ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Setup ain’t ideal for a live blog, so here’s your undercard report updating when time permits throughout the evening. And, after the main event, come on back for a report on that.
In reverse chronological order:
In a prospect-vs.-prospect showdown, welterweight Steve Upsher Chambers got an unpopular decision win over Bayan Jargal. I had the fight close — a one-round margin for Jargal. So did one of the other judges, and the other scored it by one round for Chambers. The final judge had it 78-74, which struck the crowd as too wide when it was announced, because the decision was booed, even though Chambers is from nearby Philly. It was a good, hard-fought bout, though, with the 3rd and 7th rounds featuring sizzling exchanges. This was a “sink or swim” moment for Jargal, according to manager J.D. Brown, whom I spoke with before the bout. He didn’t sink, but then, he didn’t exactly swim, because he lost.
Zsolt Erdei really is a very skilled fighter – he controls the pace, doesn’t get hit much, and places his own shots very accurately. He beat Samson Onyango by unanimous decision with no trouble, which was as it was meant to be before Erdei makes a run at the class of the light heavyweight division. He’s broken free from his old promoter and is fighting for Lou DiBella in America after a long, unproductive run in his native Hungary. He might have left Hungary, by the way, but Hungary wouldn’t quit him. There were tons of Hungarian journalists here, and a cheering section of a couple hundred waving the Hungarian flag and chanting the whole fight. Too bad Erdei doesn’t hit very hard. He fought aggressively, though, so that boosts the chances of him making good fights later against a better class of opponent.
Heavyweight Tony Thompson was a little soft around the middle but was sharp nonetheless in handing four rounds worth of beating to Paul Marinaccio. The referee stopped it when Thompson trapped Maricaccio in the corner and dealt him a powerful flurry. Thompson currently inhabits the outskirts of the top 10 of the division, but he really deserves a quality fight. He still is the man who gave Wladimir Klitschko his last tough bout, and he’s been feeding on this level of competition — lower-end journeymen — too often since the Klitschko loss. He had that nice win over Chazz Witherspoon, and a win over late replacement Owen Beck on ESPN2 in his last bout, but he hasn’t gotten the kind of bouts he deserves.
Fernando Guerrero started out a bit more measured than usual and didn’t let himself get hit as much as usual, but the middleweight prospect finished Saul Duran in thrilling fashion, pounding on his resilient head for three rounds before badly hurting him with a quick, straight, 1-2-3 series of shots in the 4th. Duran couldn’t get up so well after that. I’m honestly not sure Duran landed a single flush blow. Maybe Guerrero was focusing on his D, or maybe Duran was too low a level of competition to hit a prospect-turning-contender like Guerrero.
Featherweight prospect Luis Del Valle took three rounds to firmly assert control of their fight, and Noe Lopez, Jr. put up spirited opposition in the 2nd, but by the third Del Valle finished him off with combos that led to two knockdowns. Lopez was unsteady after the second time, so the ref waved it off. Del Valle showed good speed and power, although he didn’t strike me as exceptional in either category. He did take some flush shots in the second when he hurt Lopez and Lopez slugged back, and Del Valle handled it well, so he showed some poise there.
Welterweight prospect Willie Nelson scored a 1st round stoppage after dropping Quinton Whitaker three times. Nelson did this despite being way high on marijuana and super old, like, almost 80. OK, I’m lying, and name jokes are among the lowest form of humor, but this was my first chance at an easy target, and I’ll never do it again. Nelson looked good – his opponent tried to hold after the second knockdown, but Nelson wouldn’t let him, always a good sign for a prospect – but it was over so fast, I can’t really say I learned much more than that he can keep a hurt opponent from clinching.