by Fox Doucette
Former IBF lightweight title challenger Ji-Hoon Kim (24-7, 18 KOs) kept the embers of his once-bright career alight in a unanimous decision victory, handing Uzbekistan native Alisher Rahimov (23-1, 12 KOs) his first defeat as a pro. In a snoozer of a co-feature, heavyweight Vincent Thompson (11-0, 2 KOs) pawed at Joell Godfrey (14-7-1, 6 KOs) for eight rounds en route to a unanimous decision from the judges and a chorus of boos from the St. Charles, Missouri crowd.
The main event was a classic case of volume vs. effectiveness. Kim never stopped moving his hands, using offense as the best defense to keep the much smaller Rahimov off of him. When Rahimov did manage to land, he landed very effectively, although the Uzbek’s unwillingness or inability to hit a wide-open body as Kim raised his left elbow to the level of an NBA jump shooter may have proved the difference.
The past few fights for Ji-Hoon Kim seem to have established that his 18 KOs in his career are more a function of feasting on guys with weak chins rather than Kim having dynamite in his fists. In January against Yakubu Amidu on FNF and again tonight, Kim showed a volume-over-power approach that would cause a commentator to lament the amateur system…except Ji-Hoon Kim never had an amateur fight. Pitter-pat is just his style. When he knocks a guy out, it is through overwhelming him with volume, the Wal-Mart model applied to the Sweet Science.
This is not to say that Alisher Rahimov was not more than a little complicit in his own demise. To steal one of Teddy Atlas’ favorite lines, Ji-Hoon Kim gets offended when you miss him. Had Rahimov realized the openings in front of him, this was a KO waiting to happen. Kim falls in, gives up his height, leads with his head (indeed, there were several head clashes throughout the fight), and practically begs you to step back and counter him with an uppercut. In addition, there is the previously mentioned tendency for Kim to get his elbow out like an airplane wing. When Rahimov did punch back, he was very effective, he just did not do so nearly enough to convince your columnist or the judges at ringside to award him the decision.
The final scores were 96-94, 97-93, and 98-92, all for Kim. The Boxing Tribune had this one 97-94 with the final round even, but Teddy Atlas went 95-95 and seemed convinced throughout that Rahimov was actually the one who was winning the fight. With all due respect to Teddy Atlas, and it is our position here at Recap World HQ that the man is due quite a bit of respect indeed…what fight were you watching? Giving rounds 3 through 7 inclusive to Alisher Rahimov is absurd. Rahimov did rather clearly win the third round. He was strong enough in the fifth to make a convincing case for himself as well. But round six in particular was a very strong round for Kim, and the other two rounds were that action-over-effect argument writ large and reflected in the CompuBox statistics. C’mon, Teddy. Someone at ESPN needs to relay this paragraph to you, because you got this one dead wrong scoring it a draw.
The co-feature was what happens when heavyweights with neither skill nor power put on a contest that is more Russian dancing bears at a circus than pugilistic death match. Vincent Thompson couldn’t knock out Floyd Mayweather’s girlfriend, and Joell Godfrey ought to have Contadina or Hunt’s sponsoring his career, so blatantly does his style scream “tomato can”. Your columnist called out the matchmaker on this night of boxing, Derrick Spicer, in the preview on Tuesday, and the co-feature was Exhibit A why that criticism was warranted. Only the promise of an action scrap in the main event provided any sort of motivation to continue to watch the unwatchable. Energy drinks were sacrificed en masse in the cause of staying awake to the main event.
Even Teddy got in on the fun, talking about Godfrey’s lost contact lens and griping to Joe Tessitore that “it’s more fun to talk about than this fight” in the seventh round. To his credit, nobody stretches a night of dead air masquerading as a boxing match better than Teddy Atlas.
The decision went 80-72 (twice), 78-74 for Thompson, Teddy had it 80-73 with the sixth round even, and your columnist had it 80-72, and somewhere wet paint had a more enraptured audience watching it dry. The crowd got good and restless for this one, letting both fighters hear the catcalls and boos and entreaties to step up the action, not that it did any good in the ring.
FNF is off next week; ESPN2’s boxing series returns on Friday, June 8th, with former middleweight champion and current possibly-washed-up drunkard Kelly Pavlik (38-2, 33 KOs) taking on designated in-over-his-head who-dat Scott Sigmon (22-3, 12 KOs) at 10 PM Eastern/7 PM Pacific on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com. The Boxing Tribune will have a full preview and recap of this Pacquiao-Bradley appetizer along with the bout chosen to be the designated co-feature (subject, indeed likely, to change between now and fight night) and any swing fights that make air. 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. He’ll believe Pavlik is a “recovered alcoholic” when Pavlik stays off the sauce for more than a few weeks at a clip. Fan mail, hate mail, and the chance to call out Teddy on-air as FNF studio co-host can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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