Marlon Starling vs. Mark Breland (2nd meeting)

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1988-04-16 : Marlon Starling 146½ lbs drew with Mark Breland 146 lbs by PTS in round 12 of 12

  • WBA Welterweight Title (2nd defense by Starling)

Starling Holds Title on Draw
By Phil Berger, The New York Times, April 17, 1988

Marlon Starling retained his World Boxing Association welterweight title when he and the challenger, Mark Breland, fought to a disputed 12-round draw tonight at the Las Vegas Hilton.

By the rules of boxing, a champion keeps his crown if the decision is a draw.

When the decision was announced, it was loudly booed by the crowd, which appeared to believe Starling deserved the decision.

Judge Jerry Roth voted for Starling, 116-113; Dave Moretti gave it to Breland, 115-114, and Elias Quintana scored the fight even at 114-114.

Throughout the bout, Breland sought to keep Starling at arm's length so he could get the leverage for his long-armed punches.

But through the early rounds Breland was unable to discourage Starling. The challenger's jab was too mechanical and lacked sting, and Starling slipped by it and pounded Breland up and down his lanky frame.

Even as Breland tried to push Starling off with his gloves, Starling was pressing forward. At close range, Starling was too quick for Breland and repeatedly nailed him with left hooks and lead rights. He rocked Breland several times during the fight.

As for Breland, he was never able to land his vaunted right-hand punch flush on Starling, who bobbed side to side as he came forward. When Breland punched at close range, he left himself open for Starling's counterpunches, particularly the left hook.

Frequently the 6-foot-2½-inch Breland found himself off balance as the 5-8 Starling came forward, and was forced to lurch about the ring in awkward clinches.

There were several times during the bout when the crowd booed the inaction. Starling's tactical error was to coast in the late rounds, making faces at Breland and even doing a version of rope-a-dope.

While Breland did not appear to do serious damage to Starling late in the fight, he was busier than he had been earlier in the fight.

"I did think Marlon gave away some of the latter rounds," said Cedric Kushner, Starling's promoter.

All three judges gave Breland the majority of the last five rounds, with Moretti and Quintana scoring four of the five rounds for Breland.

With the draw, Starling's record goes to 43-4-1 with 26 knockouts. Breland is 20-1-1 with 13 knockouts.

A computer punch count by Compubox showed Breland landing 20.7 [percent] of his 666 punches. Starling landed 42.3 percent of his 520 punches.

Asked if he thought he had won, Breland said: "I'm not a judge. I thought I came on in the late rounds."

Starling said he thought he had won. "I'm still wearing the championship belt," he said. "I hurt him throughout the fight."