Happy season finale, Friday Night Fights. Things ended characteristically on ESPN2 in some ways, not others.
Characteristically: Hank Lundy and David Diaz slugged it right the hell out in a lightweight battle with tons of grit. Lundy looked early like he was thoroughly outclassing Diaz, but we’ve been here before. Lundy has tremendous speed and the capability at times to outbox the wits out of his opponent; the rest of the time, he has lapses in concentration and tends to get into slugfests he doesn’t belong in. Diaz wanted to take him to that place, and in the 4th round, he did. He knocked down Lundy with a combination, but he paid the price trying to finish the show, with a head butt or elbow or punch (the referee ruled it a punch) opening up a massive cut above his right eye. The next round, he bled half to death from it, and the referee had the doctor check it out and warn that the fight could soon be stopped, forcing Diaz to go for broke and make things even more exciting. Finally, in the 6th, Lundy landed a doozy and put Diaz down — no count necessary.
Lundy’s always going to be in fights like this whether he should be or not, apparently, but it makes him the rare cutie who is in completely fun fights. Diaz returned from a long layoff to show he is always gonna bring the pressure, but doesn’t have the raw talent to overcome better fighters at this point, as he occasionally would back in the day. He also turned down a hefty fee to face Juan Manuel Marquez, only to take a much smaller purse against Lundy in a more winnable fight and still lose. Whatever the case, I’ll take a Lundy or Diaz fight any given Friday.
Uncharacteristically: Junior middleweight prospect Demetrius Andrade hasn’t really impressed anyone in this season of Friday Night Fights, but that dynamic probably changed with his easy win over Grady Brewer. On the other hand, it was an atypically boring showing for an FNF bout in 2011.
Andrade handled Brewer better than anyone has, ever. Brewer’s no walk in the park; he’s a gritty, savvy veteran. He is coming off an upset of ballyhooed prospect Fernando Guerrero, and not long ago before that gave another ballyhooed prospect, Erislandy Lara, a rougher time than he ever had received. Andrade showed he has more raw talent than either of those men — he owned virtually every moment of every round against Brewer with his speed, reflexes, counterpunching and length. Brewer was reduced to periodic clumsy charges that rarely connected. Andrade wasn’t perfect. He had some sloppy moments that he survived on physical advantages. But he redeemed himself for those, such as myself, who thought the 2008 Olympian projected as “most likely to succeed” had shown himself to be a great deal less than he should be.
Problem is, “Boo Boo” got his share of his namesake from the crowd with his plan — laid out so eloquently beforehand in pre-fight interviews — to “jab, jab, jibbity jab, jabby-jab” his way to victory. For the first four rounds, he was reasonably aggressive. I’m the kind of boxing fan who can appreciate a good display of boxing skill, so long as it’s an offensive-minded display of skill. From the 5th to the 10th, Andrade did very little — just enough to win, really. Maybe someone like me is capable of giving him another chance to be exciting later down the line. Others won’t. Things like that won’t destroy his chances of getting on to HBO or Showtime; those networks will tolerate a little boring in exchange for a little excellence. And fighters like Andrade can sometimes do ratings whether they’re quote boring unquote or not. But he didn’t help himself on this count.