chance to reach the promised land. It came against junior middleweight champion Austin Trout.
Rodriguez, however, was in with a slick southpaw and that often spells doom for a right-hander. That was certainly the case as Trout successfully defended his title with a unanimous decision. Trout (25-0), of Las Cruces, N.M., won by scores of 117-111, 118-110 and 120-108. It was Trout's third title defense.
Rodriguez seemed to spend too much time trying to figure out Trout, who didn't run, but didn't stay right in front of Rodriguez, either.
"He had really quick feet," Rodriguez said. "I tried to put together combinations, but every time I did, he was already at it (moving away)."
Trout, 26, gave himself a low grade for his performance.
"I probably give myself a 6 1/2 or 7," he said. "I don't think it was my best performance. But I got the `W' and did what I had to do to win."
Trout was asked why he gave himself such a low mark.
"I couldn't get a rhythm," he said. "He changed his method every round, so it took me a half a round to figure him out and then he would change again.
"He's a good fighter. I take nothing away from him."
Vusi Malinga had not fought for 19 months when he squared off with Leo Santa Cruz for a vacant bantamweight title. Being off that long is never good, but it's even worse when one is about to face a vicious body puncher.
Santa Cruz was all that, and he became world champion at the age of 23 with a unanimous decision by scores of 119-109, 120-108 and 120-108.
There were no knockdowns, but Santa Cruz nearly put Malinga on the canvas with consecutive right hands to the body in the eighth round. That was the best thing about Santa Cruz. Typically, right-handed fighters throw better punches to the body with a left hook. Santa Cruz did, too, but his rights to the body were also very hard.
When Santa Cruz (20-0-1) was announced as the winner, friends and several members of his family seated near ringside erupted in jubilation.
"It means the world to me," said Santa Cruz, of Rosemead via Lincoln Heights. "I've been training since I was 8 years old for this. I dedicate this title to my dad (Jose) because he always wanted to have a world championship son.
"He pushed me when I didn't want to train and he was my motivation for this fight."
In a way, Santa Cruz praised Malinga.
"I was surprised he didn't go down; I saw in other fights he had some flaws," he said. "But he prepared himself to win. I just trained harder."
Malinga (20-4), of South Africa, entered as the No.1 contender, his long layoff notwithstanding. Santa Cruz was No.4.
Malinga said Santa Cruz's work to his body was the reason for the result.
"It was a tough fight for me," Malinga said. "I came very slow. The body punches killed me. I think that was the difference. I just didn't have the speed I needed."
Dyah Davis entered his 10-round super middleweight fight with a better record than Sakio Bika, but the son of 1976 Olympic gold-medal winner Howard Davis was completely out-hustled by Bika.
The result was a 10th-round technical for Bika.
Bika (30-5-2), of Australia via Cameroon, hurt Davis badly in the 10th round with some clean punches to head. Reeling in reverse, Davis was obviously in no shape to continue and referee Thomas Taylor stopped the fight at 1:40.
Davis, of Glen Cove, N.Y., is 21-3-1.