It Was Indeed Showtime at Mandala Bay

By Elisa Harrison
Updated: December 6, 2004

Samuel Peters Photo by Tom Casino

MIAMI, FLA.—On paper it had the makings of a dynamite evening of boxing; however, the real deal surpassed all expectations. Keeping up with the tradition of bringing the best boxing on the first Saturday of the month, Showtime network put on a masterful tripleheader championship event. It was a boxing fan’s dream, and uncommon as it may be these days, the fans who watched got their money’s worth and then some.

Samuel Peter vs Jeremy Williams: (Vacant NABF Heavyweight title) A match up between two heavyweights at a crossroad in their careers… Undefeated Nigerian Samuel Peter, needing a convincing win to be considered a true player in the big boys division. Williams, a veteran who trash talks almost as much as James Toney, badly needing to back up all the sass in order to remain competitive and credible in his weight class.

The outcome of the fight was ugly and very scary.

The first round saw some animated exchanges, with Williams getting tagged towards the end of the round, and his legs visibly buckled. Twenty-seven seconds into the second round a softened and slow-reacting Williams got caught flush with one of the most devastating and powerful left hooks I’ve ever witnessed. He went down hard, and was unconscious for what seemed like an eternity.

I hate to spoil the party but I have some serious concerns over what transpired next….

  • Referee Toby Gibson was so nervous and/or shaken, (his hands certainly were trembling badly), that after waving the fight off at the count of 4, he was unable to pull out Williams’ mouthpiece. As a rule, when a fighter suffers such a pulverizing knockout, the referee doesn’t need to call in the ring doctor. The doctor should have been in the ring, long before the invitation was extended. Please!

  • At the ref’s beckoning, the ringside physician entered the ring, and he too is unable (why?) to extract the mouthguard as the fallen fighter laid on the mat experiencing what certainly seemed like a mild seizure, a situation brought to our attention by more than one horrified ringside photographer.

  • 2:52 later Williams’ mouthpiece is removed.

  • 2:53 later Williams’ eyes open up.

  • 2:55 later Williams tries to rise but gets no further than his head being a couple inches off the canvas because he is advised ‘Hold On’ by someone and two hands slowly ease him back down to the mat.

  • After that the doctor has his hand on Williams neck, and says… “We’re going to make sure you are OK,” and also asks… “Jeremy, does your neck bother you?”
  • 3:15 later Jeremy is asked “Do you want to sit up for a second on your chair?”
  • 3:24 later Williams’ back rises from the canvas with help of others around him.

  • 3:40 later he is asked “Jeremy do you feel out of it?” and the fighter shakes his head as if to say yes.

  • 3:45 later a voice is heard saying: “Can we get a little oxygen in here?”

    Someone starts to bring the oxygen mask over, the referee looks at the physician and asks “Do you want to bring him back down?” (Meaning laying Williams back down on the matt), to which the doctor replies “No, we’re going to get him out of here.”

    As the person carrying the oxygen comes closer, the doctor is heard saying “No, no, no…”

  • 3:58 later Williams is asked “Do you want to stand or sit for a minute?” to which Williams replies four seconds later “let me sit for a minute.”
  • 5:35 later the camera flashes to Jimmy Lennon Jr. who announces the winner.

  • 6:30 later Jim Gray interviews Samuel Peter.

  • 8:36 later Jim Gray interviews the doctor and asks… “How long was Jeremy unconscious and when did you become concerned?” to which the doctor replied “He was out for about a minute and suffered a concussion from both being hit and from hitting the canvas. We’re obviously concerned and we’re going to send him to the emergency room to get a C.A.T. scan.” The doctor goes on to say that Williams is “getting all his bearings back and recovering nicely.”

It took 2 minutes and 52 seconds before Williams’ mouthpiece became dislodged from his mouth, and the whole time he was unconscious. Neither the referee nor the doctor were able to remove it, and why not I ask?

Williams was unconscious that whole time, not just for one minute as stated by Dr. Jeff Davidson. Furthermore I ask -and granted I’m not a physician- but, why didn’t Jeremy Williams get oxygen while he laid unconscious on the mat? Isn’t that the indicated treatment in such a situation? For over two minutes this ring doctor just kneeled over Williams, observing him, but not doing any of the things that are routinely done to an unconscious human being. No examination of the pupils was evident, no oxygen, no stabilization of the neck to prevent a spinal cord injury, nothing! Why not?

I thought it odd that Dr. Davidson was allowed to speak to the TV commentator, that is usually not allowed in Las Vegas. It also seemed to me that the physician was quick to diagnose the injury as a concussion, based on what I wonder? His examination? Or the lack thereof? What about the seizure like twitching of the fighter’s legs? Quite frankly, Dr. Davidson’s attitude bothered me a bit; he seemed nonchalant, somewhat uncaring, and happy to be on TV, in what could have well been a tragic moment for Jeremy Williams, his family, and for the sport of boxing.

  • Williams is interviewed 10:30 after being knocked out while still sitting on his stool… He says to Gray… “I didn’t see the shot, what can I say? He’s a big strong kid. He hit me with a great shot and closed the show, what can I say? I didn’t even know if I got hit, bro. I was out. It’s hurtful because I knew I was winning the fight but I just got caught.”
  • 11:49 later Williams is shown the replay of the knockout to which he replies “Wow, that’s ugly. I’m halfway embarrassed to see that.”
  • Interview ends and Williams gets up 12:35 after being put down by Peter.

Was it proper procedure to have allowed Williams to do an interview, to leave on foot, not placed on a stretcher and transported out as a safety measure? I truly hope that the lack of oxygen Williams’ brain may have suffered while unconscious, coupled with the otherwise mentioned questionable handling of this boxer, won’t become an issue later on.

I beg to differ with the accolades bestowed on the referee and the doctor by Showtime commentators, who by now should have watched enough fights to know that the handling of this fighter’s situation was by no means the norm. ***More on this will follow…

Samuel Peter showed good hand speed, a decent jab and explosive power on his way to victory number 21, this his 18th KO. Should the new NABF champion remain consistent with this type of power punching performance, he will undoubtedly become a force in a division that clamors for a star. As for Williams, I hope he is doing well, and reconsidering a career change.

Omar Sheika vs Jeff ‘Left Hook’ Lacy (IBF Super Middleweight Championship) Referee Tony Weeks | Judge: Adalaide Byrd 111-117 | Judge: Steve Epstein 113-115 | Judge: Chuck Giampa 113-115 Hard core boxing fans knew this fight would be an all out war, and the participants didn’t disappoint, hopefully winning over many of the casual fans who might have been watching the proceedings.

For 12 rounds of non stop action Sheika and Lacy traded leather, some elbows, a few low blows and several head butts. This was a hard fought battle between two men also at a crossroad in their careers. It was Sheika’s fourth title bid, for him a time to put up or fade into tier B or even C category in the division. For Lacy it was a test of fire, a time to validate himself against a proven veteran.

Lacy’s power can’t be denied, but much has to be said about Sheika’s granite chin and true grit. They hit each other with gusto throughout the entire fight, and in the end ‘Left Hook’ Lacy was given a unanimous decision nod. I have no problems with the decision; however, I totally disagree with judge Adalaide Byrd’s 111-117 scoring. This was a give and take match up, probably eked out by Lacy by two points at best. Kudos to the other two judges whose scores were very reflective of the reality of this fight.

With this win, Lacy remains undefeated in 19 fights, with 14 KOs and one ND, successfully defending the IBF belt for the first time. Sheika’s stock had to rise after the gutsy performance, while his record drops to 26-7, 17 KOs.

Junior middleweight champion Winky Wright must be totally hoarse today after all the coaching he did from the sidelines last night. (Winky and Lacy are friends and also share trainer Dan Birmingham). Lacy does need to work on his jab, and further fine tune his defensive ability, or he will have a short lived career.

Side Note: A job well done by one of the most underrated referees out there, Tony Weeks.

JOEL CASAMAYOR vs JOSE LUIS CASTILLO (WBC Lightweight Title) Referee: Vic Drakulich | Judge: Dr. James Jen-Kin 112-116 | Judge: Carol Castellano 115-113 | Judge: Dave Moretti 111-117

In another action packed bout, WBC champion Jose Luis Castillo defended his newly acquired belt against former WBA Super Feather champion Joel ‘El Cepillo’ Casamayor. A slick Cuban southpaw boxer versus a tough Mexican brawler, the effort put forth by these two fighters definitely lived up to the hype.

The most disappointing part of this fight had to be the judges’ decision, and I have to take strong exception with the disparity in the scoring. Castillo was never up by 6 points, not even by 4; judging by his own words in the post-fight interview, it wasn’t until the 7th round that he figured out Casamayor. (Do the math). Castillo added that he went all out in the last three rounds because “Casamayor’s style had become uncomfortable, and I knew I had to win these rounds.” How is that for sheer honesty!

Joel Casamayor loses another potentially controversial decision, and I ask, when will he ever face an ‘easy’ opponent? Since 2002, the combined record of his opponents reads 254 victories, 4 losses, 3 draws. Congratulations are in order to both fighters for a job well done.

In closing, the Nevada State Athletic Commission continues to embarrass itself, not just with the erratic and inexplicable scoring of its appointed officials but this time by endangering the safety, even the life, of a fighter with -what in my opinion- has to be a serious violation of their own safety rules. One could make a very solid argument that this has been the case two weeks in a row, considering that Marco Antonio Barrera -who has undergone brain surgery and sports a plate in his head- not to mention lied on his medical forms regarding this situation, was allowed to fight in Sin City last weekend.

What is it going to take for changes to take place in boxing? Ca$ino$ money and promoter$’ intere$t$ can’t continue to rule this sport. Even when the fighters perform to the best of their abilities, the game ends up marred in controversy of some form or another, as it was the case -again- on Saturday night. Rules should be explicit, uniform and enforceable. Why, I ask, does boxing continue to be a non-accountable sport?