Dec. 6, 2003 Courtney Burton captured the World Boxing Organization/NABO lightweight championship with a 12-round split decision over Francisco Lorenzo in the main event at the Rumble in Paradise Friday night at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center.
The five-card boxing extravaganza was carried live on ESPN2 from 10 p.m. to midnight Eastern Time. The event was brought to the Virgin Islands by Sterling promotions in association with Sugar Ray Leonard Boxing and the aid of Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg.
Lorenzo cut Burton above his left eye with a head-butt in the third round but could not capitalize on the injury as Burton managed to make it a non-factor.
The fight began like a wrestling match instead of a boxing match as both fighters held and pulled each other to the canvas in the early rounds.
Burton showed dominating power to overcome the dismal beginning. "He (Lorenzo) was an awkward fighter, and so it took some getting used to, but you just have to adjust and overcome," Burton said.
Burton knocked down Lorenzo twice in the fight, in rounds 9 and 12, both times with solid rights to the top of the head followed by left hooks.
Burton won the bout on two judges' cards, 115-114 and 116-113 but lost it on the other judge's card 115-113.
A visibly exhausted Lorenzo started throwing wild, out-of-control punches in the late rounds of the contest that completely missed Burton. Lorenzos record falls to 19-3.
Welterweights Face Off
Carlos Quintana kept his record perfect with an 8th-round knockout of Candy Robertson in a battle of welterweights. The contest was viewed as the main under-card fight.
Quintana backed Robertson up into his own corner against the ropes and punished him with a series of combinations to finish the bout two minutes and 46 seconds into round 8.
"I thought he would get up. I thought he had some left," Quintana said through an interpreter after the fight. "However, after the fourth round I saw him start to tire."
Robertson continued to talk to and taunt Quintana throughout the match, challenging him to come and get him in the corner on several occasions. Referee Steve Smoger penalized Robertson one point in the seventh round after he lost his mouthpiece for the fourth time in the match.
Quintana improves to 15-0 with 12 knockouts. Robertson falls to 14-7.
Didea Hughes won a unanimous decision over Fray Luis Sierra in a junior middleweight four-round match. The fight was the fourth bout of the evening.
Referee Justino Colon gave Sierra a warning late in the second round for throwing Hughes to the canvas after both fighters got untangled.
Hughes responded with a quick knockdown of his opponent early in the next round that lifted the crowd to its feet. Hughes was the only Virgin Islander to fight on the card. He is trained by Julian Jackson.
Jacksons younger brother, David Rogers, was also on the card but did not fight because he had the flu.
Hughes improves his record to 12-1-1. Sierra, from Miami, falls to 15-12.
Litzau wins on TKO
Jason Litzau kept his record perfect with a second-round TKO over Alexis Barcelay in the first bout of the night.
Litzau knocked down Barcelay twice in the second round. The winner's opponent hit the canvas early in the round and then again at the end of the round.
Litzau, a junior lightweight from St. Paul, Minn., has won all of his fights by way of knockouts. After the fight Litzau thanked Lorenzo for helping him train for the fight.
Barcelay did show a few signs that he might get into the action early in the second round, but by the end he was left open to the onslaught of punches thrown by Litzau.
Barcelay, also from Miami, saw his record dip to an even 8-8-3.
Battle of the Puerto Ricans
In a battle of Puerto Ricans, Jose Nieves made quick work of Kenny Berrios, knocking him out two minutes and 43 seconds into the first round of the final fight of the night.
The bantamweight bout was to go six rounds, but Nieves used his power to end the contest in quick fashion.
Nieves, who hails from San Juan, improved his record to 7-0-2 with seven knockouts. Berrios, from Toa Baja, falls to 6-14-1.
The event was attended by many local leaders. Gov. Charles W. Turnbull was on hand along with members of his administration, including Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards, Department of Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Dean Plaskett, Bureau of Internal Revenue Director Louis Willis, Police Commissioner Elton Lewis, Department of Property and Procurement Commissioner Mark Biggs, St. Thomas-St. John Administrator James O'Bryan and Turnbull's assistant Keith Richards.
"We could have had a better turnout, but we had to endure some negative press," Sterling McPherson of Sterling promotions said. "However, it was great boxing."
Ring announcer Jeff Connor kept the crowd upbeat. He joked about his delight of eating conch fritters and drinking rum.
Leonard signed T-shirts before the event. He thanked Donastorg and UVI President Laverne Ragster for their assistance in the boxing production. "This is a win-win, a chance to showcase this beautiful paradise," Leonard said.
Donastorg appeared in the ring to thank his fellow senators and the governor for their assistance and support.
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