The old man just keeps plugging along. 41-year-old Glen Johnson will get another shot at a light heavyweight title belt after a 6th round knockout win over 30-year-old Yusaf Mack on ESPN2. As much as I love the amiable, classy Jamaican, and as happy as I am for him in notching this win, I thought he looked older still than before, and beltholder Tavoris Cloud is worlds better than Mack. But, for now, he’s surely reveling in another chance after a comprehensive loss in November to Chad Dawson.
In a Friday night that featured knockouts galore on two different channels, welterweight Freddy Hernandez massively kayoed DeMarcus Corley in the 5th of the main event on Showtime, looking better doing it than he did in his previous appearance on the network.
GLEN JOHNSON – YUSAF MACK
I’m not looking to knock Johnson, really. I just think that he isn’t bringing as much of that super-intense pressure to bear as he used to just a year ago. His work rate looked slower to me this evening.
But he still brings smart heat, and Mack, with his tendency to wilt under pressure, was a perfect match. Mack won two rounds on my card, the 2nd and the 5th, when he landed sharp combinations in the former and seemed to outwork Johnson in the latter. Mack was probably the bigger puncher of the two, and faster as well. He was countering Johnson to the body when Johnson opened up, and he had moments in the rounds I had Mack losing, like with that series of right hooks he landed at the end of the 4th.
Johnson, though, adjusted well. He began working Mack’s body when he cornered him. His jab paved the way for him to begin landing his right over the top, exploiting the opening left by Mack’s shoulder roll defense. A couple times, he trapped Mack in the corner, and Mack foolishly traded with Johnson in his wheelhouse. You could see Mack was beginning his trademark slowdown. Mack’s stamina is bad. It apparently always will be bad. I didn’t think Johnson was wearing him down that much, and that this was in large measure about Mack’s weaknesses in the endurance department. I’m not sure why his stamina is what it is. Genetics? Training habits? No clue, I just know that it inhibits him from being a top fighter, and he’s overachieved to this point in his career given that shortcoming.
In the 6th, Johnson trapped Mack in the corner again and landed a big right, sending him down. When Mack got up, Johnson backed him to the ropes and connected on another big right. Mack got up again, and to his credit, he was trying to fire back. But a left hook that put Mack down on a knee and the referee called it off.
Cloud is not Mack. He’s a harder hitter, he has no problem pressing the pace and he doesn’t have three knockout losses on his record like Mack does now. I don’t like Johnson’s chances against Cloud, whom I think could become a force in 2010. But this is the goal Johnson had, to become the mandatory challenger for Cloud’s belt, and I’m glad he’s achieved it.
- Hernandez looked far better to me Friday against a tricky vet in Corley than he did against Damian Frias on ShoBox in October. He didn’t seem as slow to me this time around, in particular, not so mechanical, and he had to be smart against Corley. He was, and he got the sensational knockout in the 5th on a huge right hand that came down on Corley’s chin and left his arms sprawled out at his sides as he tumbled down. It’ll make the list of Knockout of the Year candidates. Up to that point, it had been a seesaw affair, with Corley having success with body shots, uppercuts and right hooks, and Hernandez imposing his size and length on the career junior welterweight, doing serious damage to Corley’s body. Corley should return to junior welter, if he wants to continue his career at age 35. Hernandez, not really at prospect at age 30, should take the next step up in class.
- Also on ShoBox, junior welterweight prospect Francisco Contreras got rid of Juan Castenada, Jr. in one round. A gorgeous combination put the aggressive and wild-swinging Castenada down, but a bad knee injury — not faked — kept him down. Contreras looked like he was going to have a good night, though, working his jab and connecting on clean power shots. I want to see more of this kid. He’d been fed a diet of terrible competition, but it’s clear his record isn’t just empty calories.
- Stupid DC snowstorm and stupid satellite problems kept me from seeing the early part of ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights, where junior featherweight super-prospect Guillermo Rigondeaux walloped Adolfo Landeras out in the 1st with what sounds like a painful body shot, and it kept me from witnessing what I’ve seen described as a highlight reel 2nd round knockout by welterweight Ed Paredes of Joey Hernandez. [UPDATE: I’ve gotten caught up via a recap and via a replay, and yes — Rigondeaux’s body shot was hurtful; is that three body shot KOs now for him? Love it. And Paredes just punched through Hernandez with that quick, short left. Two KO of the Year candidates in one night — I’ll take it.]