Washington’s lightweight contender Anthony Peterson was holding court in the back of the main floor of the EagleBank Arena on the George Mason campus while there was action in the ring on Saturday at the nationally televised “Premiere Boxing Champions” card.
He had disposed of Mike Oliver in one round earlier in a debacle that was called a fight. Peterson landed a hard body shot, then grazed Oliver on the head.
Oliver went down on his knees, waited for the 10 count and walked away with a paycheck and boos from the sparse crowd.
It was boxing larceny, but it would hardly be the only or worst crime of the day in Fairfax, a bad day for boxing in Northern Virginia.
“I don’t know if it was enough to put him down, but it was enough to keep him from getting up,” Peterson said.
Then Peterson tore out a page from the classic work about the brutality and corruption of boxing — “The Harder They Fall” — and testified.
“Boxing, I don’t know why people call it a sport,” said Peterson, who called himself a boxing fan. “It’s not a sport. This is like organized crime. Where else in the history of sports where you see people around the ring and people beating the crap out of each other?”
Budd Schulberg couldn’t have written it any better.
There was crime in the ring, but it was hardly organized. The afternoon took a tragic turn a few fights later with undefeated Puerto Rican prospect Prichard Colon taking a bad enough beating from his opponent, Terrel Williams — a beating that, for all intents and purposes, was against the rules of this organized crime — that resulted in him vomiting and passing out in his locker room after the fight.
He was taken from the arena on a stretcher to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he reportedly underwent surgery Saturday afternoon for bleeding on the brain. He was listed in critical condition on Sunday.
The Williams-Colon fight was a nationally televised embarrassment. Williams repeatedly grabbed Colon behind the head and targeted it for one blow after another. Colon kept complaining in the ring to referee Joe Cooper, who did little about it.
From where I sat ringside, I don’t know if his corner — he is trained by his father, Richard Colon — complained to Cooper between rounds. If they did, they didn’t make their case forcefully enough, because it was a pattern throughout the fight. In the seventh round, Cooper deducted a point from Williams for the punches to the back of the head. Earlier in the fight, Cooper had taken two points away from Colon for an intentional low blow.
In the ninth round, Williams knocked Colon down twice, the second time just before the end of the round. There was so much confusion in Colon’s corner that it began taking the gloves off the fighter — not because they were throwing in the towel to end the fight, but because they clearly believed it had been the 10th round, the end, and not the ninth.
Why? Maybe because there were no ring card girls. Seriously, you don’t know how much you miss such a frivolous sideshow until it’s gone. How hard can it be to find some exotic dancers in Fairfax?
Colon’s cornermen attempted to hurry up and put his gloves back on, but the fighter was clearly in trouble and too much time had passed for Cooper, who disqualified Colon and awarded the fight to Williams, undefeated with a 15-0 mark.
Still to come, though, was the final embarrassment of the day — local favorite and former 140-pound world champion Lamont Peterson, Anthony’s brother, against Felix Diaz.
Diaz was an Olympic gold medal winner in 2008 but, at the age of 31, the Dominican had competed in only 17 pro fights, winning all of them. He was the opponent brought in for the hometown favorite to defeat — but no one told Diaz, who outworked and out boxed Lamont Peterson throughout much of the fight.
Yet Peterson somehow was awarded a majority decision. One judge, Dorothea Perry, scored the fight 117-111 in favor of Peterson. She shouldn’t be allowed near a boxing ring ever again.
I like Peterson. He said after the fight he was dealing with cramping, and that this was his last fight at 140 pounds as he would be moving up to 147. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that making the 140-pound weight contributed to his lackluster performance, but he did not win that fight.
No one in the boxing world was paying much attention, though, to the organized crime in Fairfax on Saturday afternoon because later that night, before more than 20,000 fans at Madison Square Garden in New York, was the coming out pay-per-view party for “Triple G” — Gennady Golovkin, who didn’t disappoint with an eight-round beat down of David Lemieux.
On the undercard, though, was a heavyweight mismatch between Cuban heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz and an unknown heavyweight out of Argentina who had never fought anywhere save for the small mountain towns of that country, Matias Ariel Vivando.
He seemed like a happy, likeable guy when he stepped in the ring to face Ortiz. Three rounds later, battered and bruised, after landing only eight punches in the fight, Vivando was done. He would collect his paycheck and go back to Argentina in a little better shape than the fictional Argentinian heavyweight in Schulberg’s story, Toro Moreno.
Vivando’s nickname? “El Matador.”
No one noticed, though, because it was a celebration of boxing in New York, the crowning of Golovkin. There was no celebration of boxing in Fairfax, though, where Anthony Peterson spoke the truth.