by Fox Doucette
Colombian lightweight Darley Perez (26-0, 19 KOs) managed a thoroughly ordinary split decision win over Uzbekistan’s Baha Mamadjonov (11-1, 7 KOs) in the main event of ESPN2 Friday Night Fights from Cabazon, California. In the co-feature, Chris Avalos (20-2, 15 KOs) proved the value of level of competition as being more important than a gaudy record; he sent Yenifel Vicente (23-1-2, 15 KOs) to his first pro loss by unanimous decision.
Darley Perez was as much the beneficiary of his opponent’s inexperience as of his own skills. Mamadjonov was landing at will between rounds two and five and even managed to successfully hurt Perez in that second round, catching him flush with a left hand over the lazy right hand that Perez was floating out there rather than snapping out there. Perez nearly took too long to get started, something that would affect the decision later on.
Mamadjonov, however, was clearly not up to the task of a ten-rounder. Perez hurt the Uzbek in the sixth round and dropped him in the eighth with an uppercut. Baha Mamadjonov seemed to run out of gas, since he had been past the sixth round only once and had never been past the eighth in his eleven fights so far before tonight. Considering Perez looked like nothing so much as the very poor man’s Breidis Prescott, it was a sign that Mamadjonov needs more seasoning; had this been an eight rather than a ten-rounder the result would have been different.
When the decision came down, it was a split in the Colombian’s favor. The scores went 96-93, 95-94, 94-95, the points of issue seeming to be the first round (a toss-up) and the tenth (as Mamadjonov made a late but ultimately futile run.) Rounds two through nine were easy to score, four each for both fighters. The 10-8 eighth round separated the split decision from what would otherwise have been a draw.
In the co-feature, we learned that 25 fights in the Dominican Republic don’t mean squat when you’re in against a Californian who had fought three unbeaten prospects with ten wins or more in his previous five fights. Had Avalos had a bit more luck with the judging he may have been undefeated, since both of his losses were by split decision. Much is made of level of competition in the fight game, but Chris Avalos was and looked like the better, more polished fighter for much of the night.
Yenifel Vicente never seemed willing to let his hands go, perhaps with good reason. It seemed like every time Vicente opened up to punch, Avalos was waiting with a perfectly timed counter. When Vicente tried to be defensive and keep his hands in close to his body, Avalos came in behind the jab, snapping out two or three jabs early and often and using the punch in absolutely textbook fashion, putting on a beautiful pugilistic display.
Vicente found himself on the floor in the fourth round after getting the worst end of one of the exchanges, and to his credit his own willingness to throw punches with bad intentions was probably what kept him from getting knocked out; Avalos had to respect Vicente’s power throughout the fight. That said, in point of fact Vicente’s cleanest shot landed was a vile cheap shot in the eighth when he hit Avalos on the break, inciting absolutely no reaction worth a damn from the referee; that should have, but was not, a point deduction.
In addition, the tenth round was an action-packed delight of a round. Chris Avalos could have taken the round off knowing he was comfortably ahead on the scorecards; it is perhaps a lingering effect of his split decision losses that he was hell bent for leather, fighting as if he were behind rather than ahead. More fighters would do well to fight that way for the fans’ sake, but truthfully Avalos is lucky that things did not go south on him. Fighting an opponent who throws home run derby bombs and giving him the one and only way by which he could possibly win the fight is not sound strategy.
When the final bell sounded, all three judges had it 97-92 for Avalos; your columnist had it 98-91, eight rounds to two plus the knockdown. In a sport where the Olympics have reminded us on a constant basis how bad judging can be, it was nice to see the judges get things right tonight.
Next week, Friday Night Fights wraps up the 2012 season with super middleweight fringe contender and sensational knockout artist Adonis Stevenson (18-1-1, 15 KOs) taking on a guy in Don George (22-2-1, 19 KOs) who would seem tailor-made for Stevenson’s style. The fight has Hobbesian potential to be nasty, brutish, and short—in spectacular fashion. The co-feature gives us junior middleweight Carlos Molina (19-5-2, 6 KOs), returning to the FNF scene of the crime where he launched his career as a contender, as he takes on Damian Frias (19-4-1, 10 KOs) in a ten-round showdown.
Friday Night Fights airs on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com on August 17th at 10 PM Eastern/7 PM Pacific. The Boxing Tribune will have a full recap of the night’s action, including any swing fights that make air, following the conclusion of the broadcast. 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 bets on a Darley Perez-Breidis Prescott Colombian lightweight battle can be sent to email@example.com.