by derek@intex.ie

                          HENRY AKINWANDE - SCOTT WELSH
                                     (WBO heavyweight title)
                        Nashville Arena, Tennessee - January 11, 1997

Like Frank Bruno, Scott Welsh has been hyped beyond his ability by 
the British media. This publicity did more to earn him this 
heavyweight title challenge than his achievements in the ring which 
are, in reality, quite modest. It also led some commentators - who 
should know better - to giving Welsh a chance against Akinwande.

In fact Welsh - being that rare and (sadly) treasured commodity: a 
white heavyweight who can be matched with a World champion without 
major outcry - didn't have to work as hard as Bruno to catch the 
public eye. Fortunately for boxing however, its champions are the 
levellers who separate the potentials from the pretenders. Just as 
Bruno was levelled by Tyson last year, Welsh was brutally exposed by 
Henry Akinwande.

After twelve uninspiring rounds, Akinwande's dominance was reflected 
in the judges' scorecards: 119-110 and 120-108 twice. Henry was 
streets ahead of Welsh in every department - accuracy, speed, 
footwork and sharpness. Even as the champion coasted through the 
middle rounds Welsh failed to ruffle his fellow Briton.

Every round of this fight was basically a repeat of the first when 
the 6ft 7in champion played matador to Welsh's bull - like style. He 
was a matador with a sting however, and Welsh showed a glaring 
inability to slip Akinwande's solid left jabs and straight rights as 
he tried to bring the battle in close.

In the second round Welsh even butted Akinwande in frustration. Henry 
does lack charisma, but he deserves more recognition for his silky 
skills. In fact the unbeaten fighter has been troubled more by lack 
of public interest than by any of his opponents to date - that this 
heavyweight title fight propped up the bill accentuated this fact. In 
truth, the Englishman is a champion who will be very hard to beat.

At the break between the eleventh and final rounds, trainer Jim Mc 
Donnell desperately urged Welsh to knock the champion out. He held up 
a photo of Welsh's two year - old son to spur his man on, feeling 
Scott had only one chance of taking the title. In reality he had no 
chance - the gulf in class was simply too great. Meanwhile Don Turner 
told Akinwande to finish the challenger: not because he was concerned 
about the result but because he wanted his charge to impress.

So both men rose at the bell and Henry won the twelfth easily - as he 
won every round on my card - to retain his belt.

                                (IBF welterweight title)
                  Nashville Arena, Tennessee - January 11, 1997

Felix Trinidad stopped Kevin Lueshing in round three to retain his 
IBF welterweight title and to clear the way for an exciting showdown 
with Terry Norris.

This potentially thrilling encounter was spoiled by the tentative 
approach of both men. Round one drew boos from the crowd as the 
combatants circled one another, scoring only four or five punches 
between them.

In the second the Englishman hurt Trinidad with a short left hook 
which sent the champion reeling to the canvas. This was no great 
advantage to Lueshing as the Puerto Rican has been floored in round 
two by Alberto Cortes, Yori Boy Campas and Oba Carr, rising to win 
each time.

Any advantage Lueshing did gain quickly evaporated as he failed to 
follow up, choosing instead to box off the back foot. The challenger 
needs to learn how to use his explosive power going forward - he is 
only effective as a counterpuncher, a style which is suicidal against 
someone of 'Tito's' calibre.

Midway through round three Trinidad floored Lueshing, also with a 
left hook, and refused to let his opponent recover. He stalked 'The 
Look' menacingly and nailed him again with a right uppercut - left 
hook combination. Lueshing just about beat the count only to fall 
again from a straight left at the bell, and this time the referee 
stepped in.


KHALID RAHILOU produced an edxceptional performance to upset WBA 
light welterweight champion FRANKIE RANDALL. The Frenchman dominated 
throughout and stopped Randall in round eleven.

NICK RUPA displayed tremendous courage and durability before finally 
crumbling to IBF and WBC light middleweight champion TERRY NORRIS in 
round ten. Although outclassed and outpunched, Rupa refused to wilt 
until this session when Norris floored him twice to retain his 

                             (WBC super bantamweight title)
               Hynes Convention Center, Boston - January 11, 1997

Daniel Zaragoza appeared ageless as he outboxed Wayne Mc Cullough 
over twelve rounds to retain his WBC super bantamweight title.

The crafty veteran made the Irishman fight his fight, and actually 
threw more punches than Mc Cullough - a feat previously unthinkable, 
especially by a 39 year - old - for the majority of what was a 
thrilling contest.

The Mexican technician refused to allow 'The Pocket Rocket' to work, 
fending him off with sharp, straight lefts and rights. Both men 
entered the ring with a gameplan but Zaragoza stuck to his more 
effectively. Junior Jones walked away from his ringside seat after 
the fifth round, deflated in the knowledge that a unification bout 
with Zaragoza would not be as lucrative as on against Mc Cullough.

Wayne entered the ring wearing a Patriots jersey, as if he needed to 
win the audience over. Judging by the crowd's response to Mc 
Cullough, this might as well have been Belfast. This didn't ruffle 
the champion in the slightest however - he always seems to be the 
away fighter.

Mc Cullough has always neglected his defence in favour of an all - 
action pressure style, but in this fight he was made to pay for 
adopting such a strategy. Zaragoza preserved his energy by making 
every shot count. Time after time he cooly blocked Wayne's 
combinations while resting on the ropes only to rally back defiantly.

The Irishman had never fought a southpaw in his professional career, 
and Zaragoza capitalised on this fact. Wayne was also returning from 
a six month layoff - the longest so far in his career. From the 
beginning, 'The Pocket Rocket' was being countered cleanly every time 
he tried to get off with his punches. He needed to keep the champion 
off balance, but instead was being pummelled with body shots - one 
hook to the ribs at the end of round five seemed to sap all the 
energy from Mc Cullough.

By the start of round eight Mc Cullough had begun to claw his way 
back on the scorecards after losing the first four. The Mexican - who 
has been twelve rounds more times than any active fighter - refused 
to wilt however, winning the next three. In the last two rounds Wayne 
showed magnificent heart to shove Zaragoza back and finally out - 
pressure the champion.

This really was something from the Irishman considering Zaragoza's 
cornermen said he was "ready to go" at the end of round four. He 
dominated more clearly here than either man had previously, but 
although Zaragoza was practically out on his feet at the end it was 
all too late for Wayne. The scores were 114-115 and 116-112 twice.
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