On May 21, Rayco “War” Saunders, and Rayco War Promotions put on a boxing card at the Monroeville Convention Center billed as “War in the East.”
The main event featured “War” Saunders who promoted, sold tickets and defended his WBF light heavyweight title by stopping Bruce Rumbolz, of Sterling, Ill., in the eighth round.
From the first round Saunders was the aggressor. He came in with lefts to the body followed by rights to the head, leaving Rumbolz to cover up most of the fight.
|RAYCO SANDERS and son, JELANI, show they are champions.
In the fourth round Saunders pivoted his body to launch a perfect left hook, bringing it up from just above his hips and landing it right in the bread basket and putting Rumbolz on the canvas.
In the eighth round Saunders, who has a chiseled frame that would make Evander Holyfield jealous, began winging bombs and found success in chest-to-chest combat. He pounced on Rumbolz with the heavy artillery forcing referee Rick Steigerwald to stop the match and award Saunders a TKO victory.
Saunders, who was fighting in Pittsburgh for only the second time in five years, entered the ring wearing a T-shirt with “I don’t chase dreams I catch ’em,” emblazoned across his back.
Saunders was hatched from some of the roughest neighborhoods in Pittsburgh—-Northview Heights and Beltzhoover—-and grew up without most of the things the children of the suburbs take for granted.
He was stabbed in the back at age 15 and shot in the chest at 21. He was arrested six times between 1994-97, and was incarcerated at Graterford State Prison, the same jail that former undisputed middleweight champion, Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins served out his sentence.
Saunders recently received his promoter’s license and this was his first event. Was it hard to promote and fight at your own event?
“Yes. It was much more difficult than I thought. I had to pay everybody, sell tickets and coordinate everything,” said Saunders. “But I knew it could be done because my friend Roy Jones Jr., promotes and fights at his events.”
Players and coaches sometimes utter the phrase “peaking at the right time.” While that might sound cliché, the words have plenty of meaning, because it could describe co-main event and WBF cruiserweight champion Andres “Taylor Made” Taylor.
Taylor, fighting out of Johnstown, Pa., defeated Chris Thomas of Chicago to raise his record to an impressive 14-1-1. Taylor won by a unanimous decision and both fighters fought their hearts out and finished the fight going toe-to-toe, leaving nothing for the dressing room as they received a loud standing ovation from the crowd at the final bell.
“I want to fight every month this year,” said Taylor. “I had this fight tonight in May and I’m scheduled to fight again in three weeks in June and I have a fight in July. I’m only going to get better. I have a great new trainer in Tommy Yankello.”
The glass chin award went to Jadall Wells of Akron who was knocked out in the first round by Damar Singleton of Toledo. Singleton was able to easily get through Wells’ marshmallow defense and put him down on the canvas with a phantom punch.
Joe Divosevic, of North Hills, lost his pro debut to Keon Graham of Akron in a fight that could have gone either way.
“This was the first time that I watched a boxing match live and I love it,” said model/actress “Bella” Lisa Smith. “My favorite fight was Andres Taylor and Chris Thomas.”
Tongues were wagging as ring girls Olivia and Gabby moved to the beats by legendary DJ Biz Markie.
“I love Pittsburgh,” said Biz Markie. “My cousin is Chuck Sanders so look for me to come back again and again.”
Historian David McCullough, in his book “Brave Companions,” wrote that “at times I’ve not known for certain whether I wanted to go ahead with a story until I have been where it happened.” McCullough believes that to gain a better understanding of matter, a writer must understand the subject’s terrain.
The city of Pittsburgh will get behind “War” Saunders, because his brain is like a highly strung crossbow, designed to be aimed before hitting its target.
Saunders doesn’t chase dreams. He catches them.