January 27, 2013

The Boys are Back in Boston - Danny O'Connor wins at the Garden

Night at the Fights in Boston
BOSTON, MA -- More than five years have passed since the last time the TD Garden in Boston hosted professional boxing. That was way back on November 6, 2007 for the third season finale of the hit television show, The Contender. On that night, Sakio Bika stopped Jaidon Codrington in a forgotten classic to win the popular boxing reality series.

For fight fans in Beantown, it's been lean times on the local circuit since. Once known as a hub for boxing, the original Boston Garden closed its meat lockers years ago and in its place popped up the squeaky clean Fleet Center, later renamed the TD Banknorth Garden. It is now simply known as the TD Garden. Or as locals call it, the Gahden.

Times have changed but boxing is back in Boston and that's reason to celebrate.

Ward, Pazienza, and Starling sign for fans
Co-promoted by DiBella Entertainment, Warrior Boxing Promotions, and USA Boxing - the TD Garden played host on Saturday, January 26th to a mix of amateur and professional boxing before an enthusiastic crowd of approximately four to five thousand die-hard fight fans. A boxing memorabilia show presented by the Saugus, MA based "Sportsworld" accompanied the matches and lucky fans had the chance to meet and greet with local boxing heroes Micky Ward, Marlon Starling, and Vinny Pazienza. 

In the professional main event, popular Framingham, MA native Danny O'Connor (20-1 w/ 7KOs) battled another local, Derek Silveira (8-1 w/ 4KOs) from Salem, MA, in an exciting junior welterweight contest. The action was fast paced and both fighters had strong support from the crowd. O'Connor controlled the early part of the fight with an aggressive energy that Silveira had trouble keeping up with.

A straight left to the face in the third stunned Silveira and blood leaked from his nose for the rest of the night.

The Bruins are back and so is boxing at the Garden
To his advantage, O'Connor worked the body very well for the first five rounds but inexplicably stopped going downstairs in the sixth, perhaps thinking that Silveira was ready to be taken out. Unfortunately for O'Connor, his gutsy opponent hung in there to hear the final bell. Both fighters were spent in the tenth and it would be fair to say they both left it all in the ring.

"Derek was a tough young opponent. I was getting anxious to knock him out and I got a little away from my game plan. When you look for the knockout instead of letting it come, more often than not, it doesn't come."

Curious majority decision scores in favor of O'Connor were 100-89, 97-93, and 95-95. The fight was by no means a shutout or a draw. From the press section, KO Digest scored the fight 98-92, giving Silveira the ninth and the fourth rounds. A case could be made for scoring an even round in the tenth. Of the three official scores, 97-93 most reflected the reality in the ring. "I didn't see it a draw the way that one judge saw it and I actually went up to him after the fight to ask him about it. He said that's how he saw it, I'm not going to second guess him," said O'Connor at ringside after the fight. 

O'Connor then summed up the feelings that this reporter heard expressed by nearly every local fighter on the card, describing the experience of fighting at the Garden in Boston, "It was amazing. I've been dreaming about this since even before I started boxing. In any sport you compete in, you dream about doing it at the Garden if you're from around here."

With the win at the Garden, O'Connor has now won fights in the Celtics' and Bruins' house, and last year at the New England Patriots' house, Gillette Stadium. Don't be surprised to see O'Connor fighting at Fenway Park someday.

In the co-main event, Quincy, MA's Ryan "The Polish Prince" Kielczewski (15-0 w/ 3KOs) easily stopped the overmatched Washington Hago (5-5 w/ 3KOs) from Woodside, NY. In this lightweight match-up of light hitters, the Prince showed some surprising pop in the second round, ripping wicked combinations to the pudgy body of his bald opponent to score two knockdowns before the white towel came flying into the ring from the Hago corner.  

On the undercard:

Middleweight Russell Lamour (2-0 w/ 1KO) of Portland, ME defeated Luis Viramontes (3-1-1 w/ 1KO) from Brockton, MA by unanimous decision over four rounds. All three judges scored the fight 40-36 for Lamour, who used his jab and straight right hand to easily control his smaller, older, and less fit opponent.

Boston Police Officer Bill Traft (3-0 w/ 1KO) from Dorchester, MA defeated Joe Powers (0-1) from Groton, CT by unanimous decision. Traft gave chase for most of the fight but could not keep Powers in the corner when he had him there. The tide turned a bit in the fourth round but it was too late for Powers in his pro debut. Scores in favor of Traft were 40-36, 40-36, and 39-37.      

In the amateur ranks:

Gerald Schifone W3 Khiary Gray Pitts ~ 165 lb Sr Division Open Class Middleweights
Joe Meuse W3 Ryan White ~ 152 lb Sr Division Open Class Welterweights
Marc Muniz W3 Luca Lo Conte Botis ~ 132 lb Jr Division Open Class Lightweights
Brandon Berry W3 Julio Perez ~ 141 lb Sr Division Open Class Light Welterweights
Elijah Peixoto W3 Tim Ramos ~ 132 lb Sr Division Open Class Lightweights     

Peixoto was awarded the "Outstanding Boxer" of the night award by USA Boxing.

Images & Words by Jeffrey Freeman