ESPN2 aired a top-notch match-up Friday night, and although it ended up not so close on the scorecards, it was a bout with stretches of competitiveness. Juan Urango grabbed a junior welterweight (140 lbs.) title belt by beating Montreal hometown favorite Herman Ngoudjo, and despite some protesting of the scores by the “Friday Night Fights” announcing crew, I thought it was Teddy Atlas and Joe Tessitore who were off-base and the judges who got it right.
In the end, the scores came up 120-106, 118-108 and 116-110. I have to say, I thought Atlas’ scorecard was borderline crazy: He had Urango up 105-104 going into the final round. Of course, he also scored the 1st round 10-10 — a chronically bizarre Atlas habit despite the fact that real judges never score rounds 10-10 — and scored the 3rd 10-8 for Urango despite the fact that Ngoudjo suffered two knockdowns, was badly hurt and ended up being thoroughly dominated the entire round. According to Atlas, though, Ngoudjo wasn’t in any trouble. Also, in the 7th, which Atlas scored for Ngoudjo, Atlas complained that Urango wasn’t going to the body enough, when in fact he landed 24 of 31 body punches that round. I love Atlas and think he’s one of the best in the business at analyzing and explaining the dynamics and strategies of fights, but he needs to stay out of the scorecard business and he needs to stay out of the prediction business.
For my part, I had it 118-108, and after I saw the punch stats for the 1st round, I regretted giving that round to Ngoudjo, too. Ngoudjo was in control of the clock, winning more seconds than Urango, but Urango ended up landing more shots and they were much, much harder. The only other round I gave to Ngoudjo was the 10th, and then I wasn’t sure how to score that one because in one of the wackier things you’ll see, the round lasted 5:10 instead of the customary 3:00. I thought Ngoudjo won the 3:00, but I think the punch stat numbers for the entire round showed Urango landing something like 53 to Ngoudjo’s 29. So maybe I should have had it a shut-out, too.
It’s not that there weren’t a few close rounds. I marked the 1st, 5th, and 9th as “closer,” emphasis on the “er,” because most of the rounds weren’t close at all. Urango was landing flush shots, big shots, while Ngoudjo shoeshined and flung his punches out tentatively.
That said, it wasn’t a bad show. Ngoudjo did put up a fight, and his heart can’t be questioned after he got hurt early and performed well in spurts following that. It’s just that Urango, for all his wildness, for all his jablessness, hits hard and cornered him repeatedly. Not Marlon B. Wright, the infamous ref of the super middleweight (168 lbs.) Lucian Bute-Librado Andrade bout, nor the judges who have a rep of favoring the hometown guy, nor Atlas’ scorecard, could keep him from the biggest win of his life.