Jimmy Lange turned two years of mounting tension into one short, unforgiving display against Perry Ballard last night.
The 154-pounder from Great Falls stopped West Virginia's Ballard in the fourth round to win the vacant World Boxing Empire junior middleweight title in the first live boxing event at George Mason's Patriot Center.
It was Lange's first fight since appearing on NBC's reality boxing show "The Contender," and he didn't disappoint the decidedly partisan crowd of 5,122.
A fight that had been brewing since the outspoken Ballard first called out Lange during a card at the D.C. Armory in 2003 ended with a dramatic sense of finality.
Lange pummeled Ballard (17-1, 13 KOs) with a flurry of left hooks in the decisive fourth, sending him to the canvas twice before the referee stopped the fight.
"The only shot he had was winning crazy and for me to lose my head and get into some kind of a crazy battle," Lange said. "That's why I hardly used my right hand. I just wanted to stay on that stick and be real patient and careful."
Lange (25-2-1, 18 KOs) took a significant risk in accepting the fight, knowing that a loss to Ballard could have derailed the momentum of his rising career. He has already parlayed his appearance on "The Contender" into offers from other ventures, namely in the modeling and television industries. But now the focus shifts to the 30-year-old's future in the ring.
Lange will most likely seek out a higher level of competition in his next few fights, with the hope that a string of victories can land him a bout with a marquee name.
"I'd like another fight like tonight and then after that, start stepping it up," said Lange's trainer, Buddy McGirt. "Jimmy's the type of guy that I think the better his opponent, the better he is and the more focused he'll stay."
In the co-main event, Cheltenham's Lamont Pearson knocked out Brooklyn's Shamir Reyes with a body shot in the sixth round to win the vacant United States Boxing Association junior lightweight title.
Pearson (22-3-1, 12 KOs) worked the southpaw's body for much of the fifth round, finally opening up Reyes's guard late in the sixth and sending him crumbling to the canvas. It was a significant victory for the 34-year-old Prince's George's County postal worker, who has suffered a number of setbacks over the course of his career. During his World Boxing Association super featherweight title fight in 2002 against Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai, Pearson was knocked out during the ninth round. It was later revealed he broke his left hand during the fight.
The following year, Pearson fought Robbie Peden for the vacant USBA super featherweight title, but was forced to retire in the seventh round after breaking his right hand.
The win last night put Pearson right back into the world title picture, as Reyes was coming off a stunning first-round knockout of previously unbeaten Luis Antonio Arceo in July.
"This will probably put me in the top 10" in the International Boxing Federation, Pearson said. "I'm just happy for them to even give me the opportunity. I've been fighting everybody and anybody my manager and promoters have been throwing at me."
On the undercard, Alexandria's Kay Koroma won his professional debut via unanimous decision over Washington's Terrell Davis (0-4); Baltimore's Tim Coleman (3-0, 1 KO) scored a third-round technical knockout against Washington's Spencer Harsley (1-4, 1 KO); and Dallas's Jesse Orta (5-5-1, 4 KOs) scored a first-round technical knockout against Orazio Robinson (5-2-2, 4 KOs) of Manassas.