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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Melson Wins at Roseland

Boyd Melson defeated Donald Ward by majority decision in the last ever boxing match in Roseland Ballroom history. Ward took the fight on ten days notice, a late replacement for Mike Ruiz, who backed out.

Before the bout, Ward expected Melson to try to brawl with him. Melson fought smarter than that. During the first two rounds, Melson rushed in when he found an opening for his left. Initially, Ward came charging in, but he ran into a straight left and remained passive for the rest of the bout. Nicknamed "Rainmaker," Melson effectively cut off the ring and controlled the center.

In the third round, Ward finally showed signs of aggression, landing a number of rights to the body. Melson was warned for hitting behind the head in the round and a cut developed around his right eye after a butt. Ward won the round and changed momentum.

The following round was nearly disastrous for Boyd. He later claimed his suffered a brachial plexus injury, which resulted in a heavy numb right arm. He shook his right repeatedly, but couldn't throw it. With Ward surging, Melson could've lost the fight right then. Instead, he landed with lefts. The setback was a learning experience for Boyd, who won the round anyway.

In the corner, Melson told his coach, "I learned he's a sucker for the straight left," adding the obvious, "Coach, I have no right hand."

Melson continually landed those lefts and then leaned to avoid any counters. It took too long for Ward to adjust. Though Ward had never fought a southpaw until that night, he was known to switch stances. By staying in a southpaw stance, Ward could have better neutralized Melson's straight left. Ward also should have circled to his left to avoid his opponent's left hand. He did neither and lost a slow fifth round.

Ward came back in the sixth and attacked Melson's body again. Melson showed his right hand more, but without conviction. At the end of the round, referee Eddie Cotton yelled, "Stop." Melson threw a right afterwards and immediately, told Ward, "Sorry."

Melson dictated the pace of the seventh and eighth rounds, becoming slightly more confident in his right and landing with his left.

Julie Lederman scored the fight 79-73; Don Trella had it 78-74; and Kevin Morgan inexplicably saw it 76-76. The Jewish Boxing Blog scored the fight 78-74 for Melson. A major component of the fight was Melson's weight issue. He weighed in at the second heaviest of his career and couldn't even make the 160 pound middleweight limit. Ward, a native of Memphis, was only 155 pounds and has now lost three of his last four fights.

After the bout, Cotton tried to raise Melson's right in triumph, but Boyd begged him to raise his left instead. Melson moves his record to 14-1-1 with 4 KOs and Ward falls to 6-4 with 3 KOs.

The Roseland Ballroom, opened in 1922, will close down in April. The Manhattan venue has been a staple for Broadway Boxing and has feature a number of current Jewish boxers. This was Melson's fifth appearance at Roseland. Dmitriy Salita, Yuri Foreman, and Ran Nakash all fought at Roseland.

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