The lights went down, the rap music blared, and all of a sudden, the Connecticut Convention Center was like a scene out of “Fight Night.”
50 Cent’s Birthday Bash was one slugfest after another, with four local boxers gutting it out in front of ESPN cameras and the rap legend himself.
Hartford’s Oliver comes up just short
The main event featured Hartford featherweight Mike Oliver (25-4-0-1, 8 KO’s), who despite a valiant effort, came up just short against former IBF featherweight world champion Billy “The Kid” Dib of Australia. Oliver was energetic and active, bouncing around the ring and remaining light on his feet despite taking a pretty serious blow to the groin in the second round.
Dib was docked a point for the low blow, but after that he took control of the fight, keeping Oliver on the ropes and just edging out a majority decision. With the win, Dib remains on track for an IBF title fight rematch with Russian Evgeny Gradovich, who took away his title earlier this year.
He improved his record to 36-2.
Oliver took his time to recover from the low blow, rolling around on the canvas for several minutes before finally bouncing up. But he appeared energized by it all, soaking in an increasingly raucous reception from his hometown crowd.
Oliver jumped up on the ropes after the final round, raising his arms in victory. He said was disappointed in the final results.
“The scoring was kind of messed up,” Oliver said. “I had mad control of the fight. He didn’t hurt me. He didn’t faze me at all. He’s got no power.”
Still, Oliver was grateful for the opportunity to fight on such a big stage.
“I’m happy. I’m just happy to be back in my hometown,” he said.
New Haven’s Green stays unbeaten
The night began with New Haven boxer Nate Green thoroughly dominating Cincinnati’s Micah Branch, controlling the fight from start to finish and winning a unanimous decision, 40-36. Green (4-0) crushed Branch on the inside, pounding him with repeated body blows. He didn’t have to do much blocking, either.
“I got hit like twice,” he said.
Though he hadn’t fought in over a year, the New Haven featherweight looked sharp and dominant against an overmatched Branch (0-4).
“I did better than I expected to,” Green said. “It was easier than I thought it was going to be.”
“God gave me an ability, a gift, and I just run with it.”
New Haven’s David Wilson impressive in win
Welterweight David Wilson was victorious in his pro debut, outlasting a stern challenge from Massachusetts’ Rodrigo Almeida. Wilson won a unanimous decision, though he struggled at times with the quick Almeida.
“I plan on being undefeated for a while,” he said. “I came into the fight as a professional and I wanted to leave as a professional. I don’t need to showboat or anything.”
Wilson said he fights in memory of his brother Marty, who was a former amateur national champion at age 16.
“I wanted to try and pick up where he left off,” Wilson said.
Hartford’s Oscar Diaz gains experience in loss
In just his second professional fight, Hartford’s Oscar Diaz afforded himself well in the ring, losing a close decision to Donte Strayhorn of Cincinnati. Diaz (0-2) was bloodied early, a cut over his right eye needing repair after the second round. He also lost his mouthpiece
“It was great. This is a great show. I give Connecticut a lot of props for this,” Diaz said.
“I liked this fight a lot. Donte Strayhorn has a lot of experience. I’m fighting a lot of guys who have a lot of experience, and I don’t have as much as they do, but I’m still going with them.”
“I learned a lot. The next chump, it’s gametime,” he said.
New Haven’s Jimmy Williams remains unbeaten
Former Southern Connecticut State football player and welterweight Jimmy Williams afforded himself well in the nightcap, controlling his bout with Massachusetts’ Saul Almeida and winning a unanimous decision. Williams (5-0) had the misfortune of going last, when the crowd had petered out and 50 Cent had gone across the hall to get his after party started.
The fight was delayed in order to start the main events on time for ESPN’s Friday Night Fights telecast.
Still, a decent contingent hung in with Williams, yelling encouragement to the local boxer as he methodically picked apart Almeida.
Williams said Almeida’s style gave him some trouble.
“I basically beat him with one hand,” Williams said. “I just had to work my jab and use my left hand. He wasn’t letting me use my right.”