NEW YORK CITY — The Garden’s starting to swell with people. Between undercard fights leading into the big heavyweight clash between Vladimir Klitschko and Sultan Ibragimov, Alexa Ray Joel, daughter of pop star Billy, rocked the National Anthem. (I’m not kidding.) The bigger names on the undercard quickly eliminated their opponents, and you can tell people are getting excited for the biggest name on the undercard — middleweight John Duddy — and the main event of the night. There are chants of “Klitschko! Klitschko!” from fans who either are Russian or are immigrants of Russian heritage, and Duddy’s similarly oriented Irish fans are lining the stadium in green. Early results:
Middleweight prospect (160 lbs.) Peter Quillin landed a perfectly-placed body shot to knock out his opponent, Thomas Brown (11-4-1). Quillin (17-0, 14 KOs) kept surging through Brown’s shots to land his own hard fast ones, then threw a double left hook to the head then body for the finishing combo in the second round. When I said previously that junior middleweight (154 lbs.) Vargas looked fast en route to a victory over Monyette Flowers, it was in comparison to his opponent; Quillin threw harder punches faster than Vargas did. Quillin’s clearly an incredible offensive specimen, but can he dodge punches when he wants to? Is he ever going to want to? If he threw out his trademark chocolate candy kisses after the fight, I sure missed it.
Cruiserweight (200 lbs.) Jonathan Banks — probably still more prospect than contender — had even less trouble, scoring a KO in round 1 with a pair of big overhand rights about a minute apart for two knockdowns. The first one looked like it genuinely hurt his opponent, Imamu Mayfield (25-9-2), who lept up immediately, unwisely. By the time the second one landed — even though it was more of the glancing variety — it was clear Mayfield had enough. He sprawled out on his back and didn’t even really start trying to get up until the count of 8, and was fully up by 10, but the referee called a halt to it. The crowd booed and Mayfield protested, but even if he was really, truly trying to beat the count, it’s clear he wouldn’t have lasted long tonight. He slipped a few big rights after the first one, but Banks set up the next one with a jab, and I gather from the proceedings that Banks has a few other tricks to help land the big right hand. Banks looked like he was off-balance at times, but I didn’t get much else intelligence from watching this fight than that, and, of course, that he has a pretty good overhand right. He moves to 19-0 with 14 KOs.
After four straight early KOs, middleweight prospect Joe Greene, in against the toughest competition, beat the leaving tar out of Francisco Mora for 10 rounds before the doctor advised the referee to stop it, which he did. Greene (18-0, 14 KOs) knocked down Mora (52-13) four times, bloodied his nose and the doctor had to check out his ear at one point. Quillin may be the harder hitter, but Greene is the more complete fighter — he has a great stinging jab, which he used to keep Mora from doing anything offensively, and which he threw combinations off of. By the fifth round, he was countering off the ropes; in the sixth, he got caught with the only real punch Mora landed for the night; in the seventh he showboated. At the end of the 10th, there was a headbutt that sent Mora down, and then the ref ended it.
P.S. Greene is listed at 5’10”. He looked shorter to me; if he’s 5’10”, he’s not “smallish,” like I called him.
Duddy’s up next. (Shirt I saw: “Who’s Your Duddy?”)