Boxer Phil Chason got a shock at the start of his Northeast Regional Championship bout
By Shawn French (Windham Independent, Nov. 10, 2004)
Following his appearance in the Golden Gloves national tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Windham’s Phil Chason took four months away from the ring. He returned on Oct. 30 in a four-round brawl against Alex Ayala in the Northeast Regional Championship semifinals.Making weight had been a long-running issue for the 19-year-old, who fought at 141 — 15 pounds lighter than his street weight. Now a welterweight, fighting at 152, Chason is stronger and fighting at a more comfortable weight. In the semi’s he tested out his new power, eschewing his traditional move-and-counter style to go toe to toe with the brawler from Massachusetts. Chason dropped his opponent in the fourth, earning a TKO and a trip to the Nov. 6 finals at the Portland Boxing Club.
There were a dozen championship fights on the docket that night, the early highlight being a fight between Lisa Kuronya of Bowdoin and her opponent from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Kuronya, a tall, chiseled fighter with a 16-0 record, had a huge height advantage over her opponent. Kuronya controlled the tempo for the first round and a half, using her superior reach to stick her jab and keep her foe swinging at air. But late in the second, Kuronya was caught with a brutal left hook and dropped to the canvas. She recovered and survived the round. To win the fight, she would need a dominant final round.
A minute into the final round, Kuronya wobbled her opponent with an overhand right and immediately frenzied, smacking her from one side of the ring to the other in a savage 30-second beating. Her opponent was given a standing-eight count and Kuronya won the fight and the northeast championship belt.
Chason was in the middle of the lineup and took on Jeff Sullivan from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Chason said a week earlier that he knew nothing of this opponent, as no video was available. That lack of info placed the three-time defending Northeast champion in serious danger. It wasn’t until the bell rang and his opponent shifted into stance that Chason realized he was fighting a southpaw.
Fights against lefties are a whole different game. With the stances reversed, feet get tangled, the angles are backward and every instinct you develop in training is exactly wrong. The traditional way of circling moves you away from your opponent’s power. With a southpaw, that same shift sends you right into his best punch.
It was only Chason’s second time fighting a southpaw and he had trained for the previous one. This time he was going in blind.
Compounding the problem was that Sullivan was running, which forced Chason to pursue and try to find the appropriate angles time and again. Sullivan backpedaled and circled, forcing Chason to follow, then planted and swapped shots, and moved again before Chason could get comfortable.
Chason was landing cleaner punches in the opening round, but Sullivan’s footing was more stable, letting him put his weight behind his hits.
In the second round, the boxers swapped straight right shots to the head and Chason ended the exchange with a double left hook, head and body. The remainder of the round followed the pattern of the first. Chason chased, they swapped hits and Sullivan danced away.
The third saw some solid exchanges, with Chason landing his best shots as his opponent backed away. Sullivan was strong coming forward and both were connecting with their power punches, but neither could string together a meaningful combination.
Chason opening the fourth and final round with a good flurry and drove his opponent into the ropes. But Sullivan punched his way out of it, forcing Chason back in the best exchange of the night. The remainder of the round was even, with Chason on the attack but unable to find the openings to do any real damage.
When the final bell rang, it was clear the verdict would be a close one. Chason had landed cleaner punches, but Sullivan had done at least as much damage. Fortunately for Chason, the scoring system doesn’t credit any punch that touches the opponent’s glove before landing. Most of Sullivan’s blasts skipped off Chason’s hands or shoulder before connecting. The decision came back in favor of Chason, awarding him his fourth straight Northeast Championship.
“I thought it could have gone either way,” Chason said after the fight. “I got in there and just about wet myself when I saw he was left-handed,” he said, laughing. “Even when he came out, he was just standing there. Then the bell rang and he switched up.
“I can deal with a southpaw if I know ahead of time to prepare for it,” he said. “You have to find those right combinations with a southpaw. Nothing was clicking for me because he was running so much. I had to plant my feet and whenever I did, he punched. I have to give him credit for being a smart fighter. I thought he did really well. I’m just happy for the Punchstat (scoring system).”