by Fox Doucette
Boxing Tribune #5 junior lightweight Juan Carlos Burgos (30-1, 20 KOs) showed Cesar Vazquez (25-1, 16 KOs) what happens when a fighter goes from the Mexican club circuit to fighting a legitimate world title contender on US soil, and it wasn’t pretty, ending in the third round in the main event of ESPN2 Friday Night Fights. Meanwhile, in the co-feature, the three blind mice otherwise known as members of the Nevada judging pool nearly cut the tail of a good fight off with a carving knife, nearly robbing Aaron Martinez (18-1-1, 4 KOs) of a win over Prenice Brewer (16-3-1, 6 KOs) in rendering a split decision. On top of that, we got swing bouts, all this against a backdrop of allegedly heat-related technical difficulties with the TV broadcast as the mercury in Laughlin, Nevada reached a scorching 108 degrees and longtime Laughlin resident Satan, the Prince of Darkness, got to enjoy a fight in his hometown (anyone who’s been to Laughlin in July can surely relate; 108 is a chilly day there this time of year).
The main event was over before it started. Burgos was a stronger fighter, a more experienced fighter, and just plain a better fighter than Vazquez. Once Burgos was able to connect with a left hook in the third, the fight was over, but in the process, Burgos may have shown his weakness to counter left hooks, as Vazquez did certainly make a game of it in rounds one and two. Ultimately, however, it was for naught, leaving little to analyze as a guy who should have blown out his opponent blew out his opponent. Referee Tony Weeks, sporting the best haircut of any referee in boxing (the flat-top fade, as good on Weeks as it was on half of the NBA in 1989), stopped it at 1:50 of the third as Vazquez ate some menacing shots and had to be protected from his own Mexican warrior’s heart.
The co-feature was an interesting example of how inept judges are at seeing infighting when the fighters get into phone booth range. For the first two and a half rounds or so, Prenice Brewer did more of his kind of fighting, keeping Martinez at the end of his jab and dancing his way out of trouble. However, Brewer had his weakness exposed for all to see in the Patrick Lopez fight on FNF in 2010; he has no heart when pressured. Martinez figured this out and began to charge in, walking through Brewer’s feather-fisted attempts at controlling distance and digging to the body from that point throughout the rest of the eight-round distance. To Teddy Atlas ringside and to any competent observer watching on TV, Brewer won the first round and could debatably have won rounds 2 and/or 3 (your columnist gave Brewer the third but not the second), and Martinez easily—EASILY—won rounds four through eight inclusive.
Even being generous and giving every possible advantage to the losing fighter, this produces a score of 77-75 for Martinez, and indeed two judges, Patricia Morse Jarman and C.J. Ross, saw it that way. Judge Tim Cheatham, holding the Idiot Ball tonight, rendered it 77-75 for Brewer, a verdict so preposterous that when ring announcer Tom Treiber announced that there was a split decision, Prenice Brewer got a look like “really?!” and did not look surprised at all to be on the losing end of those two cards. Teddy Atlas suggested that the Nevada commission take a long look at whether Tim Cheatham should continue to be allowed to be a judge (“or else why even have a commission?”, said Atlas), and your columnist would like to formally echo Teddy’s sentiments here. The Boxing Tribune had this 78-74 and Atlas had it 79-73, both for Martinez, and this fight was truly not a competitive one.
The first swing bout, which opened the broadcast as a result of the aforementioned technical difficulties causing a 33-minute studio show rather than live fights, featured a blink-and-you-missed-it pro debut for Vitor Freitas-Jones, the grandnephew of legendary Brazilian fighter Acelino “Popo” Freitas. Freitas The Younger required but 131 seconds to dispose of severely overmatched Rocco Espinoza (3-6, 0 KOs), who in the process took his fourth first-round knockout loss. Once again there was little to analyze; Freitas-Jones poured on the pressure, cracked the guard, and finished the night in rapid, brutal fashion.
The second swing bout, following the main event, featured doughy UNLV student and aspiring heavyweight Brett Rather (1-0, 0 KOs) winning a four-round decision in his pro debut against designated slappy Terrell Jamal Woods (2-4, 2 KOs). Interestingly, this marked the fifth time in six fights that Woods’ opponent has been undefeated in three or fewer pro fights; Woods is now 1-4 in those contests. Rather was unable to get rid of a guy who has been knocked out twice in his pro career; this may be an indictment of Rather’s ability to punch, since he was throwing and landing bombs throughout the fight but could not score so much as a knockdown, nor did he appear to seriously hurt Woods in the contest. It will be interesting to see if Rather has serious potential as a pro; your columnist is skeptical after the underwhelming televised performance tonight.
Next week, fans are in for a treat; TV-friendly “Hammerin’ Hank” Lundy (22-1-1, 11 KOs) brings his entertaining style and world-class skills to bear upon Raymundo Beltran (25-6, 17 KOs) in what is, on paper, a showcase fight for the rapidly rising lightweight star Lundy. Beltran has lost to every fighter with even a modicum of skill that he has fought so far in his career; Lundy should eat him for lunch. In the co-feature, fringe prospect Farah Ennis (19-1, 12 KOs) takes on Richard Pierson (11-2, 8 KOs) in a super middleweight contest. Friday Night Fights airs on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com on July 27th from Atlantic City, New Jersey, at 10 PM Eastern/7 PM Pacific. The Boxing Tribune will have plenty of coverage of this fight, both from your columnist at home in Boston covering the TV broadcast and from our own Gary Purfield on location; check out Gary’s entertaining interview of Hank Lundy in our archives and enjoy. Ten bucks says it’s more entertaining than the opening ceremony corporate circus show in London. 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 debates about the best places to get a cheesesteak in Lundy’s hometown of Philadelphia can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.