Competitive bouts aplenty at Return to Greatness event
WARREN — In an area with significant history in the sport, Warren’s W.D. Packard Music Hall once again played host to a boxing event.
The “Return to Greatness” event put on by legendary boxing figurehead Don King welcomed 12 fighters to the Mahoning Valley, where they fought in front of a sizable crowd that included Youngstown-area legends Kelly Pavlik, Harry Arroyo and Ray Mancini.
The latter was providing color commentary on the broadcast.
The opening fight of the night, for the NABA welterweight title, was between Cody Wilson (10-3, 7 KOs) (West Virginia) and Tre’Sean Wiggins (12-5-3, 6 KOs) (Newburgh, N.Y.).
Wiggins won via TKO in the third round.
Following that up was Dacarree ‘Mac Truck’ Scott (7-0) (Denver, CO) and Ahmed Hefny (13-2) (Egypt via Queens, N.Y.) fighting for the North American Boxing Association gold heavyweight title.
Scott, who wasn’t on the ticket until Saturday, went 10 rounds, and took the heavyweight title by split decision.
Johnnie Langston (10-3, 4 KOs) (Sarasota, Fla.) and Nick Kisner (22-6-1) (Baltimore) fought for the NABA cruiserweight title.
Kisner came out in the opening round sporadically and Langston methodically wore him down throughout. By the fourth round, Langston took complete control, knocking Kisner down three times to take the belt, winning by TKO.
After the third fight, King entered the ring to greet the fans.
While at the age of 90, the ever-eccentric King was as lively as ever.
“It’s a privilege to be home again,” he said. “We’re putting on a spectacular show, just as I prognosticated. It’s happening.”
Then began the first co-main event of the evening.
Jonthan Guidry (17-1-2), of Dulca, La., took on World Boxing Association heavyweight champion Trevor Bryan (22-0, 15 KOs), of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Guidry’s speed went head to head with Bryan’s size and reach. Guidry, who was outsized by five inches, had a large contingent of the crowd behind the blue corner cheering for him.
Guidry gave Bryan everything he could, but Bryan had a response for every punch sent his way.
The two unbeatens went the full 12 rounds, but in the waning seconds of the final round, Bryan sent a series of body shots and a couple jabs to the face to knock Guidry down as the bell sounded.
Bryan then got the win by split decision to retain his championship title.
The other co-main event, a dual-African cruiserweight ticket of Illunga Makabu (29-2, 25 KOs), of the Congo against WBC silver champion Thabiso Mchunu (23-6, 13 KOs), of South Africa.
Makabu also had a contingent of the crowd in his favor residing in the upper deck of Packard Music Hall. Singing, chanting and waving Congolese flags.
The pair of lefty cruiserweights also went the 12-round distance, with Makabu taking the crown and retaining his world champion status.
Neither fighter went down during the 36-minute bout. Makabu is now a possible option to fight current Undisputed Super Middleweight World Champion Canelo Alvarez if he moves up to cruiserweight.
The night closed with one last undercard fight featuring Cleveland-area native Michael Moore (18-3, 8 KOs) and Anthony Lenk (17-7, 7 KOs) (Niagara Falls, N.Y.) clashing for the NASA middleweight title.
At press time, the fight had not concluded.