May 10, 2012

Savage Homecoming in Lowell - Eklund wins, McCreedy beaten

Team El-Amin wins in Lowell
LOWELL - After a seven year hiatus, professional boxing made its return last night to the fighting city of Lowell, MA. Home to Micky Ward, Dickie Eklund, and the rest of Lowell's finest, the Mill City played host to Chicago Fight Club Promotion's "Homecoming" - a five fight card at the historic Lowell Memorial Auditorium featuring local favorites Sean Eklund and Joey McCreedy in separate bouts. Unfortunately for Lowell fight fans, only one of their hometown heroes emerged with a win last night as Sean Eklund (11-4 w/ 2 KOs) won a spirited eight round decision over Niagara Falls native James Ventry (7-14-1 w/ 4 KOs) while Joey McCreedy (13-6-2 w/ 6 KOs) dropped a ten round decision to Flint, Michigan's Shujaa El-Amin (12-3 w/ 6 KOs) - the fighter formerly known as Dion Savage. It wasn't the kind of homecoming that McCreedy or his fans expected and El-Amin spoiled it in a big way by savagely busting up and dominating McCreedy over ten one sided rounds. Simply put, McCreedy was beaten at home by a better more determined fighter and the judges didn't even try to screw it up.  

El-Amin came all the way from Flint, Michigan to Lowell, Massachusetts to make a statement in the ring and then one outside of it. By dominating the wild swinging McCreedy with a jab that seemed to never miss and a brutal body attack reminiscent of another certain famous Lowell fighter, he succeeded in making his strong statement in the ring - picking up the vacant USBO super middleweight title by lopsided scores of 100-90, 100-90, and 99-91. The new champion then made his statement outside the ring telling KO Digest after the fight, "I fight for the freedom of my father who has been in jail for fifteen years for a crime he didn't commit. He's Dion Savage Sr and we have proof that he's innocent but they refuse to look at his case and that's an injustice." 

It was a great night for El-Amin and a tough night for McCreedy, who was cut early and battered often. When they fought on the inside, El-Amin proved superior and he worked the body with savage effectiveness. When El-Amin worked on the outside, he controlled McCreedy with a jab that seemed to get better as the fight wore on. In the eighth round, McCreedy took two jabs flush to the face the same way Rocky Balboa would take them in the movies, that's to say - he didn't even bother to move his head. In the same round, El-Amin demoralized McCreedy even further with a lead right hand that bounced off McCreedy's face. 

"I knew Joe McCreedy didn't have the boxing skills that I have. I hit him with some good shots and he didn't go anywhere, so he's pretty tough. What's next? I want rematches with Marco Antonio Periban and Adonis Stevenson." 

Periban and Stevenson both stopped El-Amin in one round back in 2011. Oh, and why the name change? It's because according to El-Amin, "Savage is a slave name, and I'm a free man now so I wanted to change my name because I represent a free people."

Sean Eklund wins at home in Lowell
Sean Eklund W8 James Ventry (junior welterweights) - In the co-main event, crowd favorite Sean Eklund made his Lowell debut, fighting professionally for the first time in his hometown since turning pro in 2005. Eklund won an eight round decision over Niagara Falls, NY native James Ventry by scores of 79-73, 79-73, and 78-74. Eklund did a little of everything in the ring against Ventry - boxing when he needed to and fighting when he had to. The crowd went crazy for Eklund all night and he didn't disappoint them. "The gameplan was to box but I think it was my ability to box and dig down inside that separated us. My skills were better and I can do more than one thing in the ring. I fed off the crowd but like Micky and Dickie say - don't let it get you out of your gameplan and stay within yourself."


For eight rounds, Sean Eklund did just that and for him, it was a very successful homecoming.

Antonio Canas D6 Tyrone Chatman (junior welterweights) - Chicago Fight Club Promotions brought the undefeated Antonio Canas (6-0-1 w/ 3 KOs) all the way from the Windy City to Lowell, MA and the "Aztec God of War" barely escaped with a majority draw against St. Louis, MO native (9-1-2 w/ 6 KOs) Tyrone Chatman. After a slow start by both fighters in the first two rounds, Chatman came alive in the third round, dropping Canas in the corner with a straight left to the face. Canas beat the count but was down again quickly from a follow up barrage by Chatman. The knockdowns seemed to invigorate Canas and he began to live up to his nickname, battling back hard for the rest of the fight to earn a draw as Chatman slowed down and seemed to tire as the fight went on. The judge's scores were 57-55 for Chatman, 56-56, and 56-56. Said Canas afterwards, "I think I won the fight. He wasn't throwing as much as I was. I was landing a lot more than him. He did get me down in the third with a punch I didn't see but I don't think he did enough to win the fight."  

Jimmy Smith NC1 Rafael Jusino (welterweights) - US Marine Jimmy Smith from Portland, ME celebrated his 28th birthday by making his professional debut in Lowell in the very same building where he's fought many times as an amateur. Unfortunately for Smith, an accidental headbutt in the first round resulted in a deep cut over the right eye of his winless opponent Rafael Jusino (0-6) and the fight was ruled a No Contest before it ever really had a chance to get underway. Smith did drop Jusino with a left hook early in the first round before the headbutt but once the blood started flowing, Smith's chance to get the win went out the window, "Heartbreaking, all that training, all that work. It's a little anti-climactic. I don't remember a headbutt. I remember my head being pulled down a lot and I remember landing a good left hook." 

Anthony Jones W4 Bernie Ongewe (middleweights) - In the evening opener, Newark, NJ native Anthony
Jones (1-0-1) spent four rounds cornering the professionally debuting Bernie Ongewe and pinning him on the ropes where he would punch away while Ongewe mostly just covered up, only occasionally punching back. Introduced as being from Lowell but billed as being from nearby Dracut, MA - Ongewe got a rousing reception from the crowd when he was introduced but then they saw him fight and the cheering stopped at that point. 

Overheard in the Lowell locker room after the fight was - "I think Bernie should go back to Dracut."

Scores were 40-35, 40-36, and 39-37 all in favor of Jones. 

Images & Words by Jeffrey Freeman