by Fox Doucette
One of my favorite sayings is “shooting a bear with a .22 will only make it angry.” For Vernon Paris (26-0, 15 KOs), that saying was on display on Friday Night Fights last August, when, before the fight, Tim Coleman talked about wanting to kill Paris in the ring with his fists. Paris, made angry by that particular .22 shot, proceeded to dismantle Coleman, beating him so utterly senseless from the third round onward that Coleman was destroyed as a fighter, his career over.
Fast forward to last week, with Tim Coleman trying to make a comeback against similarly hard-hitting Kendall Holt. For two rounds that bordered on the tragic, Holt showed that Coleman had no heart, no guts, no courage left in the shattered husk of what used to be a fighter, and it was self-evident that Vernon Paris had done Kendall Holt’s work for him, knocking out Coleman’s spirit and leaving only the body for Holt to look at funny in order to create knockdowns.
Now Paris faces Zab Judah this Saturday in an IBF title eliminator, the winner a likely candidate to face either Lamont Peterson (should Peterson get by Amir Khan in their rematch) or a fighter to be named later when Khan vacates the IBF title in order to campaign at welterweight (mark it down, Khan’s not staying at 140 no matter what happens in the second title clash with the DC native).
Zab Judah has been stopped three times, including a KO loss in his last fight last July when Khan took that same IBF title away from him. Judah managed to gain a belt at 140 despite not fighting any of the best talent in the division, and was on the floor in the tenth round against Lucas Matthysse in the title eliminator that led to Judah winning the title from Kaizer Mabuza (another fight in which Judah was on the floor). Indeed, Judah has now been down in each of his last three fights and has not gone through an entire fight without hitting the canvas since his “hey look Mom, I’m on TV” fight with a severely overmatched Jose Armando Santa Cruz on ESPN in July of 2010.
So what are we left with? We’ve got one guy who has begun to develop a reputation as a guy who ends careers (besides Coleman, it appears that Vernon Paris was the man who finally convinced the venerable Emmanuel Augustus to retire after their eight-rounder, and Paris also ended the career of Courtney Burton in 2010) against a guy who has an extremely vulnerable chin and whose best days are all but certainly behind him. I don’t know what that tells you, but it tells me that if you’ve got money to throw down on a bet, it would be wise to bet on form holding and Vernon Paris ending another career Saturday night. Zab Judah needs to be ready for a blast of cold water to the face in fist form.
While I’ve got a minute, I’m going to take some time to address something that Gary Purfield here at the Tribune hit on in his interview (which is excellent and which if you haven’t read it, you should, as in right after you finish with this column). Kathy Duva of Main Events made a veiled shot across the bow of ESPN, pointing out that boxing shows should be about putting on entertaining fights rather than using influence to showcase names, often against weak competition.
I’d speculated two weeks ago in this space about the reasons for why Friday Night Fights has been so weak this year, and looking at some of the worst of what the Worldwide Leader has put on, it’s been a case of ESPN bringing in the guys they’re pushing, rather than the guys who are good, and creating mismatches in a misguided attempt to create entertaining television.
Besides the bleeding obvious example of Demetrius Andrade, who is boxing’s answer to watching paint dry, last week’s fight sure smacked of a showcase for Kendall Holt (who had a similar showcase last May on FNF after hitting a rough patch in his career), didn’t it? Someone had to know that Tim Coleman wasn’t in a place mentally where he could make a competitive fight–does nobody ask Teddy Atlas for his opinion before Joe Tessitore or Bernardo Osuna do so on the air?
Part of it is just what looks like a curse, though. January 27th should have been a magical night of boxing, featuring Ji-Hoon Kim and Yakubu Amidu, two guys who couldn’t put on a boring fight if they tried, somehow managing to put on a passable but short of true greatness night of action. That should’ve been the Fight of the Year, Ward-Gatti/Wolak-Rodriguez division. And Ruslan Provodnikov in the main event? Yeah, he got his KO, but he looked awful in so doing.
Something is in the air, and it could be that FNF made a deal with the devil for last year’s truly special season and the devil has come around to collect. Next week Hank Lundy and Dannie Williams throw down, and if THAT isn’t the kind of call-your-friends special contest that it looks like on paper, it might be time to get a ring announcer in inquisitor’s robes to throw some holy water around. I’ve mentioned this before, but some things bear repeating.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. Fan mail, hate mail, and heresies can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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