by Fox Doucette
It is often said in boxing that a fighter is “lights out” and “can put his opponent to sleep” when he has great knockout power. Tonight in Newark, New Jersey, both terms found completely new meanings on ESPN2, as we got a lights-out co-feature and a main event that put everyone to sleep. When you hear that the arena lacked electricity tonight, it wasn’t just the lack of crowd noise.
The co-feature pitted Sadam Ali (13-0, 8 KO) against journeyman fighter John Revish (9-4-1, 8 KO). Ali, a 2008 Olympian for the United States, showed that we should not expect any world champions out of that group anytime soon. Much like his teammates Demetrius Andrade and Deontay Wilder, Ali has a great record and no substance in the ring. Against an opponent who has been knocked out once before and found himself on the canvas twice in a fight he ended up winning on Friday Night Fights back in 2004, one would expect an up-and-coming prospect like Ali to score a quick knockout and get right to the swing fights.
Ali looked to be on track to do that, putting Revish down in the second round on what looked like a glancing hook to the top of his head. However, the boxing gods were in a trickster’s mood tonight, and right as the bell rang to begin round five, the lights went out in the arena at the Prudential Center, necessitating a 16-minute stoppage that Teddy Atlas compared to a baseball rain delay. When things started up again, it took Ali another two rounds to begin to find his rhythm again, and Sadam nearly found himself an upset victim when he ate a right hand in the eighth. A better finisher than Revish would have seized the moment and possibly picked up the stoppage. The fight went 79-72 on all the judges’ cards at ringside and The Boxing Tribune had the fight by the same score. Ali, for his part, needs to stop sticking his chin out where it is very easy to hit unless he wants to find himself a knockout victim whenever he steps up in class.
The main event..well, if you know how much longer the grass outside your window is because you spent an hour watching it grow, you were more entertained than the crowd at the arena and the folks watching at home. Those of you who enjoyed the marvel and spectacle of applying a coat of paint prior to the opening bell in order to watch it dry found a similar superiority of entertainment to the career-ending performance of Anges Adjaho (17-6, 9 KO) against Joel Julio (37-4, 31KO). Adjaho spent ten rounds backpedaling, firing off a jab once in a blue moon just to keep Julio off him, and acting like he was carrying the action when the opposite was true. Julio, meanwhile, seemed content to fight in spots, stand in front of Adjaho knowing the African had no particular interest in exploiting the weakness inherent in having his opponent right where he could hit him, and do just enough to win the fight and lose the marketability in his career. About the only point of entertainment to be had here was Adjaho’s preposterous reaction to the lopsided unanimous decision that went against him, 99-91 on all three judges’ cards and 100-90 in the view of this writer.
The prevailing opinion of the fans after the fight was that “we never want to see this guy on TV again” regarding Adjaho, and this commentator wholeheartedly agrees with that sentiment. There is nothing wrong with losing, provided you remain entertaining in so doing, which is how Emanuel Augustus built a career as a TV fighter despite a very pedestrian record. Anges Adjaho is the anti-Drunken Master, and if we never see him again it will be too soon.
Due to both the power outage delaying the action and the fact that both fights went the distance tonight, there was no swing fight on which to report, a real shame since as of this writing, both off-air fights at the arena have ended in knockouts. It might have salvaged the night to see one.
Next week the ESPN caravan rolls into the Downtown Events Center in Reno, as Chris Arreola takes his new svelte frame to the high desert against Kendrick Releford and Tony “The Tiger” Thompson takes on Maurice Harris in a 12-round title eliminator for a shot at the IBF heavyweight belt against the winner of Wladimir Klitschko vs. David Haye. The fights will be on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for the Boxing Tribune. He always strives to make his writing more entertaining than watching paint dry. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/MysteryShipRadio.