When one thinks of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the first things that come to mind are….
…bike week, and various restaurants offering all-you-can-eat seafood buffets.
Unfortunately, boxing is not one of the attractions that have tourists flocking to this sunny coastal city.
However, Christy Martin Promotions is slowly changing that narrative.
In a nine-bout card dubbed “Mayhem in Myrtle Beach III,” fight fans flocked to the Crown Reef Beach Resort to enjoy a night of boxing.
With an eye for detail, Martin turned a hotel ballroom into an organized, professional boxing venue. The atmosphere was electric with music, local entertainment, and the sounds of fighters smacking the mitts as they warmed up before their match.
The fighters ranged in experience. For some, this was their pro debut; one was fighting in his 39th professional bout.
Christy Martin Promotions offered the fans everything they would see on a televised fight card. There were knockouts, upsets, controversial decisions, and solid showcasing of some new talent.
In the night's first bout, Calvin Dickerson, a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, earned his second professional win when he knocked out West Virginias’ Jonathan Cooper in the second round.
This bout immediately set the tone for the rest of the fight.
Many considered the next fight to be an upset. Fighting out of Brooklyn, NY, Omar Salem (9-1, 4KOs) suffered the first defeat of his pro-career against Brent Oren (4-6, 1KO).
Salem was coming off a two-year layoff, and it showed. The rugged Salem attempted to bully his way inside his opponents’ significantly longer reach to no avail.
Oren, who has suffered five knockouts in six losses, peppered Salem with jabs and crosses and kept him at bay. In the third round, Salem was able to shake off the ring-rust and started to land solid shots on Oren.
Salem knocked Oren down in the fourth round but failed to capitalize on the knockdown and put Oren away. Two of the judges thought that Oren did enough to beat Salem despite the knockdown.
A synchronized gasp of surprise filled the room as the fans muttered their discontent with the decision. This decision was unpopular, and many believe that Salem landed the harder punches in the fight and deserved to get the nod from the judges.
The “fight of the night” was a four-round bout between 22-year-old Anthony Savilla (2-0, 1KO) from Charleston, West Virginia, and 24-year-old Julio Gómez Leyva (0-1-1), from Norcross, Georgia.
The action started immediately in the first round when the hard-hitting Savilla put Gomez on the canvas. Savilla landed a straight right that landed flush on Gomez’s chin. Gomez was on shaky legs but evaded Savilla’s onslaught to survive the round. Gomez recovered during the break, and in the second round, both fighters started to exchange furiously and took turns landing powerful shots on each other.
In the third round the tables turned when Gomez landed a thunderous left hook that stiffened Savilla’s body and sent him violently to the canvas. The tough Savilla got up and bravely weathered Gomez's assault to survive the round. In the fourth round, both fighters were trading hard shots trying to knockout one another.
When the bell rang signaling the end of the fight, the crowd roared, whistled, and cheered loudly at the performance of these two young warriors. The crowd anxiously awaited the decision, and the judges called the fight a draw, a decision the fans didn't protest.
The night also featured some upcoming new talent. 25-year-old Elijah Shabazz (pictured below; 7-0, 4KOs), fighting out of Atlanta, Georgia, took on veteran boxer Julio Buitrago (13-31,3KOs), a native of Nicaragua.
Shabazz had to overcome Buitrago's unorthodox and awkward style to win a tough unanimous decision.
In a battle of undefeateds, Benny “Tony” Aguilar (6-0, 3KOs), from Crescent City, Florida, faced off against 23-year-old Brandon Idrogo (3-1 3KOs), a native from the Bronx, NY.
Aguilar, looking colorful below, bested Idrogo in a very competitive fight.
In the lone female fight of the evening, 27-year-old Aida Biggs from Brooklyn, New York, won her second outing as a pro via unanimous decision against Camille Casson (0-10) from Covington, Kentucky. I do wonder, Casson, is this for you?
Shabazz, Aguilar and Biggs are young fighters a who look to have a fundamentally sound skillset, potentially solid prospects who could go far beyond that level. Do they understand how important discipline and focus are if one is to get to contender status?
The co-main event featured Carlos “All In” Vanegas (5-0 4KOs), fighting out of Port Chester, NY against South Carolina native Victorino Gonzalez (5-2, 2KOs).
It was a close fight, and both fighters took turns imposing their will on the other. However, it was Vanegas who won a narrow split decision and remained undefeated.
The 41-year-old Butler, who recently recovered from blood clots that formed in his lungs, defeated Spencer to earn his 34th win as a professional.
NOTE: I will post a full story on the career of Butler, and why he’s back into the fight game after a long hiatus.
So, I talked to Christy after the fights and asked her how she felt about the event overall.
“I think we had a great night of boxing,” Martin said. “This is as much quality as you would get on ESPN and maybe even a SHoBox show, a lot of up ‘n coming talent.” Yes, she is getting comfortable being the upbeat promoter accentuating positives.
I then asked her what kind of response she has been getting from fans after the release of the Netflix documentary chronicling her life.
“The response has been great! I’m sure that there is that small percentage out there that's not happy and saying negative stuff, but I'll be honest with you I haven't heard it yet,” Martin said. “I’m very proud of the documentary. I feel like it's touching a lot of lives. I feel that's why God left me here to help make a difference in someone else's life. Whether it be with domestic violence, their sexuality, or just the underdog, they can say, ‘Hey, if Christy Martin, The Coal Miner's Daughter, from small-town southern West Virginia, can make it to the top of boxing, I can do anything.’ And that's what I want people to take away from it”
I asked Christy what we can expect next from her? She grinned and quipped, “A break!”
Martin told me that she would be back in North Carolina on October 16th for a fundraiser event called the “Battle of the Badges.”
This fundraiser is a boxing tournament that will pit police officers against firefighters.
Christy Martin, in fact, will be featured in the main event when she takes on a secretary from one of the major sponsors. “I'm excited to get back in the ring. It’s all about selling tickets and having fun,” she said.
On November 20th Christy Martin Promotions will bring another night of professional boxing to Myrtle Beach.
MY TAKE: Hopefully, continued exposure will garner a new fanbase and make boxing part of Myrtle Beach’s mainstay attractions. I say that not as a “reporter,” or “journalist,” but as someone who appreciates how marvelous this sport is, and how much of a role model Christy Martin is.