Saturday, Nov. 07

SPRINGFIELD -- Todd Poulton had a big night. He had a bigger problem.

The 45-year-old Pittsfield resident lost a three-round decision to former Major League Baseball star Jose Canseco in a Celebrity Boxing match last night, getting knocked down by a jab in the first round and getting sent to a local hospital afterwards.

Poulton was helped out of the ring by supporters, and his trainer A.J. Vittone said the trip to the hospital was just precautionary.

Poulton's corner man Jeff Wood said he believed Poulton would be fine after taking some oxygen, and both said they believed Poulton had simply stressed himself out over the fight.

"He didn't get hurt, not once," Wood said. "He even came back to the corner and told me he got hit, but he's faced guys that hit harder. The doctor is giving him some oxygen and he'll be OK. He felt like he has all of Western Mass. on his shoulders."

In what was the biggest match in Poulton's boxing career, he brought many in the crowd of approximately 500 to the Sheraton Hotel in Springfield. The most popular apparel in attendance was a Todd "The Punisher" Poulton T-shirt, sold by his children outside the main door, and his ring entrance was met by a crowd standing to meet him. Canseco was summarily booed.

That was the lone highlight for Poulton, who made contact with Canseco a couple times but never looked close to doing any damage.

The 5-foot-10 Poulton couldn't get near the 6-foot-5 Canseco throughout. Canseco knocked Poulton down in the first round with a quick jab -- Poulton's corner attributed part of the problem to the fight being held on a wrestling ring instead of a boxing mat -- and then spent the rest of the evening pushing away, both with jabs and straight shoves.

"The first two matches he was able to get inside," Vittone said. "When you see a guy that big, you have to get inside, but it might be intimidating. If you go inside, you might get killed."

Canseco seemed to have an easy time of the fight shrugging his shoulders between rounds and refusing water from his celebrity cornerman Michael Lohan -- Lindsay's father. Afterwards, Canseco placed his left hand on Poulton's shoulder and looked at him with concern.

"Are you OK?" the former slugger asked repeatedly.

Canseco improved to 2-0 in Celebrity boxing, though he is just 2-2 in his fighting career. Poulton had won his previous two matches, but was clearly outsized and outclassed standing in the ring with a professional athlete.

The rest of the evening was a testament to testosterone, with the fight drawing a crowd of largely college-to-middle-aged men, and the evening ending with an after-party at Mardi Gras Adult Nightclub, a Springfield strip club.

Promoter Damon Feldman has often billed the group as like the WWE, and for portions of the night, the action looked just as legit.

The first match, billed as the Mardi Gras Girls Battle, was dubbed a draw after neither fighter, both scantily-clad women, connected on a solid punch during the 3-minute fight.

The appeared to punch first at the air, second at the other's rear ends and lastly -- and rarely -- at each others' heads or bodies. The second fight ended with one fighter accusing the other of three low blows, the winner tossing his gloves across the ring and the loser screaming at him as they walked out.

"It's questionable," said Pittsfield resident Leo Pannisco, who came to see the spectacle of a local fighter taking on a former Major League Baseball All-Star. "The first two didn't look it, but the last three have."

Both Pittsfield resident Jake Rand and even celebrity ring official and former boxer John "Iceman" Scully, who talked while having his parking validated, said the first two matches looked contrived but the rest of the card looked legitimate.

"The first three didn't look good, but the last two have been good," Rand said. "I'm here for Jose Canseco, and Casey Gifford is here for [Bryan Pickard]."

Along with Poulton, two other Pittsfield fighters appeared. Joe Quagliano, 29, lost on a decision to Franco Giofre in a very even match and had a spot of blood on his white towel in the dressing room.

The final local fighter, Bryan Pickard, a fitness trainer at Lenox Fitness Center, was likely the night's most impressive fighter, winning by technical knockout over Brian Kelly early in the second round after catching his opponent with a left hook.

Trainers couldn't get Kelly's nose to stop bleeding. Pickard is a former semi-pro football player with one mixed martial arts effort.

"He's the biggest guy I've ever fought," Pickard said. "He's a pro wrestler, so you knew he was strong and had stamina. I got him with a left hook. That's always been my strength."

Fitting, as guest ring announcer opened the evening with a call of "Who wants to see some blood?"