By Elisa Harrison
Updated: August 29, 2005

MINNEAPOLIS –Minneapolis came out to support the pride of St. Paul, and while Matt Vanda walked away with another W added to his record his credibility as a top prospect seems to have suffered a severe blow.

Facing the most competitive opponent ever in Sam Garr, Vanda showed that while he doesn’t lack courage, he is a far cry from being a top echelon contender.

Garr, who once challenged James Page for the WBA welterweight title, took the heavily tattooed youngster to school last night. Teddy Atlas -sensing an imminent hometown decision- correctly informed the viewing audience that the state of Minnesota lacks a boxing commission. Atlas also let it be known that there were many eyes watching this fight, and whatever inconsistencies may have favored Vanda in the past would be exposed in this ESPN broadcast.

Atlas wasn’t far off the mark, and while I do feel his unofficial scoring was slightly off, (he saw it as a shut out for Garr 100-92), his commentary was right on target.

The referee assigned to the bout made an excellent case for Teddy’s cry for a national commission. Vanda and Garr could have refereed themselves, and at one point in the match, they did exactly that. Vanda hit Garr below the belt, backed off, extended his arm to Garr and moved to a neutral corner to allow his opponent some recovery time. Where was the referee while all this going on you ask? Let’s just say he came in on the tail end of things, seemingly lost and in a fog. His instructions were addressed solely to Garr 99% of the time; it was Garr’s arm he pulled whenever breaking a clinch, and his constant motions to the fighters had WWF written all over them.

Working off the jab Garr was able to dominate Vanda from a distance, frustrating and nullifying Matt’s attempts at making it a brawl. The last three rounds in particular were strong rounds for the veteran who teed off Vanda’s head at will.

In the end the judges gave -and gave is the keyword- Vanda a majority decision. Kudos to judge Sweeney for having had the courage to go against the hometown favorite. (He scored it 97-95 Garr). Judge Anderson scored it 97-95 Vanda; judge Jack Hayden inexplicably scored the fight 97-93.

The punch output as reported by the network heavily favored Garr, whose manager vowed to fight the very controversial decision. Matt Vanda enhances his record to 30-0, 20 KOs while Garr drops to 33-8, 29 KOs.

The main event of Thursday night’s special edition of ShoBox featured what on paper seemed to be a very competitive bout between former WBO/WBA light welterweight world champion and KO artist Randall Bailey versus up and coming prospect Ishe Smith.

Once again we had been sold a hot prospect, an up and coming contender, who when faced with a real test flunked miserably. Don’t get me wrong, Smith walked away with the W but his stock dropped considerably.

Randall Bailey could have been busier, but he clearly threw the most effective, harder punches. Smith consistently threw the jab at Randall’s gloves, as if in a gym training session. His work to the body didn’t seem to hurt Bailey at all. The knockdown he scored in the second round was not an authoritative one, and Bailey quickly recovered.

Ishe seemed overwhelmed in his corner throughout most of the fight, and he bled from the nose and mouth courtesy of Bailey’s stiff jab. Did Smith’s crying session after the decision was announced reflect tears of joy, relief or pain? You be the judge…

Bailey slips to 27-4, 26 KOs while Ishe ‘improves’ his record to 14-0, 7 KOs.