MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Heavyweights Terry Smith and Dennis McKinney were at their sartorial best in an eight-round bout on Saturday night's Jermain Taylor-Winky Wright undercard.
Smith, a local favorite from Little Rock, Ark., strutted into the ring in royal purple gear, with a posse to match. McKinney sported Desert Storm-themed trunks and a sand-spotted camo vest with what looked like Boy Scout patches covering the front. In fact, McKinney looked like an aging Army non-com, not all that unlikely a daytime vocation given his 25-39-2 (12 KOs) record. Someone on press row wondered if McKinney's nickname was "The Drill Sergeant." Then some jokester, noting his record, corrected that to "The Drilled Sergeant."
Smith has some pop and fire, and he's fought Andrew Greeley (to a win) and Calvin Brock (to a loss), but hasn't distinguished himself in the four bouts since -- fighting in Tulsa and Springfield, moving down in competition instead of up. His opponent tonight was a prime example, though one could forgive the matchup given that, like Jermain Taylor, Terry Smith is an Arkansan and fighting for the homers here Saturday night.
McKinney was never in this fight, though things didn't get ugly for him until the seventh. In the eighth, finally, mercifully, Smith's onslaught was stopped for a TKO and he was declared the winner.
Super middleweight Anthony Hanshaw returned from a two-year layoff to up his undefeated record to 19-0 with 13 KOs against journeyman James North (8-12-2, 3 KOs). The most interesting thing about this fight, in all honesty, was Hanshaw's fab tiger-print trunks.
In the penultimate fight of the night, Winter Haven, Fla.'s Andre Berto floored Sammy Sparkman twice in the second round -- the first time with a bludgeon of a right hand, the second a left hook that caught an already wobbly Sparkman flush in the temple. Probably Bill Clancy should have stopped this welterweight fight after the first knockdown, as the Columbia, Tenn., native wasn't clear-eyed nor convincingly erect. Berto goes back to Florida with a 13-0, 11 KOs record. Sparkman, who looked uncannily like a pugilistic version of James Baldwin, drops to a pitiful 18-15-1 with 8 KOs. At this point, the poor guy probably has a better chance as a boxing scribe than a boxer.
In a junior middleweight fight, world-rated Sechew Powell KO'd a game Willie Lee (14-5, 10 KOs) in the 10th and final round. The aggressor from Round One, from corner to bell, "Slik" was taking the fight to "The Iron Horse," who looked as if he just wasn't up for such a busy fight. Powell seemed almost exasperated at having to keep up with Lee. At 2:23 in the 10th, he'd had his fill and finally laid into the St. Petersburg, Fla., native, knocking him out in dramatic fashion.
One would have thought up until then that, as Lee dictated the pace, he might also have been ahead on the scorecards. But once we finally got a hold of the judges' scores, it was Powell who led on all cards, no doubt his few, desultory punches somehow counting for more points than Lee's all-out effort. Powell goes back to Brooklyn with his record (20-0, 12 KOs) still unblemished.
South African junior welterweight Isaac Hlatshwayo ran his legs off in the third fight on the undercard. Finally, he eked out a wide-margined unanimous decision in eight rounds against South Carolinian Jeremy Yelton, a kid whose translucent white skin was outshown only by his baby-blue and spangled boxing trunks. (Up to that point, not much of a crowd had assembled at the FedEx Forum, but Yelton's shorts elicited hoots of derision from Memphis' collective fashion police.) The Soweto native keeps his record clean and moves to 25-0, while "The Carolina Kid" drops to 17-6.
The first bout of the night saw junior middie Jose Angel Rodriguez (7-0, 1 KO) extend his unbeaten record in a six-round unanimous decision over Dallas native Jesse Orta (6-8-1, 4 KOs).