By Fox Doucette
Mike Dallas Jr. (18-2-1, 7 KOs) stopped a two-fight losing streak with a decision win over unprepared and overmatched Miguel Gonzalez (20-3, 15 KOs), while grossly overweight “super middleweight” Shawn Estrada (14-0, 12 KOs), weighing a beefy 191 pounds, brutalized Terrance Woods (9-4, 6 KOs) en route to an eight-round decision of his own on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights.
The main event showed a whole new side of Mike Dallas Jr. that we have not seen in his previous fights. Dallas himself said in an interview that his knockout loss to Josesito Lopez taught him not to trust a referee (although, to be truthful, that was not a quick stoppage—Lopez beat Dallas senseless in that fight) and that the decision loss to Mauricio Herrera taught him not to trust the judges. Dallas may not have knockout power, but he seems to have made a conscious decision to fight more aggressively and leave nothing to chance in his battles in the ring.
His opponent tonight, Cleveland-based Miguel Gonzalez, had a cast on his left hand as recently as two weeks ago, and took this fight on three weeks’ notice when John Molina Jr., who was originally scheduled to fight on FNF, reportedly pulled out with an eye toward securing a more lucrative fight at lightweight, leaving an opening that was filled by Dallas and Gonzalez. His lack of preparation was clearly on display, as he got a good bashing from the first round onward. Gonzalez seemed unwilling to use his left hand, partially because Dallas took away that avenue with good counterpunching, but more likely because, as his body language throughout indicated, he seemed hesitant to use a hand that has not fully healed and that never looked comfortable in the ring.
Fighting a one-armed fighter with no notable opposition on his record was easy pickings for Dallas, who has himself shown a ceiling at the B+ level. The judges had it 100-90 (twice), 100-89, even though there was no knockdown at any point in the fight. The Boxing Tribune had it 100-90 and Teddy Atlas, giving Gonzalez credit for doing some work in the last round, had it 99-91 for Dallas. It would be interesting to see Mike Dallas try and step back up among the contenders against someone on the fringes of the top twenty; Ruslan Provodnikov and Josesito Lopez both have ESPN connections that would make a plausible matchup (a rematch, in the latter case) a name-recognition fight for fans of the Worldwide Leader’s weekly series.
The co-feature was a travesty, a crime, a disaster. Shawn Estrada took advantage of both a loophole in the execrable Texas commission’s rulebook and an opponent who was no doubt counting on the paycheck offered by national television in order to put food on the table for his wife and children. Not only did Estrada weigh only two pounds less initially in this fight (196 pounds) as Denis Lebedev (a cruiserweight) did against James Toney, he managed to force Terrance Woods, who originally weighed 172, to come all the way up to 177 pounds in order to take advantage of a Texas rule that fighters between 176 and 200 (cruiserweights) are allowed a 15-pound weight difference on the scale. Estrada then got down to 191, made the fight “legal” (aided and abetted by Dicky Cole’s crime syndicate masquerading as a boxing commission charged with protecting fighters’ well-being), and the farce was on.
Special dishonorable mention goes to referee Robert Chapa. It was obvious from the start that not only would this fight have been a mismatch even if it were contested at the original contracted weight of 172, but Estrada was using his weight advantage to impose his physicality on his opponent. Several times during the fight, Terrance Woods had the look in his eyes that suggested that further punishment would carry the real risk of permanent brain damage far in excess of what is reasonable risk for a fighter to take. Rather than stop the fight, Chapa let the beating continue, and if indeed Woods has been seriously hurt in there, Chapa ought to be rung up on charges of gross criminal negligence.
The judges, by and large, saw the fight as such; the scores were 80-72 (twice) and 78-74, while your columnist had it 80-72 and Teddy Atlas twice awarded 10-8 rounds to Estrada despite the lack of a knockdown, making his final count 80-70 for the bigger fighter. Judge Erwin Sparks ought to have his head examined for that 78-74 card; there was no round that was even remotely debatable, let alone two rounds.
There are times when professional objectivity must be bent a bit in order to truly report the magnitude of an event in the news; tonight was such an occasion. This was a black mark on the sport of boxing in both the weight fiasco of the co-feature and the granting of a license to someone whose left hand was in a cast at the time that he signed to be part of the main event.
Next week, the ESPN2 caravan travels to the lovely state of Delaware, where the state capital of Dover will rock with a good old-fashioned Mexican slugfest at junior lightweight between Juan Carlos Burgos (28-1, 19 KOs) and former featherweight champion of the world Cristobal Cruz (39-12-3, 23 KOs) in the main event. The co-feature involves junior welterweight distant-fringe guy Edgar Santana (26-3, 17 KOs), in the third fight of his attempted comeback since May 2011, taking on light-touch journeyman Manuel Perez (16-7-1, 4 KOs) in a 10-round bout. The Boxing Tribune will have a full preview and recap of the night’s televised action. Stay tuned.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. Fan mail, hate mail, and multi-million-dollar offers from the Texas commission to join their crime syndicate* can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org (*joke. Journalistic integrity ain’t for sale at any price.)