NEWARK, N.J. — We’re just getting underway as I write this. I’ve managed to snag a ringside media seat and I’ll keep a running diary/undercard results tally. To the right is a photo of my view. Since, as I said, some of the non-televised undercard bouts might make the Versus broadcast if things run short, I’ve labeled one section about a fight you at home might see later with a SPOILER ALERT tag. Skip that paragraph.
So Newark hasn’t hosted a championship fight since the third Tony Zale-Rocky Graziano fight in 1946, and this is the first boxing event in the new Prudential Center, which is a beautiful facility. Early on, things aren’t filling up quite like I anticipated, expecting that with Steve Cunningham being from Philly and Tomasz Adamek drawing on the local Polish community, the two cruiserweights (200 lbs.) would draw a crowd. But it’s early.
In the first fight, Devon Alexander looked very impressive stopping Chris Fernandez at the end of the 3rd when the ref wisely pulled the plug. Fernandez charged out in the 1st and tried to put Alexander on the defensive, but Alexander was faster and got off so much Fernandez had to back off a little. By the end of the 1st, with the help of some ferocious body shots, Alexander had really backed Fernandez off and hurt him a little. In the 2nd, Alexander built momentum and sent a spray of water flying off Fernandez with an overhand right that decked him. When Fernandez got back up, he got the two most vicious body shots of the fight for his effort, and went down again. Then, showing the heart that we’ve seen from this kid before, Fernandez decided to go for it with gusto. It helped him survive the round and prevent Alexander from going crazy on him in the 3rd, which was fought on more even terms until Alexander staggered him to finish the round, and by then, it was clear Fernandez was just out-gunned. Alexander is in line for a title shot at junior welterweight (140 lbs.) and Fernandez deserves another payday against a rising young gun because he doesn’t stop competing under dire circumstances and makes good fights, although that sounds like a hard, hard living.
After the Alexander win, the New Jersey (XTreme!) indoor soccer Ironmen dancers had a little dance to Prodigy’s “Firestarter” to entertain us. Good move. I’ve said many times before (as has everyone else) that they need that kind of thing to make boxing events more like events and less like boxing matches bordered by long waits.
SPOILER ALERT: In a bout that may make the Versus telecast, welterweight (147 lbs.) prospect Henry Crawford forced the corner of his opponent Maximino Cuevas to throw in the towel in the 2nd round in what was a pretty total and complete mismatch. But it got the crowd going since Crawford was a local boy. Cuevas looked like he had some tricky defense that might give Crawford some trouble early on, but it didn’t last; Crawford began teeing off, opened a cut over Cuevas’ eye with a left hook, and put together a hell of a fight-stopping-worthy flurry midway through the round. Whether Crawford got tired from it or realized Cuevas could take a hell of a shot and decided to reload, he backed off a little until the closing moments of the 1st. All three judges scored it a 10-8 round. The ref looked in on Cuevas between rounds, again wisely. After a listless looking Cuevas got tagged pretty soundly to start the 2nd, the corner saw enough.
More Ironmen dancers between fights. Good, good. Things are filling up a little more and the loud red and white scarf-wearing Polish fans are getting raucus. But the crowd still looks pretty minimal, for the most part.
That’s it for the untelevised undercard, it looks like. The pro debut of cruiserweight Patrick Farrell has been delayed by yesterday’s weight kerfuffle. Nothing’s happening now, so I guess I’ll scrounge some food from the stands.