Mary McGee retains her IBF Super Lightweight title with an eighth round TKO despite a dogged effort from Aussie Deanha Hobbs
Christina Linardatou drops rugged Prisca Vicot once and earns decision to reclaim her WBO Super Lightweight crown
Olympian Charles Conwell continues his pursuit of contention at Super Welterweight with a fifth round TKO victory in first bout since tragic Chicago fight with the late Patrick Day
HAMMOND, INDIANA (February 9, 2020) — The action-packed boxing event held at the Hammond Civic Center in Hammond, Indiana Saturday night underwent a lot of identities ahead of the show’s first bell. The event’s promoter of record was 4 Champs Promotions.
Fliers for the event indicated the card was presented by the McGee House of Champions whose namesake, defending IBF Super Lightweight champion Mary McGee, fought in the evening’s main event.
The Triple Crown International Showdown – a nod to a bout sheet laden with international fighters including McGee’s opponent Deanha Hobbs – also served as a working title of sorts.
Whatever the event’s name was, the night’s action in sum easily exceeded the expectations of anybody who bought a ticket.
Due to time concerns, organizers bumped the IBF Super Lightweight title fight between McGee and Hobbs up a slot or two. Hobbs (8-2, 5 KOs) initially seemed to respond to the earlier start better than nearby Gary native McGee (27-3-1, 15 KOs). However, Hobbs’ early aggression quickly primed McGee’s offensive attack, and by the second round the champion was landing punishing shots. The blows gradually slowed Hobbs’ frenetic pace.
McGee’s timing was instrumental up until the eighth round where she stalked and swarmed the 32-year old Australian to force TKO stoppage. The champion’s attack became more tactical at the 10-round fight’s halfway point. Starting in round five, McGee nullified the challenger’s work-rate with a calculated attack off of an increased amount of upper body movement.
The change-up’s impact was two-fold. Hobbs started to miss more and exert extra energy. Secondly, McGee made her pay by connecting with powerful shots while Hobbs was exposed, following through on a big miss. Hobbs scored well, landing in between McGee’s shots in round six, but McGee’s battered Hobbs throughout the subsequent round. The hometown fighter landed a crushing right hook, a telling right uppercut and added a second uppercut at the bell. Hobbs’ walk back to her corner was noticeably long.
Surprisingly, Hobbs opened round eight with some of her exuberance from the earlier rounds. McGee weathered the rally and pressed forward to squelch that momentum, and unleashed a punishing combination that moved Hobbs’ corner to signal to the referee to intervene. For McGee’s post-fight comments click here.
There was no drop-off in the will to compete in the hard-fought co-main event. Greece’s Christina Linardatou ferociously opened her battle with Prisca Vicot for the vacant WBO Super Lightweight championship – a title Linardatou defended against Hobbs last June.
Vicot, a 44-year old from France, struggled with the 31-year old former champion’s in-and-out attacks through the first two rounds. In an explosive third round exchange, when it looked like Linardatou landed the better punch, a shot launched her mouth-piece up out of the ring where it landed by her corner team. Referee Mark Nelson eventually halted the bout so it could be reinserted, and then Linardatou dropped Vicot seconds before the bell.
Vicot (11-7, 2 KOs) regrouped during the 1-minute break, and fought on to display her mettle. Following her visit to the canvas, Vicot adjusted by remaining in Linardatou’s chest whenever the former champion darted in to work. Linardatou (13-2, 6 KOs) sported a cut on the bridge of her nose in round five – an indication of Vicot’s success with her right hand.
Vicot had her moments in part of the fourth round, as well as in rounds five and six. The two traded big right hooks in the seventh frame. Linardatou’s shot landed with good extension and knocked Vicot backwards into the ropes. Linardatou circled to her left and boxed from outside more the last few rounds. She sustained a cut over the right corner of her eye from a head butt in round eight. Following more smothering from Vicot in round nine, she emerged with the right side of her face covered in blood after being separated by the referee. Vicot received a hard warning from the ref to watch her head after several rounds of complaints from Linardatou’s chief second.
Both fighters finished the fight push to their limits at the end of the 10th and final round. They were rushed out the ring, without the winner announced, to fit in the night’s final bout. BoxRec indicates Linardatou reclaimed her old title.
Ohio Was in the Building
With Australia, France and Greece representing the international presence; domestically, Ohio held a strong presence on the evening’s line-up of fighters. The neighboring state went .500 on the night.
World-ranked Super Welterweight Charles Conwell, a 2016 Olympian, returned to ring for the first time since his tragic October fight with the late Patrick Day. The Hammond Civic Center is less than 25 miles south of Chicago’s Wintrust Arena, the venue where the two young fighters crossed paths.
Conwell showed little, if any, signs of the effects of his publicized struggles to resume his career. He quickly adjusted to the normal orthodox versus southpaw positioning game against Mexico’s Ramses Agaton (22-12-3, 12 KOs). Once the 22-year old Cleveland native – and soon-to-be first-time father – figured out his best angles he unleashed his signature body attack.
Both men used their shoulders inside to create space for their punches. Conwell’s had the greater effect, but Agaton let out a sly smile after connecting with a right uppercut as the split apart in round two. He let out a “Whoo!” and waved Conwell towards him. He obliged, and despite Agaton’s attempt to smother his power, in round four Conwell landed a double right-hook body-head combination that started to take the fight out of the Mexican. He also added a 1-2 combination to Agaton’s head, and the corner advised the referee their fighter was through for the night during the break. The Ohioan moved to 12-0 with his ninth stoppage.
Conwell’s older half-brother, Isaiah Steen, ended another fight in an awkward manner. As a result, the slender Super Middleweight only made a brief appearance to get his 14th victory and 11th inside the distance. The shorter Kenneth Council, 35, attempted to rush Steen and use his length against him. Steen quickly turned the tables, getting Council’s respect with his jab before tracking him into a corner where he unloaded a powerful barrage of blows.
After the flurries forced Council to take a knee, the Tennessee fighter appeared to attempt to work out an issue with his right shoulder. His corner quickly advised the referee he couldn’t continue and the fight ended. Steen later spoke with Bite Down Boxing and revealed the win was his last fight at 168-pounds.
The night’s third representative of Toledo, Ohio’s Soul City Boxing Gym, southpaw Welterweight Marcus Washington, rebounded from a first round knockdown to nearly decision Chicago’s Destyne Butler. Butler’s well-placed left hook caught Washington (4-1, 1 KOs) flush in between steps, and he fought through an equally powerful second left hook moments after the fight continued.
Butler (8-0, 5 KOs) chased single power punches most of the balance of the fight. He ignored his trainer Mike Stafford’s pleas to set up his power with his jab. Meanwhile, Washington’s confidence swelled and he started using his lateral movement to run the hometown fighter into some thudding overhand shots. Despite his courageous rally over the two final rounds, the knockdown thwarted his upset bid. Butler picked up the American Boxing Federation’s USA Mid American title with scores of 57-56 twice and the outlier card of 59-54. Washington expressed his disappointment with the outcome afterwards with Bite Down Boxing.
Cincinnati’s 42-year old Muhammad Adams failed to capture his first win his fifth attempt. He weathered a fast start by Hammond’s Anthony Fleming, but fought tired through most of the four rounds as Fleming went on to earn his second win. Adams fell to 0-4-1 but put up a solid fight against the 24-year old hometown fighter.
Other Women Had Big Nights at The Triple Crown
Chicago’s first women’s champion Leatitia Robinson (15-1, 9 KOs) returned to the ring for the first time in nearly 11 years. She fought poised in the 6-rounder and rarely struggled with anything Claire Hafner through at her. Robinson operated sharply in the first round, and it looked like Hafner might fail to go the distance. She never put the Canadian away, she controlled the fight all six rounds and flashed some slick head movement when Hafner tried to let her hands go in the fourth round. Robinson won by unanimous decision.
Illinois Welterweight Sarah French used her footwork to get in-and-out, cleanly, to set up her overhand right to claim her fourth victory. Canada’s Christina Barry (1-6) couldn’t move with French to offset her disciplined attacks. French won handily, sweeping all three scorecards 60-54.
Australia’s Ebanie Bridges made the most of her U.S. debut against Crystal Hoy (6-11-4, 3 KOs) of Las Vegas. Bridges stayed first in the exchanges for all six rounds, and outworked Hoy with a mix of volume, feints and smart combinations. The visiting Bantamweight also won all three cards 60-54.
In the night’s last women’s attraction two-time title challenger Melissa St. Vil out-boxed Canadian Jessica Camara in a competitive 10-rounder. The younger and bigger Camara suffered her second loss to the 36-year from Brooklyn largely because she allowed St. Vil to consistently work from a safe distance. Earlier in the fight a clash of heads occurred and Camara was left with a hematoma in the same location as the famous injury to Hasim Rahman. Camara’s was maybe one-third the size.
The scorecards were close with totals of 96-94 twice, and 96-93. St. Vil used her movement, had a plan whenever the two engaged, and typically exited the exchanges having landed the better shots. Camara fought with more urgency in the final two rounds, but was too far behind to matter.
Also in Action
Indianapolis’ Austin Manning, a 21-year southpaw with trainer Mike Stafford in his corner, passed his biggest test with a unanimous decision against Tyron Harris (26-15, 16 KOs). With the exception of some left hooks from Harris in the first frame, Manning remained a couple of steps ahead of the veteran and executed a solid game plan. Manning earned win No. 8 with scorecards of 59-55, 59-55 and 58-56. The youngster’s grasp of maintaining his best range and ability to comfortably slip Harris’ head shots was impressive.
Cristian Williams, 25, from Crete, Illinois fought a well-balanced fight and convincingly out-boxed the over-matched Manuel Rubalcava (4-32-1). Rubalcava motioned towards a bicep issue while on his stool after wildly throwing overhand rights in the third round. Williams moved to nine wins with his sixth stoppage.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin native Rolando Vargas started the evening off in exciting fashion, collecting a 4-knockdown second round TKO versus Rondale Hubbert. Vargas, 20, got off to slow start as Hubbert (13-12-2, 8 KOs) worked behind a lazy left jab. After tasting Vargas’ power, in a right hook around the midpoint of the round, the 31-year old shouldered up against Vargas (5-0, 5 KOs) inside. Vargas dropped Hubbert to close the first round.
Vargas set up scored with some head shots from southpaw stance to open the second. He quickly scored the second knockdown. Once back to an orthodox stance he worked Hubbert’s body with some hooks for the third knockdown. Vargas caught Hubbert with a right uppercut for the fourth knockdown. The fight continued again and a final Vargas flurry simultaneously dropped Hubbert down to a knee as the referee stepped in to call the fight off.
DiBella Entertainment and Brian Cohen’s Team Empire Boxing co-promoted the 14-fight card. Local outfit LRP handled streamed the fight for $24.99 from its website www.lrplive.tv. Former Super Middleweight champion Alicia Napoleon-Espinosa and former Middleweight champion Kali Reis served as two-thirds of the commentary team.
All photos by Jeffery Finney/Catch N Shoot Media