Tony Tubbs, who had his nose broken by Greg Page in his first amateur fight nine years ago, got sweet revenge Monday night when he scored a unanimous 15-round decision over Page and won the World Boxing Assn. heavyweight championship.
Said Tubbs: “Those were my amateur days. This was the pros.”
Tubbs seemed to want it more than Page, who often posed more than punched, while Tubbs scored with effective jabs and left hooks.
All three judges scored it clearly for Tubbs, who is undefeated in 22 fights. Judge Al Wilensky scored it 147-140, Joe Santarpia 145-140 and Al Tremari 145-142 for Tubbs.
It was Page’s third loss in his last four fights. The victory came when he knocked out Gerrie Coetzee in the eighth round in South Africa last Dec. 1 to win the title.
Page came in at 239 1/2 and didn’t seem to have his heart in the fight, which drew choruses of boos from an estimated crowd of 7,500 at the Memorial Auditorium.
While it was a bitter disappointment for the native of Louisville, Ky., it was a joyous moment for Jimmy Ellis, another Louisville native and former heavyweight champion who trains Tubbs.
And it was still another Louisville native who stole the thunder from both fighters. That was Muhammad Ali, the former heavyweight champion who was at ringside.
On several occasions during lapses in action, the crowd chanted: “Ali, Ali.” Ali rose to his feet and led the cheers in the eighth and 10th rounds, and he drew one of the biggest roars of the night when he shadow-boxed between the 10th and 11th rounds.
The Don King promotion tabbed “Vindication: Blockbuster in Buffalo” turned out to be a complete bust for the 26-year-old Page. On Sunday night, he had his WBA championship belt stolen from his hotel room among $30,000 worth of items.
Tubbs, also 26, didn’t get the belt, but he got the championship Monday night, and he earned it with an intelligent fight in which he conserved his energy while scoring effectively against Page, who often moved forward but did not back up his aggressive stance with aggressive punching.
“He maybe underestimated me,” said Tubbs, who Page had promised to take out in four rounds during the pre-fight hype. “He was throwing shots, but he wasn’t landing any blows. Every time he came in, I landed the cleaner shots.”
It looked like Page might get back into the fight when he seemed to have the best of the 11th through the 13th rounds by simply being busier than Tubbs, 229, who seemed to be running out of gas.
Then the challenger from Cincinnati took control again in the 14th round, when he landed a hard right and several good hooks in the first minute, and then closed the round with a hard right to the head and a left-right to the head just before the bell.
Tubbs also had the best of the 15th round, in which both fighters opened and closed with toe-to-toe exchanges.
At the end of the fight, King climbed into the ring and told one of Page’s cornermen: “You blew it.”
Before the fight, Page claimed he had beaten Tubbs in eight of nine amateur fights and would knock him out in his first world title defense. But he never came close to even knocking Tubbs down, and once again he heard the boos and jeers that have marked his career, which opened with such promise.
Page, 24-4 with 19 knockouts, might have his career in jeopardy. Tubbs, who has scored 15 knockouts but was more than satisfied to win on a decision Monday night, went into the fight ranked seventh by the WBA.
In two North American Boxing Federation bouts also on the card, Tim Witherspoon, the former World Boxing Council heavyweight champion, looked like the best heavyweight on the card by knocking out James Broad with a barrage of punches in the second round to gain the NABF heavyweight title.
Witherspoon, 222, of Philadelphia, hurt the 261-pound Broad with a right hand with about one minute left in the second round, and then jumped all over Broad, who sank to the canvas to be counted out at 2:45.
Witherspoon is 19-2 with 12 knockouts and once again is a serious contender for the WBC title he lost to Pinklon Thomas last year. He had decisioned Page last year to win that title.
Broad is 17-2 with 10 knockouts.
Hector (Macho) Camacho of New York, who will challenge Jose Luis Ramirez for the WBC lightweight title, won the NABF 135-pound crown, which was vacant, when he knocked Roque Montoya of Mexico down twice in the eighth round and scored a one-sided decision.