Shufford takes IBA heavyweight
title at Silver Star
By By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
October 14, 2002
PHILADELPHIA Not often does such a competitive fight between up-and-coming heavyweights highlight a Mississippi casino boxing card, but Sunday's main event for Fox Sports Net's Sunday Night Fights, fit the bill.
Rising heavyweights Eleicer Castillo and Charles Shufford battled for 12 rounds to lay claim to the IBA America's Heavyweight Championship here at the Silver Star Casino's Convention Center.
The win and the belt went to Shufford who pulled out a unanimous decision over the Miami, Fla.,-based Castillo. The final scorecards were not indicative of the closeness of the fight.
Shufford, out of Las Vegas, Nev., won on two judges cards by identical 116-112 scores. The third judge had a more reflective 115-113 score.
Sean O'Grady, who served as the boxing analyst for the nationally-televised Fox Sports Net presentation, said it was pretty much a pick'em fight.
Shufford told me afterwards, he took a lot of what he learned in the Klitschko fight into this one."
Shufford, now 19-2-0 was relieved to have pulled out the decision.
Shufford used his jab to control the counter-punching Castillo. Castillo, who falls to 23-3-2, had very quick hands and attacked using combinations. But Shufford did a good job of defending him.
Castillo may have given away too many of the early rounds. They were all close, but Shufford may have done enough to squeak by. By the sixth, Castillo started pressing more. He got the better of the first strong exchange in the ninth when he backed Shufford up.
The pair coasted through the 10th before ending the 11th with another good exchange. Round 12 was simply the best round of action for the entire card.
At one point, Castillo knocked out Shufford's mouthpiece. But Shufford responded by picking up the pressure with his jab and got off some combinations of his own. The crowd cheered both boxers for the effort.
The other co-feature of the night had Lance "The Mount" Whitaker knock out Cliff Couser in the fifth round. Whitaker, a 6-foot-7, 247-pounder out of Greneda Hills, Calif., overcame a shaky second round to beat Couser who's out of Las Vegas, Nev.
Couser hit Whitaker with a solid right half-hook in the second round and followed up with a combination. Whitaker shrugged it off and resumed pawing Couser with a jab.
Whitaker, now 25-2-1, won the fourth round and then staggered Couser with a body shot in the fifth. He then landed an overhand right to finish it off. Couser took a knee but didn't get up in time. The stop came with 2:45 of the fifth.
Meridian boxer Clint McNeil won his middleweight bout over Toris Smith of Memphis by a unanimous decision. McNeil overcame a first round knockdown to win the last three rounds and pull out a 38-37 decision.
The win improves McNeil, the younger brother of Brad McNeil, to 12-5.
Derrick Kaiser out of Atlanta, Ga., stopped Meridian's Joe Johnson at the 1:36 mark of the first round on a TKO.
Three fights came after the main event and all were bad mismatches. Female boxer Nina Ahlin pounded Stephanie Dobbs in a four-round shutout, 40-36.
Heavyweight Patrice L'Heureux of Montreal, Canada stopped Bill Zumbrum of Ogden, Utah on a TKO with 1:18 of the fourth round.
The final bout saw Castillo's younger brother Eleiso Castillo run his record to 14-0-1 by whipping Ronnie Smith of Blytheville, Ark., in a four-round decision.