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Mendoza Draws with Pierson!

December 6, 2002

Last night in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a lively, enthusiastic crowd at the DeltaPlex watched formerly red-hot middleweight contender Epifanio Mendoza, now 16-1-1 (16) continue to slide from serious contention by fighting to a draw with slippery and tough, but not quite world-class Leon Pierson.

Fighting in the 8-round main event of Gerald Evans and 1World Productions’ “How the West Was Won” show, Pierson stung Mendoza several times with quick counter hooks to the body and head and probably deserved the decision. Mendoza appeared very mechanical and slow, as his long, looping swings were easily evaded. When he did land, Mendoza’s previously paralyzing punches had little effect.

The crowd booed the decision, 76-76, 77-75 (Mendoza) 77-75 (Pierson), strongly and some would say, deservedly so. Pierson doesn’t always have his night and when he does, he should be rewarded. He is now 10-6-3 (2).

For Mendoza, the prospect of his shocking Tokunbo Olajide upset being a fluke is becoming more and more of a strong possibility with each of his appearances since then. He suffered his first loss (by DQ) in his previous outing.

In the main semi-final fight, Toledo’s Dallas Vargas, 5-0 (4), clubbed Detroit’s Percel Banks high on the head with a right hand, dropping him in round two. Banks rose and was quickly beaten back to the floor, forcing referee Pat Schmidt to call a halt. With the TKO win, Vargas continued to assert himself as another Super Middle to watch for out of Ohio, joining Anthony Hanshaw. An eventual showdown between the two would be a very hot ticket if held in their mutual home state.

Former world-title challenger Bernard Harris, 22-16-2 (10), of Detroit, showed a bit of unexpected power in dropping oft-beaten Elvesto Mills, 6-19-1 (4), of Grand Rapids hard in round three of their scheduled six-round lightweight bout. Mills survived, but went on to lose a wide unanimous decision. The two Michiganders were exchanging freely in a fairly entertaining fight when Harris landed a haymaker right hand, dropped Mills, and sealed the victory. Mills was not the same afterward

Frankie “Spider Man” O’Neil, 1-0-1, of Detroit pulled a minor upset by scoring a four-round majority decision over talented newcomer Harold Cutts of Grand Rapids, now 1-1. O’Neil had all the answers for the awkward/explosive style of Cutts, who spent too much time looking and too little time punching. When he did come forward, Cutts scored effectively with flashy two-handed flurries, however O’Neil seemed to have all the answers, especially in the first two rounds. He caught Cutts on the way out with quite a few strong right hands and worked his jab to good effect as well. An argument could be made for a draw being the correct verdict, but the young southpaw learned the hard way about giving rounds away in a short fight. This was a solid, impressive way for O’Neil to notch his first pro victory.

Rocky Smith looked good once again by walking through the punches of surprisingly skilful Hiram Lee and clubbing him with a relentless, powerful barrage. The end of the Light Heavyweight bout came in round two with Lee turning his back and in pain from the strength of Smith. With the TKO win, Smith moved to 2-1 (2), his only loss in a thrilling war with Dallas Vargas. Smith’s fights are always exciting because you can’t miss him and he doesn’t stop coming.

This show was the third installment of Evans’ highly successful “Defenders of Democracy” series and the first to be televised live on WXSP-TV. Grand Rapids is heating up and it’s Evans and the “perfect for boxing” DeltaPlex that are making it happen.

Chris Grays, 2-2, went back to even in his career by blasting out the hopefully soon-to-retire Kolmage Harris, 1-8 in a scheduled four-round Super Middleweight fight.

bullet In addition to the excellent work by his trainer/father Ray Vargas, Dallas Vargas got emotional support from longtime friend and fellow former top-notch amateur Chad Jaquillard, who correctly implored him to box after trying to slug in the first.
bullet Grand Rapids’ own Reggie Nash moved to 3-1 by winning a unanimous decision over Omar Dotson, also of Grand Rapids, who was making his professional debut. Nash got back into the win column after suffering a highly controversial decision loss to Wilmer Torres in his last fight.
bullet Speaking of Nash vs. Torres, apologies to Michigan judge Rosemary Grable who was falsely reported as one of the two blind mice who unbelievably gave Torres the split-decision victory at the Palace last month. Grable was, in fact, the only voice of judicial reason in that fight. Ms. Grable, it was a member of your own commission who pointed at you that night.