by Fox Doucette
Rising junior welterweight prospect Karim Mayfield (16-0-1, 10 Kos) continued his march toward a potential title shot down the road in impressive fashion as he clobbered Raymond Serrano (18-1, 8 KOs) in five rounds in the main event of ESPN2 Friday Night Fights. In the co-feature, Jason Escalera (13-0-1, 12 KOs) got his first taste of life beyond the hobo circuit and barely escaped with his hide as he fought Nick Brinson (9-1-2, 5 KOs) to a draw.
In the preview and lead-up for this fight, questions were raised about whether Raymond Serrano had enough power to force Karim Mayfield to respect him. After watching the action tonight, the answer is a clear and resounding no. Mayfield was able to fire at will, throwing wide and wild shots with no fear of retaliation, and from the middle of the second round onward had Serrano on the back foot.
A monster of a right hand that Serrano never saw right at the bell at the end of the fourth round made the result academic; when Serrano got back to his corner, he found no stool to sit on and his cornermen arguing like the Three Stooges over whether to stop the fight. After this farce was concluded, the severely hurt fighter was sent out to endure 47 more seconds of punishment before referee Eddie Claudio decided to be the grown-up and stop the action.
For Karim Mayfield, this is a win over an unbeaten opponent that will kickstart his career toward bigger and better things. For Ray Serrano, this is a case of getting exposed; power-punching prospects may start looking at Serrano as a potential hand-picked opponent. The career momentum of the combatants is as decisive as the action in the ring.
In the co-feature, Jason Escalera showed what happens when a fighter is so convinced of his superior knockout power that he abandons all pretense of boxing ability. Perpetually looking for one big shot, Escalera neglected the fundamentals and found himself frequently on the receiving end of Nick Brinson’s fists as a result. If this were a ten rather than an eight round fight, Escalera might have been able to score a knockout; he hurt Brinson badly in round seven, forcing the underdog to go into survival mode in order to make it to the finish line.
When the decision came down, the scores could hardly have been any tighter; 76-75, 75-76, and 76-76 led to a draw. The missing point here was likely a result of dominance by Escalera in the seventh, a round that could be (and surely was) scored 10-8 even without a knockdown. Teddy Atlas had it 77-76 and your columnist had it 78-74 for Escalera, who could make a case, albeit a questionable one, for having been robbed. The scores were not completely implausible, and on some level it is refreshing to see judges award points for technical skill over wild brute force.
We even got a swing bout, and due to some programming weirdness it came not between the fights but at the very beginning of the show. Kevin Rooney Jr. (4-2, 2 KOs), whose career to date has mainly consisted of pretending to be a pro fighter thanks to his father having lots of connections in the sport as a result of having been part of Mike Tyson’s training team 25 years ago, got a reality check against a hungry-but-green Anthony Jones (2-0-1, 0 KOs). Rooney got dropped in each of the first two rounds before fighting gamely in rounds 3 and 4, but the result was never in doubt. The official scores were 39-35, 38-36 (twice), with The Boxing Tribune agreeing with the wider score and Teddy Atlas scoring the fight in the narrower fashion.
In one final bit of news, someone needs to smack ESPN2’s programming director. FNF was delayed by nearly a half an hour by a women’s collegiate softball game. Seriously, ESPN? This is how you treat boxing fans? This is basically saying one of two things. Either ESPN doesn’t care about boxing and treats it as a complete afterthought, or scheduling is so rife with incompetence that they need to either use their clout with the sports teams and governing bodies of the other sports to get their events to start a little early, or else they just need to flat-out advertise that FNF is on at 9:30 and not get angry people on the Internet wondering why tuning in for boxing at 9 does not necessarily mean there will be boxing at anywhere near 9:00. Boxing fans deserve better.
Next week, exciting Korean lightweight Ji-Hoon Kim (23-7, 18 KOs) takes on unbeaten Alisher Rahimov (23-0, 12 KOs) in the main event. For the co-feature, fans will be treated to Roberto Castaneda (19-1-1, 14 KOs) and unbeaten Efrain Esquivias (16-0, 9 KOs) in a junior featherweight throwdown. Friday Night Fights airs on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com next Friday, May 25th, at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific, from St. Charles, Missouri. The Boxing Tribune will have a full preview and recap of the night’s action. Stay tuned—we’re the worldwide leader in covering the Worldwide Leader.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. Fan mail, hate mail, and pledges of undying love from that girl on Valparaiso who throws a screwball—have my babies!—can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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