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LIC’s Del Valle back in the ring

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Former light heavyweight champion Lou Del Valle resurfaced Saturday night and won a unanimous decision over Dan Sheehan in a light-heavyweight eight-round match at the DCU Center. Del Valle, a former resident of Long Island City who attended Bryant HS, easily won by scores of 79-73 and 78-74 twice, but the most meaningful stat of the match was Sheehan's record, which dropped to 10-32 and begged the question: Why is Del Valle (35-3-1, 22 KOs) the first fighter to knock down Roy Jones, fighting someone of Sheehan's caliber?"I needed the work," Del Valle said, who hadn't fought since Dec. 2, 2004. "The busier I am the better. I was just having fun in there. He could take a punch and I hurt my left knuckle in the second round so I couldn't put him away. So, I was trying to put on a good show."Del Valle won the WBA light heavyweight title in 1997, but his career went into a tailspin shortly after he lost to Jones. He ballooned up to 215 pounds, fought once in 1999 and was inactive for nearly two years. Del Valle was embroiled in a nasty dispute with his promoter, Joe DeGuardia, who he accused of "double-dipping," - earning money as his manager and promoter. The bickering became public and boiled over during a boxing show three years ago when Del Valle and DeGuardia allegedly exchanged punches. Del Valle's former brother-in-law, Craig Salamone lost a unanimous decision to Daniel Judah and Del Valle, a spectator at the show, thought DeGuardia had influenced the judges. Ultimately, Don King bought out his contract three years ago and has been his promoter ever since."Don was the only guy to stick by me," he said. "He's the reason I'm here right now."With Jones out of the picture, Del Valle, 36, sees a clear path to the top of the division. "My style hasn't changed. The way I fight hasn't changed," he said. "It's just a matter of coming back into shape and getting the rust off." Del Valle easily outboxed Sheehan, but he grew frustrated over his inability to put him away. The fight quickly deteriorated into a minstrel show, with both fighters preening for the audience. Several times during the fight Sheehan, who took the match on 10 days' notice, turned his back on Del Valle to talk to the crowd. Del Valle, somewhat emotional and volatile himself, followed suit, smiling at those ringside. At one point, Del Valle walked away from Sheehan after he staggered him with a thudding left hand in the eighth round."He couldn't hurt me," said Sheehan, who is from Brockton, Mass. "He thought it was going to be an easy fight. Once he figured out that it was going to be tougher than he thought, he stopped trying hard. He started fast, but he slowed down after the second round. You can't judge me by my record. I'm a good fighter."Sheehan is the ultimate journeyman, willing to fight anyone anywhere. The 10 days he had to prepare for Del Valle was an eternity compared to the four hours he had to prepare for Chris Mills in 2002. He got a call the day of the fight, hopped on a plane and flew to Pennsylvania where he lost a unanimous decision."Stuff like that has happened a couple times before," he said. "I'll fight anybody. It doesn't matter to me."Fast-rising featherweight Elio Rojas put on a dazzling show of volume punching against Angelo Torres, easily winning a unanimous decision, 60-54 on all three judges scorecards. Rojas, a resident of Jamaica who improved to 11-0 (9 KOs) dominated from the opening bell and overwhelmed Torres with his speed and power. Rojas' genius can be traced to his stamina and found in his shoulders. Built like a bigger man, Rojas can punch all night, and with little coming back at him, had his way with the 33-year-old Torres.."He was a good veteran fighter," Rojas said through a translator. "I was trying to be a little cautious. I could see that I hurt him a couple times, but I didn't want to rush into anything. Every round I was studying him for weaknesses that I could exploit. This was exactly the type of fight I wanted."If someone was writing a scouting report on Rojas, they could argue that he lacks one-punch knockout power. Very few featherweights possess that type of power, but it is notable that Rojas, who spars with welterweights and junior middleweights, landed thunderous shots and couldn't knock Torres out."Even though he was landing a lot of punches, he never hurt me," said Torres, who works as a security guard at a supermarket in his hometown of Lakewood, Washington. "He's not that hard of a puncher, to he honest. I've been hit harder than that before. If I was in better shape, maybe things would have been a little different."Rojas is scheduled to fight on the undercard of Felix Trinidad and Ronald "Winky" Wright on May 14 in Las Vegas. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, Rojas, 22, idolized Trinidad and patterns his aggressive style off him. It will be his second time fighting on one of his shows."There's no greater honor for me than to be fighting on the same card as him," he said.Reach reporter Mitch Abramson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 130.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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