Sharpe taught lesson

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:05 AM ET

Larry Sharpe's face told the story of his 12th-round technical knockout loss in vivid detail last night.

The Pine Falls, Man., light-middleweight sported ugly welts under both eyes and a mouse over his right eye and his cheeks were red and swollen.

Not a pretty picture.

His TKO defeat, which came at 1:04 of the 12th round against Colombian fighter Oney Valdez, was his third in a row, and dropped his record to 22-7-1.

"A rough fight, a rough loss," Sharpe said. "I'm turning 35 next month, so this might be my last fight. I'm a father of three, my wife and I are both school teachers. I don't need this. It's something I do to test myself. If this is the end of the road, it's a little bit sad. I thought I was better than the guy."

He wasn't.

Last night's main event between Sharpe and Valdez, which headlined the annual Shaw Festival Boxing Evening at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, was for the WBA Fedecentro title. Valdez had earned a split decision over Sharpe on Oct. 24 in Winnipeg to win the belt off the Canadian.

Both fighters, particularly the southpaw Sharpe, are extremely awkward, and that, by and large, made for a boring main event.

In fact, the only time the well-heeled crowd really got into the bout was when Valdez, who improved to 17-10-1 with 11 KOs, had Sharpe in trouble in the ninth and 12th rounds. Valdez staggered Sharpe in the ninth with a series of combinations but Sharpe's heart and Valdez's lack of punching power kept the fight alive.

"He would go southpaw and then he would go orthodox," Sharpe said of Valdez. "I was trying to throw the jab and let him come back and then counter him, but it was difficult. He was pretty awkward. I probably could have stayed on the outside and pecked the whole fight away, but I'm too impatient for that. I tried to make him engage me and try to land some meaningful punches."

In the 12th, the Colombian nailed Sharpe with a sharp left and followed that up with a left-right combination, which sent Sharpe crashing into the ropes and then to the canvas, although the off-balanced Valdez took a tumble himself after landing his big blows.

In the semifinal event, Toronto heavyweight Neven Pajkic scored an eight-round unanimous decision victory over Nicolai Firtha of Akron, Ohio, to improve his record to 9-0 with four knockouts. Firtha, who could have rightfully disputed the decision, took the fight to his Canadian opponent, but suffered a nasty cut over his right eye, and dropped to 15-6-1 as a pro.

In the six-round preliminary event, Niagara Falls lightweight Scott (The Plug) Paul hurt his opponent, Jorge Banos, early, but not often, though he did enough to earn a majority decision.

This year's version of the Shaw Festival event, the 24th, was without its long-time matchmaker, Vince Bagnato, who died last fall. A video tribute was held in honour of the Toronto boxing legend and the Bagnato Cup was presented to the winner of the preliminary fight, Paul.

STEVE.BUFFERY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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