by Fox Doucette
Veteran would-be gatekeeper Raymundo Beltran (26-6, 17 KOs) pulled an absolute shocker out of his hat on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights from Atlantic City, New Jersey, stealing a majority decision from top-ten lightweight contender “Hammerin’” Hank Lundy (22-2-1, 11 KOs) in the main event. In a very lackluster co-feature, super middleweight fringe prospect Farah Ennis (20-1, 12 KOs) cruised to an easy unanimous decision win over Richard Pierson (11-3, 8 KOs).
The main event gave us what has been the Round of the Year on FNF so far. In round three, Beltran hurt Lundy badly, had him backed up on the ropes, and if boxing rounds were four minutes rather than three, may even have been able to close the show. That said, Lundy showed a tenacity and toughness that has begun to become his hallmark under pressure ever since he folded in the 11th round of his other pro loss against John Molina on ESPN2 two years ago. He even managed to land the punch of the night, a counter hook that crashed onto the chin of Beltran and staggered him back even as Beltran simultaneously landed a hook of his own, all mere seconds before the final bell; the dual-punch would be the last action of round three. Caps should indeed be doffed in tribute to an excellent three minutes of boxing capped off as only a great round can be.
The rest of the fight was a how-do-you-like-it exercise in scoring the fight. The consensus of the fans at home was that Beltran’s aggression was enough to give him the majority of the rounds, while Zab Judah, filling in for Teddy Atlas, along with your columnist gave Hank Lundy a lot of credit for his defense and effective ring generalship. What it ultimately boiled down to was that Raymundo Beltran was unable to keep up a consistent attack. Whenever he came in behind his jab, he was able to back Lundy up onto the ropes where Beltran could go to work and score very effectively in what was his optimum fighting range throughout the contest. When he kept his hands in looking for one big shot, Lundy was able to use his superior speed and boxing ability to control the pace and keep the fight in the middle of the ring—Lundy landed over a hundred jabs over the course of the fight according to the CompuBox statistics.
When the decision came down, judge Barbara Perez had it 95-95, as did the Boxing Tribune, but the other two judges each had it 96-94 for Beltran, who in this majority decision has the first genuine signature win of his thirteen-year career. Every time Beltran has stepped up in class in his career before tonight, he has emerged second best. With the WBC #1 title contender and NABF minor beltholder vanquished, the sky is the limit for Beltran as he moves forward in his career.
The co-feature was a classic example of matchmakers asleep at the wheel. No matchmaker worth his paycheck should EVER match two counter-punchers in a televised fight. What almost always happens is that the fighters spend more time waiting for the other to engage than establishing their own punching rhythm, and fans end up ready to fall asleep by the end.
Farah Ennis did just enough more to win most of the rounds, but in the fifth, Pierson landed the best punch of the night, catching Ennis with a counter and hurting him. Unfortunately for both Pierson and the fans, his temperament, despite what his eight KO wins may say, is not that of a man with killer instinct. Instead of seizing the moment, he stayed off the throttle, let Ennis back into the fight, and by the end of the sixth, order had been restored, Ennis becoming even less willing to get the job done and let his hands go. In the sixth round, a total of fifty-two punches were thrown…by both fighters. Only eleven connected—after one fighter had hurt the other one three minutes previous. That stat sums up the fight perfectly.
When the decision came down, Ennis was the victor by scores of 99-91, 98-92 (twice), with your columnist, the ESPN crowdsourced card, and everyone and their sister giving that latter score. Pierson won the fifth round by hurting his opponent; he won the sixth round by outlanding his opponent eight to three. Every other round went easily to Farah Ennis.
Next week, Filipino junior welterweight prospect Mercito Gesta (25-0-1, 13 KOs) takes on DC-based club fighter Ty Barnett (20-2-1, 13 KOs), who has been stopped in both of his pro losses and who is stepping back up in class after fighting his last two fights against a couple of scarecrows masquerading as pro boxers. The co-feature looks to be the more entertaining of the two scheduled televised fights; Cleveland-based Mickey Bey Jr. (18-0-1, 9 KOs) takes on Rob Frankel (30-12-1, 6 KOs) in a fight not for the squeamish. If past performance is any indication, Frankel will start bleeding when he steps on the scale for the weigh-in; Frankel bleeds more than one of Freddy Krueger’s victims in the Nightmare on Elm Street flicks. Friday Night Fights airs on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com at 10 PM Eastern/7 Pacific on August 3rd. 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 debates over whether Frankel bleeds more or less than Chuck Wepner did can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.