Roger Leonard Heeded little brother Ray's advice between rounds and banged out a unanimous eight-round decision over D.C.'s Johnny Gant in a junior welterweight fight last night at Capital Centre.
Earlier, Derrik Homes, another area favorite, wasted little time with Isaac Vega, stopping the Chicago native at 2:41 of the first round of their scheduled eight-round junior featherweight match.
Holmes, now 14-0-1, sent Vega to the deck with a sharp right hand and soon after finished the job with two quick left hooks and a glancing right.
"I was planning on setting him up with jabs and sneak a right in," said Holmes, from New Carrollton. "He is an experienced guy and I felt the fight migh last three or four rounds. But I hit him solid with that right. And when I saw the daylight, I went after him. I knew it was near the end of the round and I wanted to get him then."
Vega (14-5-0) was outclassed from the onset. Holmes had no problem hitting Vega, and danced around his slower opponent until he scored the TKO.
Leonard had his problems with the rugged Gant. In the fifth round, Gant caught Leonard flush with a right cross to the chin and Leonard went down. But the fall was ruled a slip. Leonard began bleeding profusely from around his left eye.
"I think the ref helped him a bit," said the despondent Gant, who is thinking seriously about giving up his boxing career. "I hit him with a good right and he fell. I knew since he was fighting in his back yard and his brother is the world welterweight champ, I'd have to knock him out. I'm not disappointed in my fight but the future looks bleak for me now."
Leonard, seven years younger than the 31-year-old Gant, seemed to grow stronger in the later rounds. With Ray exhorting him on from the top of a chair, Leonard began pressing his opponent and connecting with his jabs and looping rights.
"Ray told me to press him but it was hard because Johnny has a good jab," said Leonard, who needed seven stitches to close the cut near his eye. "I kept the presure on. I was determined to win. Had he beat me, I might have quit."
In the seventh round, Leonard's strongest, the fight became a mismatch. Gant's legs became rubbery and Leonard threw one flurry of punches after another. Several good right hands landed on Gant's face but the game fighter refused to fall.
At the end of the round, both fighters glared at one another and started talking.
"He told me he was going to knock me out," said Gant, who lost to Sugar Ray before a packed house here last year. "I told him, no you ain't, sucker."
Gant, sensing he needed a knockout to win, came out swinging the final round. He connected with two good right hands to Leonard's face but left himself open for counterpunches that seemed to find the right spots.
From then on, Leonard bombarded Gant until a right cross dropped him to the canvas. Gant got up and finished out what may have been his final fight -- he is now 44-14-3. Leonard improved his record to 13-0.
"Gant was by far my toughest fight. I may have taken him lightly," said Leonard. "He did catch me good with that right hand. It was a knockdown."
In other bouts, George Williams recorded a TKO over "Indian Chief" Quinnie Locklear 27 seconds into the second round in a scheduled four-round heavyweight match.
Also Des Morrison of England knocked out Otis Hooper of Palmer Park at 2:33 of the third round in a junior welterweight bout.