FAIRFAX, VA — Fans once again crowded the Patriot Center on Saturday night to see local junior middleweight Jimmy Lange put on a show and the Contender alum didn’t disappoint, knocking Joe Wyatt out with just 30 seconds left in the final round to eke out the victory. Lange’s tenth-round flourish was the coda on an action-packed card that featured several DMV-area fighters including William Joppy, Perry Ballard and Todd “White Lightning” Wilson. Close to 5,000 fans cheered as they saw local favorites Ballard and Wilson score knock-outs, while Joppy’s ten-round majority draw left many shocked and unsatisfied. I was ringside to catch all the action; below are my thoughts on the fights of note.
Jimmy Lange KOs Joe Wyatt
As the closest thing Northern Virginia has to a boxing franchise, Lange faces pressure to perform for the fans every time he steps in the ring and Saturday was no different. As usual Lange eschewed his guard to stand in the middle of the ring and trade with Wyatt, originally from Richmond but now fighting out of Pittsburgh. After a tentative opening that saw Lange use his superior reach to earn the first two rounds, Wyatt became more assertive and began peppering Jimmy with uppercuts in tight to square the fight. Lange responded in the 5th by catching an off-balance Wyatt with a right, forcing him to reach down to steady himself and scoring a knockdown. Wyatt came back in the 6th to open a nasty cut under Lange’s left eye, which only seemed to compel Jimmy to fight harder.
The last four rounds saw both men do away with pretensions of pugilism in favor of standing toe-to-toe to see who could better withstand the other’s assault. Wyatt appeared to be getting the better of it heading into the 10th, sparking fear among the partisan crowd that their local hero wouldn’t be able to pull out the miracle one more time. Less worried was my neighbor on press row, Kevin Dunleavy of the Washington Examiner, who has covered several Lange fights. He admitted Jimmy has little interest in defense but promised he would pull it out in the end and look horrible afterward.
He was proven right on both counts as Jimmy caught a pressing Wyatt with a powerful right hand at 2:38 of the final round, bringing the crowd to its feet and sending them home satisfied. After the fight Lange’s trainer Jimmy Glenn said his fighter had hurt his shoulder in the 2nd round and been unable to fight his fight, which would explain his breakdown in technique during the middle rounds. Regardless, Lange appears to have overcome his setback to Chase Shields in March and now has the NABA super welterweight belt around his waist. While local fighters Tony Jeter and Perry Ballard both said they’d love a crack at Lange, the most intriguing challenge came from Bridgeport, Penn. junior middleweight Harry Joe Yorgey, who predicted at the presser that a fight between him and Lange could unite the two East Coast fan bases.
Where and who Lange fights remains in doubt, but as long as he keeps delivering performances like Saturday night he has no reason to worry about his ability to pack the seats.
William Joppy v. Omar Sims, majority draw
It was a long-awaited return to the DMV for three-time former middleweight champion William Joppy, whose underwhelming performance against Baltimore’s Cory “Black Ice” Cummings left his extremely vocal ringside contingent frustrated and irate at the judges. Fans saw a lively if often-ugly contest in which neither fighter landed many clean shots but both looked like they’d seen better days. Fighting in the region for the first time since 2007, Joppy showed some rust as well as evidence his 40 years have begun to take their toll on his skills and conditioning. Cummings was clearly the less refined fighter but managed to rack up rounds simply by staying busier and putting together some combinations; Joppy practically surrendered the 5th round, providing minimal resistance.
While many in attendance questioned the final scorecards, (Two read draw, one 96-94 Joppy) I also had the fight scored as a draw despite the fact Joppy appeared to hurt his opponent more than he was hurt. After the fight he seemed content to have returned to the ring after an eight-month absence, while Cummings was considerably less satisfied and believed he had won the fight. Cummings requested a rematch, which may be more likely if Joppy failed to impress the big-money matchmakers who may have been eying him for a fight with a middleweight contender. At any rate, if Joppy is planning to stay in the fight game for much longer here’s hoping he finds his legs again before stepping in the ring with someone who can do some real damage.
Todd Wilson TKOs Corey Goodwin
Rising local welterweight Todd “White Lightning” Wilson showed off power and delighted his many supporters by flooring Corey “Bad Boy” Goodwin, apparently breaking Goodwin’s nose in the process. Wilson extended his record to 9-0 and scored his third knockout by dropping Goodwin with a big right after an earlier left had caused his nose to spout crimson. An affable and educated fighter, Wilson looks like someone worth keeping an eye on for NoVa fight fans.
Perry Ballard KOs Booker Mullins
Martinsburg, W. Va.-based super welterweight Perry Ballard provided the most entertaining and succinct encounter of the evening when he took out Booker Mullins of Spartanburg, S.C. with a devastating right in the 1st round. Ballard entered the ring toting three belts of dubious origin only to be tagged twice by Mullins in the early going, prompting a thunderous response to Mullins’ left temple. After the fight (and at the closing presser) Ballard once again challenged Lange to a rematch, claiming his previous loss had been due to a low blow and shots aimed behind his head. Mullins merely looked sheepish and smiled when he encountered this reporter backstage.
Zain Shah over Omar Sims (unanimous decision)
Zain “The Tiger” Shah showed off skills and athleticism that belie his 36 years of age in prevailing over Baltimore middleweight Omar Sims in a six-round contest Saturday night. Shah’s promising amateur career was cut short by tendinitis, which sent him to the gym to work as a trainer only to find holding the mitts for his students to be the perfect therapy. Now finally fighting as a professional, Shah used his length to keep Sims off-balance and showed flashes of talent that may have made him world-class, had he only started sooner. The Chantilly-based fighter and artist vowed to keep fighting as long as his body holds up; for the benefit of local fight fans here’s hoping he has many more fights to come.