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McCall wins lackluster fight

IBA champ records unanimous decision over Lawrence despite conditioning issues


Steve Marcus

Heavyweight boxer Oliver McCall, right, jabs at Franklin Lawrence during their fight at the Orleans on Friday. McCall won the 10-round fight by unanimous decision.

McCall defeats Lawrence

Heavyweight boxers Oliver McCall, left, and Franklin Lawrence battle at the Orleans on Friday. McCall won the 10-round fight by unanimous decision. Launch slideshow »

McCall-Lawrence Undercard

Marcos Mendias, left, of Phoenix takes a punch from Lawrence Hughes of Las Vegas during a junior welterweight bout at the Orleans on Friday. Hughes won the four-round fight. Launch slideshow »


  • Junior Welterweight: Lawrence Hughes (Las Vegas) def. Marcos Mendias (Phoenix), Third-round TKO
  • Heavyweight: Beau Tribolet (Tuscon) def. Chad Davis (Phoenix), unanimous decision (39-36, 38-37, 38-37)
  • Light Welterweight: Ricardo Calazada (Las Vegas) def. Jeff Watkins (Las Vegas), unanimous decision (38-37, 39-36, 39-36)
  • Super Middleweight: Christopher Spang (Las Vegas) def. Stephen McCray (Phoenix), unanimous decision (40-36, 40-36, 40-36)
  • Featherweight: Dustin Day (Phoenix) def. Brian Battease (Las Vegas), split decision (38-37, 37-38, 38-37)
  • Super Middleweight: Isiah McFadden (Phoenix) def. Demark Scott (Las Vegas), First-round TKO
  • Heavyweight: Oliver McCall (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) def. Franklin Lawrence (Indianapolis), unanimous decision (97-93, 96-94, 96-94)

Both Oliver McCall and Franklin Lawrence were calling for an immediate rematch in the ring Friday night at the Orleans, but by the fans response to their first fight — few seem interested.

While the 44-year-old McCall kept his comeback tour going, as well as his IBA heavyweight belt, several fans walked out of the Mardi Gras ballroom before waiting for the judgment in McCall’s unanimous decision victory.

The 10-round bout featured plenty of tie-ups but was short on the explosive kind of action that made McCall one of only two men to beat Lennox Lewis.

McCall’s trainer, Noel Judah, the father of boxer Zab Judah, emphatically said “No” to a rematch and graded the former WBC champ’s performance a “C+.”

But not to be too hard on “The Atomic Bull," who improved his career mark to 53-9 thanks to the judges scoring the bout 97-93, 96-94, 96-94, there was a good reason behind the conditioning struggles he showed against Lawrence.

“I’m very impressed with my performance considering the situation,” said McCall, who had been hampered from a “groin issue or possible hernia” that he suffered before his second-round knockout of John Hopoate in May.

“I wasn’t able to run and roadwork is very important in boxing. I love to run, but I couldn’t even do the treadmill. But considering that, I’m very pleased that I was able to go 10 rounds.”

A disappointed Lawrence, who hadn’t lost in three years, thought his work in those late rounds won him the fight.

“I was the one who brought the fight, I always bring the fight. I was the one throwing more punches and pressing the action,” Lawrence said immediately in the ring afterwards.

While McCall said he would grant a rematch both in the ring and in the training room, a rematch against Lawrence doesn’t seem like it would help McCall much in his dream of someday recapturing a major title.

Judah said as much afterwards.

“He needs a couple more fights like this here and to work on his conditioning and then I think he’ll be ready (for a major fight),” Judah said.

“We didn’t get a full training camp in, we will do that next time and he’ll be in better condition. We’re gonna keep going and see how far he can go.”

McCall was able to go the distance Friday even though he suffered a cut over his right eye in the second round.

Despite the lack of action, or his being able to unleash many of his patented power punches, McCall was able to do damage to the body and effectively use his left hand — a bright spot for him as a shoulder issue kept McCall out of the sport for 19 months before the Hopoate fight.

“I was able to throw a left hook and my shoulder didn’t hurt,” McCall said. “I actually got him with a couple of left hooks, so that’s another positive step in the right direction.”

While the fans — many in the crowd, which included UNLV basketball legend Larry Johnson, urged the red, white and blue-trunked McCall throughout — might not be excited about a possible rematch, McCall promised a better performance if he does face Lawrence again.

“I want a rematch with him so I can knock him out,” said McCall, who hopes to fight again in October. “I know I can be in so much better shape and be so much stronger.

The bottom line McCall said was getting the win, and the fact he can keep living his boxing dream and praising God.

“I can go back home and be singing in the church choir on Sunday,” he said with a smile.

“I ain’t where I want to be, but I ain’t where I used to be. But I’m a lot better than where people thought I would be at this point in my life — a lot of people thought I would be dead by now.”

Andy Samuelson can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.

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