“Night of Champions” boxing show presented by Goossen Promotions, Thursday, December 11th
Age old battle of which fighter gets the most credit
Bout #7 featured a one-of-a-kind, Hummingbird-like, tag and move, 33 year-old, southpaw by the name of Tyson “Prince of Hali” Cave from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada going up against a no nonsense, meet me in the center of the ring and let’s have it, 30 year-old Oscar Escandon from Ibague, Columbia to decide the age old question of who gets the most credit, the dancer/runner/escape artist boxer or the hard punching brawler?
Regarding their past history – in 2004, the same two gentleman competed against one another in an Olympic Qualifier and Escandon won a close 15-12 decision.
In their fight on Thursday night, a fight that went the full 12 rounds, this reporter scored the bout 115 – 113 in favor of Cave. He put on a sensational performance of hit and don’t get hit. For the two judges and fans who went the other way and favored Escandon’s toe to toe style, you could see them scoring the bout a draw but in no way could they justify the score given by one judge who had Escandon winning 117-111. Only one judge, Max DeLuca, favored Cave’s performance which several people thought reminded them of the newly announced 2015 Hall of Famer Prince Naseem Hamed.
With the split decision win, Escandon now becomes the interim WBA super bantamweight title holder. On Thursday night, two judges, Raul Caiz Jr. and Tony Crebs felt Escandon’s straight ahead aggression was more affective than Cave’s sticking and moving.
Throughout the match, Cave appeared to be in control and used the entire ring to stay out of range of Escandon’s punches, while stopping just long enough to land a flurry, the lead right uppercuts or the occasional smack to the side of his head before dancing away. As the fight progressed Cave became even more confidant and started sitting down on his punches and trading with Escandon. In these exchanges, he also appeared to be getting the best of Escandon. He was more accurate and showed much more diversity in his punch selection. The only thing you could credit Escandon with was landing the heavier blows to the body.
Bout #8 and the pre-fight talk
The talk heard prior to Thursday’s Austin “No doubt” Trout versus Luis “The Slayer” Grajeda match centered around, 1) which boxer would be slipping into the twilight of his career? and 2) a pre-fight quote from Trout, “I’ve seen two sides of Luis Grajeda from looking at film. There’s a come forward, rough, tough, fight you the whole fight type of Grajeda and there’s also the one who sits back and tries to counter you.”
Before the proceedings started, members of Press Row predicted the Trout (28-2, 15 KOs) from Las Cruces, New Mexico match against Grajeda (17-4-2, 13 KOs) from Chihuahua, Chichuahua, Mexico was going to be the “Bout of the Night.” How wrong they were.
In the first round, both boxers were hesitating to throw a punch, any punch. What made it so woeful? This was the Main Event of a special three hour edition of ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights”, a bout that was scheduled to go 10 long rounds with two boxers who were being overtly cautious. Before the conclusion of round one, you heard the corners pleading, “Let’s go!” When the bell sounded, you had to figure the three judges were in a bind, ‘Who do you give the round to, when neither boxer landed a punch?’
As the fight progressed you could feel the tension in the air and it became clear Grajeda would not be throwing the first punch, more than likely, he’d only be taking another step back to remain out of range. With only Trout offering any offense, it was difficult to see or credit Grajeda when he threw or landed his counters.
In round three, Grajeda landed his first substantial punch and Trout reacted with scorn and poked fun by wobbling his legs. In round four, Trout was on the offensive and once again Grajeda was in retreat. In round five, Trout landed four quick, really inconsequential blows, and Grajeda slipped to the canvas after tripping. The referee then ruled, what looked to be a slip, a knockdown.
Trout got even more aggressive in the sixth round and threw twice as many punches. By the seventh round Trout figured he was in the driver’s seat and started mixing up his combinations. Returning to his corner, it appeared Grajeda had lost his confidence. After discussing things over with his corner which included boxing great Daniel Ponce De Leon, Grajeda and his corner decided they wanted to call it quits, throw in the towel. “No mas!”
For those who will believe anything
Bout #9 In Antonio Tarver’s post-fight interview after knocking out Johnathan Banks, the former light heavyweight champ reintroduced us to a slew of tiresome cliches he’s been saving since being let go by Showtime Boxing. “Bottom line I’m a star. Number one I got the resume. Nobody has the experience I have. Who’s Klitschko fighting? A bunch of tomato cans. All I need is an inch, and when I drop that hammer, it’s good night Irene. I’m a closer baby. Boxing is chess, not checkers! It’s my mission, my destiny to become the oldest heavyweight champion ever.”
Since Tarver has only fought once a year over the past six years, and averaged under two fights a year over the past 15 years, seriously, what kind of credentials does he have? On Thursday night, Tarver beat an immobile Banks in a laugher. Over seven rounds, Banks may have been credited with throwing a total of seven punches and in Tarver’s prior bout versus Mike Sheppard in 2013, Tarver stopped Sheppard in the fourth round. Over Sheppard’s illustrious career of 41 fights, he has 18 losses (13 by knockout) plus he’s only beaten four boxers with a winning record.
Returning to Thursday’s action or lack there of, in round one there was one serious punch landed. In round two Tarver threw three punches and Banks one. By round three, patrons were booing and delighted when hearing the bell sound. At one point Tarver hit Banks on the top of his head and a comedian yelled out, “Ouch!”
After staring each other down for six rounds, Tarver got busy in round seven and caught Banks with a combination, likely his first combination of the night. After Tarver hit Banks with a straight left, down he went as if it were on a script card. When Banks rose to his feet, Tarver went after him with his second combo of the night. At that point referee Jack Reiss stepped in to halt the action. Stop laughing and enjoy the video.
Tarver, now (31-6 with 22 KOs), immediately headed over to the nearest camera lens to start boasting about his kick butt victory, his second since his suspension in 2012 for a positive steroid test.
The nine bout undercard
In the opening bout, Bout #1, it was welterweight prospect Vatche Martirosyan (4-0, 2 KOs), the younger brother of 2004 U.S. Olympian Vane Martirosyan, earning a four-round unanimous decision over Eddie Diaz (0-3) with scores of 40-36, 40-36, and 39-37. Martirosyan was in control throughout. To his credit Diaz had enough boxing skills and movement to make Martirosyan work for the decision.
Bout #2 had 28 year-old, 6’½” southpaw “Sir” Marcus Browne of Staten Island, New York, a 2012 Olympian, going up against 40 year-old, 5’11” George “Honey Boy” Blades of Orlando, Florida who weighed in at 19.6 pounds over the contract weight. Over the last seven and a half years, Blades had won twice. In short order Browne, now 13-0, with 10 KOs dropped Blades (23-7, 16 KOs) twice in round one, on his way to earning the stoppage win at 1:25 of round one.
Bout #3 featured local favorite Malcolm McCallister of Long Beach, CA, making his Pro-debut, earned himself a second round stoppage of the overmatched Fernando “Pantera” Najera (1-6) of Tijuana in a scheduled four round super middleweight bout.
McCallister’s edge in hand speed was evident from the outset as he scored with quick jabs and then added the hard rights. Early in round two, McCallister landed a left hook that sent Najera to the canvas. Najera beat the count but from that point on, the punches started coming in bunches and from every angle. At the 1:42 mark of the second round, Najera’s corner wisely threw in the towel.
Bout #4 saw Gerald “Gallo Negro” Washington (15-0, 11 KOs) score a first round knockout of Mike Sheppard (22-18-1, 9 KOs) of Parkersburg, West Virginia.
Washington went right at Sheppard, caught him with a left hook and down he went. After Sheppard beat the count, Washington came right back with a left hook to the body that again sent him to the canvas.
Washington, a former sailor and USC Trojan football player, looks to be a hot prospect. He certainly impressed referee Tom Taylor who quickly stepped in to stop the bout and protect the muscular Sheppard. Official time was 1:26 of the first round of the scheduled eight rounder.
In Bout #5 it was the former WBA super bantamweight champ Rico Ramos of Los Angeles hoping to bounce back after his unsuccessful featherweight title challenge against Jesus Marcelo Andres Cuellar. His management team likely figured Thursday evening’s opponent, Juan Ruiz, would be ideal since he had only two wins over his last 15 bouts over an 8½ year period.
They were right. All three judges scored the bout 79-73. Ramos, (24-4, 12 KOs), had an easy time of it, landing the overhand rights and left hand power shots as Ruiz, (24-16, 7 KOs), plodded dutifully forward. As the bout wore on Ruiz increased his output, especially to the body. Even though Ruiz was not skilled enough to put Ramos in any real danger, his constant pressure and steady output prevented Ramos from coasting to an easy victory.
In Bout #6, it was a four punch combination that finally stopped the tough as nails Brooklyn, New York Cesar Vila (7-2, 3 KOs) at the 2:30 mark of the eighth and final round against Terrell Gausha (13-0, 7 KOs) in this, the opening bout of the ESPN2 telecast.
Throughout their bout, Gausha appeared to be the more skilled boxer and heavier puncher as he was able to pick his spots against Vila who was constantly on the attack. What may have hurt Vila’s efforts was his constant switching from orthodox to southpaw. During these transitions, Gausha would counter with much success. Each time Vila upped the pressure in the fight, Gausha was right there to respond with the well-placed counter, straight right and even the more dangerous uppercuts, even while his back was against the ropes.
When Vila finally slowed down in the eighth and final round, it was Gausha’s turn to go on the attack. He landed a hard jab followed by a hard right, then followed with another hard jab followed by an even harder straight right to the chin that snapped Vila’s head back. The punches had Vila flying backwards and landing on his back. When the feisty Vila tried in earnest to get back to his feet, there was referee Jack Reiss pushing him back down and calling for an end to the contest. Reiss’ decision to stop the bout was not based on this knockdown alone, it was based on an accumulation of blows to Vila’s head. Official time of the stoppage was 2:30 of round eight.
Bouts #7 and #9 were the Co-main events & Bout #8 was the Main event.
In Bout #10 they had another contender for “Bout of the Night.” Boxer/mixed martial artist Dashon Johnson (16-16-3, 5 KOs) was challenging the former WBC junior middleweight champ Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora (26-3-2, 9 KOs).
At times this bout was tit for tat. After Johnson went down in the second round, he made certain that Mora did as well. After Mora landed a combination, Johnson made every attempt to match his effort. Throughout the match, you’d have to say the taller Mora of East L.A. proved to be the more accurate and busier puncher.
At the end of eight exciting rounds, two judges saw it as a landslide, scoring the bout 80-72 for Mora while the third judge had Johnson winning one round and scored the bout 79-73 for Mora.
Bout #11 featured Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez’s second fight following his unsuccessful title challenge of Andre Ward. The 29 year-old light heavyweight (26-1, 17 KOs) who stands 6 foot tall and has a 76 inch reach, had no problem defeating this blown up middleweight Derrick “Superman” Findley from Gary, Indiana. Findley, who’s record stands at 21-14-1, 13 KOs, is only 5 foot six inches tall and has a 74” reach. The resulting stoppage came between rounds one and two.
As noted, the size disparity between Rodriguez and Findley was striking. Rodriguez simply walked Findley down with no regard for his power. In round one, after taking an extremely hard shot to the body, Findley went down on one knee. Shortly after, came this straight right that returned Findley to the canvas. Even though Findley was able to beat the count, in between rounds the ringside physician examined Findley and determined the bout needed to be stopped.
The Bout #12 mismatch saw Pittsburgh, PA’s Lawrence Blakey (2-3, 1 KO) giving his best against the taller and longer Ahmed Elbiali (8-0, 8 KOs) of Miami, Florida by way of Egypt. Elbiali came at Blakey as if he were no more than that thin tape you see at the close of a foot race. The weapon of choice were these big overhand rights that sent Blakey down, once in the first round and then twice more in the third round before referee Pat Russell determined Blakely was in trouble and waived off the bout. The official time of the stoppage was 1:44 of the third round of their scheduled four rounder.
Bout #13, the final bout of the evening, had another Olympian in it, 29 year-old, super heavyweight and 2012 U.S. Olympian, Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale of Anaheim, CA. Breazeale, who stands 6’6½” tall and has an 81 inch reach, scored a first round knockout over the much shorter journeyman 39 year-old, 6’1” Epifanio “Diamante” Mendoza of Barranquilla, Columbia, (40-20-1, 32 KOs), in their scheduled eight-round bout.
Breazeale (13-0, 12 KOs) knocked Mendoza down twice, the second time with a left-right combination that crumpled Mendoza to the canvas and left him bleeding from the nose as the referee counted him out. The end came at 2:35 of round one. Insiders claim Mendoza, normally a cruiserweight, got exposed when trying to pass himself off as a heavyweight.