Eyer takes fight to end but loses; Laase redeemed
With pearly white skin and flowing red hair, Gary Eyer doesn't look like an athlete, much less a boxer, especially when he's wearing his glasses.
But in the ring, there probably isn't a more entertaining boxer to watch in Minnesota, and perhaps, some distance beyond.
Eyer gives his all, but on Saturday night in the main event of a five-bout professional boxing card at Clyde Iron Works, Eyer's best wasn't good enough as Mexico City native Vincente Alfaro was just too quick for the Duluth native.
To the delight of a capacity crowd of about 1,200 for "Clash at the Clyde," the eight-round bantamweight bout went the distance, with Alfaro winning the slugfest with a majority decision, 78-74, 75-78, 78-74.
"We had seen (Eyer) fight before, so we knew it was going to be a battle," said Alfaro, a former highly touted Mexican amateur who gave up his boxing dreams to pursue work in Minnesota nearly 10 years ago. "But I could tell as the fight went on that he was getting tired, and as he got tired, I gained confidence."
Eyer (8-1-1, 6 KOs) was dejected after his first pro loss, but he certainly didn't go down without a fight in his first bantamweight bout. He came in weighing 30 pounds less than in his first professional bout four years ago. He gave up a decided edge in quickness, but the 5-foot-8 boxer had a good 4 inches of height advantage over Alfaro, and the added reach that usually comes with that.
"Gary gave it all he had and then some," said former Duluth boxer Zach "Jungle Boy" Walters. "If you're going to lose, that's the way to do it. He didn't go down without a fight."
Eyer had a hard time establishing his left jab to keep the lightning-quick Alfaro at bay, but he did gain some momentum in the middle rounds. But in the seventh and eighth rounds, Alfaro took over as Eyer was visibly spent, leaving little doubt as to the outcome.
"(Alfaro) was too quick," Eyer said. "Every round."
Eyer's trainer, Chuck Horton, vowed Eyer would never fight at the weight class again. It was an experiment that was tried and failed, but certainly provided entertainment.
Alfaro's white trunks were smeared with blood from a shot to the nose in the third round but wouldn't rule out a rematch. The son of a local Mexican boxing legend, Alfaro (5-1, KO) was reportedly 65-3 as an amateur with 47 KOs before giving that up to come to the U.S., only to start boxing professionally in 2009 after finding a gym in Hastings, Minn. He resides in Northfield, Minn., and is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
When asked about a rematch, Alfaro said, "That's a good question ... why not?"
Then he asked if the crowd got their money's worth.
"I think so," Alfaro said, then laughed. "But you tell me."
LAASE EARNS REDEMPTION IN REMATCH
It wasn't the knockout that he wanted, but Duluth boxer R.J. "T-Rex" Laase was going to take a victory over Hector Orozco any way he could get it.
Laase scratched and clawed his way to victory in the co-main event on Saturday night in his rematch of his May 2009 bout with Orozco, who won the first go-round in Duluth by majority decision.
This fight was just as close, only this time it was scored the other way around, with the 22-year-old Laase (6-1, 3 KOs) gaining just enough of an edge in the second half of the bout to win the judges over, with the scorecards reading 48-47, 49-46, 48-47.
"The last fight was close, just like this one," Laase said. "No offense to Hector, but I knew I could fight better, and I wanted to do better. This is my hometown."
Laase was clearly focused this time around, even if the left-handed Orozco continued to give him fits.
Dubbed the "Fighting Chihuahua," Orozco (3-7, 3 KOs) doesn't have a gaudy record but is clearly no slouch, at least providing a good show after the first three bouts of the evening not only failed to go the distance, but also didn't even get out of the first round.
Horton's Gym often brings in mixed martial arts fighters -- often making their pro boxing debuts -- to fight his up-and-coming boxers, and the MMA guys almost always get outclassed, like the proverbial fish out of water.
Horton's Gym had a clean sweep before Saturday night's finale between Eyer and Alfaro.
Earlier on the five-bout card, Horton's Gym boxers Dustin Mason, Al Sands and Aaron Green all won with ease, clearly showing they're ready for some better competition.
Then Orozco and Laase provided a show. Orozco's camp clearly wasn't happy with the decision, suspecting some home cooking, and didn't shake hands as they exited the ring.
"When R.J. lost the first time around, we thought he had won," said trainer-promoter Chuck Horton. "Even so, we accepted the judges' decision, shook hands and moved on. That says something about us."