“Fight Night Club” Debuts With A Few Nice Fights, A Nice Prospect Or Two

Not a bad night of boxing in the debut of Golden Boy Promotions’ “Fight Night Club” on Versus and RingTV.com. Commentary on the fights, and some of the unique elements of the show:

  • Ricky Lopez won a four round decision over Rufino Serrano, and while Lopez showed he could do a lot — he had good legs, good punch variety, etc. — either Serrano was the best opponent on the card or Lopez was the least impressive prospect. Lopez got hit a ton, and I’m sorry, he was way, way, too little. His height isn’t available on BoxRec, but I can’t see him being a force at junior featherweight. Maybe Serrano was just tall — his height wasn’t on BoxRec either — but Lopez looked short by any standard.
  • Featherweight Charles Huerta knocked out Noe Lopez in the 3rd round after three knockdowns, the first a left hook; the second a left hook/straight right combo; and the third a right hook. It was an impressive finishing number. Before that, Lopez had his moments against Huerta, but Huerta was always in charge. The best moments for Lopez came when Huerta opted to stand and trade, and the two men went bonkers on each others’ faces. How good is Huerta? Dunno. He, too, got hit a lot, but he handled it well. He was, to me, the second best prospect on the televised card, but potentially the one with the best ratio of excitement level to ability.
  • Lightweight Luis Ramos scored a 5th round knockout and was the most impressive of all the prospects on the card, if you ask me. His opponent, Baudel Cardenas, had lost five of his last six, so he was probably the worst opponent in the lineup, although he was the most experienced, having gone the distance with some big names like Steve Luevano. I just liked Ramos’ intelligence and his poise. He picked his spots exceptionally well, showed good defense, put together combinations, countered smartly and when he hurt his man to the body early on, he relentlessly went back to the lower environs. The first knockdown came in the 1st on a straight left to the tummy; the second and final knockdown was on a right hook that he set up perfectly and that Cardenas walked right into.
  • Junior lightweight David Rodela won the best back-and-forth slugfest of the night against Juanito Garcia. Two judges saw it for him by scores of 59-55, and the third saw it 57-56 for Garcia. I had it a draw, with Rodela winning the first two rounds, then the 4th. In the 3rd, Garcia wobbled Rodela, but Rodela showed his fightin’ heart by coming back to rock Garcia in the next. Garcia closed stronger. Basically, Rodela was a wild wooly gunslinger type and Garcia could counter, which usually makes for a good fight. I can’t even kind of seeing Rodela going very far, but I can see him offering good television bouts, and Garcia, despite being the seemingly craftier of the two, got hit by too many telegraphed punches.
A few notes about the logistics:
1. GBP head honcho Oscar De La Hoya apparently offered $1,000 extra to the winner of the most exciting fight, although later on in the night, the commentating team muddled the issue by suggesting there would be $1,000 bonuses for the both participants in the most exciting fight. Either way, I think that was worth a go. The UFC does that kind of thing, and there’s no reason boxing shouldn’t experiment with it. I must say that all the boxers seemed to fight with a good deal of urgency for fights of this level, so maybe it had an impact. It also had the effect, perhaps, of making guys a little sloppier than they might have been otherwise. Still: a worthwhile experiment.
2. I’d been an early advocate of Bernard Hopkins as a boxing commentator, but I’m losing hope that he can work out behind the mic. He gets lost in too many dead end sentences, and he’s been that way since he’s started, and he’s shown no signs of improvement. He offered zero meaningful insights and too often slipped into promoter mode, touting what a “great” night it was. Well, it was some nice fighting, but let’s not get carried away, GBP executive Hopkins. Also, he makes up words. “Squinching?” Unless he means the verb form of “a piece of construction used for filling in the upper angles of a square room so as to form a proper base an octagonal  or spherical dome,” that’s lame.
3. I was fine with the DJ, although I’m pretty sure I heard Soulja Boy in the background, and I’m not sure that would have been cool and hip to play in 2007. Therefore, if drawing in a hip young crowd to boxing is what one of the ideas of this was, maybe hip, new music is a good choice. I did like Rodela walking out with his own rapper, and, apparently, Victor Ortiz.
4. All the fights were reasonably competitive, although never did the favored prospect seem in danger of losing except in the main event. Therefore, the matchmaking was fine. Hopefully, we’ll see some prospects get taken into deep waters more frequently in the series. The overall caliber of fights was more Friday Night Fights undercard than ShoBox main event, and if I had my druthers, it would be more ShoBox. Ultimately, though, I welcome more boxing on television, unless it’s absolute shite, and this was definitely worth my time.
5. By winning his fight, Rodela became the “Quaker State Durability Champion.” I’m all for additional sponsors in the great sport of boxing, as more sponsors means more money for the boxers, and I want that big time. But. For real. Quaker State Durability Champion? There’s “excessive proliferation of belts” and there’s “I guess not even a stupid person would take this seriously.” I hope the stupid people out there didn’t take this seriously.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.