Tonight in Atlantic City, 1996 Olympic Gold Medal winner David Reid needed 12 rounds to earn his first world title, earning a wide unanimous decision over tough Frenchman Laurent Boudouani.

Although Reid had clear advantages in age, handspeed and power, he fought cautiously against Boudouani throughout the fight. Boudouani began the bout by immediately tipping his hand, leaving little doubt that his gameplan was to drop a counter right hand onto the drooping left eyelid of Reid and knock him out. In the first two rounds, Boudouani's clubbing right hand landed only occasionally, but with a thudding effectiveness that stole the first round and nearly the second.

The multi-talented Reid, however, was looking to land his own right hand, and began his set-up in the third by following up a rapid repeating jab with hard right hands to the Boudouani's side. As Reid crunched Boudouani's ribs, the champion began to drop his left, and Reid began taking control. When he doubled his jab, Reid could do as he pleased, and his momentum began banking round after round on the judge's scorecards.

Boudouani was disciplined, however, and kept countering with sneak right hands. After five rounds, his dedication to the punch was rewarded when a mouse appeared under Reid's notorious left eye. Combined with an already droopy eyelid, Reid appeared to be fighting with only one eye, despite his insistence both before and after the fight that his eye was never a problem.

In the sixth, the script continued as before with Reid controlling the pace and filling in the exchanges with busy punching. An increasingly desperate Boudouani continued to launch and land right hands to the side of Reid's head. Reid, who was down twice in his last bout against gangly southpaw James Coker, showed a good chin under fire and remained composed.

Reid opened the seventh round by calmly jabbing Boudouani, who looked spent as the stanza began. For the entire frame, Boudouani did next to nothing as Reid did all of the throwing before, during, and after the two fighters would be tied up. But just as he looked finished, the champion ended the round by suddenly lashing out with a half dozen unanswered lead rights. The flurry may have stole him the round, but it did not dissuade Reid, who stormed out in eighth and used his hand speed and bursts of flurries to again take control of the fight.

Boudouani needed to take a stand, and at the urging of his corner, he attempted to pick up the pace in the ninth. For thirty seconds, he successfully repeated his end-of-the-eighth rally until a short left hook from Reid tagged Boudouani on the chin and had the champion wobbling in place at center ring. Reid remained patient and pursued the hurt titlist cautiously, but Boudouani ran and held until the bell saved him.

With Reid ahead, but not too far ahead, Boudouani tried in vain to regain the lead. In the tenth, he upped the volume of his right hand attack only to be beat to the punch by Reid. In the eleventh, Boudouani bobbed his head and looked to be well into a refreshing second wind, but Reid had an answer for everything, matching even Boudouani's best shots with return fire. And in the twelfth, when it was conceivable (although unlikely) that Boudouani could keep it close with a knockdown, Reid closed the show like the champion he was soon to become.

Coming out for the final round, Reid finally let his hands go and fought with the confidence that has made him a star. Reid battered Boudouani with machine gun style bursts of punches upstairs and down, sapping the champion of any remaining hope that his title would be saved. By the time the bell rang, Reid's final round performance shut the door on any doubt as to who the winner would be when the scores were read. 118-112, 117-112 and 117-111 were the tallies, all telling the tale of the one sided, if workmanlike, win for David Reid.

Improving to 12-0/7, Reid picks up his first world title early into his budding career. In Reid's short career, he has faced competition above and beyond that which many prospects face (combined record of his opponents to date has been 348-50-6/244). Having a test every time out may have sharpened Reid's skills, but has denied him of a truly exciting win. Tonight was no exception. Although he won comfortably, Boudouani's awkward style and good beard, prevented Reid from displaying true dominance. Stacked next to the bloody mauling that equally inexperienced Fernando Vargas displayed in winning his own 154 lb. title last year, Reid looks to be the less imposing figure. But his handspeed cannot be denied, his power ranks with anyone's in the division, and his two fisted attack will be tough to beat. Now a world champion, he can look forward to lucrative paydays against Vargas, and a number of other welterweight champions whose dehydrated physiques will soon require a move to Reid's division.

On the undercard, Great White Hype Lou Savarese survived big trouble to win a 10 round split decision over giant prospect Mount (formerly Lance) Whitaker. Savarese built an early lead by spending the first half of the fight assaulting Whitaker's midsection. Whitaker, for his part, fought surprisingly well on the inside when Savarese got in close. Snapping Lou's head back with repeated uppercuts, Whitaker was unable to hurt Savarese with his arm punches. Whitaker, who only began boxing several years ago, showed that size does matter, as he used his gigantic physique to make the most out of punches that were thrown with horrible form.

But in the sixth round, Whitaker's uppercuts staggered Savarese back, and he let his hands go. Battering Savarese from one side of the ring to the other, Savarese finally took a knee in center ring. Although he was up by ten, it was only after referee Steve Smoger unusually coached Savarese by counting "5, 6, take your time, 7, 8, let's go, 9..." Savarese was allowed to continue and Whitaker resumed the beating until, somehow, Savarese made it to the bell.

Having thrown an amazing 122 punches in the round, Whitaker was completely spent. Savarese's consistent body attack combined with Whitaker's inability to pace himself to sap him of any energy whatsoever. In the next round, Savarese began on unsteady legs, but quickly regained his composure as Whitaker did nothing except breath hard and lean on him. Clean punches were only a rumor at this point, as both men clinched, leaned and danced for the rest of the fight. Although some infighting sparked hopes of action, the final bell brought a halt to a bout that had fans wondering how either man would have been able to go 12 had the contract not limited them to 10 rounds.

Savarese (39-2/32) kept his hope of a Tyson payday alive by eking out a split decision: 97-93, 94-95, 95-93. Whitaker's reputation goes from "undefeated prospect" to "unconditioned arm puncher" in one fight as he suffers his first loss, dropping to 18-1/16.

Overall, it was not a scintillating night of boxing, but one which served as a legitimate annoiting of one of the sport's future stars and a sufficient appetizer for next weeks heavyweight showdown.

.....Chris Bushnell

© 2001 Chris Bushnell. All rights reserved.

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