By Timothy Gillis
Russell Lamour, Jr. continued his winning ways Saturday night, besting Jaime Barboza in a unanimous decision at the Portland Expo. Bobby Russo, PBC founder, said it was a fitting end to an evening of tight fights. Lamour is the former New England and North American middleweight champion, but lost his title to Thomas Falawo last year. He has since won three matches in a row.
“Russell dropped him in the first round with an unbelievable uppercut. It was near the end of the round, and Barboza survived. Then he got Russell in the second round. This match was the icing on the cake, and there were competitive matches all the way through.”
Another PBC fighter, super bantamweight Jorge Abiague won by unanimous decision over Basilio Nieves of Lawrence, Ma. In the other pro bout on the night, Casey Kramlich, a PBC fighter out of Raymond, defeated Larry Smith of Texas.
Larry Holmes, the former heavyweight champion of the world from 1978 to 1983, was ringside for the fight and settled into the action after receiving a key to the city from Mayor Ethan Strimling.
Holmes grew up in Easton, Pennsylvania, which gave birth to his boxing nickname “The Easton Assassin.” He made 20 successful title defenses, making him third all time, behind only Joe Louis at 25 and Wladimir Klitschko at 22. Holmes is also one of only five boxers to defeat Muhammad Ali and the only one to have won by knockout.
Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and Michael Spinks have appeared in Portland before to support the local fight game and help it continue its success across the country.
Before the fight, Holmes talked about his career in boxing, what the future holds for young boxers, and his reaction to the presidential election.
“I’m like Donald Trump. I’m in the game. He says they rigged it, but Donald’s in the game. He was talking about the election being “rigged” and it was – for him. He’s like (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. I think it was rigged for him to win because Clinton knows more about politics than any of those people know. Sixteen years, and you tell me she doesn’t know politics more than anyone else?”
He apologized for getting riled up about the election results, but says he’s mad the country fell for Trump’s phantom punches. “I don’t like politics. I say Clinton got a raw deal. I might not like it, but she accepted it. I know Donald Trump. I boxed at his hotel. His attitude – when you get to meet him – I didn’t get a good vibe from him. So what he’s rich? Big deal. I guess I know God better than he does. He’s not guided by God. He’s guided by the damn devil.”
Holmes turned to the positives and said boxing can help young pugilists fight their way out of tough circumstances. “Young fighters – they’re tomorrow. We’re today. (Boxing) can help kids move away from crimes and criminals. I kept my nose clean. I fought for 38 years and you didn’t hear anything involving trouble with me.” He admitted that boxing involves an element of trash-talking, when it’s important ahead of a bout to get into your opponent’s head.
“Sometimes you say things you shouldn’t say, get them going, but you don’t really mean it. After the fight, you hug each other.” He views boxing as a fair way to judge the superiority between two opponents, at least from a technical, physical sense.
“You can see who’s tougher,” he said from his home in Houston, Tx. before traveling to Maine for the PBC’s 103rd match. “Let’s box. There are three people sitting on the side who say if you won or not. That’s the way people get along. I love the game of boxing. You can’t beat it.”
Holmes thinks he was in Maine before but can’t be sure. Either way, he was proud to make the trip in an effort to bring out fight fans and support the PBC’s continued efforts to help youngsters fine-tune their game and use the in-ring code to give structure in their daily lives, “not to curse and be nasty. It will be an important trip. It’s exciting. I get a chance to meet different kinds of people and attitudes. I’m afraid of bears and snakes, so I don’t want to go too far into Maine.”
Holmes says his proudest moment in boxing came in 1978 when he beat Ken Norton in a bruising 15-round fight. “Some many people who know me, people I grew up with, said I could not be champion. I proved them wrong. If you work hard at something, you can accomplish it. I always let people know – jobs are not just about salaries or PhD’s. They’re about common sense. I learned from the best – Ali, (Joe) Frazier, (Earnie) Shavers. I learned how to not take punches, how to not get roughed up so much I couldn’t enjoy my life after the game, with my kids and grandkids.”
I welcomed Holmes into our fair city and told him he’d have to check out our noted restaurants.
“I want to eat but I can’t eat too much,” he said. “A couple of months ago I was diagnosed with diabetes. I’m trying to lose some weight, but I just keep eating.”