Not Only A Great Show, “Lightweight Lightning” Should Be The Model For Future Pay-Per-View Boxing Events

Dear Boxing: This is how a pay-per-view show ought to go, this “Lightweight Lightning.” One big upset. One terrific performance. Two spectacular wars. Two fights in, I’d gotten my $40 worth. Two fights later, I had seen a rare PPV card that went well from top to bottom. Really — if every pay-per-view card was like this, I’d willingly go poor buying them. The matchmaker for this event deserves a big kiss from a supermodel for what he did Saturday night. Two fighters pulled out of the card with injuries, and the substitutes stepped in beautifully. I’m overjoyed to have paid $40 for this card. When’s the last time that happened to a boxing fan?

I’ll review the fights in chronological order.


For four rounds, Rolando Reyes, a late substitute, did next to nothing. He landed one good right hand or so each stanza, and stood around getting outhustled by Julio Diaz the rest of the time. It was more than annoying, and if any of the crowd’s booing was deserved, it was for Reyes’ non-effort. Then in the 5th, he turned the faucet to full blast out of nowhere. He said afterward is was because his corner told him to get a move on. He listened well. Diaz went down twice after a sustained frenzy of accurate shots, mostly crunching uppercuts. The ref waved it off.

I might have let Diaz go a little longer. He was getting battered around, sure, but he got his legs back after the first knockdown a bit and might have gotten his legs back after the second knockdown, too. But, as always, I don’t have crazy harsh words for a ref erring on the side of caution. It wasn’t a fine stoppage. It was a big upset of Diaz, who didn’t handle Reyes’ punches all that well considering that Reyes has never been a puncher. I wonder if some
of his more grueling fights, against the likes of Jose Luis Castillo and Juan Diaz, haven’t take a lot out of him. Reyes suddenly becomes a legit contender in the division after a career that has made Rocky Juarez’ patience seem like that of an overeager teenage boy getting his first try at a bra. I know I forgave Reyes his early do-nothing rounds with that massive finish.


The surprising fight of the night came in this high-stakes back-and-forth battle between a veteran, Carlos Hernandez, fighting like he was going to win his last fight or die trying, and a formerly highly-touted prospect, Vicente Escobedo, fighting like he was going to do everything possible to regain his status. It had tremendous swings in action with both men being hurt in nearly every round. It started with Escobedo countering the aggressive Hernandez twice in the first two rounds to score knockdowns. Hernandez, though, showed tremendous heart to win the next three rounds, putting tremendous pressure on the taller Escobedo, then scored a bogus knockdown in the 6th when he stepped on Hernandez’ foot. All the while, though, Escobedo was exacting a toll on Hernandez as he charged in, doing surprisingly good work on the inside. By the 7th, the fight had turned again, and Escobedo was really putting it to Hernandez. The doctor gave Hernandez a long look in the 8th, and his wife even got out of her seat to talk to Hernandez. It was more of the same in the 9th, but then, in the 10th, Hernandez summoned a brave final stand. He won the round with unchecked aggression. In the end, I had it 94-93 for Escobedo, and the judges all went with him, 96-91/94-93/95-91.

You just can’t ask for two men to put it on the line any more than they did, and the bout will be worthy of honorable mention for Fight of the Year when we’re handing out the awards. Hernandez said he would retire if he lost this fight, and considering that his once impervious chin showed signs of cracks, it’s worth wondering whether he’d be heading down a dangerous road if he kept fighting in his pressuring/semi-light-hitting style any longer with a bad chin. I was really worried for the gutsy old man in those late rounds; his face was swollen in a way that resembled the swollen faces of fighters badly and permanently hurt in the past. It would be a fitting end to his career. Escobedo, meanwhile — who wouldn’t have been on this card but for an injury to Hernandez’ scheduled opponent — has revived his young career after being left for dead after a mere single loss.


This fight had a weird ending, but it packed plenty of leather-trading into its seven rounds. The first two rounds were exceptionally close, with Jesus Chavez exhibiting superior boxing skills to land the cleaner shots and Michael Katsidis landing the harder shots. In the 3rd and 4th, it looked like Chavez was taking over. A clash of heads in the 4th changed everything for both men. Katsidis loves loves loves blood, and when he saw it streaming down Chavez’ head, he turned into a wolverine. For the next three rounds, he hit Chavez mostly at will, instead of sporadically like he had been, and he dispensed with his early pretenses of boxing. Chavez fought most of one round without a mouthpiece, somehow, and in the 7th looked very frustrated and was backing straight up exclusively. The corner called a halt to it before the 8th began, perhaps with Chavez’ consent, giving Katsidis the TKO win.

At first the Austin crowd booed the stoppage, but eventually it warmed to the hometown hero and gave him a good ovation at the end. I do think it was a strange stoppage by the corner, although not an unforgivable one, given the punishment that Chavez was accumulating and the distinct swing in momentum. I had Chavez up four rounds to three prior to the stoppage. Once again, this fight showed what kind of unbelievable willpower is required to fight through a bad cut. Most people don’t succeed. Chavez has never lacked for willpower, but even he was badly affected by the blood dripping into his eye. [QUICK UPDATE: Michael Woods points out that Chavez has quit twice before, so maybe it’s worth questioning whether he does indeed lack for willpower sometimes.] Chavez might consider retirement, despite the good early showing, because he’s getting up there in the years. Katsidis gets his first high-quality win since losing twice in 2008, and did nothing to harm his reputation as one of the sport’s premiere brawlers. (Also, my prediction record has been really good lately; I called Katsidis to win by stoppage in the 8th.)


That went a long ways toward erasing my skepticism about Edwin Valero. Antonio Pitalua hadn’t been knocked out in 14 years. Valero, a southpaw knocked him down in the 2nd round STEPPING BACKWARDS WITH HIS RIGHT HAND, badly hurting Pitalua. Stepping up in weight. That is power. Lots of power. Oodles of power. Gobs of power. And he never did that thing that bothers me about him, where he comes in swinging like a maniac and leaving himself open to getting hit. He worked off his jab. He set everything up. Even though Pitalua never landed anything of note, Valero’s defense could still need some shoring up, but I was very impressed by his discipline. Three knockdowns into the 2nd round, it was over.

I get a big kick out of punchers with attitudes that border on arrogance. Valero showed it tonight. At the end of the 1st round, he sneered at Pitalua and faked a punch at him. While he was finishing him off, he was talking to him. Valero could definitely use some work — we don’t know if his chin is all that, and his technique could use some tweaking —  but his self-confidence is born of natural talent, speed and power, that is intoxicating. He clearly can knock out anyone he hits cleanly. This was a statement performance.

About Tim Starks

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