Putting it in perspective, former WBA light middleweight champion Yuri Foreman's return to the ring last night at B.B. King's Blues Club & Grill in Times Square could be viewed as successful. The 32-year old Brooklyn-based native of Belarus swept all six rounds on each of the three judges scorecards, beating journeyman Brandon Baue in a 60-54 unanimous decision shutout in front of a few hundred of his New York fans.
It had been 22 months since Foreman (29-2, 8 KO's) was last in a prizefight and was coming off of two consecutive stoppage defeats to Miguel Cotto and Pawel Wolak. He underwent reconstructive ACL surgery on his right knee following his ninth round TKO loss to Cotto in June 2010 and hastily returned nine months later against the swarming Wolak in March 2011, unable to continue after six rounds.
Since that time, Foreman had been living his life outside of boxing and studying to become a rabbi. Last night's fight against Baue (12-9, 10 KO's) was intended to confront the physical and mental demons as Foreman mounts a comeback.
From a physical perspective, Foreman was sound. He did not wear his custom knee brace and moved effortlessly throughout the bout, displaying very good footwork and never staying in one position long enough for Baue to land any meaningful blows. The good news is that there does not appear to be any lingering effects from the knee injury.
On the flip side, the former champion was extremely tentative with his offense. Foreman would throw an occasional jab with only a few follow up combinations behind it. He did open up a bit in the third round, but his punches lacked snap and purpose as he was consistently moving backwards or laterally.
Since Baue had no concept on how to cut off the ring or smother his elusive opponent with effective aggression, there was an excessive amount of circling with very little action.
“I felt very, very rusty,” admitted Foreman after the fight. “I felt more nervous than usual. I'm just happy to shed some rust and get some rounds in."
It remains to be seen how effective Foreman can be in the heavily stacked light middleweight division even when the rest of the rust and nerves have been shed.
Meanwhile, the first five fights on last night's card ended with stoppages. Neuky Santelises (3-0, 2 KO's) from Washington Heights, NY knocked out Juan Javier Guerrero (0-1-1, 0 KO's) from McAllen, TX with one punch in Round 2. Brooklyn's Delen Parsley (10-0, 3 KO's) also remained undefeated after forcing Tyrone Selders (8-5, 6 KO's) from Houston, TX to retire after the second round. In a spirited scrap, Bronx fighter Skender Halili improved to 8-0, 8 KO's with a sixth round TKO over Roberto Crespo (4-3, 0 KO's) from Riverside, CA.
Successful pro debuts were made by 2012 Golden Gloves and USA Boxing National champion Patrick Day from Freeport, NY with a :59 knockout of Zachariah Kelley (1-2, 1 KO) from Seminole, OK and heavyweight Eugene Russell from Queens also registered a first round knock out over Granson Clark (1-2, 1 KO) from Dospalos, CA.
The results of the remainder of the card are as follows:
- Heather Hardy (4-0, 0 KO's) from Brooklyn, NY over Margaret Maerz (2-3-1,0 KO's) from British Columbia, Canada (40-36, 39-37, 39-37)
- Lamar Russ (12-0, 7 KO's) from Wilmington, NC over Jose Media (17-12-1, 7 KO's) from Quincy, MA (78-74, 78-74, 77-75)
- Luis Rosa (12-0, 6 KO's) from New Haven, CT over Derrick Wilson (9-4-2, 3 KO's) from Fort Myers, FLA (80-72, 77-75, 77-75)
Also:Boxing, Brandon Baue, Miguel Cotto, Patrick Day, Pawel Wolak, Yuri Foreman