ESPN2 FNF - I have placed ESPN2s Friday Night Fights in GBU more than once this season but never in The Good section, well finally I have a reason to after this Fridays show. The card looked good on paper with two seperate matchups featuring undefeated fighters. Things got off to a fast start in the fight between Javier Fortuna and Yaundale Evans as Fortuna caught and dropped Evans with a huge left hook. A visibly shaken Evans beat the count only to be met by another left hamd that sent him crashing to the mat causing the ref to intervene and wave off the contest. Fortuna put himself on the radar of fans watching with the impressive first round KO.
The main event may have had two fighters without a loss squaring off but there’s no doubt that Ismayl Sillakh was the heavy favorite over Denis Grachev and fittingly so as Sillakh has looked like a can’t miss prospect thus far in his career. Grachev on the other hand is a kickboxer who was not nearly as refined as his opponent. As expected Sillakh easily outboxed Grachev throughout the first 7 rounds. For his part Grachev did land a few right hands on Sillakh. In the 8th round as things were continuing as they had in the previous seven Grachev would catch Sillakh with said right directly on the chin. This time however Sillakh was buckled by the shot as he stumbled back towards the ropes. Grachev seized the moment swarming his opponent with a bevy of punches eventually putting him down with another right as the referee jumpred between the to stop the bout and give Grachev the upset victory. Hopefully this will be the turning point for FNF 2012, if so better late than never.
ShoBox – Much like Friday Night Fights I have had issues with Showtimes ShoBox series including last weeks doubleheader. Thankfully this weeks show got back to the origin of the series with a three bout schedule of prospects and young boxers. The first fight of the night saw Jose Pedraza win a decision over Gil Garcia and while Pedraza won every round it was Garcia who may have won over the crowd with his unrelenting determination in a losing effort. In a complete lack of unprofessionalism on my part I fell asleep before the following bout between Luis Orlando Del Valle and Christopher Martin. By all accounts it was a good one that Del Valle won by unanimous decision.
Fortunately I woke up in time to catch the main event as unbeaten Thomas Oosthuizen squared off with ShoBox veteran Marcus Johnson. Johnson took the fight to the taller Oosthuizen early backing him against the ropes while throwing combinations. However Oosthuizen fought well with his back on the ropes on the inside, especially in light of being a tall, lanky fighter. While the first four rounds were competitive Oosthuizen took over the middle round boxing on the outside landing shots to the head and body of Johnson. In the 8th Oosthuizen sent Johnson down to a voluntary knee after a wicked right to the body and while it might have appeared to be the beining of the end Johnson got up and after a brief respite to rinse off his mouthpiece aggressively pursued Oosthuizen showing he was far from done. Johnson once again had a bit more success in the remaining two rounds but still lost both as Oosthuizen piled up the punches en route to a unanimous decision win. The ShoBox series began with a simple formula and this Fridays broadcast displayed why it’s effective more often than not.
Seth Mitchell - American Heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell continued his ascent up the ranks but not without facing adversity along the way in his bout against Chazz Witherspoon. Although Mitchell was viewed as the puncher going into the fight it would be Witherspoon who would rattle “Mayhem” numerous times in the opening round, one in which Mitchell might not make it out of. Undeterred Mitchell came out for the second throwing and landing big shots turning momentum in his direction. Mitchell continued the assault in the third round dropping Witherspoon. Chazz got up only to be met by more power punches to which he had no defense as he was saved from being knocked down again by referee Randy Neumann who waved the contest off. Mitchell certainly showed a chink in the armor but even better for fans survived a scare and responded the way you hope to see an untested fighter do so.
Chad Dawson vs Bernard Hopkins - To no surprise the rematch between Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson that was anticipated by few lived down to low expectations. It was evident in less than two full rounds for their previous encounter that styles of Hopkins and Dawson would not make for a fan friendly fight and one round in it was clear as day once again. Just as in the first go around Dawsons speed gave Hopkins problems as Chad was able to land occasional flurries and back out before Bernard could catch him. Dawson suffered a deep cut around his left eye from an unintentional headbutt in the fourth round that fortunately never became much of a factor. As in recent outings Hopkins punch output could best be described as economical, however unlike previos fights “The Executioner” was unable to draw Dawson into his style of fight. After 12 uneventful rounds Dawson would be declared the winner via majority decision which is puzzling in itself as it appeared that Dawson had done more than enough to win unanimously. As unappealing as this contest was at least it’s behind us with no need for a third go around of a fight few anticipated the first two times it took place.
Bernard Hopkins - Let me prefix this by saying I realize that there are boxing fans who enjoy watching Bernard Hopkins fight and appreciate his craftmanship in the ring as well as what he is capable of at his age. While I respect the fact that at age 47 Hopkins is performing at a level never done before in boxing I have to say viewing him do so nowadays is more of a chore than a pleasure at this point for myself. It is not that Hopkins is unable to be competitive against the current light heavyweight divisions best, it’s just the way in which he does so that I’m not a fan of. To say B-Hop is conservative with his punch output would be generous. Hopkins strategy at this stage is to counter his opponents while keeping a stout defense and it worked effectively against Jean Pascal but not so much against Chad Dawson. With the decision loss to Dawson being by Majority Decision you can bet Hopkins will insist he deserved to win and has never been soundly beaten which may inspire him to continue fighting. That said at age 47 B-Hop has nothing left to prove and really has no reason to continue with his career other than to pick up a check, add to his resume, or to placate his own ego. To Hopkins credit unlike most fighters who stay around too long he isn’t taking losses that appear dangerous to his health or tarnishing his legacy yet any point Bernard may have wanted to prove doubters wrong has been done and personally I think now is as good as time as any to ride off into the sunset. Perhaps I’m being selfish for calling for Hopkins to retire but at this point if I want to see B-Hop fight I’ll go to YouTube and watch one of his old ones.
I can be reached at ScienceOfViolence@Gmail.com & https://twitter.com/916Chris