Rocky Lockridge vs Harold Knight
Lockridge's Inside Fighting Just Too Much For Knight
ATLANTIC CITY — Rocky Lockridge has a statuesque body, but it is his chin that belongs on a pedestal.
Lockridge can take a punch.
Just ask Harold "The Shadow" Knight.
Lockridge, absorbing everything his younger opponent hurled at him, won a unanimous 15-round decision over Knight to retain his International Boxing Federation junior-lightweight title yesterday at the Sands Hotel and Casino.
Judge Tom Kaczmarek scored it 146-139, while Richard Murry had it 145-139 and Frank Cairo 145-140.
Lockridge (5-foot-6, 129 pounds) raised his record to 43-5; Knight (5-8, 128 pounds) fell to 19-1.
"I'm very, very happy," said Lockridge, who lives in Mount Laurel. "I feel the strong always overcome. As the fight wore on, I got stronger, not weaker."
Knight, 24, seemed to confuse Lockridge, 29, in the early rounds, dancing and circling instead of maintaining his usual flat-footed stance.
The challenger, rated No. 1 by the IBF, scored effectively with jabs and
uppercuts as Lockridge, always pressing forward, landed an occasional overhand right.
In the sixth round, Knight hit Lockridge with a left hook that drove the champion backward.
"I take my hat off to one hell of a fighter - The Shadow," Lockridge said. "He will be the next junior-lightweight champion of the world."
Knight said he danced in the early rounds only because Lockridge was too powerful on the inside.
"He hit me with those overhand rights,"said Knight, of Plainfield, N.J., "and that took me out of my fight plan. I didn't want to box, but, ooh, he was strong."
Knight, dancing and circling throughout most of the fight, became more stationary in the ninth round. It may have looked like a conscious change in strategy, but it was not. Knight, taking a beating to both the head and the body, simply lost the legs that had served him so well earlier in the bout.
"He's not known as a boxer who can fight you outside the whole fight," Lockridge said. "So I didn't expect him to keep it up the whole fight. As far as I'm concerned, he readjusted better than me. He fought outside and inside."
Knight came back in the 11th round, landing his best punch of the fight - a left hook to the head. Lockridge went down to his knees after the blow, but referee Paul Venti ruled it a slip. The champion scrambled to his feet, his arms flailing in search of something to grab, and survived the round by clinching.
"I wasn't on Queer Street (in a daze)," Lockridge said. "Because if I had been, I wouldn't have been able to grab and hold him. It would have been the Shadow's fight. He caught me. I was a little careless."
Knight left his corner for the next round like a sprinter, racing across he ring and throwing a wild overhand right that missed and sent him into a 360- degree spin. Lockridge countered with a left hook, driving the challenger backward. Lockridge stayed on the inside, scoring with left hooks and overhand rights, for the rest of the round - and the rest of the fight.
"I do my best work on the inside," the champion said. "My nickname is Mr. Inside."
Although Lockridge won easily, each fighter came out for the last round as if he thought winning it were crucial. Lockridge was not quite as busy as the challenger, but his punches were cleaner and harder. He landed an overhand right that drew blood from the left ear of the challenger.