By Fox Doucette
Joan Guzman (32-0-1, 19 KOs) enjoyed the benefit of a complete mismatch on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights, cruising to an easy eighth-round KO victory over Jesus Pabon (17-3, 11 KOs) in the main event. The co-feature saw Ed Paredes (30-3-1, 20 KOs) take a bit longer than was truly necessary in stopping journeyman Manuel Leyva (21-5, 12 KOs) in the seventh.
For Joan Guzman, the night was two battles in one as he looks to repair his shattered reputation. First, he actually weighed in at the contracted weight for a change, something he has infamously failed to do in previous fights. Because this fight was for a trinket, Guzman had to get to 140 pounds, which he did two hours after the initial weigh-in after working off the last half a pound. It is one thing to lose a world title on the scales; quite another thing, and more embarrassing, to lose a who-cares belt the same way.
The second battle was to actually dispose of the opponent in front of him. Jesus Pabon was no challenge for Guzman, who put his opponent on the floor a few seconds into the first round and never looked back. Guzman started clowning around, throwing single shots, letting his opponent punch with impunity just to send the message that “you can’t hurt me,” and otherwise toying with his prey. The only way Guzman could have made his plan any clearer would’ve been to stare Pabon in the face and meow.
Finally, Guzman tired of the game in the eighth, and he unleashed a devastating two-punch combination that put Pabon out for the count. After a thoroughly one-sided affair in which entertainment value was at a premium, the knockout at least gave fans their money’s worth–it was a YouTube, SportsCenter-quality highlight. Guzman showed that when he puts his mind to it, he can still bring the goods, and the fact remains that Joan Guzman is an undefeated two-division world titlist, a fact that still carries currency in the sport. It should be interesting to see him try and step up in this last big title run of his career.
In the co-feature, we learned how a fight can drag out when a fighter lacks an intrinsic killer instinct. Ed Paredes had several chances to end the night, none more apparent than in the third round, when Manuel Leyva, clearly hurt, was dancing a jitterbug, one punch away from being stopped, and Paredes backed off the gas pedal. It was a sad sight to see someone who allegedly has championship aspirations so completely unable to recognize an opening and exploit it. Ed Paredes has one-punch knockout power, but better opponents do not go down from one punch.
Indeed, Leyva could have survived the night but for the fact that he is the kind of fighter who can be knocked out by one-punch power. It was not a combination or a feint leading into a perfect shot that ended the fight, but the sheer application of brute force; Paredes’ power was stronger than Leyva’s chin. Give Leyva some credit; he got up from all three knockdowns seemingly on pure instinct, with referee Samuel Burgos finally stepping in to protect Manuel Leyva from himself. It was a good fight with a good, smart stoppage decision, and for Ed Paredes it may have been a Pyrrhic victory if future opponents see just how timid he is and use that to their advantage down the road.
The pair of knockouts left time for a swing fight, and Abdulah Dobey (4-1-1, 4 KOs) and Jerrod Caldwell (2-0-1, 1 KO) took full advantage of their time on television to put on a very, very entertaining swing fight. If there were a category for Four-Rounder Of The Year, this would be a candidate for such an honor. Caldwell carried the first two rounds, Dobey struck back in the last two. Those last two phrases overstate the ease of scoring, and everyone got their entertainment for the day. Indeed, with the sole exception of the third round, which Dobey won clearly, you could flip a coin and come up with a decision. The judges were all over the place, one scoring it 40-36 for Dobey, one scoring it 39-37 for Caldwell, and the last mirroring the score of both Teddy Atlas and The Boxing Tribune in scoring it 38-38 and rendering the fight a draw. It was a great way to close out a night of boxing for the fans and home viewers on television. ESPN should consider bringing those two guys back for another swing bout later in the Friday Night Fights season and giving them two extra rounds to perhaps make a more decisive result in the rematch.
Friday Night Fights is off next week due to college basketball conference tournament week, but madness of a different sort returns Friday night, March 16th, at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific, for a very good junior welterweight contest between Kendall “Rated R” Holt (27-5, 15 KOs) and Tim Coleman (19-2-1, 5 KOs) in the main event. The co-feature pits undefeated Abraham Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) against Gabriel Tolmajyan (12-1-1, 3 KOs) in a featherweight dust-up that Lopez will likely see as a springboard to greater fame in front of a TV audience. The Boxing Tribune will have a full preview and recap of the night’s action including any swing fights that make air.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. If he wanted to see clowns, he’d go to the circus; Joan Guzman failed to impress him. Fan mail, hate mail, and dead mice courtesy of any cats in the audience can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.