Heard's return is emotional, successful

Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
Bennie Heard, 47, was paroled in September.

ATLANTA - Bennie Heard took on a handful of opponents Friday night, but the only one he'll get credit for is Joe Grubbs.


Heard - a former member of the Augusta Boxing Club and top-ranked amateur - defied logic, age and his fair share of demons to get his first win in more than 22 years, defeating Grubbs (1-3) with a fourth-round knockout at the Center Stage night club.

The 47-year old last defeated James Jennings on Dec. 20, 1984, in a professional career that lasted less than a month. Heard is only five months removed from serving a 20-year prison sentence.

"It was everything I could have hoped for, everything," Heard said. "Not everybody gets a chance like this. I just pray to God for giving me the chance again."

Through two rounds, Heard certainly didn't appear to be fighting a man half his age. The technique and right hook were still working like they did in the early 1980s, and the crowd seemed to notice.

"This is as hyped as we've seen a crowd in a long time," said promoter John "Yahya" McClain, a former champion boxer and head of Absoloot Boxing. "Bennie still has a lot to work on, but he's still got his smarts. You don't lose that."

Heard finally started to lose his legs by the fourth round, but by then, it was of little consequence. Grubbs' legs had started to wobble along with his neck. The younger challenger finally collapsed in the corner following a final fury of punches.

The KO came two minutes, 15 seconds into the fourth round and was only the second of Heard's brief professional career. The win moved his overall record to 3-0.

Statistics were the last thing on Heard's mind.

"Just to be out there again, and to have the support of all the good people from Atlanta and the good people of Augusta that made the trip, that's special," said Heard.



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