The Raleigh Convention center was host to a rowdy crowd of nearly a thousand fans on Saturday night for the Bonnie “Queen B” Mann (12-9-0) and Paul “The Italian Hitman” Marinaccio (25-5-3) pro boxing fights. Also on the boxing card was the inspiring young powerhouse fighter Antwon Alston.
The night opened with four amateur and two pro MMA fights, all of which were nicely matched and fought. Several early KOs and three relatively bloody head wounds kept the canvas splattered, the grips slippery, and the fans pumped, but once the intermission was over, all talk turned to boxing.
In the first boxing fight, Antwon Alston brought the crowd to their feet in the second round. He had pinned his opponent Tavlin Farmer to the ropes and unleashed a barrage of punches that seemed to go on forever. It seemed Farmer would have crumpled but for the force and speed of the blows that just wouldn’t allow him to fall. It was hard to believe we weren’t seeing a knockout in progress, but in fact Farmer rallied and even made it through another hard-fought round before succumbing to Alston’s superior speed and firepower. After Alston laid Farmer on the canvas, it was several minutes before he climbed wearily to his feet and was assisted out of the arena.
The crowd, already aroused, was keen for more.
And Bonnie “Queen B” Mann delivered the goods. You can watch the whole fight below.
She and her pink-silk-clad crew paraded out of the fighter’s entrance stage, past four 15-foot-high fog jets, with heavy bass thumping in the background and dozens of fans crowded against the rails to see. Her crew forced a way to the ring and Bonnie climbed in, bouncing lightly on the balls of her feet and gazing out at the arena.
Opponent Katrina Jones stood quietly with her coach in the corner, moving little, ready to bang gloves and fight. The ring announcer waited for the heads-up from the judges, gave the signal, and both boxers surged forward.
Mann led with a jab like a rocket-propelled missle, and a seemingly startled Jones windmilled her arms slightly and tried to return. Mann bounced lightly into the ropes and popped forward with her famous left hook, which staggered Jones a bit, but Jones spun out and gave herself some room. Bonnie slipped her opponent’s one-two combo, then danced backward to set up a series of jabs.
The two exchanged punches for almost exactly one minute, before Mann unleashed a jab-right combination that tapped Jones with bone-jarring force precisely at the left hinge of her jaw, cleanly dislocating it.
Jones’s head snapped sideways, she immediately waved Mann and the ref off, and made a beeline to her corner, unable to continue.
Bonnie “Queen B” Mann Fight, May 2010 from Lisa Creech Bledsoe on Vimeo.
It took a moment for the reality to sink in for the fighters as well as the fans, but after Jones was seen to by her coach and the ring doctor, the announcer raised Bonnie’s hand in victory, and we were on to the final fight of the evening.
Paul Marinaccio was in fine form, light on his feet and gliding about the ring from the first bell. Opponent Shannon Caudle showboated the entire fight, giving the fans theatrics and chatting smack with The Hitman throughout every blistering round.
Marinaccio was serious and deadly, and the show coming from Caudle in no way disguised the sheer power of his boxing. Once in a while Caudle would stagger or seem to be cowed by a blow, but each time it looked as if he might be failing, he would grin, recover, and launch his own Sunday bomb. They were extremely well-matched, and pounded each other relentlessly from start to finish of every single round. The crowd ate up every bit of the action, and returned it full-force in screaming, sweating devotion.
My call on the score (for which no one was paying me) was that Paul came out ahead by a reasonable margin, but the judges scored it much more closely, giving Marinaccio the win in a split decision.
It was an incredible night to be at the fights, and you can expect more fights of this caliber from Jawbreaker Events and Rapid Fitness this fall. You can also see all my photos from the night on my Flickr. Leave me a comment and a link if you have photos to share as well!