Austin, Whitaker in 10-round draw
Youngstown's Roland Commings earned a technical draw after getting cut by a head butt.
By BOB ROTH
CHESTER, W. Va. -- Saturday night's boxing card at The Harv was labeled "Heavyweight Mayhem at Mountaineer" for good reason. The main event and the co-feature, along with two other bouts had the big boys bombing each other.
Ray Austin (16-3, 12 knockouts), came in at 262 pounds and went 10 rounds with Lance "Goofi" Whitaker (24-2, 20 KOs), at 281 pounds. Whitaker, managed by Rock Newman, was in control of the fight in the early rounds, but Austin, from Cleveland, came on late to have the judges score the fight even for an upset draw.
Another Cleveland fighter, Joe Lenhart, managed by Youngstown's Pat Nelson and called "The Polish Giant" came in at 310 pounds for his scheduled eight-rounder with former top heavyweight Michael Grant.
Grant (33-2, 24 KOs) stopped Lenhart in round five. This was after Lenhart hit Grant with several stinging right hand shots.
"This is a one step at a time procedure for Michael, who is still finding himself and getting rid of the bad seeds," said Grant's trainer, Teddy Atlas, "and tonight this took him five rounds to find himself."
Including Bonnie "Baby Doll" Whearry from Cleveland, who lost an unpopular four-round split decision, Nelson had six fighters on the undercard. Two who had the best showings were Youngstown's Roland Commings and Warren's Etianne Whitaker.
Lightheavy victory: Whitaker (24-5-2, 14 KOs) had a most workman-like performance, stopping lightheavyweight Anthony Spain from Sarasota, Florida.
Spain, who ran into Whitaker's lightning combinations to the head and body for three rounds, took two eight counts in round three and was unable to answer the bell for round four.
Whitaker, who has a 10-rounder coming up in Detroit on Friday, said, "It was important for me to come out quick and work this guy up and down with this bout breaking the ice for me after a four-month layoff since December."
Whitaker's layoff didn't compare to Commings, who came back to the ring after nearly a four-year layoff.
Commings (22-20-2), now 36, showed he hadn't lost any heart in his six-round middleweight battle with George Klinesmith (11-5-1, 7 KOs), a 25-year old. Commings came out swinging and Jack Loew, who has been training him at the Southside Boxing Club, said, "That is the way he has been training every day since he began talking about coming back."
In round two Commings continued to throw shots from all angles, but Klineheart was doing the same thing, with the crowd standing on their feet in what was the best round in any fight of the night. When both fighters had a meeting of their heads midway through round three, a bad cut opened over Commings' left eye and the referee stopped the fight because of an accidental butt, calling the bout a "Technical Draw" in accordance with West Virginia rules.
"A lot of people are not aware of the fact that tonight fighting as a middleweight makes a sixth weight division that I have fought in as a pro and that puts me in a class with Roberto Duran and Henry Armstrong," said Commings. "I knew Klinesmith was a tough kid, but I also knew he wouldn't out-gut me, because I just lost my dad two months ago and my four kids didn't want me to embarrass myself."