METAIRIE – Professional boxing returned to the metropolitan New Orleans area for the first time in 2013 Thursday night in successful fashion, with a standing room crowd of over 1,000 on hand to watch a seven-fight card at the Best Western Landmark Hotel Grand Ballroom.
In the main event, Marcus McDaniel fought past stubborn Tristan Todd of Memphis in the middleweight division by majority decision to improve to 9-0.
In a decision that could have gone either way, the first round was fought on even terms. Round two was also fought on even terms with Todd slightly more active. McDaniel picked up the pace, doubling up on punches to rally in the final minute to take round three. Round four was less active for both and fought on even terms. Round five was virtually even as well, with McDaniel flashier but Todd landing aggressive shots on the ropes. Todd closed well in the final round, landing solid shots on McDaniel, again against the ropes. While McDaniel was quicker, Todd was busier for much of the bout.
The fight went to the judges’ cards and one judge loved McDaniel, giving him a 59-55 edge while another had it 58-56. A third judge scored it even at 57-57.
“I grew up watching fights here in New Orleans and I know Evander Holyfield fought here,” McDaniel said. “I dreamed about being a main event fighter here. This was a good fight for me against a good opponent. I learned a lot that I can build on.”
McDaniel was fighting for himself and for a treasured lost relative.
Just a month ago, McDaniel lost his brother, Travis Thomas, who died in a vehicle on Interstate 10 in New Orleans.
“I know he was watching over me, cheering me on,” McDaniel said. “I felt his presence and I could not let him down. We came from the lower ninth ward, where there is little hope and lots of violence, bad violence. It is no good. We got to beat it and give people hope.”
Todd, who landed the more telling body shots in close quarters, fell to 8-3 with the defeat.
In the opening bout of the night, Terry “Tornado” Young of Gretna made his professional debut in successful fashion, scoring a technical knock out win over veteran Billy Cunningham of Jackson, Mississippi in a four-round cruiserweight battle.
Young was quicker from the outset. He connected with a lead right to the temple of Cunningham 12 seconds into the second round, knocking Cunningham down. Cunningham later went down in the fourth round but it was ruled a slip. He was unable to recover from a cut to his left cheekbone and Young was awarded the victory 1:17 into the fourth round.
In a battle of junior welterweights, Asa “The White Tornado” Dalphone, a Marine reserve from Navarre, Florida, remained unbeaten with a unanimous decision victory over James “Tuna” Harrison of Marrero.
Dalphone used his superior reach, size and power to control the fight from the start. He had a big third round, landing several power shots, utilizing a right uppercut with great effect. Harrison showed courage to go the distance. Dalphone won all four rounds on two of three cards and three of four on the other judges’ card.
In a spirited heavyweight battle, Terrance “Big Jim” Marbra of Dade City, Florida was very impressive, pounding Bobby “Bobo” O’Bannon of Mobile, Alabama with multiple power combinations en route to a TKO win.
Marbra nearly had O’Bannon out in the second round but O’ Bannon battled back in game fashion, taking the third round to make it competitive. O’ Bannon continued to take the fight to Marbra in the fourth round, an even round. Marbra started fast while O’ Bannon closed the round well.
In the fifth round, Marbra’s jabs and repeated blows landed finally took their toll as O’ Bannon could not answer the bell for the sixth round.
In a junior welterweight bout, the comeback attempt of Covington’s Will McIntyre did not go as planned as “Sugar” Rayford Johnson scored a fourth technical knockout 33 seconds into the fourth round. Johnson pummeled McIntyre in both the third and fourth rounds before the fight was stopped. Johnson improved to 8-9 while McIntyre fell to 40-6 with the defeat.
In another junior welterweight bout, New Orleanian Regis Prograris improved to 4-0 with a unanimous decision victory over Adauto Gonzales of Austin, Texas. A lefty, Prograris used his superior reach and good balance to land stinging jabs and nice combinations, displaying excellent boxing skills. Gonzales, who was taunting much of the fight, indicating that he was not hurt, dropped to 10-9 with the defeat.
In the co-feature bout, women Sydney “Ginger” Leblanc of Gretna and Latasha Burton of Houma staged a battle in the super middleweight division with LeBlanc
Burton was a little quicker and slightly more active in the opening round, a good one. LeBlanc rallied late in the second round before winning the third round, moving forward, the aggressor throughout. LeBlanc stung Burton frequently in round four, pulling away for the unanimous decision.
“This was a good fight for me,” LeBlanc said. “I am used to fighting bigger fighters. She was good, quick. I had to feel her out and figure out the best approach, but I was able to pick up the pace in the last two rounds. This was a good experience.”
With the win, LeBlanc improved to 3-0.