by Fox Doucette
Oh, for want of a nail. A controversial knockdown in the third round that probably should have been ruled a slip due to a punch behind the head meant the difference between a majority draw and a split decision. The beneficiary, Fredrick Lawson (24-0, 20 KOs) gets the first significant win of his pro career, sending Breidis Prescott (27-7, 20 KOs) on a one-way ticket to Palookaville, relegated to the gatekeepers with the loss.
In the co-feature, Rances Barthelemy (22-0, 13 KOs) was a 50-to-1 favorite against sacrificial lamb Angino Perez (18-7, 16 KOs), and the fight went exactly as any reasonable person would expect, ending at 15 seconds of the second round. It looked like a squash on paper, and it turned into a bright orange vegetable on television. Not much can be said beyond that—a horribly overmatched fighter got knocked out, end of story.
The main event was a classic Breidis Prescott sort of fight. He brought the pain early, winning the first round easily and possibly the second as well, and even when he got handled by some surprising boxing ability from Fredrick Lawson, he still looked the aggressor. The only problem came in the third round, when Prescott, who slipped and got hit behind the head, was nonetheless ruled as having been knocked down. The knockdown led to a 10-8 round for Lawson in a round that it is debatable whether he would have won.
From the fourth through the seventh, Prescott came forward, tested the strength of character of Lawson, and looked to be the better of the two men, even turning Teddy Atlas, who had insisted that Prescott should fight on the outside, into a believer in Prescott’s fight plan rather than Teddy’s. Lawson was on the back foot, dropping rounds, losing his advantage on the scorecard, and looking in a ton of trouble.
The eighth round showed something that has bedeviled Breidis Prescott for his entire career—Prescott looked to have punched himself out. Fredrick Lawson got back in the fight, using Prescott’s depleted stamina as an opportunity first to recover his own strength and then finally to take the fight to the enemy.
Finally, the fight went to the judges’ scorecards. The split decision, 95-94 (twice), 93-96, went to the man from Ghana, and Fredrick Lawson was still undefeated. Had referee Samuel Burgos ruled the third-round slip correctly, this was at best a majority draw and at worst (for Lawson) a scenario in which he loses the third round and the fight on one of those two judges’ cards. For the record, Teddy Atlas had it 96-93 for Lawson, while your columnist scored the bout 95-94 for Prescott. This was, in every sense, a split decision, not just the official one.
There was plenty of incompetence to go around here, however. Besides the obvious incompetence of Burgos that proved decisive in the fight, the incompetence of Breidis Prescott’s cutman deserves special mention. How on earth do you get to be a cutman for a guy of Prescott’s caliber when you don’t have the slightest idea how to use an Enswell properly? The thing about boxing is that there’s no licensing process for seconds—you can bring two of your friends into a ring with you, call them your trainer and your cut man, and even though neither man may have ever even stepped into a ring before, they are allowable by the commission. I’m not saying you need an MD working the cuts, but there is a minimum standard implicit in professional work, and Prescott’s guy did not meet that standard, which may have negatively affected Prescott’s performance as the swelling got to both of his eyes.
At any rate, Fredrick Lawson is still undefeated, and it was a wonderful, entertaining fight. Sure, there’s a woulda-coulda-shoulda factor in play, but the fight is what it is, and it’s hard to argue the result since Lawson had a very good case and the knockdown looked at least plausible in the heat of the moment—it’s not Fredrick Lawson’s responsibility to make the right call.
There was a planned swing fight to open the night—Ahmed Elbiali (11-1, 9 KOs) scored an easy decision victory over Mike Stafford (13-3, 3 KOs) by a 60-53 (twice), 59-54 count—The Boxing Tribune had it 60-53 and Teddy Atlas saw it 59-56, missing a point deduction for excessive holding on Stafford and scoring the first round even.
The interesting thing about this win for Elbiali was its Pyrrhic nature. Elbiali is an atrocious defensive fighter—he walked right into a big, looping right hand that any halfway competent boxer should’ve been able to slip or counter…then did it again a good five or six times. The question at that point is not “is the punch doing damage” but rather “does the fighter have the temperament to use the heat of an actual fight to do work that can’t be replicated in the gym?” Failing to adapt to an amateurish windmill punch to the point where he’s getting smacked by it suggests that Elbiali is not a very coachable fighter. When he gets hit by someone who can actually get a punch to the target with bad intentions, Elbiali is going to find himself a knockout victim. The only question after that becomes whether getting knocked out will be enough to put some sense into him.
Sometimes a win is as bad as a loss, and Ahmed Elbiali got exposed on national television even as he won an easy unanimous decision. It’ll be interesting to see that actual fight where the would-be opponent catches Elbiali coming in with a clean shot.
Next week, Friday Night Fights is back on actual Friday, on April 3rd at 9 PM Eastern, featuring Petr Petrov (35-4-2, 17 KOs), winner of the 2014 Boxcino lightweight tournament, taking on Gamaliel Diaz (38-11-3, 17 KOs), who is a former world champion. The Boxing Tribune will have full coverage during fight week. Stay tuned—we’re the worldwide leader in covering the Worldwide Leader.
Fox Doucette writes the weekly What If series for The Boxing Tribune and covers (what’s left of) ESPN Friday Night Fights for this publication. Fan mail, hate mail, and bets on how long it takes Teddy Atlas to get into Al Haymon’s doghouse when ESPN starts airing PBC can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.