Oliver, Conyers Triumph
In a hard-fought battle of undefeated junior featherweights, Mike Oliver lands a right hand en route to retaining his USBA title with a controversial 12-round decision over Gary Stark Jr. Photo: Tom Casino/Showtime
MIAMI, Okla. – Despite near-frigid conditions outside, the action was scorching, sizzling and sweltering inside as undefeated southpaw Mike “Machine Gun” Oliver (18-0, seven KOs) retained his United States Boxing Association (USBA) junior featherweight title with an unpopular, hotly disputed 12-round unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Gary “Kid” Stark Jr. (18-1, eight KOs) in the main event Friday on “ShoBox: The New Generation.”
In the co-feature, Allen “The Dream Shatterer” Conyers (11-2, nine KOs) registered a scintillating second-round TKO over previously undefeated Derek “Pooh” Ennis (10-1-1, seven KOs) in a scheduled eight-round junior middleweight bout.
DiBella Entertainment promoted the terrific doubleheader from the Buffalo Run Casino. It aired on Showtime at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).
In a match most figured would be the toughest for each boxer, Oliver exited with a controversial decision by the scores of 116-112 twice and 115-113. There were no knockdowns in a hard-fought affair in which many of the rounds were close and seemingly difficult to score.
Still, there were many who felt the wrong guy’s hand was raised, most notably Stark.
“I beat him straight up. There was NO way I lost this fight,” said Stark, who was in tears afterward. “I knew the fight was close, but I was positive I had it by two or three rounds. For two judges to have him ahead by four points is inexcusable. I can’t believe they gave the fight to him like that.
“Oliver was ready to quit in the fourth round. I kept getting stronger as the rounds went by. He did nothing the last part of the fight. I gave it everything I had in the last round just to make sure there would be no problem. To lose a fight like this is beyond devastating. Darn straight, I would fight him again.”
The bitter defeat capped an extremely trying three-day ordeal for Stark, of Staten Island , NY , by way of Brooklyn, who spent the better half of two days in airports trying to get from New York to here.
After arriving at just past midnight Friday, he weighed in and was a pound and a half over the 122-pound limit. After borrowing some boxing equipment, he weighed in a short time later but still was a half-pound over. Finally, on his third attempt, he made the weight.
“My dinner consisted of McDonalds at 1:30 a.m.” Stark said. “It was the only place open.”
To compound the predicament, Stark had to show up for a mandatory commission weigh-in Friday at 9 a.m. Then, he met with the ” ShoBox” announcers and production team.
“None of that matters anymore,” Stark said. “Once the bell sounded, I was fine. I did what I had to. I fought my fight and took him completely out of his game plan.”
Oliver, of Hartford , Conn. , clearly won the initial two rounds. His overall quickness and hand speed were never a factor however.
“This wasn’t one of my best nights,” he said. “I got frustrated because of all his holding. But I am definitely happy with this win. I never got tired. I know he felt my power. I know I was hurting him. He never hurt me once.”
In an impressive performance, hard-hitting junior middleweight Allen Conyers registered a second-round TKO over previously undefeated Derek Ennis. Photo: Tom Casino/Showtime
Conyers, of Bronx , N.Y. , hurt Ennis early and often with barrages of punches before the bout was stopped at 2:36 of the second round.
“This was my biggest win and something I definitely can build on. I hope Showtime liked what they saw and they bring me back,” said Conyers after his impressive performance. “I was surprised the referee let it go as long as he did. I kept looking at him expecting him to stop it.
“Ennis caught me a few times, especially one time in the first. But that was because I got sloppy. I know I can do better.
“I’ll be back in the gym on Tuesday. I really feel that this is my year. Tonight was a great start.”
Ennis, of Philadelphia , said despite the number of rights and lefts to the head and body he absorbed, “I was never hurt. I can’t complain that the referee stopped it when he did, but Conyers didn’t do anything.”
Fight Results • Weight Classes • Junior Featherweight • Junior Middleweight • Allen Conyers • Derek Ennis • Gary Stark Jr • Mike Oliver