People who attended the first post-pandemic boxing card in over a year at the Minneapolis Armory last Sunday night got their money’s worth.
The nationally televised main event featured two unbeatens—Cuban sensation David Morrill, Jr. against Mario Cazares in a WBA Super Middleweight Championship fight, the first title defense for Morrill. His two straight left hands floored Cazares so quickly that some patrons complained afterwards they didn’t get to see the short fight, as Morrill successfully defended his belt with a first-round TKO at 2:32.
Morrill only threw seven punches, but six of them were power punches. The Cuban-born fighter, who now calls Minneapolis his home, told reporters, including the MSR, through his interpreter after the fight that Cazares trash talked him. “I don’t trash talk,” said the boxer. He wanted “to get him out early.”
After Sunday’s fight, Morrill announced that he now has a new manager in Ned Abdul, who joins Morrill’s team that includes legendary trainer Sankara Frazier, Adonis Frazier of the Circle of Discipline (COD) gym located off Lake Street in South Minneapolis, and promoters Leon Margules and Luis DeCubas of Warriors Boxing.
Morrill (5-0) is in the COD stable with Minneapolis native and fellow world champion Jamal “Shango” James and local fan favorite VeShawn Owens. Owens was also on Sunday’s card as a “long swing” bout, meaning it came after the televised main event, one of two such fights. Such fights typically have only family and friends of the two boxers and those who didn’t head to the exits soon after Morrill’s quick night concluded.
Owens improved to 12-2 with a fourth-round TKO over Joseph Francisco, now 8-2. He talked to the MSR afterwards.
“It’s been two years” since his last fight largely because of COVID protocols, he admitted. “I’m rustier than I thought. I got to get the rust off before getting in there with the top contenders.”
The Minneapolis native Owens said that his scheduled fights “kept getting postponed and canceled because of COVID,” he noted. “[But] I stayed in the gym. I worked extremely hard. That’s how I actually dropped two weight classes because I worked every single day, even when the gym is closed. I made my own gym and I just made the best of it.”
Perhaps the night’s most entertaining fight involved two unbeaten cruiserweights—Efetorbor Apochi with a 11-0 record from Nigeria, and Atlanta’s Brandon Glanton, then 13-0. It was a 10-round slugfest with one judge afterwards scoring the fight 96-93 for Apochi, but the other two judges both scored it 95-94 for Glanton, who threw 187 punches to Apochi’s 183, and led in power punches 182-144.
“I never thought I was in trouble,” said Glanton in a short MSR interview afterwards. He admitted that the Apochi fight was his hardest thus far. “He was in better condition than I expected.”
We also spoke to Glanton’s uncle Gene Johnson—he and other members of Glanton’s family sat directly in front of us, a row before media row. They all were ecstatic over the boxer’s win: Johnson pointed out, “The guy [Apochi] is a Nigerian and didn’t feel he’s Black and had a nasty attitude. That fight was personal [for Glanton].”
Other winners in Sunday’s nine-bout card: super lightweight Ali Rivera def. Omar Juarez in 10 rounds; light-heavyweight Angel Chavez def. Arsenio Hall in four rounds; super welterweight Nathaniel Gallimore def. Leon Lawson III in 10 rounds; light-heavyweight Atif Oberlton scored a fifth-round TKO over Jasper McCargo; Travon Marshall def. Ruben Torres in four rounds; and Alantez Fox won his eight-round super middleweight bout with a sixth-round TKO over Manny Woods.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.