On Friday night, we got one sensational knockout and one stirring brawl.
The knockout came on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights. In a junior welterweight crossroads bout, Kendall Holt revived his career with a 3rd round KO of Julio Diaz. He landed a couple big right hands in the 1st round, but Diaz, who’s been knocked out a few times, withstood them. By the 2nd, Diaz was coming forward and putting pressure on the quick-footed Holt, which was the gameplan all along. In the 3rd, Diaz sensed that he’d hurt Holt, who has been knocked out a few times himself, and went on the chase. Either Diaz was wrong or Holt was indeed hurt, but still dangerous — he’s been wobbled before, only to come back and score the knockout himself. Whatever the case, Holt delivered a double left hook, body then head, with the second one detonating right on Diaz’ chin. Diaz’ eyes were glazed over the second he landed, and though he got to his feet, he was in no shape to continue, so the ref waved it off.
Of the two, Diaz was the one who was on an upward arc, having revived his own career just a little with a win over Herman Ngoudjo. But his chin is more often than not a liability against top competition. Holt now steals that momentum from Diaz. He is one of boxing’s most talented enigmas. He has top-notch speed and power, but he’s also vulnerable, and at times his focus and dedication have waned. He says his dedication is back now. Time will tell. With another win against a good junior welterweight, maybe someone a step up from Diaz, he could be right in the mix in a loaded division.
Over on Showtime’s ShoBox is where we got the brawl. Lightweight prospect Sharif Bogere took a unanimous decision that could have gone either way over Raymundo Beltran. It was a good fight, but it would have been a very good fight if not for all the head butts, which opened cuts all over both men’s faces. Both men were willing to mix it up early, but Bogere’s speed was the difference for the first several rounds. Then, though, Beltran began to impose his size. In the 8th round, Beltran connected on a left uppercut that had Bogere stumbling, and as Bogere attempted to hold on to Beltran to stay on his feet, both ended up tumbling to the canvas. I thought it should have been scored a knockdown, but it was a borderline mistake. Bogere had by this point stopped engaging and began sticking and moving, and it paid off in the final two rounds. I gave Bogere the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 9th and 10th. I couldn’t blame someone for giving Beltran some of those rounds. The judges’ decision was all Bogere: 96-94 twice, and 97-93.
Bogere got tested, which is the idea of ShoBox, one of the most reliable and underrated boxing programs out there. Beltran was a tough hombre, and scoring the fight for him wouldn’t have been remotely controversial — in fact, the crowd booed the decision when it was announced. It would be disappointing if Beltran didn’t get another good-sized fight based on his effort (even if he was most often the party responsible for the head butts). We’ll see where Bogere goes from here. He got tagged pretty frequently by the slower man, and maybe had fallen in love with his power a bit. When he boxed, he was better off. He very well could grow off this win, where we learned he was his own kind of tough.
(By the way, on the ShoBox undercard, heavyweight Seth Mitchell scored a 1st round knockout when his opponent, Evans Quinn, got hurt and apparently went down of his own volition, then stayedthere. Quinn had been boxing fairly well, but an overhand right rattled him and something about Mitchell’s combination made him decide he didn’t want anymore. Mitchell showed he could be hit when on the attack, but Quinn’s effort was pretty pitiful, so we didn’t learn that much. We already kind of expected Mitchell wouldn’t be tested Friday night, though.)