Late last week, Amir “Hardcore” Mansour traveled a shade under 3,000 miles to pursue an opportunity to snatch the spotlight from an undefeated prospect who was riding the easy road through the contender ranks.
Fighting in front of a sparse crowd at the Little Creek Casino Resort in the remote town of Shelton, Washington – he came within a hair (and a competent judges scorecard) of pulling off the mission against Gerald Washington, a former USC Trojan defensive lineman turned professional fighter who is being groomed under the banner of boxing’s most powerful organization.
In typical theme for a local fighter taking his talents on the road – the 43-year-old puncher was forced to settle for a hard luck draw in a fight where many viewers felt he was the better man.
The Washington vs. Mansour bout that was televised to a live national audience as Fox Sports 1’s “Toe-to-Toe Tuesday” main event. Unfortunately for Mansour, the biggest challenges proved to be more than anything his 6’6″ opponent would bring to the table. Team Mansour was up against Al Haymon and the PBC.
Going into the fight, the Penns Grove, NJ native who trains out of Joe Hands Gym in Philadelphia, said he knew he wouldn’t get a fair shake from the judges. He went as far as to print “JUDGES BE FAIR” on the back of his boxing trunks! In pre-fight interviews Mansour made it no secret that his strategy was to take it out of the judges hands.
After a couple preliminary bouts, both main event fighters entered the ring. The few who bothered to pay for a seat seemed to be all in favor of Washington.
In the early going, it looked like Washington was going to have a picnic with Mansour. He used his size and long arms to his advantage, fighting at a distance that made a smaller, overzealous Mansour an easy target.
The first four rounds were in the bank for the Vallejo, California native.
It was certainly a slow start for the man who is refered to by some as the baddest puncher in the Heavyweight division. But Mansour kept his composure despite a bleeding ear and swollen eye. He slowly began to chop down the big tree with some hard body shots.
His continuous pressure eventually busted the pipes and by round six, Mansour had “El Gallo Negro” running around the ring like a clumsy rooster.
Early in the match, Washington did his best work in the middle of the ring, but by this point he wanted no parts of a toe-to-toe exchange. It was clear who was the boss. Hardcore was relentless, throwing missile after missile at his foe. Washington needed every inch of the ring to escape the attack.
Mansour turned the tide late, but the truth was that the fight was still hanging in the balance as we came down the stretch.
Mansour’s trainer Howard Moses seemed to be on point with the advice every time the TV cameras were pointed his way between rounds. “Keep the pressure up” he would tell his fighter. In the end he hammered home the fact that they needed the final round. The veteran coach knew where he was and understood what they were up against outside of the ring. Every second of the round counted as the final bell neared.
While Mansour was sweeping the rounds down the stretch, the tenth round was a fairly close one. To Washington’s credit, he didn’t quit despite being obvious befuddled by his first career taste of heavy leather which went along with a bone dry gas tank.
He was smart enough to hold and smother a charging Mansour when attacked, nullifying the chance of being knocked out. He also landed a few good shots of his own for the first time in a while.
The fight would go to the scorecards. The world suspected the potential for questionable tallies. When it was all added up, one card went 97-93 for Washington, a second said 96-94 for Mansour, and third saw it dead event at 95-95, leading to a split draw.
There was outrage online in regards to the decision, yet no one wants to see a rematch. After the fight. Mansour said “I came into Al Haymon territory. I knew if I didn’t blow it out I wasn’t going to get the decision. I’m actually surprised I got the draw.”
Washington felt that he was robbed of a win as well, saying “I think it was a terrible decision,” “I definitely won the fight. Look at his face. Look at his ear. Now look at my face.”
Judge Adalaide Byrd’s scorecard of 97-93 for Washington has come under the most scrutiny. To give him seven rounds is absurd. I can see the 95-95 card with couple grains of salt as the last round was in play after Washington took the early stages. Overall, I think Mansour swept the final six round although two of them were fairly close.
In a draw – Mansour exposed Washington (16-0-1, 11 ko’s) for what many suspected he was – a fighter with an inflated record. Many of those who watched the fight are saying that they never want to see Washington in a ring again.
It is back to the drawing board for Mansour who now stands at 22-1-1, with 16 ko’s. He will likely get another TV call soon. His profile was not tarnished with this effort. In fact, it may have improved.
He showed the world that he is in incredible shape so there is little hope of an opponent catching him off guard. The fans seem to be on his side as he continues to give honest efforts every time out.
Many hate the idea of Philly vs. Philly fights – but if there was a way to bring TV and decent money to this town – it seems like a better proposition than going on the road to get jobbed by a rigged system. It can not be more clear that even the biggest of local power players don’t have the much stroke on the big stage. That game has been crooked for decades. It’s time to start our own thing.
I also can’t comprehend why PBC would host a boxing show in Shelton, Washington. There could have been no more than 400 people in the audience to see Mansour vs Washington live.
If Philly can bring Pope Francis, Beyonce, and Tall Ships to this city, it can certainly host a couple of quality boxing events.
But that day seems far away – so here is a note to all Philadelphia based fighters planning to take on a PBC protected prospect. Make sure you knock him out. After he is down, keep an eye open to make sure the referee doesn’t try to help him back to his feet!