A Night In Winchester, Va. At A Local Boxing Show (With Prospect Bayan Jargal)


While you were watching Chad Dawson-Antonio Tarver II Saturday night — you can read my take on that here — I was watching a live local show deep in Virginia, chatting with a referee who wears one of his fingers on a necklace, mingling among cheering sections that were rooting on (alternately) a 45-year-old white man and a 33-year-old Puerto Rican and just plain having a good time in a hockey rink that had been converted to host a boxing ring. One of the big ideas of going to Winchester was to see local D.C.-area prospect Bayan Jargal, pictured above with his team in a non-action shot for reasons that aren’t his fault or mine, and he delivered a good performance, even if the outcome was a little anticlimactic, which I’ll get to in a moment. Another of the big ideas was to take in a local show. I had some fears in advance about the quality of the event, worrying that the local faves would be matched against pushovers as they sometimes are in situations like this, but I left only with a few doubts about how good the Virginia regulatory authority is. The show itself was quite good, featuring numerous evenly-matched bouts. Follow me for a rundown — including a picture of that finger necklace. And a sexy girl.

Before I get into the recounting of my evening, I’d like to make a suggestion. Whatever town you live in, if there’s ever a local show and you haven’t been, I recommend going. If it’s anything like the event I attended, it will be well worth it. For tickets around $40, the audience got to see four pro fights and two amateur bouts over a span of a little more than four hours. Two of the pro fights were very good; one of them was highly competitive if not thrilling; another featured an impressive showing. If you live in Virginia and get a chance to see a show hosted by the folk who hosted this show — Let’s Get It On Promotions, Left Hook and Pro-Motion Sports — I can more specifically recommend you go, because there’s an emphasis, Left Hook’s Scott Farmer said, on giving fans good fights. It worked.

Besides the entertainment a local show provides, you’ll be helping the sport along from the standpoint of building up local scenes from which good young fighters can prosper and climb the ladder. Nobody made money off this show; the fighters in some cases got a decent chunk of change, with the headliner getting $2,000 for the night, but the people who put it together put it together more with the future in mind. If you make it worth their while, you’ll be helping yourself in the short term by going to a show like this and having fun, but you’ll be helping yourself in the long run, too, when the sport has a stronger pool of talent from which to draw.

So on to the specifics of the show.

There were a couple hundred people in attendance, and many of them were there for a specific fighter. They were the friends or family of said fighters. I showed up toward the end of the second amateur fight. Both men fought like they meant it, but it had the look more of a Toughman Contest than anything. Terry Lane of Let’s Get It On Promotions, which promotes Jargal, said his dad, famed referee Mills Lane, used to referee at small local shows like this in between refereeing the huge events with Mike Tyson and the like. Terry said he asked why he would accept an assignment at a small fight after having been a zebra at boxing’s highest level, and his dad answered him, “That fight is the most important fight in the world to two people — those two boxers.” I already respect boxers no matter how good they are, but that deepened my respect.

The first pro fight pitted a cruiserweight from nearby Edinburg, Scott Hossaflook, against Derek Amos, a boxer who’d been in against a lot of top fighters, among them Chris Byrd. Hossaflook, 45, is now 2-3 as a pro. Amos, 40, is 15-28. But they put on the best fight of the night. I’ve always said I’d rather see a good fight between just about anyone than elite fighters in bad fights. Hossaflook, nicknamed “The Bodysnatcher,” frequently went to the bodysnatching, and won the first two rounds, although Amos was competitive with some slippery D and counterpunching. By the end of the 2nd, Hossaflook was cut, and then in the 3rd, Amos took over. He staggered Hossaflook badly, and Hossaflook’s mouthpiece landed on a judge’s head. Then it got a little hometown-y in there (knock on the Virginy regulatory authority #1) when, as Amos attempted to finish off the badly hurt Hossaflook, the referee stopped the action and let Hossaflook put in his mouthpiece. The correct ruling would have been to wait for a break in the action. Hossaflook recovered, although he still lost the 4th and final round, but the two men brawled it out to the finish. Fun fight.

Hossaflook’s loud cheering section was worried about the decision, and one of his white fans told one of the black fans it should be a draw. I don’t want to stereotype about Virginia, but I do have some relatives there who are a little, shall we say, racially insensitive, and it was a nice little unexpected moment of racial harmony. It ended up a split decision, 39-37 twice for Hossaflook and 39-37 once for Amos. (Knock on the Virginia regulatory authority [known as the Virginia Department of Occupational Regulation] #2 for that home cooking.) Hossaflook’s fans went crazy. He and his trainer, who sported a cowboy hat — never seen that before on ESPN — were mobbed after.

Between fights, I chatted with the referee from the amateur bouts. I failed to get his name, but he was an interesting cat to say the least. Besides sporting a unique hairdo — mohawk AND braided ponytail? — I’d also heard he wore one of his fingers around his neck. He was a former boxer himself, and once he was in a motorcycle accident and his pinkie got mangled. It was driving him crazy and he asked the doctor to amputate it, he said, but the doc encouraged him to wait a while. He later told a friend he was going to cut the finger off himself, and the friend told him he was full of it. “I hate being called a liar,” he said. So he got a tourniquet, a wood chisel and a dumbell, and he dropped the dumbell on it. He said the finger went flying, blood started squirting out in a long thin stream, and for some reason, his wife, who was videotaping the fun, “freaked out.” Then he aired the tape for his friend, “to show him what a jackass he was.” That showed him! Our referee continued to fight a little while after, sans pinkie, but now he’s moved on to other things, like excavating. Nice dude. Cool story.



I also bought some raffle tickets from one of the ring card girls, who had a great gag: She held out a tiny handful of tickets for $1, a slightly longer amount of tickets for $5, and then said you get “this many” for $10 and stretched the raffle tickets across her bosom. Obviously, this, too, warranted a photo. I managed to get her name, for some reason. I give you Megan (although I didn’t ask her to spell it):


The second pro fight was all right, with lightweight Jaime Palma winning by scores of 57-56 twice and 58-55 once against Randolph Scott. Palma was the crowd favorite here, with his Puerto Rican fans, presumably imported from Alexandria, Va., chanting “boricua!” and holding up the PR flag. Scott was 0-2, but J.D. Brown, Jargal’s manager, said he was about as good an 0-2 fighter as you’ll see, and he was right. Palma, by contrast, was 13-13 according to BoxRec and had gone the distance with Kevin Kelly, Edner Cherry and Demetrius Hopkins, the latter on ESPN2. Palma was the aggressor, so it looked to me like he won the fight, but Scott was very elusive and had his moments counterpunching. The difference was that Palma scored a knockdown — the biggest hole in Scott’s defense was that he backed straight up with his hands down after clinches, and it led to his being toppled once — in a round Scott might have otherwise been winning.

Scott took the decision hard, falling to his knees. Palma told me afterward he’d torn or otherwise damaged his cornea or retina, and he was hanging up the gloves. He was 33, and had proven to some skeptics in his personal life he could succeed as a professional boxer after winning some Virginia Golden Glove tournaments, and his wife wanted him to get out, and he wanted to enjoy hedonistic pleasures like eating foods other than grapefruits. Now he might look into becoming a trainer. Of course, he’s retired before, according to Boxing
Along The Beltway
. Best of luck to him, though, either way.

Next up was Mr. Jargal. Brown told me that his opponent, Brian Carden, had come in hugely over the weight limit. He got down to about 147 or 148 after drying out, whereas Jargal was at 140. But it’s not as if there was anything Jargal’s team could do about it, other than turn down the fight, and Carden was already a substitute for the original opponent. Although Carden was 8-7-1, he had an Alejandro Berrio kind of record — he knocks you out or gets knocked out, with seven wins by knockout and six losses by knockout. Jargal’s team was confident in their guy, so they went ahead with the bout. My thinking was that Carden was a sitting duck because of the weight issue, not better off. Earlier in the week I’d witnessed Jargal’s savage body punching during sparring, and rarely does a weight-drained fighter like getting punched to the body.

That’s how it went. Carden hardly laid a glove on Jargal, who lived up to his nickname of “The Mongolian Mongoose” by slipping Carden’s looping power shots and countering. The first real body punch Jargal landed — and he was patient about picking the right time — had Carden in deep trouble. Jargal was the only fighter of the night who had no real fan base present, but it was beyond clear that Jargal had upped the class level with those body shots in a way the crowd appreciated. When the local fave would land a good punch, people would cheer. When Jargal landed a good punch, everyone oooed and aaahed. It won him a fan who shouted, “Get him, kamikaze!” Yes, racial enlightenment hadn’t fully overtaken the Winchester Sportsplex. The barrage of body punching after Carden got backed off with the first practically had ME cringing. As Jargal battered him around the ring, Carden’s cornerman stepped up on to the ring in order to throw in the towel. It all happened so quickly I hadn’t even gotten my camera out yet.

Confusion reigned thereafter. Carden was peeved, and he explained to me later that this wasn’t even really his cornerman — it was just some guy who had been assigned to him. Eventually, we got an announcement of the result. It was a disqualification, not a TKO. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why. I asked the ring announcer, who told me to ask the referee, who told me to ask the commission folk. One of the commission guys literally told me, “Go away.” More than one person I talked to over the course of the night who’d dealt with this same guy — and I talked to everyone I could — told me that he was a “prick.” That exact word. “Prick.” When I tried to ask a second commission official what happened, she told me she couldn’t talk to me and that I’d have to call someone in their office. I said I had to write tonight, not Monday, “So I’ll just say there’s a disqualification but no one could explain why?” “Fine by me,” she answered. This whole thing = a giant knock on the Virgina regulatory body.

But I pieced it together best I could. Basically, the cornerman should have stepped onto the apron with a commission official, not by himself, or else it’s a DQ. It sounds like a dumb rule. Jargal should have received a knockout win. Too bad nobody could be bothered to explain the reasoning behind that. Instead, I’m left just thinking that the rule and/or the administration of the rule is dumb. Making matters worse, the DQ got Carden an automatic 90-day suspension. I’m not sympathetic to him coming in over weight — even on short notice — but it’s not his fault some random dude he doesn’t know violated a rule trying to save him from more punishment. Hopefully, there’s some trace of intelligence inhabiting some Virginia commission prick-type or the other and they’ll reconsider this whole kit and kaboodle.

Brown was happy with Jargal’s performance, which he said featured good body work, patience, skill and ring generalship. “After the first body punch that turned him around, the guy practically coughed up his food from last week,” Brown said, colorfully. Those were the “pluses.” The minuses, in Brown’s eyes, were that he didn’t get the official knockout. Lane offered similar thoughts. They’re working hard at getting him an ESPN2 Friday Night Fights or Showtime ShoBox date, because while they lose money on Jargal in the short run, if they get him a TV slot, that’s where the money is. If the Lanes pull this off, kudos to them. Terry is 26, and his brother Tommy is 22. They’re in an industry, as someone (not the Lane brothers) told me, that “has a lot of hidden agendas.” If you’re judging Jargal on his qualifications, though, I think, as I said before, he’s earned at least an FNF or ShoBox appearance.

The other co-main event featured welterweight prospect Andrew Farmer, trained and promoted by his father Scott of Left Hook. Scott told me after that some people didn’t think Farmer’s opponent Marty Robbins, would put up a fight because of his 22-41 record, but he knew the record was deceptive. Robbins was a very tough man. Farmer, from nearby Front Royal, got some work in. Farmer was the more talented fighter, a long, lean welter with fast hands and fast feet. But even though Farmer won pretty much every round in my book — I didn’t keep close score — Robbins was competitive in all of them, getting inside on Farmer and working his body. Farmer said he broke his right hand in the 2nd, and he’s had a little injury trouble to contend with in his past. Still, Robbins’ toughness and Farmer’s injury tribulations forced Farmer to put his own toughness on display. Even while he was in a difficult fight, Farmer was trying to put on a show — shuffling his feet, winding up his arm, trashtalking Robbins, throwing quick combos, the works. And it was just a good, hard-fought bout.

He ended up with a decision win: 80-72, 79-73 and 78-75, and now stands at 11-1. I liked what I saw from Farmer, but based on just this one showing — against a difficult veteran and with the hand injury, it must be noted with an asterisk — I didn’t think he was quite at Jargal’s level as a prospect. Still, I’m not saying he won’t get there, because he’s already considered one of the top prospects in the region, and he’s got some skill and some will, and those are some good building blocks. I wouldn’t mind seeing him again. (That’s him, below on the right.) And since I plan on hitting some more local shows, I sure hope I do see him again.


About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.