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St John At Least Partially Redeemed
 from T & A Curse

By Katherine Dunn
December 7, 2002                                         ***database

The Battle of the Cover Girls, as it was billed, involved Mia Rosales St John, who cuddled up to red boxing gloves on the cover of Playboy, versus Christy Martin whose blocky, blood smeared figure glared triumphantly from the cover of Sports Illustrated following her defeat of Deirdre Gogarty on the undercard of Tyson-Bruno back in March of 1996.

The Irish Gogarty shared a few traits with St John. Gogarty was taller than the then 135 lb Martin, and as a lean junior featherweight was outweighed by more than a dozen pounds. Of course Gogarty had substantial power as well as finesse, and managed to put her mark on the face-fighting Martin. St John didn’t do that. No surprise there.

Still, despite my disgust with Bob Arum’s deliberate strategy to destroy women’s boxing by presenting it only as punchy porn with St John as it’s Lovelace star, I have to give the Bunny credit. At 35 she’s a year older than Martin. She was outweighed, and in her entire 26-1-1, 13 KO career, she had never been past four rounds before this busy ten rounder.

For this excursion, the 34 year-old Martin weighed 144 pounds, and looked fat and slow and sloppy. St John weighed an official 140 1/4 lbs but I’d bet she was wearing concrete boots to hit that mark. Martin, who stepped in with a record of 44-2-2, 31 KO’s, has more knockouts than St John has fights, and she won every round. She plowed forward, reaching, flailing, and missing more often than she landed. Whenever she caught up with St John she grappled and hung on with her left and dug vicious rights to St John’s body. Martin threw more and landed more and she apparently didn’t hurt St John at all. Obviously Martin didn’t take the cheesecake queen seriously enough to train for this fight, despite it being touted as her biggest payday ever--$300,000 is the rumor—and a historic female main for a PPV card of males.

Just as obviously, St John did take it seriously. She was in solid good shape. She showed no stamina problems at all. With trainer Robert Garcia and boxer Fredia Gibbs working her corner, St John displayed solid foot work of the glide and run variety, and a lot of effective slipping and blocking defense. She too rarely went on the offense though when she did she forked out a few jabs, a hook, or an occasional doozy of a right into the jaw of the redoubtable Martin. But she did a much better job andput on a much better show than her coddled cooze reputation among the pundits would predict.

At this point I am officially climbing off my high horse to admit that St John has done her best to foil Arum at his nasty game. She’s worked hard to learn the skills, and she’s improved. This is not to say she could ever beat the stout and furious washerwoman that Martin has become, but she wasn’t awed, and she wasn’t swamped or trampled. She fought a survivor strategy and she succeeded. Martin won the bout, but St John won the fans in this little outing.

Oddly, immediately following this fight, I switched over to the middle of the main event on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights. There was the tough and canny Shibata Flores playing a replica of St John’s strategy, just slipping and surviving against the pressing Verno Phillips. It was mirror world there, for a while.

On the Martin-St. John undercard: A simplistic but determined 33 year-old Ivan Alvarez,132 lbs (now 19-12, 8KO’s) of Colombia completely dominated a tragically impaired 31 year-old Junior "Poison" Jones, 130 1/4 lbs (now 50-6, 29KO’s) of New York to win a unanimous decision. The judges called it 97-91, 99-89, and 99-89. The one-sided numbers don’t give a vivid enough picture of how the once dangerous and gifted Jones has diminished. Having beaten the great Marco Antonio Barrera twice, Jones was quoted before this match as saying he wanted a chance to three-peat. Never in this world. Alvarez’ record is a clear sign that he was brought in as an opponent for Jones to win on, and the upset was apparent to all. His reflexes and timing gone, legs wobbling, and power evaporated, Jones was hurt again and again by circular hooks and looping rights that he apparently couldn’t see coming. Though the referee called only two knockdowns in Alvarez’ favor, Jones actually hit the deck six times in this ten round. In most cases he was so off balance and slow to react that a shove from Alvarez unhorsed him completely. Any commission that allows Jones to fight again should be charged with attempted murder.

In a 10 round Super Middleweight bout, 29 year-old Freeman Barr, 174 3/4 lbs (now 24-2,12 KO’s) of the Bahamas via Florida, battered and bloodied a hapless 25 year-old Mike Coker, 170 1/2 lbs (now 9-7-1, 7 KO) of Ozark, Alabama. The ref called a halt at the suggestion of the ringside physician at 1:00 of the 6th round. A TKO win for Barr.

The evening started with an upset in a 4 round Jr welterweight match. The 24 year-old Hugo Vargas, 141 lbs (now 3-2, 2 KO) of Florida was probably meant as fodder for 25 year-old Arturo Barraza, 140 3/4 lbs (now 2-1, 1KO) of the Fernando Vargas stable in Oxnard, CA. Somebody neglected to inform Hugo, who made a war of it. He pulled out a nice and well-deserved decision. One judge called it 38-38. The other two called it 40-36 and 39-37 for Vargas.

This PPV show took place in the mammoth 80,000 seat Silver Dome in Pontiac, Michigan. From the TV camera’s view I suspect there might have been as few as ninety or a hundred people in the audience. Dumb promoter. No black ink.

Courtesy report by Katherine Dunn of the  www.CyberBoxingZone.com 




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