KO gives Fields vacant NABF title

MURRAY GREIG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:01 AM ET

Last night's shootout at the River Cree didn't produce a Tye-breaker.

Quite the opposite, in fact. But as dust-ups go, it was a dandy.

Tye (Big Sky) Fields, who delighted the sold-out crowd by wearing an Oilers jersey into the ring, won the vacant Native American Boxing Federation heavyweight championship by blasting out Nicolai Firtha with a single straight left to the head, 43 seconds into Round 6 of their scheduled 12-rounder.

The KO, which came with the suddenness of a heart attack and left Firtha stretched halfway out of the ring, capped an excellent night of boxing and was a terrific debut show for Big Sky Promotions, of which Fields is president.

At six-foot-eight and 265 pounds, Fields was three inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than Firtha, but both men showed surprising movement in the big 20-foot ring. Firtha continually circled to his right to try to nullify Fields' southpaw power, but after the first couple of rounds Fields solved the problem by slickly stalking his man and cutting off his escape routes.

"I was surprised how hard it was to catch up with him for the first couple of rounds ... he moved really well, especially laterally," said Fields, who improved to 42-2 with his 38th KO.

"I felt a little rusty at the beginning, but in the third I started to get my timing and I was able to set up some openings. But Nic is a tough man. He had a chance to quit earlier, but he kept coming back for more."

Firtha took a knee early in the fifth after being caught with a brutal four-punch combination to the head, then was wobbled later in the round before being saved by the bell.

"Tye was just too strong and too quick," Firtha (16-6-1) said after shaking off the KO cobwebs. "I tried to keep moving in order to keep him off me, but he cuts off the ring real well and he's got fast hands. Every time I thought I was out of range, he nailed me with that left. I never even saw the last one."

Also on the card:

- Canadian cruiserweight champ Frank White delivered the goods to his growing legion of Edmonton fans by notching a third-round TKO over Brock Stodden of Bremerton, Wash.

In improving to 7-2 with his fifth stoppage, White, who fights out of Sarnia, Ont.,was content to rake the slower, bulkier Stodden with a steady barrage of body shots in order to open a path for quick combinations to the American's head. The strategy paid off 10 seconds into Round 3 when a jab followed by a short double hook sent Stodden crashing to the canvas.

A minute later White fired the same combination, driving Stodden halfway through the top two ropes and forcing referee Big John McCarthy to begin a standing-eight count.

McCarthy got as far as 'four' when Stodden's corner indicated the fight should be stopped.

"My timing was off by a half-second or so in the opening round," said White, who won for the fifth time in Edmonton.

"I kept trying to set him up for the uppercut, but I was off by just a little bit. He was awkward and kept trying to (head) butt me, but once I found my rhythm in the second round, I knew I'd get him out of there."

The effect of White's payoff-punch -- a ferocious left hook to the body -- was evidenced by a nasty nest of red welts on right side of Stodden's torso. The loss dropped Stodden's record to 18-16-1.

- Jason Douglas of Kitchener, Ont., improved to 7-1 with a bloody six-round split decision over Ivan Rodriguez (6-4) of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico -- but not before the gutsy Rodriguez broke his right hand landing a vicious uppercut early in the opening round.

The difference came down to Douglas -- who uses the ring moniker "Friday the 13th" -- being the busier fighter.

- Jason Gavern of Florida pounded out a workmanlike decision over Cisse Salif of Las Vegas in their eight-round heavyweight prelim.

Gavern, 30 pounds lighter and three inches shorter than Salif, wasn't intimidated. He kept moving straight forward and frustrated Salif with looping hooks that kept the bigger man off balance.

MURRAY.GREIG@SUNMEDIA.CA


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