By Richard E. Baker on January 1, 2021
The final month of 2020 was a tough one for Washington state boxing. (Photo: Courtesy)
The final month of 2020 was a tough one for the Washington state boxing world. Fights remain few due to covid. Ray Frye continues to sponsor fights every other month in Mexico to keep his fighters working, an expensive proposition but one he feels will reap benefits in the long run. His fights were the only bright spot in December.
On a more somber note, boxers Patrick Ferguson, Mike Gavronski, Olanrewaju Durodola, promoter Brain Halquist and Heavyweight Chauncy Welliver have all had their difficulties.
Patrick Ferguson (17-3-1) flew to South Africa to fight IBO Cruiserweight titleholder Kevin Lerena (25-1-0). The flight from Washington to Africa is a grueling one and may have taken its toll on Ferguson who was TKO’d. Neither boxer looked exceptionally great during the fight, both looking sluggish with Ferguson firing slow punches and dipping his left after each jab. He was bound to get caught, and he was. Lerena did not resemble a champion although he did enough to put Ferguson away. Ferguson started well enough but seemed to throw fewer and fewer punches with each round. The African television commentators were not overly kind to Ferguson. He fought better than they claimed but not by much.
Mike Gavronski (26-4-1) was clearly overmatched in an embarrassing loss to rising star David Morrell (3-0-0). Morrell, from Cuba, tore Gavronski apart, putting him down in the first round before finishing him off two rounds later. Gavronski never stood a chance and, had not the bell sounded for the end of the first round, the fight would have mercifully been over, saving Gavronski much damage and embarrassment.
Olanrewaju Durodola (34-8-0), managed by Washington’s Roland Jankelson, was put away by Ilunga Junior Makabu (27-2-0) in his bid for Makabu’s WBC World Cruiserweight title. The first round brought the two somnambulistic boxers together in a furious rage of friendship. At least, it looked like friendship. Neither fighter did anything. They circled, they pawed the air, they never attempted to land a meaningful blow and the hardest punch was landed when they tapped gloves at the finish of the round. The bout was destined to be a dud.
Surprises in boxing are always—well—surprising. What was destined to be declared D.O.A. came to life in the 2nd round as Durodola put Makabu on the ropes and kept him there most of the round. Makabu came to life in round 3 but again ended up on the ropes. The fight was starting to become pretty decent with give and take from both men. There was more of the same in round 4 and Durodola rocked Makabu only to have Makabu retaliate.
Durodola remained the aggressor throughout, relentlessly plodding ahead in a very even fight. Unfortunately, Durodola was up against an opponent he could not beat. He is 40 years old and that is over the hill for any boxer except Archie Moore. Makabu, at 33, had the edge as Durodola’s mouth started to sag and his breath came in whiffs of fatigue. Those 40 years succumbed in round 7 as Makabu put him down. The referee, who had had nothing to do in a very clean and professional bout, realized that Durodola’s legs and balance were off and called the fight. A younger Durodola, who looked very good, might have taken the championship.
Local promoter Brian Halquist also suffered a bad end of the year. Halquist has held more professional fights than any other promoter in Washington’s history. In conjunction with the Emerald Queen Casino, they have staged a fight every other month for many years. He was in the process of working with the new casino to start staging television fights during covid. They were working out the details when Washington was totally shut down due to the epidemic. They must now wait for conditions to improve before they can forge ahead.
The last bit of news concerns the very popular heavyweight Chauncy Welliver. Welliver was rushed to the Hospital in Spokane suffering from a very dangerous case of covid. He remains in the hospital under careful observation. Welliver is a tough old bird and has pulled through many fights where people gave him no chance. He will no doubt pull through this one.