Sometimes you go out with a bang. Other times you go out with a whimper. And still other times, you do both. ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights series gave us a tremendous knockout in the co-feature…and the most boring, cure-for-insomnia main event since Julio-Adjaho in May.
In the main event, Demetrius Andrade (14-0, 9 KOs) did what he was supposed to do. For ten rounds he stayed on the outside, throwing jab after jab and leaving Grady Brewer (28-13, 16 KOs) looking every one of his 40 years and then some. The audience booed loudly and lustily, as Brewer in no way put any pressure on the 23-year-old and Andrade seemed entirely unaware of the fact that when on television, it helps to be a TV-friendly fighter if one is to convince the networks to continue to cover more of their fights. This was a snoozer. An absolute snoozer.
When the decision was handed down, it surprised nobody except maybe providing mild surprise to Joe Tessitore, who wondered just which two rounds Brewer won on one judge’s card. The scores were 99-91 (twice), 98-92 in favor of Demetrius Andrade, who may very well have won a Pyrrhic victory. Yes, he’s finally beaten a legitimate opponent. But dear gods, was it ever dull. This writer had it 99-91 for Andrade, with Brewer winning the fourth round on account of Andrade spending more time running around the ring like it was a track meet than acting like it was a fight.
The co-feature was quite another matter. Hammerin’ Hank Lundy (21-1-1, 11 KOs) showed that he is an honest-to-gods contender at lightweight, a TV-friendly, fun, entertaining fighter who can put on a great bout for the fans watching at home. He also showed that he has learned from last year’s loss to John Molina on FNF, as against former WBC lightweight champ David Diaz (36-4-1, 17 KOs), Lundy not only came off the floor to win, he survived what could easily have been a stoppage by moving his hands, tying up, and clearly showing referee Gerald Scott that there was no need to stop the fight. Had Lundy been as in control after a knockdown against Molina last year, he might still be undefeated.
What a fourth round it was, though. The one category missing from the Tribune’s FNF season summary yesterday was Round of the Year; it turned out that anything we could have given yesterday would have to have yielded to round 4 of Lundy-Diaz. Not only did Lundy come off the floor, not only did he survive, but when Diaz showed signs of having punched himself out, the Philadelphia-based Hammerin’ Hank came back with plenty of offense of his own, including what would prove to be the turning point in the fight, when a punch opened up a nasty cut over the right eye of David Diaz that nearly caused a stoppage in the fifth.
Finally, though, 37 seconds into the sixth round, with Diaz unable to see out of the eye due to the blood, a never-saw-it-coming vicious left hand from the southpaw stance flattened Diaz like he had been hit by a truck. Gerald Scott did not even count, he simply waved the fight off, bringing to an end a win that will cement Hank Lundy’s place among the contenders at 135 pounds.
The sideshow attraction tonight pitted Ghana’s Yakubu Amidu (20-2-1, 18 KOs) against journeyman Toledo, Ohio native Martin Tucker (7-10, 3 KOs) in a four-rounder that did not require the full four. In round three Amidu had Tucker backed up against the ropes, and a continuous barrage of punches led referee Kurt Spivey to jump in and stop the bout, sending Tucker to his sixth consecutive loss and giving Amidu some TV exposure and a chance to show the viewing audience his pop in his gloves.
Meanwhile, the ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.com viewers got a treat of their own as, while the Novak Djokovic-Gael Monfils tennis match ran long on ESPN2, the TV cameras captured the pro debut of Dwayne Wisdom (1-0, 1 KO), as he smacked Paulie Settepani (1-1, 1 KO) around, scoring the knockout in round three. The KO blow found its way to the ESPN2 broadcast as a “bonus Punch of the Night” (Lundy’s coup de grace being the main featured punch), which will doubtless make Wisdom’s friends and family happy to see on national television.
Thus ends the Friday Night Fights season, and this writer would like to echo the sentiments of both Brian Kenny and Joe Tessitore, who correctly pointed out that 2011 has been the best year of action in the 13-year history of ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights series. College football takes the spotlight starting next week. Once the confluence of higher education and the gridiron runs its course yet again, your friendly neighborhood commentator will be back on board to cover every fight in 2012. Meanwhile, stay tuned to The Boxing Tribune for the best fight coverage on or off the Internet.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. He thinks Gael Monfils looks remarkably like Kendrick Releford, who got whupped by Chris Arreola in Reno back in May. Fan mail, hate mail, and college football predictions for the season can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.