by Fox Doucette
Trash talk is a very dangerous thing indeed. In the main event of ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights from Las Vegas, Kelly Pavlik (39-2, 34 KOs) showed Scott Sigmon (22-4, 12 KOs) what happens when you try and rile up your opponent on social media before the fight without having the skill or the raw power to back up your words in the squared circle, handing Sigmon the first stoppage loss of his career. In the co-feature, Jesse Magdaleno (10-0, 7 KOs) had one of those “if you got up to get a beer, you missed the whole fight” first-round wins common to promoted prospects on FNF, beating tomato-can-of-the-week Carlos Valcarcel (12-5-4, 5 KOs) in only 2:25. Finally, Subway pitchman and Notre Dame finance grad Mike Lee (9-0, 5 KOs) delivered a lackluster six-round decision performance over an opponent in Eliseo Durazo (4-3, 1 KO) who was barely more of a challenge than would have been offered had Lee simply attempted to fight a footlong meatball sub.
Some debate can be offered as to whether Pavlik was really playing cat and mouse with Scott Sigmon or whether there was something more sinister at work here. The way Pavlik clinically shot out his power punches combined with his unwillingness, despite 33 prior KO victories including wins for world titles, to go for the swarming force-the-hand stoppage, suggests that this was more a case of a guy who, legitimately angered, wanted to dish out a sadistic beatdown a la Muhammad Ali beating up Ernie Terrell in the “What’s My Name, Uncle Tom” fight. Had the ringside physician and Sigmon’s cornermen not saved the underdog from himself, Pavlik could easily have battered him into an even nastier state and may very well have been waiting for a later round to unleash the coup de grace.
Scott Sigmon was what we expected him to be. A club fighter who had built his record purely against hobos and tomato cans, Sigmon was absolutely no threat to Pavlik. By the third round, it was obvious that this was the kind of mismatch that could only end in brutal fashion one way; the focus of the fan from that point onward was that of an onlooker watching a hurricane come onshore on the Weather Channel. Depending on one’s perspective, there was either a “dear gods, stop this” or morbid fascination; it is not the job of your columnist to judge.
Sigmon should seriously reconsider his pre-fight motivational speeches for his opponent, and every other fighter out there should heed the words of Bo Diddley: “Never let your mouth write a check that your ass can’t cash.” The value of not making your opponent with knockout power want to kill you cannot be understated.
This may not mean much for Kelly Pavlik going forward; knocking out a schmuck, even when it’s on national television, does not a career-defining fight make. Pavlik is going to need to do this against an opponent on at least the level of an Adonis Stevenson or Thomas Oosthuizen before he gets taken seriously again.
Jesse Magdaleno did not give much in the way of work to analyze. He got in, threw punches, knocked out his terribly overmatched opponent, got his paycheck, and went home. Good prospects deliver big knockouts on a national stage; this is all we expected from Magdaleno and it’s exactly what we got. It will be interesting to watch him continue his career, and Carlos Valcarcel may want to consider an occupation that is less likely to lead to doctors shining penlights into his eyes.
Everything Magdaleno was, Mike Lee was not. Lee had 16 amateur fights en route to getting a finance degree from Notre Dame, and his style looks more suited to beating up Occupy Wall Street protesters than to beating up professional boxers. His punches had no pop on them whatsoever, his footwork was atrocious, and his defense was barely an improvement on sticking his chin out and saying “C’mon, punk, hit me.” Only the fact that his opponent, Eliseo Durazo, took the fight on short notice and came in looking like the Michelin tire man saved Lee from potentially being dangerously exposed.
In a bizarre twist, the ring announcer said before the fight “…six rounds of boxing in the light heavyweight division”, but the bout list as distributed by Top Rank on press row said four rounds, Joe and Teddy thought it was a four-rounder, and even Durazo and his people thought it was four rounds. When the commission came in and told everyone to start the fifth round, it seemed like only Mike Lee knew that was going to occur—and even with a distracted and surprised opponent, Lee lost that fifth round. Mike Lee had better do a lot more training and eat a lot more Subway sandwiches if that’s how he handles a blatant, obvious advantage being handed to him.
The final verdict was a unanimous 59-54 on all cards plus your columnist’s; Teddy Atlas had it 60-53 for Lee including a dubious point deduction in the fourth in which referee Russell Mora, perhaps having an acid flashback to the Abner Mares/Joseph Agbeko fight and seeing that fight instead of the one in front of him, took a point from Durazo for a low blow. Whatever the motive, Mike Lee gets to carry a completely unmerited good opinion of himself out of the Hard Rock casino tonight, but he’ll need to eat more Subway sandwiches, perhaps with some spinach, if he is to be taken seriously as a prospect.
Friday Night Fights returns to ESPN2 in two weeks (next week, viewers get the College World Series baseball tournament), with Mike Dallas Jr. (18-2-1, 7 KOs) continuing the road to redemption against Javier Castro (27-4, 22 KOs) in the main event. In the co-feature, super middleweight fringe prospect Brandon Gonzales (15-0, 10 KOs) gets designated patsy Elie Augustama (6-4, 3 KOs), who he can beat up for the entertainment of the audience or get a good scrap from to the detriment of his career. The Boxing Tribune will have a full preview and recap of the night’s action, including any swing fights that make air, following the conclusion of the broadcast.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. Fan mail, hate mail, and a footlong meatball and provolone on Italian Herbs and Cheese bread from Subway can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.