It took just 15 minutes — that's five rounds in the kickboxing world — for Tiawan Howard to decide he’d had enough of Lockport’s Amer Abdallah, who survived a nasty cut over the left eye to earn a technical knockout win over the tough Cleveland mixed martial arts veteran.
Howard (16-6) failed to answer the bell for the sixth round in the main event of Saturday night’s professional light heavyweight kickboxing bout at the Kenan Center Arena as the Lockport gym owner Abdallah remained unbeaten — and more importantly, took another giant step towards a possible world title bid — before a large, vocal partisan crowd.
Among other big winners in the 11-bout card were Lockportians Pat Thompson and John Calixte.
Abdallah (13-0), the reigning World Kickboxing Eastern United States light heavyweight champion, was in control throughout the WKA-sanctioned, seven-round main event, but a cut over the left eye may have made some fight fans anxious as to the outcome.
Both fighters landed leg kicks and punches to the head in the sizing-up opening round, but one of them apparently caught Abdallah over the left eye and by the second round, Lockport’s U.S. champion was bleeding profusely.
Abdallah came out aggressively the rest of the way and began a well-calculated offensive attack that keyed on delivering body shots to Howard, who is known for his Tyson-like power in the ring.
The affect was immediate and Howard started backing away from Abdallah, who was more than happy to move in and deliver more blows.
Great work from the Abdallah corner kept the bleeding from becoming a factor, as Howard teetered on verge of getting knocked out several times over the next two rounds. A third-round uppercut felled Howard for the first time as referee Joe Pagan stepped in to give the out-of-towner his first of three standing-eight counts.
In the fourth, a powerful right hand to the head again floored the Clevelander, but as Abdallah moved in for the kill, Howard was saved by the bell.
But Abdallah’s vicious leg kicks to the body were taking their toll on Howard, who was spitting up blood between rounds in his corner by now and barely answered the bell for the fifth round.
Relentless Abdallah punishment in the fifth closed out the fight. A left leg kick to the stomach dropped Howard one last time and when the bell rang, Howard stumbled back to his corner. Moments later, Howard’s corner threw in the towel and Abdallah celebrated another giant step towards accomplishing his dream.
“I want to thank everyone for coming out and supporting our wonderful sport,” Abdallah told the large crowd after the fight. “I’m proud to be from Lockport. A special thanks to all of our sponsors, to my team and my family.”
Meanwhile, Thompson improved to 14-2 with an 30-27, 29-27, 28-29 majority decision win over Anthony Winfrey of Cleveland in the night’s only heavyweight matchup — a three-rounder.
After a close first round, Thompson landed three great right hands about 30 seconds apart in the second and finished the round with a flurry. Some strong leg kicks by Thompson landed in the third and the Lockportian once again finished the round with a flurry of punches to Winfrey’s head.
“The first round was kind of even, but I knew if I was patient, I could begin to tire him out. He was going hard,” Thompson said.
“He was breathing heavy by the second round and started grabbing me more. Once I felt his power, his punches didn’t phase me any more. He was awkward because he was wild. It felt good to win in front of the home crowd There was a lot of pressure.”
Calixte was also impressive in his three-round, full contact light middleweight unanimous decision win over Jim Stetson of Syracuse. The three ring judges’ score cards were 29-27, 29-27, 29-28.
A body slam by Calixte when told to break by the referee cost the Lockport fighter a point on all three judges’ cards in the first round, but Calixte was patient and dominated the rest of the fight to win easily.
“It felt great to win. I’m improving and getting good training from my experienced coach Eric Hill,” Calixte said.
“I want to continue to improve my skills and move on to bigger and better things. I dedicate this win to coach Hill and my family.”
Other fight night winners were Matthew McConnell of Auburn, Donalea Maloney of Syracuse, Luay Ashkar of Syracuse, Keith Cole of Weedsport and Jade Jenkins and Kevin VanNostrand of Liverpool.
Matthew McConnell earned a unanimous decision victory over Nick Thomas of Toronto in a three round, light heavyweight bout, Maloney earned a unanimous decision victory over Erin Morris of Buffalo in a welterweight women’s fight, Ashkar's scheduled four-round welterweight bout against Jose Penilia of Cleveland was stopped due to an equipment malfunction, welterweight Cole edged Lockport’s Dan Dorfman by majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29), Jenkins earned a super lightweight technical knockout win over Julie Vincent of Jamestown, just 18 seconds into the second round; and light middleweight VanNostrand earned a technical knockout win over Justin Bennet of Mississaugua, Ontario, 40 seconds into the second round.
Jenkins (6-0-1), who plans to attend the University of Buffalo, was one of the night’s most impressive fighters.
“I’ve been fighting for about three years, but I’ve been taking martial arts since I was five years old,” Jenkins said.
“She was a very aggressive opponent. I tried to keep my space and aim my strikes and just wait for that one opening.”
Lightweights Tyler Toomey of Syracuse and Tyler Claverly of Toronto fought to a majority draw and light middleweights Timothy Allen of Auburn and Craig Diego of Weedsport fought to a unanimous draw.
NOTES — Pete Robinson sang the U.S. and Canadian national anthems ... The ring physician was Lockport’s Dr. Margaret Libby ... Among the fight night ushers was former Lockort High School star athlete and Lockport Invaders all-star linebacker Anthony Ventura, the son of Lockport boxing heavyweight great Tony Ventura ... Papa Leo’s handled concessions ... Fight sponsors included Local Edge, Mulvey Construction, All Metal Works and Cain, Witlin & Dry Accountants.
FIGHT NIGHT RESULTS
Official results from Saturday's 11-bout Pride & Glory professional kickboxing fight card at the Kenan Center Arena:
1. Light Heavyweight — 3 Rounds (Muay Thai)
Matthew McConnell of Auburn unanimous decision victory over Nick Thomas of Toronto. Score cards: 29-28, 29-28, 29-28.
2. Welterweight — 3 Rounds (Muay Thai)
Donalea Maloney of Syracuse unanimous decision victory over Erin Morris of Buffalo. Scores cards: 29-27, 29-27, 29-27.
3. Lightweight — 3 Rounds (Muay Thai)
Majority draw between Tyler Toomey of Syracuse and Tyler Claverly of Toronto. Score cards: 29-27 Toomey, 28-28, 28-28.
4. Super Lightweight — 3 Rounds (Leg Kicks)
Jade Jenkins of Liverpool technical knockout win over Julie Vincent of Jamestown, 18 seconds into the second round.
5. Light Middleweight — 3 Rounds (Full Contact)
John Calixte of Lockport unanimous decision win over Jim Stetson of Syracuse. Score cards: 29-27, 29-27, 29-28.
6. Welterweight — 4 Rounds (Leg Kicks)
Luay Ashkar of Syracuse disqualification win over Jose Penilia of Cleveland. Equipment malfunction. Fight stopped before the third round.
7. Light Middleweight — 3 Rounds (Muay Thai)
Unanimous draw between Timothy Allen of Auburn and Craig Diego of Weedsport. Score cards: 28-28, 28-28, 28-28.
8. Heavyweight — 3 Rounds (Full Contact)
Pat Thompson of Lockport majority decision win over Anthony Winfrey of Cleveland. Score cards: 30-27, 29-27, 28-29.
9. Welterweight — 3 Rounds (Muay Thai)
Keith Cole of Weedsport majority decision win over Dan Dorfman of Lockport. Score cards: 29-28, 29-28, 28-29.
10. Light Middleweight — 3 Rounds (Muay Thai)
Kevin VanNostrand of Liverpool technical knockout win over Justin Bennet of Mississaugua, Ontario, 40 seconds into the second round.
11. Light Heavyweight — 7 Rounds (Full Contact)
Amer Abdallah of Lockport technical knockout win over Tiawan Howard of Cleveland. Howard failed to answer bell for sixth round.