Most members of the boxing media and fans of the sport spent Saturday night watching middleweight champion Sergio Martinez retain his title with an 11th-round TKO over Matthew Macklin at New York's Madison Square Garden.
They wound up missing one of the best fights in years at Bally's Atlantic City.
Philadelphia super-middleweight Farah Ennis and Dion Savage, of Flint, Mich. teamed up to stage a terrific, thrilling brawl that produced a standing ovation from the crowd of 1,331 at Bally's Ballroom. Ennis (19-1, 12 KOs) earned a surprisingly lopsided unanimous decision from judges Emile Conforte (96-93), Eugene Grant (97-92) and Tony Perez (98-92), a verdict that angered Savage (11-3, 6 KOs) and generated boos from the fans. The Press scored it even at 95-95.
Ennis appeared headed to an easy win when he dropped Savage with a straight right in the third round. The punch appeared to land clean and with the kind of force that turns' most boxers' legs to jelly. But Savage, displaying amazing recuperative powers, not only jumped up just three seconds into referee Allan Huggins' count, but scowled and spit in anger while charging after Ennis.
Both fighters enforced their will at various points of the next seven rounds. Ennis fired crisp combinations and powerful body shots. Savage repeatedly forced Ennis into the ropes and unleashed his own body attack along with left hooks that found Ennis' jaw.
The last two rounds were non-stop action. The fighters traded powerful punches throughout the ninth and 10th rounds, producing the kind of raw, brutal, gasp-inducing violence last seen in Atlantic City during the last two versions of the Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward triology in 2001-02.
Last week's Orlando Salido-Juan Manuel Lopez rematch in Puerto Rico will likely generate most of the votes for 2012's "Fight of the Year" by the Boxing Writer's Association of America. But Ennis-Savage certainly deserves consideration.
Those who saw it won't forget it.