Russell Lamour beat a steady tattoo on Ahsandi Gibbs’ face, head, torso. He knew his opponent was hurt when Gibbs leaned in and put his arms around him.

“He was squeezing me hard, hanging on. I thought the referee was about to stop the fight but he didn’t. I just kept punching.”

It was the third round of an eight-round fight for the International Boxing Association’s North American Middleweight Championship at the Portland Expo late Saturday night. The crowd of about 3,000 anticipated the end.

Lamour was the hometown hero, the Deering High graduate whose long apprenticeship as an amateur was paying off in an unbeaten pro career. Lamour already had the New England middleweight title. The IBA championship would earn him more attention and better fights and paydays and a top 10 national ranking.

The referee let the fight continue until the bell rang to end the third round. Three more times in later rounds Gibbs seemed to be defenseless, stunned by the fury of Lamour’s boxing skills. Each time, Gibbs leaned into the taller Lamour, tying him up.

“He was experienced enough to know how to stay on his feet,” said Lamour. “I should have stepped aside when he kept coming in and hit him then.”

Instead, the one-sided fight went the distance. Sitting at ringside, former Olympic gold medalist and light heavyweight and heavyweight champ Michael Spinks watched intently as Lamour won round after round. At the end, Gibbs’ face was swollen from the punches it absorbed.

Lamour was Gibbs’ third straight unbeaten opponent and he’s lost to all three. Gibbs’ nickname is Mr. Brixx for his solid build and heavy hands. He wore basic black boxing trunks. He understood his role as the villain.

Gibbs (10-5) is from Tampa, Florida, runs his own gym and won the first 10 fights of his professional career. Saturday, Lamour had the advantages of height and reach and his hands and footwork were simply too quick for Gibbs. Lamour’s biggest problems were the ankle he rolled slightly when he stepped on the referee’s foot and a right calf muscle that cramped. Gibbs’ head grazed Lamour’s when he was against the ropes.

Otherwise, Lamour (11-0) was unmarked. The judges gave him a unanimous decision.

Lamour knew his crowd wanted a knockout or at least a knockdown or two. Jason Quirk and Jimmy Smith had warmed up the fans earlier in the night with their first-round TKO wins. Waiting and relaxing in the locker room in the Expo basement, Lamour said he heard the sudden roar of the crowd and understood what happened.

There are few things in sports more visceral than seeing an opponent fall from one punch or a flurry.

When it was Lamour’s turn he delivered everything but a knockout.

“I’m happy and glad,” he said, back in the locker room. Next up is a fight on an ESPN Friday Night Fights card at Foxwoods Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut, on Jan. 30. He’ll think about that later. His family and friends waited upstairs to escort him out of the Expo.

Quirk had left the building before Lamour walked upstairs. His pro debut didn’t last two minutes. The contingent of Portland firefighters who came to support one of their own celebrated loudly as Quirk leaped onto the ring ropes to salute them. His opponent, Brian Diaz of Boston, quit after the first minute.

Smith was gone, too. His young daughter had led her younger brother up into the ring to congratulate their father after his first-round TKO of Moises Rivera of Boston. Rivera was sitting on the ropes, unconscious, when he slowly toppled into the ring. The referee stopped the fight so medical personnel could rush into the ring to tend to Rivera. He eventually left on his feet. With Veterans Day still fresh, Smith was introduced as Sgt. Jimmy Smith. He served two tours of duty in Iraq with the Marines.

Brandon Berry left the Expo shortly after the first loss of his pro career. The pride of West Forks dislocated his shoulder in the first round of his four-round fight with Freddie Sanchez of Worcester, Massachusetts. Between the second and third rounds, Berry’s corner talked of throwing in the towel and conceding the win to Sanchez. Berry disagreed, hoping his right hand could stop Sanchez. Instead, Sanchez knocked down Berry and the fight was stopped.

Portland Boxing Club fighter Casey Kramlich stayed focused to win a unanimous decision in his pro debut. His opponent had more experience and an unconventional style but Kramlich gained confidence over the last two rounds of their fight and had no trouble. Jorge Abiague of the PBC won by disqualification when his opponent wouldn’t fight nice and fouled Abiague twice. The referee didn’t wait for a third time.

Two PBC amateur fighters split their fights with split decisions. Chi Wong won but Lindsay Kyajohnian lost. “Boxing is like life boiled down,” Kyajohnian had said days before fight night. “You’re just putting that puzzle all together.”

Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

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