LOS ANGELES — The non-televised portion of the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson undercard featured lots of action, a few upsets and one truly inspirational story.
The oldest and least talented fighter on the undercard, Dewey Bozella, received the loudest ovation from the crowd at Staples Center on Saturday.
The 52-year-old ex-con from Beacon, N.Y., served 26 years in Sing Sing Correctional Facility for a murder he did not commit. Bozella wanted to try professional boxing before being wrongfully accused and imprisoned. Tonight he finally lived his dream, by out-pointing Larry Houston over four rounds in his pro debut, but did not come without a struggle.
That was OK. Bozella (1-0), who was rocked in the first round, is used to struggling. He looked painfully slow in the first two rounds but the ESPy award winner gradually fought himself into punching with reasonable reflexes. Bozella pumped his jab and worked the body in the third round and dominated Hopkins (0-4) in the fourth.
The journeyman from Houston, Texas spat his mouthpiece out six times in the final round (and was docked a point by referee Marcos Rosales after the third time) and was clearly hurt in the final seconds of the round.
“I used to lie in my cell and dream of this,” Bozellas said after winning by scores of 39-36, 38-36 and 38-37. “This was the greatest moment of my life, but it was my first and last fight. I did what I wanted to do. This is a young man’s game.”
In the most significant fight on the non-televised undercard, former WBA welterweight titleholder Luis Collazo was upset by fringe contender Freddy Hernandez in a back-and-forth 10-round slugfest.
Hernandez (30-2, 20 knockouts), who won by unanimous scores of 96-93, was the aggressor as he put forth the more consistent offense. Collazo (31-5, 16 KOs), a savvy southpaw from Brooklyn, N.Y., elected to stay in the pocket and trade with Hernandez, which made for many exciting exchanges but cost him dearly when the rangy Mexico City native scored a body shot knockdown in the eighth round.
Collazo dug deep and let his hands go with abandon in the final two rounds but Hernandez fought back with equal intensity.
It was a pity the fight was not televised or at least streamed live on the internet because it was an entertaining junior middleweight scrap. Perhaps a rematch can find its way on the airwaves.
Former lightweight standout Nick Casal shocked Michael Anderson, stopping the unbeaten welterweight prospect in the third round of their scheduled eight-round bout.
Casal (22-4-1, 17 KOs), looking fast and fit fighting at 147 pounds, rocked Anderson with a right cross in the opening round and took the fight to the taller man until he dropped the Newark, N.J., native in the third. Casal, of Niagra Falls, N.Y., forced referee Ray Corona to step in spare Anderson (11-1-1, 9 KOs) after repeatedly stunning the prospect.
Junior featherweight prospect Manuel Avila needed a third-round knockdown to score a split-decision over fellow undefeated talent David Reyes, who gave him all he could handle in an entertaining four rounder.
Avila (6-0, 2 KOs), a former amateur standout from Fairfield, Calif., was the more accurate puncher but he was troubled the fast footwork, angles and punch volume of Reyes (2-1), of East L.A.
In another matchup between unbeaten prospects, Donyil Livingston earned a hard-fought unanimous decision over Kurtis Colvin in a six-round middleweight slugfest.
Livingston (6-0-1, 3 KOs), of Palmdale, Calif., won by scores of 59-55 and 58-56 (twice). Colvin (6-1, 5 KOs), of Austin, Texas, was hurt in the first round but remained game throughout.
photo by Naoki Fukuda