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BOXING : Williams Broken but Unbowed in Victory

August 07, 1994|SEAN WATERS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Despite fighting with a broken hand from the fourth round on, Jeremy Williams of Long Beach stopped Mark Wills of Los Angeles in the sixth round of their California heavyweight championship bout Tuesday night at the Grand Olympic Auditorium.

Williams used a straight right hand that had Wills doubled over at the ropes and followed with a combination before referee Larry Rozadilla stopped the fight at 2:28 of the sixth of the scheduled 10-round main event.

Williams suffered a broken left hand in the fourth round and will be unable to fight for three months. However, the seriousness of the injury was not discovered until Wednesday, the day after the fight.

Williams, who improved his record to 18-1 with 15 knockouts, also had defeated Wills (14-14-1) in a Jan. 28 bout in Lewiston, Maine. That fight, which went nine rounds, ended on a technical knockout.

"I knew I was going to beat him because I'm stronger and faster than him," said the 21-year-old Williams. "I have beaten him before so it wasn't a question about whether I was going to win."

The only question mark in the fight was whether Williams could continue with injured hands.

Williams, who weighed 211 pounds, injured a knuckle of his right hand while sparring and his left hand after hitting the head of the 225-pound Wills.

Said Williams: "Wills is hard-headed man. I threw a couple head shots, but the head shots weren't going to get him. I needed to throw straight clear shots to his face."

Williams, who was ahead on all three judges' cards when the fight was stopped, dropped his hands and challenged Wills to hit him in the first round. Wills, 33, was too slow with his jab to produce an effective combination.

After his opponent missed with a wild left hook, Williams threw a vicious right uppercut that floored Wills in the second round.

Williams began complaining about his hands after the third round, according to his trainer Joe Goossen. "He told me in the corner his hands were hurting," Goossen said. "How do you respond to that? I told him to throw dinkers over the top and buzz him a couple times. Mark Wills is no pushover. He is a very confident guy who doesn't get knocked out easily."

Wills tried to drag his opponent toward the ropes, but Williams danced away from trouble until the fifth when he crumpled Wills with the hard right.

"He was ready to throw a right hand when I caught him with a right," Williams said. "I'm a boxer when I want to be, and a puncher when I need to be."

In a preliminary bout, Cory Johnson of Detroit stopped Paco Custa of Tijuana at 51 seconds of the 10th round. Johnson improved his record to 16-0 with four knockouts.

*

The Williams-Wills fight drew a disappointing crowd of 1,250 partly because the show was televised by USA Network. Top Rank Boxing executive Dan Goossen also had only eight days to promote the bout, which was originally scheduled as a heavyweight double feature. On Aug. 13, Larry Donald (15-0, 12 KOs) was going to fight Andrew Golata (17-0, 15 KOs) in the first half of a heavyweight double feature. Williams and Wills were the other main event.

However, USA had a fight cancellation and Goossen persuaded the cable company to televise the Williams fight if it were moved to Tuesday.

"In our minds, the show was a success because we had nearly 1,300 people and no one was sitting in the cheap seats," Goosssen said.

But the Olympic has struggled to attract fans after its blockbuster reopening that included Oscar de la Hoya and James Toney fighting on the same card. For five shows, the Olympic has offered $1 specials for its lowest-priced seats, which is $4 less than it costs to park at the venue. (Top Rank does not own the concessions to the neighborhood parking structures.)

Aside from the reopening, one of the better-attended shows was the Zachary Padilla fight against Juan LaPorte, which drew 3,000 fans and was televised by CBS July 24. Padilla retained his World Boxing Organization junior-welterweight title with a 10th-round knockout.

"Are we happy?" Goossen said. "Yes, we're happy. Are we satisfied? No. We feel strongly that if we can bring in a De la Hoya or a Rafael Ruelas for a title fight, We can sell out the Olympic and build a following.

"If you give fight fans a card they want to see, they will come. We don't expect them to come in droves for every fight we schedule. But we do think that 3,000 fans at every fight is within reach."

Said Top Rank President Bob Arum: "I'm disappointed that after our Pied Piper fought (De la Hoya), they didn't come flocking to our shows. But every show is building and we see the light."

*

The Donald-Golota fight had to be canceled when Donald injured his back during a sparring session.

Donald is ranked fifth by the World Boxing Council and ninth by the World Boxing Organization. Top Rank officials also decided to reschedule the undercard bouts.

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