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Another Night in Fairfax…a Reminder of Boxing’s Glory

By Alec Kohut at ringside


Fairfax, Virginia is hardly the place one would expect to see what boxing used to be and could be again in America. However, last Saturday night at George Mason University’s Patriot Center, the card featuring former “The Contender” fan-favorite Jimmy Lange did just that. In a time of half-full arenas for world title fights and promoters openly admitting they “don’t care if they sell 500 tickets” to a “super-fight,” it’s nice to be reminded of when the average American sports fan cared about boxing.
 
And in Northern Virginia, they care about Jimmy Lange Boxing.
 
A good part of it is due to Lange’s father, John, a native of the Bronx who has run a plumbing company for decades in the area and practices good old-fashioned boots-on-the-ground marketing. Something’s wrong in boxing when a plumber sells more tickets for an average fighter than some promoters do for world champions but to this reporter, it confirms my belief that the American sports fan is begging to be invited back to boxing.

The fights at a Team Lange event rarely disappoint and Saturday night was no exception. In the main event, Lange scored a six-round TKO over Raul Munoz in an exciting affair for the WBU junior middleweight title. Of course, the WBU belt is little more than a regional trinket, ranking just above the Tulsa, Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce belt, but it gave the fans something to cheer about and enabled Jackie Kallen to commandeer the microphone after the fight to claim that their plan is to unify the 154-pound belts. Again, the fans had something to cheer about.
 
The fight itself was as good as it gets. Munoz and Lange taking turns walking each other down, with Munoz getting the best of it for most of the first five rounds. Maxboxing had Munoz winning four of the first five rounds. In typical Jimmy Lange fashion, he let his back touch the ropes too often and took enough punishment to cause concern among the hometown faithful. There were few, if any, breaks in the action, as both men knew they could land punches with regularity if they didn’t mind eating a little leather to do it…and they didn’t mind.
 
At the post-fight press conference when Lange, the father, was asked if he was worried, he replied he had deemed the fight a shutout. This prompted the reporter to reply, “For Jimmy?” The rounds were close and Munoz was not playing the role of “opponent.” Despite losing a point for spitting out his mouthpiece in the fourth, Munoz was in position to score the upset but Jimmy Lange is not just popular here because of his father or the “Contender” show but because of his heart, grit and determination.
 
Midway through the sixth round, as Munoz took a step to the side to get off the ropes, Lange landed a crushing left hook, sending Munoz to the canvas and the crowd into a frenzy. After the eight count, referee Joseph Cooper let the bout continue and Lange smelled blood. He swarmed on Munoz who covered but could do little to stop Lange’s onslaught. Munoz took a knee for a brief reprieve and it looked to have worked as Munoz was able to land a solid hook to Lange’s chin. However, the respite was short-lived and soon, Lange used a barrage of punches to drop Munoz for a third time. This time, after his eight count, Cooper signaled an end to the contest, again sending the crowd into frenzy.
 
Now the rumors will circulate as to whom Lange’s next opponent will be. We’ll likely hear talk of a fight with Hector Camacho Jr. or maybe Cornelius Bundrage. Former welterweight contender Michael Stewart will be mentioned after calling out Lange after his own easy knockout win over Jimmy LeBlanc on the undercard but without making it a catchweight bout, it’s doubtful that happens. In the end, we’ll likely get word of an opponent who we’ll need to look up on BoxRec.com after asking, “Who?”
 
I’ve been critical of Lange’s choice of opposition in the past but now I’d rather see a well-matched war than Lange against a bigger-name contender in a fight in which he would likely not fare well.
 
Following the press conference, Lange headed to the after-party, also held at the Patriot Center where he shook every hand, signed every autograph, and posed for every picture asked of him- just like he does after every fight and every appearance he makes in Northern Virginia. People enjoy attending his fights because of that connection Lange builds with fans, many of which never before attended a prizefight.
 
As the boxing establishment continues to disregard the fans in its pursuit of more and more money, Jimmy and Johnny Lange prove that if you just work at developing fans and give them a good show, the money will follow. But don’t expect things to change anytime soon, as we continue to watch boxing in America wither on the vine as the big promoters try to squeeze more and more money out of fewer and fewer fans.
 
The undercard featured the aging former contender Jonathan Reid in a lopsided loss to local George Rivera. Reid never had a chance as Rivera easily outworked him in all eight rounds. Including his fights on “The Contender,” Reid has lost 13 of his last 15 fights and will hopefully hang up the gloves for good.
 
Junior welterweight Todd Wilson, now 11-0 (3), easily out pointed former IBF featherweight champion Eric Aiken, who returned from a three-year layoff. The long layoff was evident, as Aiken never found his rhythm in the ring. Wilson was clearly the bigger fighter despite the report they both weighed in at 142. Aiken would have had to have more weights under his saddle than Seabiscuit to match Wilson in weight.
 
The night was not without controversy as local Virginian Zain Ali Shah was credited with a second round knockout over Julius Kennedy despite blatantly hitting Kennedy while the latter was down in round two. Referee Malik Waleed has been one of the best officials in the DC area for quite some time but in this one, he blew the call and blew it badly. Here’s the video; the foul occurs at the 7:30 mark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1odWafYyf8&feature=share
 
Hopefully, the Virginia Commission will overturn the result and rule it a no-contest but I have about as much faith in Virginia’s commission as I do the preacher who said the world was going end in May.
 
Super middleweight Scott Sigmon scored a unanimous decision over Bruce Rumbolz to improve to 17-3 (8). Sigmon backed Rumbolz to the ropes throughout the fight but then squared up his feet, severely limiting his power. He’s still relatively new to the fight game and could develop into a solid local fighter in the coming years.

WBC female middleweight champion Tori Nelson won a four-round exhibition bout against Michelle Garland. In the opening bout of the evening, Lawrence Jones defeated Jose Felix in a six-round contest.
 
Questions or comments can be directed to aleckohut@hotmail.com. Please visit Alec at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1255732257&ref=ts and follow him on Twitter @alecmaxboxing.


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