Guyana-born Australian Gairy "Superman" St. Clair came out to Craig David’s hit tune “Rise and Fall”, which just about perfectly summed up his WBO featherweight title eliminator against Puerto Rican/American Shamir Isa Reyes. Tonight, 11 years into his professional career, it was finally St. Clair’s time to rise. And unfortunately, the smooth-boxing southpaw Reyes had to fall.
St. Clair got his man in the 12th, landing two big left uppercuts that rocked his 24-year-old foe, and then fired away with Reyes virtually out on his feet when referee Brad Vocale stopped the bout 34 seconds into the round. Although St. Clair was comfortably leading on all scorecards, 108-99 (x2), and 107-101, it was a competitive, world class bout.
“I felt very good,” said St. Clair, who is now in the mandatory spot to challenge WBO champion Scotsman Scott Harrison. “I was in very good shape, and you know, Shamir came to fight. He came to fight. He comes out of one of the most famous gyms in Brooklyn, New York, Gleason’s Gym, and we trained together there and did a lot of sparring, and I watched a couple of tapes of him, and that set me back a bit I think. It didn’t look like he was that tough, but actually in the ring he was very tough.”
“I’m the complete package right now. I’ve got the punching power, the movement, the skill, and I just want a chance to fight for the title.”
With the victory St. Clair improves to 36-3-2 (16).
Reyes dropped to 17-3-2 (6), and vowed to learn from the bout and come back stronger.
“I’m going to take it back to the drawing board, have a little rest, and then start training hard,” said Reyes. “I know there’s been many champions who were able to come back from big defeats, and I just turned 24 so I know I still have a good career ahead of me.”
The opening two rounds very much saw both fighters “feeling out” each other, with few punchers of significance landing. The first was touch-and-go; the second probably belonged to St.Clair, who was just a bit more accurate with his shots.
St. Clair began to stalk Reyes in the third, something most fight fans in Australia aren’t accustomed to seeing the fleet-footed, quick-handed fighter do. But it was definitely paying dividends, as by the fourth and fifth, St. Clair was cutting the ring effectively, trapping Reyes in the corners or along the ropes and nailing him with thumping body shots.
The 30-year-old came out hard in round six, pressing the battle and starting to really sit down on his punchers. Still, it was evident that Reyes was beginning to make some adjustments to work his way back into the fight. He began moving laterally, and was looking to establish the jab.
Following the seventh, just shaded by St. Clair, Reyes started to come on in the eight and ninth, boxing intelligently to clearly win both rounds. Each time St. Clair would stop to throw a right hand, Reyes would effectively shoot a jab and then dart away.
The 10th was close until St. Clair clearly swayed the round in his favour with a late rally, kicked off by a series of body shots.
St. Clair was back to stalking a tiring Reyes in the 11th, a good round for St. Clair which also saw a point deducted from the Brooklyn fighter for a low blow.
In the 12th, St. Clair stepped it up another level, catching Reyes with two strong left uppercuts, and then pouring on the pressure to inevitably stop his valiant foe at the 34 second mark.
* At welterweight, Ukrainian Yuriy Nuzhnenko dropped Thai Sakda Sorpakdi with a flurry in the opening stanza, and then felled him heavily in the second with a thunderous left hook to bring the fight to a close. Nuzhnenko, 29, is in Australia as a sparring partner for world-ranked 140-pounder Naoufel Ben Rabah. He is now 18-0 (8), and WBO Asia Pacific representative Danny Leigh has assured his organization would be willing to match the Ukrainian for their regional strap. Sorpakdi, now on the back of two devastating knockout losses, drops to 31-8 (27).
* Standing 6’1”, southpaw junior middleweight Lennox Allen had a notable height and reach advantage over Muai Thai veteran Eak Ubol Por Muangubol, and the slick-boxing 19-year-old used it effectively to win a shutout over six rounds. Scores were all 59-54. Allen had a point deducted in the third for hitting on the break. From Guyana, Allen is now training out of Harry’s Gym in West Australia, and looks to be a good prospect. He is now 4-0 (2).
* Albert Howell defeated Jozef McNamara via a four-round unanimous decision in an action-packed outing contested at welterweight. Howell, a no-nonsense sort of battler, is now 1-0. McNamara drops to 3-1 (2).
* Middleweights Jeremy Allan and hard-hitting debutante Aiman Jenzarli staged a four-round spectacle, with Allan knocking down his opponent twice en route to winning a unanimous decision. Scores were: 39-35, 40-36, and 39-36. Allan moves to 1-2-1.
Note: Harry’s Gym would like to thank Sampson Lewkowicz for his assistance in matching the main event.