Webster battled for eight rounds to become 13-0.
Editorial by John Archibald, Resolution Sports
Undefeated Super Middleweight Becomes 13-0 with Defeat of Sabou Ballogou
The world of boxing is not for everybody, especially when you are speaking about the fighters who lace up the gloves for battle in the ring. A whole lot of people talk the talk about the game from the safe parameters outside of the ropes, myself included, but it takes true heart and courage to be man enough to get into that combat zone where nothing stands between you and another person who wants only to inflict pain onto you. Taking that to a whole another level, you can find a completely different type of a person once he faces the worst of scenarios and the toughest of pain. Some choose to end the pain and take the safest way out. Others have heart and will than 99% of us will never understand. They get up. They fight back, even if they were to be knocked down again. They start strong. They finish strong.
That type of person and amazing heart was shown by undefeated super middleweight Derrick “Take it to the Bank” Webster (13-0, 7 KOs) on Friday evening. Most of us can only wish we had the level of will he displayed. Before I get too far off topic, though, let’s rewind to Friday.
I jumped out of bed at 5:30 a.m. on Friday morning, unbelievably excited yet incredibly anxious. I was amped beyond belief, but I felt like I could throw up. No doubt, it was fight day for my close friend, Derrick Webster. I threw on my Team Webster shirt and headed to Atlantic City.
When I got to AC, Derrick and I had to hit the Boardwalk, of course, because we are over a year into what has become an endless documentary of Derrick’s uprising through the sport of boxing, and we needed to shoot some footage for our latest episode. After clowning around throughout the day, the mood all changed when Derrick’s head trainer, Denny Brown, arrived. That was the signal that the games were over. It was time for business.
We arrived at the Superstar Ballroom at Resorts Casino, and, once Derrick and the rest of team were assembled in his locker room, I had to hit press row because I was there to do a job as well. The difference was Derrick was mentally getting to a place where he was prepared to go to battle. I was headed to press row, where we all love to try and interpret what is happening behind the safety and comfort of computer keyboards. The truth is we don’t have a clue. It’s a different world in that ring.
As the card progressed, so did my nerves as I got ready to see my close friend send himself directly into harm’s way. Before I knew it, Causi’s personalized intro track for Derrick, Take it to the What!, hit the speakers. It was time.
With a seven-inch height advantage over his opposition, a 5-9 and jacked Sabou Ballogou (8-5, 3 KOs), Derrick came out establishing his range in the opening round. While he was admittedly tight, he tried to loosen up by tossing his trademark jab, applying some early damage to his aggressive opposition. Ballogou was a very dangerous fighter who repeatedly loaded up on huge overhands, so much to the point that his momentum landed him on the canvas when Derrick made him miss.
Derrick continued to roll off that jab, defending very well and continuously making Ballogou miss when he tried to find him. He owned the edges of the ring and made himself a very hard target to hit, boxing himself out of the tightness he felt in his body. In the fourth round, he got just the adrenalin shot he needed when the crowd started the “Take it to the What? Take it the Bank!” chants. He started to turn up the tempo, throwing the jab in more numbers and tossing his punches with worse intentions. He also opened a cut under the right eye of his opponent, and he made sure to pepper that location with more force. In the sixth frame, Derrick’s body seemed to be cooperating much better, as he noticeably became looser, and his head and foot movement became quicker and more deceptive. Things were looking good with just a couple of rounds to go.
The seventh round is where everyone got a good, hard look into the incredible heart and will of a man named Derrick Webster. The action got started very much the same way as the rest, with Derrick working the jab and using a constant motor to keep himself mobile and very difficult to hit. However, boxing is a game where anything can happen, and it can happen in a split second. Sometimes legal, sometimes not.
Midway through the round, Derrick threw a left hand that had his back starting to turn towards Ballogou, who found the perfect time to load up one of his powerful overhand rights. After getting his shot off, it struck the back of Derrick’s head and sent him to the canvas. Not a legal shot, but the ref in charge did not see where it landed and began to start counting. From a distance, I looked directly in Derrick’s eyes and could tell something was definitely not right. I had never seen him in trouble before, let alone getting himself off the floor. Showing incredible perseverance, Derrick was definitely not going out like that, and worked his way back to his feet. With his equilibrium clearly off, he was going to find a way to fight through it. It is moments like these that champions are born.
Ballogou knew he had his one opportunity to capitalize, and he resorted to every method imaginable to pull off a monumental upset. He started grabbing Derrick with his left hand and unloading with his right, somehow masking that setup from the referee. Still trying to get his equilibrium back on track, Derrick looked to reestablish his range as he regrouped. Unfortunately, he would find himself victim to another bad situation. The awkward matching of two southpaws causes footing concerns, and he came out on the bad end of that scenario. Ballogou aggressed forward with another big overhand right, stepping on Derrick’s lead foot in the process, and the ensuing punch left him nowhere to go but down. Despite all of these circumstances, Derrick quickly jumped back to his feet, never once complaining because he did not want to waste energy on anything except focusing himself on doing what he had to do to get back right. Showing crazy grit, he still never attempted to clinch to give himself time to recover. He is a fighter, and he was going to box his way out of it until the bell rang to end the seventh round.
The eighth round quickly became a totally different story. Derrick became completely recovered in his corner with trainer Denny Brown, and he came out with a furious rage in the final frame. His legs were all the way back under him, and his jabs were coming off more violently than they had the entire fight. Circling around the edge of the ring, he rocked Ballogou with a sharp right jab that buckled his legs and had him in a world of trouble. With Ballogou backpedaling, Derrick ripped him with a right cross-left cross combo that sent him flailing into the corner and to the canvas. Knowing time was short, Derrick anxiously awaited the referee’s count. If Ballogou continued, he was ready to finish him off. This is where things became inexplicably uncertain. First, the bell rang 10 seconds early. Second, Ballogou seemed out but was only given a standing eight-count because the early bell had sounded.
When all is said and done, there could be a lot to complain about, but none of it matters in the end. The ringside judges next made the win official, giving Derrick straight 77-72s on the cards. The landmark 13-0 record was his.
“Hitting the mark of 13-0 means the world to me,” Derrick told me on Saturday, a day after everything had gone down. “When I woke up this morning, I felt like my career entered into a brand new start. I know a lot of eyes are going to be on me, and a lot of attention is going to be on me for the next few fights, especially once I get to 15-0. I look forward to possibly fighting for a title in the near future. I’m going to continue working as hard as I possibly can work and just use every fight as a learning experience to do better the next time.”
After all of the hardships that Derrick has persevered through during his life, he is just simply not going to be one to look to negatives or excuses as to why something happened. Just like he has in life, he does in the boxing ring. He faces those hardships, gets up and fights through them. And once he emerges on the other side, he soley remembers the positive things that happened.
“Leading into this fight, I was pretty tight,” he stated. “My body was kind of working against me, so I had to find a way to fight through it. Until around the fifth round, I still felt pretty tight. In the sixth round, I finally started getting warmed up. Ballogou was an aggressive fighter. He got really desperate for a shot because he knew he had to knock me out to win this fight. I’m 6-4, so when I pivot out to my right, it gives someone a shot to the back of my head when they throw a desperate overhand. When I got hit in the back of my head in the seventh round, it knocked my equilibrium off. When I went down, my legs were still strong, and my eyes were still sharp, but there’s nothing like fighting against equilibrium. I was definitely off balance when I got to my feet, and he tried to turn it on again. Then, by physically pushing on me, which caused the second knockdown, that’s when I turned it on. That second knockdown turned me on because he started running his mouth. When I made it back to my feet, it was game-on from there. I had a round and a half to prove myself in the best way I possibly could. I could’ve given up or let the fight end in a nonchalant way, but I wanted to end it like a champion.
“I went in there and forgot about the pain. I forgot about the crowd. I forgot about everything. I just focused on me and him. I wanted to win the fight the best way possible. In the end, I came out 13-0 and as a champion.”
And that is what the heart of a champion looks like, ladies and gentlemen.