A rousing middleweight slugfest between former champion Simon Brown and Reuben Bell in which both fighters scored knockdowns ended most unexpectedly last night when a hand injury forced Bell to quit in his corner after the fifth round.
The crowd of 2,176 that attended the nationally-televised bout at the Pikesville Armory was stunned by the outcome. Bell, 24, who was giving away a wealth of experience to his Maryland rival, had dropped Brown with a hook in the fourth round and was holding his own on the judges' scorecards.
Ring physician Ian Weiner said Bell had a badly bruised fifth metacarpal bone on his right hand, but X-rays were needed to determine if there is a fracture.
It was a bitter ending for Bell, now 13-2 but a comer in his weight class. The winner of the fight had been promised a future title match with International Boxing Federation champion Bernard Hopkins, who was a ringside spectator. Hopkins has a tentative November title date with Andrew Council.
"I'm a warrior, and I believe I was winning the fight," said Bell, "but I can't fight someone like Brown with one hand."
Brown, 34, who had previously reigned as welterweight and junior middleweight champion, floored Bell for the first time in his career in the second round with an overhand right. But Bell regrouped and was matching Brown's power in most of the heated exchanges.
"When I knocked him down, Bell showed me a lot of heart by getting up," said Brown (47-6, 34 KOs). He surprised me with his power. I didn't fight real smart. I should have boxed more.
"But I know when I throw that left jab down the pipe, I can set up my right hand. The critics were saying I'm too old, and my legs were gone, but the longer a fight goes, the stronger I get."
Bell came out boxing in the first round, catching Brown off guard with his swarming tactics. But from the second round on, the fight resembled Hagler versus Hearns in ferocity.
In the end, Brown, a native of Jamaica now living in Mount Airy, persevered and proved he was still a worthy contender despite losing his last three title tests against Terry Norris, Vincent Pettway and Lonnie Bradley.
On the undercard, unbeaten British middleweight Robert McCracken (30-0, 19 KOs) hardly broke a sweat in making his American ring debut.
Ranked No. 3 by the World Boxing Council, McCracken stopped journeyman Joe Stevenson (14 -6-1) of Flint, Mich., with a left hook to the ribs at 2: 12 of the first round of their scheduled 10-round co-feature.
Undefeated junior middleweight Emil Baku (9-0) of Pikesville showed he was ready so step up in competition by stopping Baltimore rival Kenny Blackston (11-5) at 2: 47 of the third round.
Who: Oscar De La Hoya vs. Hector Camacho
Where: Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas
When: 11, approximately
Broadcast: Pay per view
Records: De La Hoya (25-0, 21 knockouts); Camacho (64-3-1)
On the line: WBC welterweight title
Weight: Both weigh 147 pounds
Undercard: Raul Marquez puts IBF middleweight title on line vs. Keith Mullings
Pub Date: 9/13/97