Ted Sares fought as an amateur boxer in the Chicago area in the 50's. He has since become a boxing historian and member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He specializes in articles that capture the pathos of the sport. His works have been featured on a number of boxing sites and magazines including East Side Boxing, Fightkings, WAIL Magazine, IBRO Journal, Saddoboxing.com, and many others

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Smart Money

By Ted Sares

On March 2, 2007, highly touted Samuel Miller, 16-0 with 13 ko's, met 39 year old Darrell Woods, 26-10 1with 18 ko's, in Tampa, FL in a classic young and promising fighter vs. aging quasi-journeyman. Those who are into due diligence would note that Woods was on a 3 fight win streak in which he had victories over such notables as Levan Easley and Emmett Linton, 33-3-2.

Woods has fought the much better opposition including splitting two with Kenny Ellis twice, Marlon Thomas, hot prospect Joachim Alcine (in Montreal), Kaseem Ouma, Rafael Williams, Jason Papillion, Keith Mullings, Anthony Stephens and Bronco McKart.

Miller's first 12 fights were fought in his native Columbia and were against unknown competition with awful records. He then settle in as Seminole Hard Rock Arena regular in Hollywood Florida and quickly became a fan favorite.

So the stage was set: It had all the ingredients; young vs. old, veteran vs. upstart, both fighting out of Florida, one with his career ahead of him; the other in the late stages of his respectable career. The uninformed and non-researchers liked Miller; the smart-money people liked Woods. Shades of Rossy-Chambers or Melito-Cooper. However, the one thing no one expected was the kind of fight it would turn out to be.

After absorbing a monster onslaught of almost 100 punches in the first round, Woods stormed back to send the emerging prospect to the deck with a wide right in the second canter. He then put Miller down again early in the third with another and more stylish right hand. Miller was now on queer street and Woods stepped up the attack hoping to close matters. But all of a sudden, a savage shot to Darrell's head stopped him in his tracks. Miller quickly pressed the action and pummeled Woods viciously for the final two minutes of the round. Talk about a turnabout; talk about ebb and flow. This was breathless stuff and it was only the third round. If the fight had ended there, I would have been amply satisfied, but there was much more to come.

Somehow, Woods regrouped and dictated the action by fighting tall in rounds 4 and 5, forcing the younger Columbian to hold on at times. In the sixth round, a point was deducted from the Colombian for holding...he had been warned earlier by referee Dennis DeBon. After that, and in the tradition of Maddalone and Minto, both fighters showed total disdain for defense and went headhunting with alternating shots. They took turns staggering each other in a give-and-take, ebb and flow battle down the stretch. Woods demonstrated an iron chin in the seventh as he absorbed vicious and continuous shots during the last half minuet of the round. How he weathered the storm remains a mystery to me …and I'm sure to Miller.

Samuel started out the eighth and last round of this middleweight bout as a stalker, closing off the rings and quickly getting Woods into trouble. A knock down would put the outcome up for grabs. Miller had to do it; Woods had to avoid it. Talk about last minute drama.

Then, after having lost the first half of the round, it was Wood’s turn to take over and he launched a barrage of telling shots at Miller which likely evened things up in the round. Fittingly, the two exhausted warriors (and they now have clearly gained that distinction in my mind) traded shots to the final bell as the crowd and Teddy Atlas roared its approval. “Bam,” first one landed on Woods and “pow” a counter struck Miller. These were not the “pity patter” punches of tired fighters. These were the crushing blows of combatants who wanted victory.

In retrospect, Woods undoubtedly was seen as a reasonably safe step-up fight for Miller. Bad choice on Miller’s part, as the veteran refused to be the prospect’s foil and roll over. His two early knockdowns and his stalking and pursuit of Miller in the middle rounds was enough to give him a righteous majority decision victory.....by scores of 76-73, 76-72 and 75-75, as he handed the Columbian warrior his first pro defeat in 17 pro fights. But we will hear more from Miller...at least I hope we do.

As for Woods, who knows where he goes from here? He is 39 and on a 4-fight win streak over extremely tough competition. Hey, anything can happen in boxing and I hope something good happens to this tough guy who provided thrills and chills on March 2.

At any rate, Katsidis and Earl in February was my fight of the year until this one. But will Ring Magazine give it to two guys who gave their all in an eight rounder?.


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