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ESPN2-Fight Report
JD Vena
Vasquez Vanquishes Harris

UNCASVILLE, CT - In the past three years, hard-luck Hartford featherweight, Angel Vasquez has endlessly searched for solid opponents.  Since leaving the promotional branch of Russell Peltz three years ago, the unbeaten Vasquez has fought just four times, including last night.  For an inactive fighter, you would imagine Vasquez' next opponent to be someone who would provide a simple target, but the opponent he was served up with was hardly that.  Last night, Vasquez faced the elusive Bernard Harris of Detroit, MI and won a convincing 12-round decision and the vacant USBA Featherweight Championship at the Mohegan Sun Casino.

    Vasquez, now 19-0, with 15 stops had his hands full with his slippery opponent, who he found difficult to nail down in the early and late rounds.  Harris exerted a tremendous amount of energy with his herky-jerky movement in rounds one and two to avoid the dangerous fists of Vasquez.  As a result, "Nito" would finally land crushing inside shots that dropped Harris in the 5th stanza.  Nevertheless, the wilted Harris survived the round.

    Like Harris, Vasquez needed to lay off in the 6th round but stormed back in the 7th when he nearly chopped Harris in half with a pulverizing left to the body.   Harris survived the bout's final knockdown and used his corner's advice to box Vasquez for the remainder of the bout.  In the last few rounds, in an attempt to lure his opponent, a frustrated Vasquez gave a decent Naseem Hamed impression by dropping his hands and getting hit squarely for it.  Harris' late round efforts weren't enough to pull off any kind of upset though as the judges awarded Vasquez the decision by three identical scores of 118-108 (as this writer saw it).  When does that ever happen?

    Though some of his hometown Hartford fans felt cheated of the knockout, Vasquez was fairly impressive in his first ever 12-rounder venture.  

Vasquez, whose last bout was a 6th round TKO of Alexis Barclay in November, needed last night's exorcise especially if he is going to face the WBO featherweight champion, "Prince" Naseem Hamed later this year.  The explosive Vasquez is ranked third by that organization and will most certainly move up after last night's bout.   Harris' record fell to 17-8-2, with 8 KO's.

    A few days ago, while beefing up this card, I mentioned the return of top-ranked Puerto Rican welterweight Wilfredo Rivera, who was to face Robert Frazier in the co-feature.  Instead, an injured Rivera was replaced with Washington, D.C's, Percell Miller.  Frazier, of Rochester, NY and his capable adversary, took turns whaling on each other in this fight of the month candidate.  Whenever there was a break in the action, one or the other would either take advantage of the other's recovery time or bravely go toe-to-toe. 

At the end of the crowd-pleaser, Judges Dick Flaherty and Frank Lombardi overruled Don O'Neill's 97-93 scorecard for Miller with marks of 96-94 and 97-93 for Frazier.  The big win for Frazier improves his standing among the top jr. middleweights and his record to 19-4-2, with 11 KO's.  Miller, who had just entered the realm of the jr. middleweights, falls to 21-3-1 with 17

    The best quote from ringside last night came from veteran photographer, Angelo Carlino when he said: "Somewhere, poor Butterbean is sitting around naked."  He was referring to the American flag attire worn by the entire corner (which included "Big" Kevin Rooney) of Frank Houghtaling, a participant in the fourth bout of the night.  Houghtaling of Catskill, NY defeated Mike McFail of Baltimore, MD, who made a better fight out of what the judges awarded a lop-sided 6-round verdict for Houghtaling.  McFail, who pressed the action with the fleet-footed winner, fell to 8-5-4 with only one KO.  The streaking Houghtaling (his fifth) upped his record to 12-6-3 with a
whopping 2 KO's.

    Willie "Nothin Nice" Phillips showed why he was just that (so far anyway) when he failed to put away Derek Amos, 220 of Ft. Washington, MD until the 6th and final round.  Amos, who was dropped four times in the bout, also convinced novice referee, Joe Cusano that a blow to the body, which dropped Amos in the 3rd round, was a low one.  Midway through Cusano's 10-count, the
wincing Amos prompted the referee to stop the clock and wait a few for his recovery.   Stranger things have happened I guess but not as strange if the 13-15 Amos pulled off the upset.  Phillips, of Sheron, PA recorded his 13th knockout in his 14-1 record.

    In the opener, Rochester, NY cruiserweight, Jermell Barnes, added yet another decision victory in beating Felton Hamilton of New York, NY in a scheduled 6.   With just two KO's on his resume, Barnes picked up his 11th win in as many starts.   The swing bout of the night involved another appalling performance by Referee Joe Cusano, as he just seemed happy to be there.  Ignoring the advice from the ringside physician, Cusano allowed what should have been a one round fight to become a two rounder when Johnny "Boy" Vargas recorded his third KO in four wins of an overmatched Dave Hamilton of Hanson, MA.  Note to all promoters: Please remove Joe Cusano from your referee list.

Promoter - Michael Acri Boxing
Venue - Mohegan Sun Casino
Judges - Dick Flaherty, Frank Lombardi and Donald O'Neill
Referees - Ken Ezzo, John Callas, Joe Cusano and Michael Ortega
Your Ring Announcer - Maaaark Beiro! Beiro!

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