by Fox Doucette
Kendall “Rated R” Holt (28-5, 16 KOs) destroyed Tim Coleman (19-3-1, 5 KOs) in two rounds in a horribly one-sided main event on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights series in Cabazon, California. In the co-feature, Abraham Lopez (17-0, 12 KOs) kept his unbeaten record alive at the cost of his professional credibility as a fighter; the preposterous scorecards sent Gabriel Tolmajyan (11-2-1, 3 KOs) to his second loss as a pro.
Tim Coleman came into this fight mentally unprepared; after Vernon Paris knocked him out on FNF last August, Coleman retired from the sport before changing his mind and taking another fight to get back on the horse. In hindsight, he should have stayed retired. Paris broke Coleman down badly in that fight last year, and mentally it was obvious that tonight Tim Coleman simply did not want to be in the same ring with anyone, much less a power-punching former world champion in Kendall Holt.
Holt landed a body shot in the first round that put Coleman down, and whether it was the effects of that punch or merely the divine predestination of Coleman’s pre-fight disposition, the second round was a comical exercise in one fighter coming to fight and the other fighter coming to convince himself of the rightness of his cause in quitting the sport. Coleman had no heart, no guts, and no answers, and his corner finally threw in the towel after the third knockdown of the second round, none of which were caused by particularly hard shots.
Tonight marked the television debut of Roy Jones Jr. as a trainer, as he was in the corner of Holt for the fight. In the post-fight interview, Holt’s comments were very telling. He said, “He’s in there to train me mentally. I already know how to throw punches.” If indeed Holt is looking for a champion to share with him the mental portion of the game, he could do a lot worse than a guy who was one of the best fighters of all-time in his prime and who has demonstrated on HBO that he knows the ins and outs of the fight game better than most. It should be very interesting to see what Jones can do for Holt going forward.
The co-feature was a spectacle for all the wrong reasons. Gabriel Tolmajyan came out of the gate like a whirling dervish, frustrating Abraham Lopez with his movement and not allowing Lopez to hit him cleanly. Indeed, his ring generalship and control of distance had him winning at least four, if not all five, of the first five rounds on most observers’ scorecards before Lopez came back and without reasonable dispute won rounds six through eight, pressing the action, beginning to cut the ring down, and not letting Tolmajyan pull his matador act which he had used to such effect early.
Imagine Tolmajyan’s surprise then when the verdict was announced; 78-74 (twice) and 79-73 for the undefeated fighter. If one were being extremely charitable and assigning the unbeaten fighter the benefit of the doubt, it might–repeat, might–be possible to have granted Lopez the first, second, and third rounds. Your commentator as well as Bernardo Osuna on ESPN2 chose to tilt the second round Lopez’s way. But to score a fight 79-73 would have required judge Jonathan Davis to score the fourth or fifth round for Lopez, which was patently absurd; there is no way, none, that Tolmajyan did not easily win the two easiest rounds to score in the entire fight. Jack Reiss and Marty Denkin (who submitted the 78-74 cards) weren’t much better, but at least their scores were (remotely) defensible.
For the record, The Boxing Tribune had this fight a draw, as did Bernardo Osuna; Teddy Atlas scored it 77-75 for Tolmajyan. This was a robbery, plain and simple, and Lopez dodged a bullet on a night when he simply did not have an answer for at least half of the fight.
The swing fight was something of a coming-out party for a very, very good prospect. Ramon Morales (10-0, 6 KOs) showed technique, skill, and ability to impose his will on his opponent far in excess of what one might expect from a guy with ten pro fights who was not an Olympic or world champion in the amateurs. Against Rufino Serrano (12-4, 0 KOs) Morales came to fight; standing his ground, countering, going on the attack when Serrano tried to retreat, and nearly closing the show in the fifth round, this was the work of a guy who was looking to demonstrate on national television that he is better than the caliber of a mere swing fighter.
The only knock against Morales was that he backed off the throttle after he put Serrano down with a body shot in the fifth round of this six-round contest. A fighter can get away with not going for a knockout when he is comfortably ahead in the fifth of six, but later on down the road, when Morales has a future opponent on the ropes in the fifth round of a ten-rounder or even a twelve-round title fight, he may wish that he had taken the opportunity to learn how to close a show when that future opponent gets a second wind and comes on strong past the eighth round of the contest.
Still, this is a minor nitpick for what was a very, very impressive unanimous decision win (59-54 twice, 60-53 officially, with both The Boxing Tribune and the ESPN2 commentators scoring it a shutout as well). Another potential awful night for FNF, with a robbery decision and a complete mismatch main event, might very well have been saved by the swing fight.
Next week, ESPN2 travels to Pharr, Texas, where Roberto Garcia (30-3, 21 KOs) takes on Antwone Smith (21-3-1, 12 KOs) as Smith tries to resurrect his career after losing to Kermit Cintron on FNF last August; fans of the series may remember Smith’s Monica Seles-like grunts in that fight. The co-feature brings Tyrone Brunson (21-1-1, 20 KOs) against James De La Rosa (20-1, 12 KOs) in a fight that has kill-or-be-killed written all over it. The fights air on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific on Friday, March 23rd, and The Boxing Tribune will be here as always to provide a full preview and recap of all the night’s televised 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. His bracket? Trashed by Lehigh. Fan mail, hate mail, and trash talk from the Patriot League can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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