Derrick “Take it to the Bank” Webster (22-1, 11 KOs) was in championship form on Saturday night at the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, N.J., winning the IBO/USBO Super Middleweight Title by defeating a hard-nosed Thomas Awimbono (22-6-1, 21 KOs) via unanimous decision.
“Keep hitting him. Keep touching him,” Webster said he was being told in between rounds by head trainer Denny Brown. “First, I want to thank God for this opportunity. This is an amazing feeling. We knew nothing about the guy coming into this fight. There was nothing on him at all. The only thing we really knew was that he had a lot of knockouts, so I knew I had to be leery of that. While I was out there, we had to adjust to whatever he was trying to do.”
Awimbono proved to be a very durable and determined opponent, which forced Webster to keep thinking throughout the 10 rounds of this title fight.
“He was trying to put me in traps,” Webster continued. “Training with Denny and sparring with Prince Badi (Ajamu), you learn not to fall for traps like that. Prince is the king of setting traps, so I was ready to make any adjustments. I just kept the jab on him, threw combinations and got some good body work on him, so he didn’t really know which angle I was coming from. We were trying to frustrate him. Did I want the knockout? Of course, but you can’t knock out everybody. The bottom line is we’re leaving with this belt, and we got the win.”
Webster felt Awimbono out a little bit in first round before starting to really warm up in the second frame. He continually made Awimbono miss with crafty movement and sound defensiveness, looking to pick up habits of his opposition that he could eventually exploit. In the third round, Webster began going hard to the body, finding much success there in some work that would pay dividends throughout the course of the bout.
After keeping a stiff jab in his face, Awimbono began to develop swelling around his left eye towards the beginning of the fourth frame, with Webster truly finding his rhythm and seeing things clearly as they entered the middle rounds.
The fifth frame was a big one for Webster, who was showing excellent head and body movement while keeping his hands in the face of a frustrated Awimbono to keep him at bay. Webster was doing a great job of establishing his range, which kept Awimbono from being able to mount much of an attack. In the following round, Webster continued to switch levels and highlighted the frame with a 12-punch combination to the body. His varying angles confused Awimbono, but the Ghanan fighter continued to press forward and forced Webster to remain alert at all times.
Over the second half of the fight, Webster continued to do his combination work and slip out, continually changing his directions and angles so Awimbono could not find much momentum. The determined Awimbono was able to get through a few punches over the last few rounds, but Webster showed off his chin and was not affected by them.
In the ninth frame, Webster had a huge burst midway through the round, switching his levels on a heavy head and body attack that backed Awimbono up and had him in some trouble. Wary of the significant power that Awimbono possessed, Webster intelligently did not overcommit himself to anything that could put him in a dangerous position, continuing to make him miss and showing off some excellent footwork.
In the final frame, Webster boxed out those last three minutes by sticking to the gameplan he received in his corner. Remaining in control of the action, he got off some good counter punches and was noticeably elated when the final bell rang because only the reading of the judges’ cards stood between him and being strapped up with gold.
When those ringside tallies came, Webster was indeed named the victor when scores of 100-90 and 98-92 (twice) were read aloud, with the hard fought victory earning him the IBO/USBO Super Middleweight Championship.
The huge win kicks off 2017 in extraordinary fashion for Webster, who plans to remain extremely busy this year. Negotiations have already begun for his next fight, with an official announcement planned for the very near future.