I’ll get to the two main fights on the “Contender”-centric Versus card tonight in a second, but wow, how bad did super middleweight (168 lbs.) Jaidon Codrington look against a 20-loss guy meant to offer a soft comeback? Codrington ended up winning by a knockout late in the final round of a fight that Versus aired only in part, but he looked sluggish, like you might expect of a boxer who’s lost two fights by terrifying knockout. Even worse, his defense, balance and overall technique has totally devolved. Maybe it was the long layoff, but Codrington’s 24 and while he’s got the kind of mega-power you can’t buy, he sure is heading in the wrong direction.
Codrington was the only guy on the Versus card that made the broadcast who didn’t fight another grad of the “Contender” reality show. Oh, and Tony Danza made a stop by to promote the fact that Versus is home to the upcoming season of the program. Tony Danza. That’s going to take some getting used to.
SAKIO BIKA – PETER MANFREDO
This one looked like a mismatch from the first second of the first
round, and it ended up that way. Sakio Bika looked like he was sculpted
out of some evil, angular rock, and Manfredo looked like a bent-nosed
marshmallow — and it was Bika who was two pounds under the super
middleweight limit. I didn’t see Manfredo having much of a
chance in this one, and he certainly didn’t have a chance standing and
trading with the faster, harder-punching Bika. He needed to dance and
move a little, but instead Bika just flat teed off on him with monster
shots in the 1st. Manfredo’s a tough dude, too tough for his own good.
It was more of the same in the 2nd, although the referee scored what
shoud have been a mutual slip or maybe a mutual knockdown as a Manfredo
knockdown of Bika. Bika was mad as hell about it, and wouldn’t give the
referee his gloves. He even kind of shoved at the ref, and suddenly
David’s point in the comments section of my preview of the fight looked
prophetic: With this fight taking place in Manfredo’s Rhode Island,
Bika caught a b.s. knockdown call and looked like he might be heading
for a disqualification. Only he might have earned the latter if he did.
The referee let him continue, though, and Bika went back to teeing off
on Manfredo, this time angrily. As such, I scored it a 10-9 round for Manfredo. But Bika,
with some help from Manfredo, would make it irrelevant in the 3rd. The
teeing off finally took its toll as Bika staggered Manfredo and
suddenly Manfredo wasn’t stupidly inviting Bika to punch him anymore.
He was covering up and trying not to fall through the ropes. No luck on
either count. Manfredo got hit and then tumbled out of the ring,
although he didn’t go all the way out. The ref ruled it a slip instead of a knockdown. Manfredo began
taking a brutal beating, so bad that he was getting rocked around the
ring, stumbling between the ropes and if at any point the ref wanted to
issue a standing eight count, he could’ve. Instead, Manfredo continued
to take a pounding that had me worried he’d soon be very, very hurt,
and finally, the ref stepped in to stop it. Manfredo, who wasn’t
punching back the same way he wasn’t against Joe Calzaghe in a fight
that was stopped prematurely, clearly hadn’t learned the lesson that
you have to punch back if you want to protest a stoppage. Instead, much
more hurt here than he was against Calzaghe, Manfredo didn’t have it in
him to punch back, and still complained about the stoppage.
Manfredo looked terrible and fought stupidly. Apparently his dad wants
him to retire. That’s all up to them, but I’d advise Manfredo to stay
away from guys legitimately ranked in the top 10 from now on if he
keeps fighting. Bika looked good against Manfredo and may get another
title shot, and while I doubt he’ll win if he does, I know he’ll
bring it. He wants Bernard Hopkins! Fascinating.
GRADY BREWER – CORNELIUS BUNDRAGE
In a total suckfest that would be a contender for Worst Fight of the
Year were there such a category, Grady Brewer won a junior middleweight
(154 lbs.) non-battle against Cornelius Bundrage. You know the worst
part? It wasn’t the awkwardness or the lack of action. It’s that a
referee decided he wanted to be the star of the show and ended up
affecting the outcome of the fight. Eddie Claudio’s first call was
correct: Brewer scored a legit knockdown in the 3rd, even if Brewer
gave a little push to Bundrage, and Claudio saw that it was legit. He
took points from both fighters for holding, from Brewer in the 5th and
Bundrage in the 6th, which was kind of cute because, hey, neither guy
was the responsible holding party at the time he deducted them, but at
least something, anything was happening. It was invasive and
unprofessional and yet, forgivable, because both guys lost a point. It
would turn unforgivable, however.
Claudio’s star kick became offensive in the 10th and final round when
Claudio deducted a point from Bundrage for hitting on the break, even
though both of them were hitting on the break. Even though if anyone
was doing any hitting on the break throughout the fight, it was Brewer.
Even though Claudio confused both fighters by sporadically telling them
to “punch out,” or “break,” but rarely “stop.” My scorecard had Brewer
winning by one point without the final point deduction, two with it.
But my scorecard doesn’t count. One judge scored it 94-91 for Brewer.
Another scored it 95-90 for Bundrage. The deciding judge scored it
93-92 for Brewer. That’s right: The fight would have been a draw had
Claudio not deduced a point from Bundrage.
So I’m contributing to Claudio’s stardom here. But at least based on
this one “performance,” I think Claudio ought to be infamous instead of
famous. And didn’t I tell you
this fight would blow? I’d rather not watch either guy fight again,
although if they can make a living doing what they did Thursday night,
I say go for it. I wish them good luck, I guess, because I don’t get
the impression either man was trying to suck, but let this be a lesson
to matchmakers that one awkward guy per fight is plenty.