Tom Sorensen

No knockouts, but boxing event at NoDa had something that might have been better

Boxing at NoDa had a little of everything – but no knockouts.
Boxing at NoDa had a little of everything – but no knockouts. WWW.MICZEKPHOTO.COM

I had a good Saturday. It began on the side of a grass field with the Carolina Panthers and ended outside a boxing ring at CenterStage@NODA.

With the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor fight coming up this month, and the Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez fight next month, you know I have to work one boxing reference into the column.

Christy Salters Martin promoted the boxing card, her third since moving to Charlotte and, like the previous card, it sold out. The one quality it lacked was a knockout. Fans want knockouts. Nobody has ever stood up and shouted, “Sweet science!”

Most of the fights were close. Salters Martin did something most promoters won’t. She matched her two headliners against good competition.

Stevie The Answer Massey, 24, came in 4-0 with four knockouts. He’s from Charlotte, and cheering fans followed him through the crowd to the ring.

His opponent, Reggie Barnett Jr., smiled at the loud Massey contingent. He never quieted the crowd, but he took over the fight. Barnett, who is 31 and from Chesapeake, Va., came in 4-1. He was quicker to the punch, landed the harder punches and knocked Early down. Barnett won a unanimous decision.

The co-main event featured LaVonte Earley, who also was accompanied to the ring by adorning fans. The World Class Gentleman, who also fights out of Charlotte, came in 4-0 with three knockouts. He fought tough Gary Lynch of Albemarle, who came in 4-1.

Along with the creative nickname, Earley, 23, is quick, entertaining and can move. But Lynch wouldn’t go away. For six rounds, he pursued Earley, landing the occasional good shot.

I thought Earley won, as did two of the judges, who awarded him a split decision.

Two out of town fighters were excellent. One was Zsolt Daranyi Jr., 22, who beat Andre Blake by TKO. A superwelterweight, Daranyi is from Budapest and fights out of Toronto. He’s 12-0. The other was Brandun Lee, who is 18 and fights out of California. He beat Donovain Battle by decision. A welterweight, Lee is 4-0.

The crowd included Charlotte's Calvin Brock, the super heavyweight on the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, who in 2006 challenged Wladimir Klitschko for Klitschko's IBF heavyweight title. Klitschko won on a seventh round TKO, the first loss for Brock.

Also in the crowd was Charlotte's Kelvin Seabrooks, who in 1987 and ’88 held the IBF bantamweight championship.

I heard a judge complain as he walked into the parking lot at the after the fight that the judges wouldn’t have had to work so hard if there had been some knockouts.

But close fights are all right, too. A group of us went out to dissect what we saw. You don’t do that unless you had a good time.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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