Rayonta Whitfield's homecoming was a smashing success.
With the crowd chanting "A-U-G" and "Sting Ray" throughout the fight, Whitfield defeated Evaristo Primero by unanimous decision in an eight-round bout at Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.
Two of the judges scored the fight 79-71 in favor of Whitfield, while the other had the Augusta Boxing Club product a 78-72 winner.
Whtifield, fighting for the first time on ESPN2's Friday Night Fights, improved his record to 13-0 as a professional.
The Augustan fought tentatively in the first round as his Mexican opponent landed several punches. But Whitfield drew blood in the second round and never looked back as he connected on several punches to the body.
In the fourth round, Primero (14-9-1) was penalized two points for punching behind the head and for holding onto his opponent.
Going into the fight, Whitfield called Primero "one tough Mexican." He was correct as the lesser-known boxer refused to give up despite receiving a flurry of punches. By the end of the fight, Whitfield's white trunks were covered in his opponent's blood.
"I wasn't expecting to go eight rounds," Whitfield said. "I was a little nervous to start with, but I got better as the night went on."
An estimated 1,200 fans turned out for the fights, which featured seven bouts.
Promoter Brian Young said he was pleased with the turnout and with Whitfield's victory.
"He was well-poised and well coached,'' Young said. "He grew a lot tonight as a fighter."
Under the direction of Augusta Boxing Club director Tom Moraetes, Whitfield has enjoyed nothing but success since turning pro after a disappointing loss in the Olympic Trials in 2004.
Now he could be in line for a shot at a championship fight, Young said.
"I'd like for him to fight for a belt before the end of the year,'' he said.
None of the first three fights, which were held before the television coverage started, failed to last more than one round.
Joseph Norfleet won by technical knockout against David Broucheau a mere 1:33 into the first round. In the second bout, Antonin Decarie was declared the winner by TKO when Ronnie Glover signaled to the referee that he wanted the fight stopped just 1:32 into the match.
The third fight of the night was more entertaining, but "Super King" Larry White won by TKO when he knocked down Robert Wright 2:12 into the first round of their heavyweight bout. After the win, White donned a crown and preened for pictures.
The night's first televised fight was a spirited battle between Leon Bobo and Frankie "Chico" Zepeda. Bobo improved to 13-0 as he won a unanimous decision from the three judges in the super featherweight bout.
Reach John Boyette at (706) 823-3337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.