EVEN though he lost a split 12-round decision to marginal heavyweight belt-holder Trevor Bryan, Jonathan Guidry won the heart of the near-capacity crowd at the Packard Music Hall for his unexpectedly strong showing against the highly favoured Bryan. Standing 6ft 4ins Bryan towered over 5ft 11ins Guidry, whose podgy midsection didn’t exactly instill confidence. Nonetheless, he celebrated after the decision was announced as if he had had won, climbing the ropes in all four corners of the ring to enthusiastic applause.

The 32-year-old Bryan’s fight plan was to advance behind a powerful-looking left jab, but several times each round Guidry would leap forward, fire a combination and then escape before his cumbersome adversary could answer.

Bryan began to connect with his thudding jab in the third, but when Guidry held his own in a frenzied exchange in the fourth, the crowd went wild.

Schenectady, New York’s Bryan continued to attack in the fifth, and although Guidry punched back, his opponent’s harder blows carried the round. There was another exciting exchange in the sixth, but this time Guidry gave as good as he got and closed the round with series of body punches.

Guidry, from Houma, Louisiana, started slowly in the seventh but again mounted a two-handed body attack the last minute to offset Bryan’s modest earlier work. Both boxers scored in the eighth but Bryan’s heavier blows won the round for him.

The ninth was the last round Guidry won. Bryan connected with heavy head punches early on, and then Guidry landed his own right to the head near the bell that clearly rocked Bryan. It was Guidry’s best punch of the fight, but he was fading and didn’t appear to have much left.

With a weary adversary in front of him, Bryan swept the final three rounds, sending home thudding punches Guidry could no longer avoid. As the bout drew to a close in the 12th round, Trevor unloaded a volley of headshots that culminated with a crunching right to the head that sent Guidry to the canvas. He managed to beat referee Lonnie Scott’s count a few second before the final bell.

“Trevor Bryan is here to stay,” said Bryan. “I showed that tonight. I am only going to get better and keep improving my skills. I worked until the final bell.”

“It was a close fight. We only trained for four weeks for this fight. I want another shot at it,” Guidry said. “If I get in a little bit better shape, I’ll put on a better show. It was heartbreaking. If I had a little bit more gas in the tank, I could have gotten him.”

Judge Steve Weisfeld scored the fight 115-113 in Guidry’s favor, while judges Brian Kenney and Nathan Palmer had it 116-111 and 115-113, respectively, both for Bryan.

Ilunga “Junior” Makabu won a 12-round split decision over Thabiso Mchunu in the chief supporting bout. The African cruiserweights were by far the most skilled boxer on the show. Makabu, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, had a small but loud delegation of flag-waving Congolese fans on hand to cheer, sing and chant him to victory.

The fight followed the same pattern throughout. Makabu moved forward looking for punching opportunities, while South African Mchunu countered. Mchunu is a good defensive boxer but has a tendency to cuff with his punches instead pronating his fist for greater impact.

Although it seemed southpaw Makabu had his foe in trouble in the third, which momentarily enthralled his supporters, Mchunu managed to elude further punishment and never seemed in serious trouble again.

Makabu was still forcing the fight when Mchunu jolted his head back with a pair of uppercuts in the seventh. Makabu regained control in the eighth, landing jabs and body blows. Mchunu had another decent round in the 10th round, boxing well and countering in quick flurries.

It was back to stalking and landing stiff southpaw jabs for Makabu in the 11th, while neither man did much of anything in the 12th.

Harvey Dock was the referee.

Judge Jamie Garayua scored the fight 116-112 for Makabu, Nathan Palmer had a 115-113 tally also for Makabu. As in the main event, Steve Weisfeld was again the contrarian and voted 115-113 for Mchunu. Makabu and Mchunu retain their third and fourth world rankings.

Left-handed Johnnie Langston, from Sarasota, Florida, stopped Baltimore’s Nick Kisner at 1-40 of the fifth round of a scheduled 10-round cruiserweight match. A rather stationary Kisner was knocked down three times in the fifth. The first and second knockdowns were the result of right hooks to he body. A finishing flurry put Kisner down again and referee George Nichols stopped the fight.

Don King did not make an appearance until right before the main event. The 90-year-old promoter looked frail and seemed to be having difficulty waving his trademark flags. It also seemed he was unable to hold his head fully erect. Although the media panned the show, it didn’t turn out to be as bad as expected. Moreover, when arriving about 45 minutes before first bell, it was quite a shock to see the car-parking area already overcrowded. The temperature outside was in single digits, but it didn’t discourage the locals from turning out for a night of boxing.

THE VERDICT Was this Don King’s last promotion? Despite the rumours, odds are he’ll keep going until he can’t go no more.

THOUGH Bryan might have other ideas, the WBA have ordered that he begin negotiations with their mandatory contender, the Frank Warren-promoted Daniel Dubois, immediately, with the bout to be staged within 180 days of January 29.