by Fox Doucette
Some main events are intensely competitive, closely fought affairs that lead to the good kind of controversy when a split decision could easily have gone to either fighter. Then…there’s this week’s Friday Night Fights main event on ESPN2 from Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. Tony Harrison (20-0, 17 KOs), barely over a month removed from beating the snot out of Antwone Smith, returns to the Worldwide Leader’s stage to take on thrice-stopped journeyman Pablo Munguia (20-6, 11 KOs). In the co-feature, you’ve got a Massachusetts club fighter who can’t punch and has never truly been tested against a Mexican club fighter who can’t punch either and has also never truly been tested when Ryan Kielczewski (22-0, 6 KOs) battles Danny Aquino (16-2, 10 KOs).
“But Fox,” you might be saying right now, “you said Aquino can’t punch. He’s got 10 knockouts in 16 wins. What gives?”
Well, here’s the problem. One of Aquino’s 10 KOs was against a guy (Coy Evans) who’d built up a 10-0-1 record fighting hobos, who lost his next fight against a guy with some talent, and who hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Another one was against a guy (Geyci Lorenzo) who came into the fight 11-4 but since the defeat to Aquino is 3-15-1 and the 3 wins were against guys with a combined record of 0-32 while 11 of the 15 losses were by knockout or DQ. Aquino’s other eight victims? They don’t even have saving graces like “they looked decent enough at the time”-type saving graces. They were bums. Nobodies. Tomato cans. Against anyone with a chin, Aquino can’t punch.
Kielczewski has 6 KOs, one of which was against a puffed-record guy (Miguel Soto, who was 11-0 against 11 random tackling dummies they found around Puerto Rico and who is 1-5 with 4 KO losses since the fight with the “Polish Prince”), the other five against “who the hell is that guy?” quality opposition in places like the Memorial Hall in Melrose, Massachusetts (which gives your columnist a chance to give a shout-out to his birthplace but is otherwise of no consequence—a lovely city with a subpar high school football team that loses to Wakefield High every Thanksgiving and rightly so. Go Warriors.)
Ahem. Right. Co-feature on ESPN2. This fight should go the full scheduled eight, and it has the intrigue of being a toss-up because while Kielczewski’s the guy who’s being pushed here, fighting one state over from where he makes his home (in Quincy, MA, just southeast of Boston on the Red Line subway), that proves nothing when the simple fact remains that neither one of these guys has fought anyone of consequence and as such it’s a very real question which of these guys can actually bring the pain on television.
Now then. The main event has no such power outage. Tony Harrison hits like a car. We saw it on Friday Night Fights back on March 6th, when the corpse of Antwone Smith’s career was resurrected by voodoo priests in order to bring us a fight for television consumption. Harrison dispelled the voodoo magic and did to the head of Smith what Simon Pegg did to the heads of all the don’t-say-the-zed-word zombies in Shaun of the Dead with a cricket bat.
It was brutal. It was ugly. It was…well, it was something that made us all want to see Tony Harrison again, and we’re getting our wish. Dude’s starting to make a name for himself.
Standing in his way will be Pablo Munguia, who should just be glad he’s not in with a guy named Robles. Why? Well, two of his three knockout losses have been to guys named Robles—one in 2011 in Mexicali against Armando Robles (16-1-1 at the time of the fight), and the other in 2013, also in Mexicali, against Alvaro Robles (15-2, and the description says Munguia was “cut in the nasal septum”, which sounds like it’ll be great fun if that decides to bleed when Tony Harrison starts smacking it around on Friday night. Are you ready for a Freddy Krueger flick? You might just get one.
Still, Pablo Munguia is the perfect gatekeeper—a kind of Harry Potter sorting hat to separate guys who can fight (who tend to beat Munguia silly) and guys who can’t (since 2013, Munguia has had six fights against guys with two losses or fewer, and he’s beaten three of them, while losing to legitimate B-level fighters Antonin Decarie and Yudel Jhonson to go with the previously-mentioned Alvaro Robles.)
That’s the intrigue here. Pablo Munguia is a guy that Tony Harrison should utterly smash—indeed, on paper, this is a gross mismatch, a total squash, a bring-on-the-swing-fights main event.
But, to steal a line from Kenny Mayne of ESPN, “Boxing matches are not fought on paper, they’re fought inside television sets.” Either Harrison sticks to the script and we’re hashtagging SCTop10 on Twitter…or he loses, and we see a puffed-up record exposed by a solid gatekeeper. Either way, it’s well worth watching. FNF has brought the goods this year, and this week should be no different.
Friday Night Fights airs on ESPN2 on April 17 at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific. The Boxing Tribune will have full coverage of the night’s action, including any swing fights that make air, following the conclusion of the telecast. Stay tuned—we’re the worldwide leader in covering the Worldwide Leader.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune and writes the weekly What If alternate-history series for this publication. He grew up in Wakefield, MA, and still harbors a fierce love of his hometown, so “suck it, Smellrose!” Fan mail, hate mail, and tales of Warriors-Raiders rivalry can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.