Photos by Jay McGuigan
New York City! There is nowhere in the world like it. On November 11, 2006, I took a weekend trip to the Big Apple for one last getaway of the year. The primary focus was a Heavyweight title fight at “The Mecca of Boxing” between IBF champion Wladimir Klitschko (46-3, 41 KOs) of Kiev, Ukraine taking on undefeated contender Calvin Brock (28-0)of Charlotte, North Carolina.
This fight would mark the younger Klitschko’s first defense of a title he won in April of this year when he administered a one-sided beating to then-champion Chris Byrd.
It was a highly anticipated contest and many fans in the near capacity crowd were waving the flag of the Ukraine inside of Madison Square Garden.
Boxing fans ans celebrities took turns making chants of “Klitschko, Klitschko” to “USA! USA!” throughout the evening.
Calvin Brock came into the fight as a big underdog, but his recent body of work must be respected. He came from nowhere in the past year to build a resume good enough to get a shot at the fighter widely considered the best heavyweight in the world.
The fight started off sloppy as Brock seemed a bit anxious in his first crack at championship gold. He slipped and slid around the ring for the first round as Klitschko pecked away with a left jab looking to establish a good distance.
Things began to settle down for Brock in the second round as he worked the body one punch at a time while Klitschko still tapped away with the left jab and occasionally mixing in a left hook.
It was your typical slow, boring start to a Klitschko fight. The champ didn’t land much through the first four rounds as Brock seemed to be more focused on defense . Most of Brock’s offense was aimed at the 6’7″ body of Klitschko.
It was a snoozer through four rounds but the action did pick up in the fourth where Brock was able to land hard lefts to the body. The contender also landed a couple power shots upstairs though the course of the round.
Klitschko didn’t seem affected and continued to use the left jab as a measuring stick.
The champion started to break through his opponents guard in the 5th round. A left jab that once had a pillow touch was now coming with the force of a pile driver. The left jab constantly split Brock’s guard at will for the majority of the round with no response from Brock. With about :20 to go in the round, Wladimir followed the jab with thunderous overhand rights that found its mark. The punches were so clean that Brock wobbled twice before the bell sounded. Brocks right eye begins to swell and the crowd began to get figured up for their man.
The 6th round was a slow one but Brock busted Klitschko’s eye with an accidental headbutt. The eye was Brock’s primary target for the remainder of the round. Klitschko continued to throw right hand bombs but none find the mark. Klitschko did a lot of holding and leaning on Brock during this fight – and the effects of all that size and weight seems to be wearing Brock down.
Brock was ripe for the picking in the 7th as Klitschko stuck to his game plan. The left jab was now unstoppable. The overhand rights were like freight trains.
Early in the round Dr. Wlad connected a devastating right hand flush on Brock’s jaw. It put the contender down to the canvas, flat on his face. Brock amazingly made it to his feet at the count of 9 but referee Wayne Kelly wisely stopped the contest before permanent damage occurred.
Laila Ali vs. Shelley Burton
In the co-feature, the top draw in female boxing Layla Ali picked apart a game but outgunned Shelley Burton to retain the Women’s WBC Super Middleweight Title.
Before the fight, Laila’s father – the great Muhammed Ali – was greeted to a roof shaking standing ovation. In the ring, Laila showed a disciplined style of fighting but also at times invited Burton in to brawl.
In the 4th, Burton took the bait to brawl but paid dearly as Ali popped the left hook and followed it with a stinging overhand right which spun Burton around and gave the referee no option but to stop the contest.
Manuel Medina….vs……Kevin Kelley
Call this one too little, too late. If this fight was made ten years ago it might have been a fight for the ages. Instead, this battle of featherweight old-heads should have doubled as a loser leaves town match.
These once-upon-a-time greats showed there isn’t a whole lot left in the tank. There wasn’t a whole lot of action and if it was held anywhere besides Kelley’s hometown, the boo birds would have been out early.
In the end, not even the home field advantage could help Kelley as two of the three judges scored the fight 115- 113 in favor of Medina with the third seeing it even at 114 – 114.
Derric Rossy….vs….Shannon Miller
Undefeated prospect Derric Rossy looked like a fighter on his way to becoming a contender while beating a tough veteran Shannon Miller in this NY State Heavyweight title fight.
Miller was a willing participant, but Rossy seemed to do him one better each round. Rossy put together more effective punches and not allow himself to get caught by the bombs that were coming his way.
The fight went to the scorecards and all three judges saw the fight in Rossy’s favor by scores of 100 -90 twice and 98-91
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