If you want a “War” at 174, Saunders will give it to you. Pittsburgh light heavyweight Rayco “War” Saunders and Rayco WAR Promotions put on a boxing card Nov. 14 at the Club Sport and Health in Monroeville billed as “War in the South III.”
There is not a single fighter out there who brings to the table the passion, the excitement, the ferocity, the tremendous courage and professionalism Saunders exhibits in the ring.
|MAIN EVENT— Rayco “War” Saunders mixes it up with Dumont “Dewey” Welliver of Spokane, Washington. (Courier Photos/Erin Perry)
Saunders, the World Boxing Foundation All Americas Light Heavyweight Champion, let his hair grow long and put on a Samson type performance against outclassed opponent Dumont Welliver in a non-title bout. Welliver landed a few good punches in round one, but Saunders, who fights like Marvin Hagler, stepped on the gas in rounds two and three and rocked Welliver repeatedly.
In round four, Saunders continued to pound Welliver, swiveling his head with a mean overhand right that put him down on the canvas. Saunders’ fight plan of kill or be killed didn’t waver, as his three-punch combination sent Welliver’s head ricocheting from side to side and referee Ernie Sharif leaped in to stop the fight.
Saunders treats boxing more like a religion than a sport. He studies fights and fighters. It is this kind of dedication and passion that has gotten him this far.
“I’m a student of the game. I try to watch every boxing match that comes on TV,” said Saunders. “My favorite fighter is Marvin Hagler. I watched Marvin a million times and I pattern myself after him.”
In other matches, junior welterweight “Lightning” Rod Salka (14-1) from Bunola, Pa., one of pro boxing’s fastest rising stars, earned a 6-round decision over Fernando Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is a big puncher but Salka was able to avoid most of his telegraphed bombs.
As the fight progressed, Rodriguez’ confidence grew. By the fourth round he was taunting Salka, putting his gloves to the side and smiling. Salka landed three clean shots to his jaw, but Rodriguez just stood there and took them.
The sixth and final round saw the two boxers throwing a flurry of punches at one another in an attempt not to leave the decision with the judges and the noise reached levels that this building was not designed to hold. The “Hispanic causing panic” fought hard, but it was Salka’s unconventional style, speed and stamina that made the difference in the end.
Salka uses bits and pieces of different boxer’s styles. Kind of what Bruce Lee did when he took things from many other martial arts and made up his own style called Jeet Kune Do.
“I don’t pattern myself after any one fighter,” said Salka. “Some of my style I get from my good friend Paul Spadafora, and I used to spar a lot with Monty Meza-Clay and Verquan Kimbrough and I picked up pieces from their style.”
For many fighters out there it is more sizzle than steak, more flash than cash, more bark than bite. Well, Pittsburgh native Gino “Mr-Inkredible” McClellan (6-0) is a major coming attraction. McClellan has a certain charisma and is one of the most exciting up-and-coming fighters in the world today.
McClellan proved that junior middleweight Cliff McPherson was no match for his skill and experience. Not only did he win the fight, he stuck it to McPherson round after round and finally McPherson’s corner threw in the towel and “Mr-Inkredible” was awarded a 3rd round TKO.
“I moved to Tampa, Florida when I was 14-years old,” said McClellan. “My goal was always to live in Florida, but fight in Pittsburgh where my family and friends can see me.”
Up and coming light heavyweight Jaque Lutz (3-0) beat the brakes off of John Terry to win a lopsided 4-round unanimous decision. Lutz, who grew up on the tough streets of Natrona Heights, had a great amateur career. In 2007 he won the Ring Side World Tournament Championship. In 2008 & 2009 he was the Pennsylvania State Golden Glove Champion.
He walks to the beat of a different drummer, looking more like a model than a fighter. His hobbies and interests are opposite of most competitive athletes. Lutz’s enjoys arcade dancing, rave and industrial, snowboarding and creative fashion.
“From start to finish the energy was palatable. Our hometown heroes Rayco Saunders, Jaque Lutz, Rod Salka and Gino McClelland brought the HEAT with all heart, all guts and all glory,” said Chiyna Rok, CEO Interactive Media. “The crowd was engaged, the fighters were focused and the trainers were intense.”
Saunders, Lutz and McClellan looked so good that many fans thought it was Black Friday.
The old adage when it comes to competitive athletics is, “What have you done for me lately?”
From where I was sitting, Rayco looked to be the best he has ever been as a professional. He looked mature, composed and prepared.
I read the book Shambhala—The Sacred Path of the Warrior. It is a great book about never giving up on yourself, life, society or the world.
The author could have renamed the book, “The Rayco “War” Saunders story. Rayco has effectively served notice that he is now one of the top dogs in the light heavyweight division and he is capable of beating anybody.
If he gets a mega fight in Pittsburgh all I can say is “Nobody beats Rayco at home!”