HANOVER – Luther “Lights Out” Smith of Bowie, Maryland lost a unanimous decision to Stivens Bujaj (17-2-1) on Aug. 8 during the Jeter Promotion fight card at Maryland Live! Casino in Hanover.
Bujaj had not fought in two years and admitted to being a little rusty. However, the New York native excelled in front of a sellout crowd of 1,293 spectators. After the opening three rounds, Bujaj began to pull away, throwing more punches than his local competitor and performing at his best when “people are rooting against me.”
“Smith was a tough guy. He tried to trap me into running into a hard shot, but I threw my combinations and stayed out of harm’s way,” said Bujaj.
Smith (11-5-1), an Army veteran who started boxing at the advanced age of 35, came into the fight not thinking about championship opportunities and the like. The product of the Level Up Boxing & Fitness Gym considered himself a serious professional fighter with his martial arts background even though he admits to not taking certain basics of the fight game too seriously.
“I approach this game in one way,” Smith said. “I try to knock out my opponent.”
That approach hurt Smith at the end as his opponent’s slow approach allowed him to connect more punches as Bujaj won on all the cards, 78-74, twice and 77-75. In only his second time competing in the main event, Smith, who will turn 41 in November, still looks forward to his next fight and to defeating his younger opponents.
“I started this sport at an advanced age,” Smith said. “I have to work extra hard to keep up with these guys.”
In other action, Jerry Odom made his long-awaited return to the ring after a two-year layoff due to medical reasons. Odom scored a second-round knockout of Salisbury’s Tahir Thomas, collecting his third win in the last four fights.
Odom (15-3-1) landed clean combinations while taking some hard shots from Thomas. Odom stayed poised and caught Thomas with a short, hard, crisp right hand. Thomas’ knees buckled and he was out for the knockout decision.
“I missed two years. I had an appendix operation and was unable to fight,” says Odom. “But I feel good and I am glad to be back in the ring.”
This was Odom’s second fight since his operation. Before the procedure, Odom was considered to be one of the most decorated amateur fighters of all time in the region but went off the radar following the start of his pro career. After his victory, Odom, 26, proclaimed that he will fight in the next card that Live! will host in the fall.
The best fight of the night was between featherweights Ebrima Jawara of Germantown and Marquel Johns, now living in Fort Washington. Jawara, 27, was fighting a six-round bout after his second professional fight, a rarity in boxing. Using his height and boxing skills, he withstood adversity after Johns caught him with an overhead right and put him on the canvas in the third round.
Once he got up and was cleared, he pounded Johns with hard combinations to the head and body for the rest of the fight. Jawara won by a unanimous decision to improve his record to 2-1.
Other local fighters were on the card to make the event a sellout. Champ Moultrie from Ellicott City lost his pro debut against Corey Weekley in a super welterweight bout. Owings Mills native Brandon Chambers won his first fight as a pro via TKO against North Carolina’s Fred Thornton. A.J. Williams from Cockeysville improved his record to 2-1 with a unanimous decision victory over Michael Brock Willis.
Suitland native Malik Loften pitched a shutout unanimous decision over Carlos Marrero to win his third pro fight. Fan favorite and Elkridge native Dante Cox improved to 4-1 when his opponent, David Veras Pena, could not answer the bell after round two.
Lastly, the most skillful of the undercard fighters was Washington, D.C. native Jordan White, who scored a 4th-round TKO win over Vincent Jennings to take his record to 9-1.