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Bunema retains his belt with split-decision victory

Steve Christilaw Correspondent

WORLEY, Ida. – It was close, but Alex Bunema gets to keep his belt.

The Seattle middleweight successfully defended his World Boxing Council Super Welterweight championship Thursday night at the Coeur d’Alene Casino, stopping Vince Phillips on a split decision.

Bunema (26-4-2) remains one of the top contenders in the middleweight division – fighters between 154 and 160 pounds – while holding the belt at the lighter division (147-154).

Both fighters came into the casino’s House of Fury expecting a 12-round battle and the fight lived up to that promise.

Both preferred to fight inside, leading to prolonged clinches throughout the contest.

Phillips (46-9-1) was penalized two points in the fifth round for punching below the belt.

Bunema won on two judge’s scorecards, 118-112 on one, 115-111 on the other. The third judge scored the fight 117-113 in favor of Phillips.

In the semi-main event, Las Vegas cruiserweight “King” Arthur Williams scored a unanimous, eight-round decision over Tim Shocks of Kent, Wash.

Looking every month of his 40 years and every round of his 53 professional fights, Williams dropped Shocks at the bell to end round one, but the powerful right hand that scored 28 career knockouts just wasn’t there against the 33-pound Shocks, who showed no respect for Williams’ power after the first round.

By the fifth round, Shocks was running on his leaf springs, the bounce in his step gone and his footwork flat. Still, Williams (40-12-1) could not muster a knockout punch that would have been there just a year ago.

Spokane’s Chauncy Welliver scored a costly six-round decision over Great Falls, Mont., heavyweight Ted Reiter.

“I felt my (left) elbow pop in the second round,” Welliver said. “I couldn’t use my left hand much. The ring doctor told me to go to the hospital and have it looked at and I’m going to do that tonight. I may be done for a while.”

Fighting at 246 pounds, 30 pounds under his weight for his last United States fight five months ago, Welliver (23-3-3) showed the positive results of a five-fight stay in New Zealand and an increased running program.

Coeur d’Alene cruiserweight Shawn Hawk had an impressive home-ring debut, knocking out Greg Benson, a heavyweight from Moreno Valley, Calif., in just 56 seconds of round one.

Hawk is 5-0 as a professional, with all five victories coming by knockout. Hawk, trained by Coeur d’Alene Casino matchmaker Moe Smith, was greeted enthusiastically by the crowd in his first appearance in Worley.

“Boy, that was great,” a grinning Hawk said. “That got me fired up more than anything else.”

Benson came out charging the young Sioux fighter, pressing his weight advantage for the first 15 seconds of the fight.

Working back to the center of the ring, Hawk caught Benson with a short, hard right hand to the side of the head that dropped Benson. Referee Jerry Armstrong did not bother to count the fighter out, instead signaling for the ringside doctor.

“I’ve never fought anyone who came at me like that,” Hawk said. “I just waited for an opening.”

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