Prudential Center, Newark, NJ, February 6, 2010
Welcome to the latest edition of the Jersey Fight Journal, where a snowstorm prevented me from attending the scintillating Paul Williams-Sergio Martinez fight in December yet a feared blizzard miraculously dissipated tonight, giving me the great fortune to watch Peter Quillin and Fernando Zuniga clinch until things got uncomfortably intimate. Would I like to see a Fight of the Year candidate? No, thanks, I’d rather gather material for the next “Quiet Man Hug.”
(As pose-offs go, Quillin-Zuniga pales in comparison to Zoolander-Hansel. As fights go, Quillin-Zuniga pales in comparison to Zoolander-Hansel.)
Tomasz Adamek electrified the crowd (by being Tomasz Adamek) and turned in a solid, if unspectacular, performance against Jason Estrada on a card that was a little lackluster overall. However, the amazing atmosphere, outstanding Polish fans, and sweet luxury suite hookup (thanks to Tony Tavares and Scott Cowan for inviting me along) helped salvage the night. It is my duty to salvage the following Journal with my intellectual insight and scathing wit.
Don’t get your hopes up.
7:30 – After wandering the bitter cold streets of Newark in search of an open bar, we grabbed a couple of drinks at the Arena Lounge, met up with our crew, and set off to our suite. We arrive in time to hear the announcer say that light heavyweight Ismayl Sillakh defeated Larry Pryor by knockout. I assure Tony that we will see more knockouts in the upcoming fights. I will come to regret my hubris.
7:40 – Patrick Farrell, a green cruiserweight unbeaten in four fights, takes on Jon Schneider in a four-round fight. Farrell is significantly larger than his opponent is and scores an early knockdown in the 1st round. The right hand of Farrell dominates the first round and Schneider, twice a knockout victim within the first two rounds in his career, looks to be in for a short night. The fighters engage in long stretches of infighting in the second, with Farrell spending too much time against the ropes. Another knockdown for Farrell in the 3rd and he smells the knockout, pouncing a bit wildly when action resumes. Farrell works the body and head with hooks but Schneider shows great guts, mounting a comeback to finish the round. Schneider amps up the pressure in the final round. Farrell counters with combinations. Too bad this version of Schneider didn’t show up until now; this would have been good. Farrell punctuates the fight with big shots in the final seconds, staggering Schneider at the bell. Unanimous decision win for Farrell, 40-33 and two scores of 40-34, in a good performance.
On a side note, there was a very cool promotional video for Farrell prior to the fight, something shown for several other fighters throughout the night on the big screen. I think these are a great tool to connect the crowd to the fighters, one that should be incorporated into future fights by other promoters.
8:00 – Denis “Momma’s Boy” Douglin, an unbeaten junior middleweight (who weighs 162 pounds tonight, though his opponent weighs 167 pounds, so you figure it out) who is trained by his mother, Saphya Douglin (hence the nickname), fights Eddie Hunter next. One of the guys in the suite happens to know Saphya and Denis from the gym and says that Saphya knows her boxing and would have fought professionally herself if not for an injury. Douglin’s story is more interesting than the fight, however, though not due to Douglin’s effort. “Momma’s Boy” makes his Momma proud by controlling the pace, working the body, and landing some nice uppercuts in the first two rounds, while Hunter generally refuses to engage. Douglin is a solid-looking southpaw but he is getting too little resistance to learn much about him. The rounds begin to blend as Douglin presses and Hunter absorbs, Douglin presses and Hunter absorbs. Douglin wins a unanimous decision, 60-54 twice and 59-55.
8:30 – A warm-up for the partying partisan Polish crowd as favorite Patrick Majewski takes on Anthony Pietrantonio (how’s that for a name?) in a super middleweight battle. “Punch & Pie” Pietrantonio (nickname mine) is greeted by heartfelt boos as the crowd becomes really engaged for the first time. Majewski receives the flipside, a rousing reception complete with “Polska! Polska!” chants. Majewski opens the bout with stiff, accurate jabs and works a body/head combination. A big right hand in the middle of another sharp combination rocks “Punch & Pie.” Between rounds, the first appearance of a ring card girl elicits nearly as loud a reaction from the crowd as Majewski did. Guys like fights and pretty girls, who knew? Steady, solid jabs from Majewski in the 2nd. Good body work from Majewski and a second “Polska” chant erupts. In the 3rd, Majewski pummels Pietrantionio with combinations. Stiff jabs and good body work continue in the fourth and fifth for Majewski, as Pietrantonio wears down but never gives in. Pietrantonio lands a few punches early in the 6th but that just prompts a punishing response from Majewski as the crowd cheers the final bell. Majewski sweeps all three cards 60-54 and the crowd greets the scores with an even greater explosion.
Although Majewski was impressive, this marks the third lopsided scorecard in a row. In fact, of the 42 scored rounds for the last three fights, the “promoter’s” fighter won 41. This is no scorecard controversy, as those fighters deserved every point, but the matchups leave something to be desired.
9:05 – Speaking of leaving something to be desired, here comes Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin against Fernando Zuniga. I’m not going to give you the round-by-round rundown or any of that because this fight stunk and it stunk hard. Quillin is a prospect from Brooklyn who has some excited. He is coming off an injury and a year-plus layoff after an injury. I’ve never been on the bandwagon; after tonight, I think the wagon needs to take a pit stop. These guys wing wild power shots that miss by feet, pose like Zoolander and Hansel at the Member’s Only warehouse, and spend more time tied up than Marv Albert in his mistress’ basement. This fight is a smorgasbord of suck.
Here’s the fight in a nutshell: between rounds 6 and 7, they showed highlights from round 6, which consisted entirely of a single landed jab and a single landed right hand. That’s it. The “Quiet Man Hug” write-up is forthcoming, after I record the fight on SNY and seriously reconsider my life for a while. Until then, Quillin wins a unanimous decision, 100-90 twice and 98-92.
10:00 – The crowd is painted red and white and there is a buzz in the air as we prepare for the main event, Tomasz Adamek and Jason Estrada in a heavyweight bout. The place is near capacity (if I had to guess, I would say 9,000+ are here) and the crowd is raucous. A promotional video for Estrada plays and the crowd boos with vigor. Adamek’s video draws a huge response. An indescribably amazing Polish rock song blares as Adamek makes his way to the ring, greeted by his adoring fans. They chant Adamek’s name, they chant in Polish, and they generally make as much joyous noise as possible. This is awesome.
Adamek opens the 1st round by working the body as Estrada loops a right hand. Estrada jabs and Adamek hooks the body, then head. More good body shots from Adamek near the end of the round. In the 2nd, Adamek throws a combination that elicits a roar. Estrada lands a good counter but Adamek mixes his attack well and moves effectively. He lands another nice combination in the third and a big straight right. A good exchange as Estrada gets in some good shots. Estrada lands a straight right but Adamek counters with a combination. Estrada lands a big shot before the bell that might give him the round. Adamek opens the 4rth with determination and does good work to the body. He lands a nice combination and a good left hook to take the round. Adamek continues this pace in the 5th and Estrada struggles to keep pace. Adamek unleashes an offensive surge and the fans respond. Adamek maintains the activity in the 6th and seems to be too fast for Estrada. Estrada begs to differ and raises his hand triumphantly after the round, drawing serious heat.
Adamek continues to work the body in the second half of the fight. I’m impressed by how he has used angles and movement so far. Estrada lands a left hook and Adamek responds in kind. An exchange to end the round, which was closer than the last few. Estrada raises his hand, crowd boos louder. Both fighters land hard punches early in the 8th. Adamek lands a counter left hook and unloads an offensive surge, taking control of the round with a relentless attack. Adamek throws a five-punch combination to start the 9th and proceeds to work the body. Estrada stalks as Adamek stays on his toes. Adamek lands more body shots and a left hook to end the round. Adamek continues to move well in the tenth and lands sharp straight rights at the end of the round. By the 11th round, the crowd is buzzing and Estrada looks frustrated. He is more demonstrative between rounds than during them. Estrada comes out determined in the 12th and lands a combination. The fighters engage in a furious exchange and the crowd erupts. If only they had fought with this urgency for the entire fight. Adamek lands a sharp left hook. Estrada lands a strong straight right. The last round of the fight was the best round of the fight. The scores read 115-113, 116-112, and 118-110 for Adamek, closer than I expected. The crowd is ecstatic. Adamek gives a post-fight interview entirely in Polish that 90% of the crowd understands. I’m just enjoying the spectacle.
11:05 – Just when you thought it was over, we have a swing bout! One more chance for Tony to get his knockout but his odds do not look great. Sadam Ali, a 2008 U.S. Olympian, battles Jason Thompson in a four-round swing bout. Ali has a promo video in which he says he idolizes Prince Naseem Hamed but he mixes in a little too much Andre Dirrell for my money. Ali has impressive speed but a less-than-impressive safety-first approach. He sweeps the rounds with hand speed and movement, wobbling Thompson a few times but never following up for the big finish. Ali sweeps a unanimous decision, 40-36 on all three cards. One more fight, one more opponent with little hope, one more unanimous decision.
Until next time, the Jersey Fight Journal braces for the brutal winter weather and the broadcast debut of Quillin-Zuniga.