For the second time in as many fights, Tony Ojo of Reston has stepped from the ring amidst controversy. In the main event last night at the Crystal City Hyatt Regency, against Philadelphia's Kevin Howard, Ojo was stopped 57 seconds into the fourth round of a scheduled 10-round junior middleweight bout.
Howard (22-6), the last boxer to fight Sugar Ray Leonard, was awarded a technical knockout.
Following an exchange of punches in the fourth round, Ojo apparently slipped back into the corner attempting to roll with a right punch from Howard. As Ojo leaned against the ropes, referee Al Rothenberg approached him to assess his condition.
"His eyes were going up into his head and he was in dream street," Rothenberg said. "There was no way he could see the next punch. My judgment says he was hurt and . . . I made the call I had to make in the interest of his safety."
As Rothenberg led Ojo to his corner, Ojo wrestled with him, trying to persuade Rothenberg he was fit to fight. But, seconds later, Rothenberg motioned to the angry and confused crowd of 1,500 that it was over.
Said Ojo (16-5): "If I was in dreamland, why would I say, 'Why are you stopping the fight?' He's crazy."
The only knockdown was by Howard in the first round. Ojo was up quickly.
"There's so much paranoia now that people are jumping up and stopping fights in a second," said Jim Ed Jones, Ojo's manager.
In May at the Washington Convention Center, Ojo lost a 10-round bout to Tommy Ayers by a split decision. Jones is appealing that decision in court and said he plans to appeal last night's decision, too.
Washington's Al Martino earned a unanimous decision in a 10-round fight against Jose (Speedy) Gonzalez, the Virginia state junior lightweight champion from Norfolk.
Martino was knocked down in the first round, but settled into his rhythm and won with scores of 96-94, 97-93 and 97-92.
Washington's Jocko King earned a technical knockout in the fifth of eight rounds when his junior lightweight opponent, Richard Graves of Philadelphia, could not continue because he had a dislocated shoulder.
Junior lightweights Keely Thompson (7-1-1) of Arlington and James Kier (4-1-1) of Norfolk drew.