By Johnny Walker

Oliver “The Atomic Bull” McCall eked out a split decision over “Fast” Fres Oquendo at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, Tuesday night in a heavyweight fight that lacked sustained action and often seemed more like a glorified sparring session.

McCall, 45, of Martinsville, Virginia, a one-time WBC heavyweight champion, was busted for possession of cocaine in February of this year, and then came back to drop a unanimous decision to Timur Ibragimov in June. 

Oquendo, 37, of Chicago, Illinois, is heavyweight boxing’s hard-luck man, having lost very questionable decisions in the past to the likes of Chris Byrd and James Toney.

On this night, Oquendo’s bad luck dogged him once again. 

The fight was mostly marked by McCall plodding slowly forward and Oquendo parrying his advances and moving out of danger.  “Fast Fres” seemed to this writer to be getting the better of the action for most of the contest, landing cleaner and more frequent shots in a bout that mostly lacked any sense of rhythm.

McCall’s lurching forward movement often found him falling in too close to his opponent and unable to punch effectively.  He had a few moments of joy, however, such as in the 10th round when he cut Oquendo with a powerful left jab.  More often, he allowed himself to be tied up and negated. 

When the judges scores were announced, Oquendo’s worst fears were once again realized. 

Only judge Bill Ray (113-115) saw it remotely the way this writer did; judges Michael Pernick (115-113) and John Rupert (116-112) scored it for McCall.

The best action of the night, however, occured after the scores were read, when a brawl broke out in Oquendo’s very unhappy corner, which was incensed at their man’s continuing misfortune. 

Oquendo (32-7) himself stood in the ring with a look of disbelief on his face.

With the win, McCall (55-10) picked up the vacant IBF Inter-Continental heavyweight championship. 

Where either fighter goes from here—even in today’s relatively weak heavyweight division—is anybody’s guess.