Latimore Gains Lackluster Win at Unimpressive St. Louis Event

Brian McDowellCorrespondent IAugust 24, 2009

Last night's boxing card featuring DeAndre "The Bull" Latimore (20-2) was billed as a showcase for the wealth of boxing talent in the St. Louis area.

Instead, the sparse attendance, the poor organization and some lackluster athletic performances  demonstrated why the Gateway City will never be the boxing capital that it should be.

Only about 500 people showed up to the large Chaifetz Arena at St. Louis University. Most of the evening, promoted by Rumble Time Productions, was a fiasco.

The doors opened 20 minutes later than they were supposed to, the event started an hour after its scheduled time, and it featured numerous awkward delays between fights, with varying ridiculous explanations by the charmless and annoying ring announcer, Trevor Griffin.

The evening's main event, which didn't even start until midnight, featured local favorite Latimore's light-middleweight fight against 38-year-old journeyman boxer, Sammy Sparkman (21-19-1), who didn't show up to the prefight weigh-in, and who's name wasn't even included in any of the publicity for this event.

This was obviously set up to be a squash match, an easy, record-padding knockout for Latimore, who lost to Cory Spinks in his previous ring appearance.

However, victory over the veteran Sparkman seemingly wasn't as easy as this fight's promoters thought he would be.

Latimore, who the ring announcer introduced using unbelievable hyperbole like "the future of professional boxing," did manage to score more points than his experienced opponent, but he proved unable to bring any of his attacks to completion.

He had plenty of sloppy moments, where he was cornered and unable to stop barrages of punches from Sparkman.

 Latimore did manage to pull off an impressive flurry or two, but he didn't dominate the fight the way the small hometown crowd clearly wanted him to.

Latimore won the 10-round bout by unanimous decision, which should help his won-loss record, but, watching the fight, he certainly didn't look very impressive or intimidating.

The quality of the other fights on the card varied greatly.


Willie Lee (17-5) vs. Alex "The Technician" Bunema (31-7-2)

This battle for the unclaimed North American Boxing Federation light middleweight belt turned out to be the true fight of the night.

It was the kind of clash you only witness in Hollywood movies, two masters of the craft trading hard punches and withstanding brutal attacks.

Bunema, who was born in the Republic of Congo and fought wearing an African native type skirt, fought from a crouch, and concentrated on attacking Lee's body.

Lee, who initially entered the ring dressed as the Grim Reaper, defended himself by repeatedly punching Bunema in the head with increasing frequency.

Despite being briefly knocked to his knees in the ninth round, Lee won the very close and fun-to-watch fight in a split decision.


Julius Fogle III (15-1) vs. Kevin "The Hitman" Engel (17-2)

Engel is a well regarded local light heavyweight fighter, although watching him last night, it is difficult to see why anyone pays any attention to him at all.

His matchup against Fogle seemed to be an uneventful and unimpressive matchup with no real highlights in the first round and a half, until Fogle started bleeding badly.

The referee stopped the proceedings. It was announced that Engel had "accidentally headbutted" Fogel, so this waste of a fight was declared a no-decision.


Larry Jarrett (9-10) vs. Ryan "The Irish Outlaw" Coyne (12-0)

Coyne is a local celebrity, best known for being both a former University of Missouri football player and a contestant on the reality boxing show "The Contender." He is very well built and looks extremely intimidating, and had a loud, mostly female cheering section.

This cruiserweight bout pitted him against Jarrett, an unassuming bald Southerner that has lost as many fights as he's won. Coyne proceeded to pound Jarrett for six rounds. Jarrett seemed unable to launch an effective counterattack; his main boxing skill seemed to be not falling down.

By the end of the slugfest, Jarrett's nose was busted wide open, spouting blood, but he was still on his feet. Coyne definitely has power, he just doesn't seem to have the finesse it takes to knock out a clearly inferior opponent.

With some more training, he could really be a force to be reckoned with. Still, it was clear to the judges and everyone in the arena that the undefeated Coyne handily won this fight.


Reggie Sanders (12-45) vs. Dannie Williams (12-0)

Dannie Williams is a showboat fighter that walked into the ring with his own microphone bearing hype men. He was clad in purple and silver glitter covered shorts. From what I've seen, his boxing skills don't live up to the aura that he tries so hard to create.

However, in front of a sympathetic hometown crowd against a guy that has lost almost four times as many fights as he's won, any semi-proficient fighter should be able to inflict some damage.

In the second round of this lightweight bout, Williams did just that, pummelling Sanders, and then knocking him on his butt with his head between the ropes. It was a thunderous knockout, the lone fight of the night that wasn't ended by either a decision or disqualification.

Sanders stayed on the canvas for at least five minutes, while the oblivious Williams danced around the ring. Finally, Sanders got up by his own power. After 45 losses in the boxing ring, he has obviously had a lot of practice looking gracious in defeat.


Mayela Perez (8-10) vs. Hollie "Hot Stuff" Dunaway (22-8-1)

A small and strikingly cute female boxer, Hollie Dunaway is very popular in St. Louis, so this miniscule audience was clearly on her side. However, opponent Perez, who flew in from Mexico just for the fight, was determined not to give the well-loved local an easy victory.

Perez immediately went on the attack, repeatedly forcing Dunaway against the ropes and in the corners. However, Dunaway is clearly very skilled at fighting from a defensive position, and landed some resounding punches against her bigger and more aggressive opponent.

The incompetent ring announcer inappropriately took the mic and started cheerleading for Dunaway in the middle of the sixth and final round, and this unfair and ungracious gesture seemed to energize her a bit as she powered her way through the round.

Dunaway won the decision, which was probably a good call. Still, it must be said that, in front of a hostile crowd in a foreign country, Perez proved that she was a hell of a spirited fighter.


Skyler Thompson (11-5) vs. Ryan Davis (21-8)

A middleweight from just across the river from St. Louis, Ryan Davis has a very awkward style that makes him almost looks more like a character from an old video game than an actual fighter. He seems like he's smacking more than actually punching.

Still, this unconventionality seemed to work for him against a standard fighter like Thompson, who seemed spend most of this fight against the ropes.

Thompson did get in some good shots to Davis's head, but, all and all, Thompson wasn't sure what to make of the scrappy and aggressive Davis. So, Davis wasn't quite able to get Thompson down, but he easily won the fight by a unanimous decision.

Midwestern boxing fans could find plenty of entertainment at this event, but the sloppiness of the presentation distracted from the quality of any of the talent on display.

If St. Louis fight promoters don't improve their product and learn from their mistakes, it will be a long time before local spectators have a chance to see any big, meaningful fights live again.


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