George Carter Jr. won a belt Saturday night. Gilbert Venegas just won some respect.
Venegas stopped young, faster Lance Williams in the main event of The Civil War boxing show at Danceland Ballroom, delighting a sellout crowd of about 1,000 people.
And Carter was just as impressive in a second-round knockout of Sean Rawley Wilson to win the CABA North American middleweight title. Carter had been scheduled to fight former world middleweight contender Antwun Echols in a co-main event but the Davenport product backed out early last week over a contract dispute.
Carter was quoted in his hometown Galesburg Register Mail as calling Echols’ withdrawal “childish.”
“I was very disappointed, not for me but because of the fans,” Carter said. “A lot of people paid money to see this. It was very high ticket sales. And I was really looking forward to fighting him. It’s always good to have a legend on your record.”
Carter said he knew almost nothing about Wilson, who was brought in as a late replacement. His entire scouting report consisted of one video.
“I just came out in the first round to see what he had,” Carter said. “Then in the second round I was a lot sharper.”
It only took one knockdown at 1:57 of the second round. Carter stood in a neutral corner dancing while the referee counted out Wilson.
The battle between the 35-year-old Venegas, from East Moline, and Muscatine’s Williams, who came in with a 4-0 record, didn’t last a lot longer.
Venegas knocked Williams to one knee 1:48 of the third round. At first, it appeared Williams would continue but then the referee waved his arms and halted the fight.
“I touched him with a good body shot,” Venegas said. “That made him pause, then I hit him with an overhand right and it was laying-down time.”
Two of the area’s most promising up-and-comers also recorded easy victories on the undercard.
Moline’s Limberth Ponce, who last year became the first Quad-Cities fighter in 10 years to win the Chicago Golden Gloves, claimed his third straight pro win with a unanimous decision over Eli Smith. And Davenport heavyweight Donovan Dennis upped his pro mark to 2-0 with a second-round TKO of Dakota Talbott.
Dennis admitted he loves fighting in front of the home crowd.
“Everybody’s here and everybody’s cheering for me whether they know me or not,” Dennis said. “I want to do more of this, but I also want to do more out of town fights so I can get a wider fan base.”
Brothers Travis and Fred Thomas of Davenport also both claimed convincing victories. Travis, one of the area’s most successful amateur boxers in recent years, pushed his pro record to 2-0 with a first-round knockout of Daurice Starr of St. Joseph, Mo.
More surprising was Fred’s unanimous decision over Kenny Schmitz of Clinton in a four-round middleweight bout. Fred Thomas was 0-10-2 coming into the fight and was most noteworthy for being the only boxer to have been beaten by Echols in the past eight years.
Travis Thomas, a welterweight, made quick work of Starr, who was making his pro debut.
“He was running from the very beginning, but he couldn’t run too far,” Travis said. “Once he caught one of those right hands, he didn’t want any more.”
Travis seemed almost as pleased to see his brother end his long victory drought.
“He’s gotten a raw deal, having to fight out of town all the time,” Travis said.
Also winning undercard bouts were Jake Klemme of Bettendorf, Vic Martinez of Moline and Alex Rozman of Davenport. Martinez and Rozman both were making their pro debuts.