(Juan Carlos Burgos)
In the latest edition of Friday Night Fights, ESPN2 helped us boxing junkies beat the heat for a couple of hours with a filling four-fight show.
The broadcast didn’t get off to the most pristine of starts as “technical difficulties” delayed the live boxing, so ESPN stalled with rundowns of the upcoming fight cards, boxing news and anecdotes. It should be noted, however, that the addition of Bernardo Osuna to Friday Night Fights this season has been a very welcome one, and listening to him guide the fans through listlessness on-air is far more acceptable than enduring some Johnny-come-lately’s attempts to stutter through some news.
Junior lightweight Juan Carlos Burgos made quick-ish work of Cesar Vazquez in the 10 round main event, though not without having to break a sweat and eat a little leather. And in the co-main, welterweight Aaron Martinez took a split decision over Prenice Brewer in a solid eight round fight.
Burgos, who lives and trains out of Tijuana, Mexico, retained some type of abstract regional title with the win, but more importantly, he was made to work harder than he did against faded former title holder Cristobol Cruz in his last FNF outing.
On a more optimistic note, five of Burgos’ last six opponents have had z’s in their name. The TQBR fight statistics council is looking into it currently, but that could be some sort of record.
Vazquez’ attacks fell just short for most of the 1st round before he found Burgos’ ribs and caught him on the ropes with a left hook, likely taking the round with his late rally. And both men brawled a bit in round 2 as Vazquez continued to look to do damage while coming forward. Burgos didn’t have much difficulty finding Vazquez with counters and froze the Mexicali-born Vazquez with longer, straighter shots.
Forward was about the only way Vazquez could fight, though, and he marched on the 3rd until a left hook from Burgos stiffened his legs and he could little more than wobble around and fling arm punches as Burgos swarmed him with looping stuff around his guard, forcing a ref stoppage at 1:50.
Now 30-1 (20 KO), Burgos did his reputation a couple of favors with the win, as he took a number of stiff punches and wound up having to adjust a bit by timing his counters rather than slide away following range-finding stuff. For a top-10 ranked fighter, as Burgos supposedly is, it may not have been elite level material, but he was challenged a bit and came through. Now it’s time for that slight nudge upward in class.
Vazquez was essentially unknown despite coming into the fight having never lost. But now at 25-1 (16 KO), it seems he didn’t do much wrong aside from negating his defense. And from an entertainment perspective, it’s tough to knock that. But in terms of potential success and capability, it’s not the greatest sign. Still, there are plenty of fighters in the realm of 130-140 regularly fighting on FNF to match the aggressive and solid-punching guy up with.
In the co-feature, Mexico native Aaron “El Asesino” Martinez scored his tenth straight win via split decision over a somewhat lackadaisical Prenice Brewer in a welterweight scrap. The decision was generous to Brewer in some ways, as he went almost full rounds without significant activity, but when he did throw, he did fairly well.
Having fully recovered from a horrible cut to his forehead on his last FNF appearance, Martinez maintained a high guard between inching forward on Brewer in round 1, urged on by his corner who instructed him in Spanish to take his man to the ropes. Brewer retaliated and traded hooks with Martinez, leading and pressuring for the latter half of the round. And Brewer’s relative confidence carried through to the 2nd, where he tied Martinez up mercilessly inside and got his shots off first before sliding away carefully. A hook from Martinez caught Brewer dramatically, though, and swung the momentum his way for the remainder of the stanza with uppercuts inside.
Jabs to the breadbasket from Martinez kept Brewer scooting backwards in the 3rd, and Martinez caught him again with a hook about a minute in. But rather than retreat, Brewer got busier with his jab and some hooks of his own before again becoming mobile. Martinez gave chase, and he wasn’t missing big shots by much. But he was missing, nonetheless.
Brewer stood his ground a bit more in round 4, even doing well throwing short hooks inside and getting the better of exchanges in spots. Martinez applied pressure decently, but couldn’t put a whole lot together. He got more active in the 5th, though, hammering Brewer downstairs and attempting to shake off clinches to land hooks. Brewer got work done at range, but on the inside he was useless for much of the round and just stood there taking punches. Likely getting an earful in his corner, Brewer upped his activity and had Martinez constantly resetting in round 6, landing snappy blows from the outside and actually working both defense and offense in close, as evidenced by two crunching body hooks to end the round.
Round 7 began with Martinez launching hooks from every possible angle from an optimal distance, again playing heavy bag on Brewer’s body as the taller man did little to prevent it and was content to absorb thwacks more often than not. But once again Brewer got scrappy and traded with Martinez in the 8th and final round, sometimes getting the better, sometimes not. But both men entertainingly chucked leather for the last 30 or so seconds.
Scores of 77-75 Brewer and 77-75 twice for Martinez settled matters and brought Aaron’s record to 18-1-1 (4 KO), while Brewer’s goes to 16-3-1 (6 KO).
It’s unlikely either man will reach any sort of world class zenith, as both struggled against each other at times, to varying degrees. But Brewer literally stopped throwing for sequences at a time, and he’s now 1-3 in his last four. A big problem is that neither fighter seems to be able to hurt even mid-level foes, much less upper echelon guys.
It came down to desire, and Martinez just had more of it.
Opening up the broadcast was a 1st round KO for Vitor Freitas-Jones, now 1-0 (1 KO), over Rocco Espinoza, whose record fell to 3-6 (0 KO). There wasn’t much time wasted, and Espinoza succumbed to the apparent class disparity and early on felt the greater punching power of Freitas-Jones — the great-nephew of Brazilian celebrity Acelino Freitas, who is currently in the midst of a comeback.
Though not exactly a Hagler-Hearns stuff, Espinoza didn’t quite look like a sub .500 fighter as he stalked Freitas-Jones and landed a handful of left hooks as the quicker Brazilian looked to feel his opponent out a bit. But Freitas-Jones quickly recognized an opening through Espinoza’s wider shots and wobbled him with a hook, and he promptly followed up with a clubbing right hand a few more left hooks that had Espinoza all but out on his feet. Tony Weeks saw plenty, officially stepping in at 2:11 of round 1.
It’s difficult to assess exactly where either fighter is at this point, though in this case the ledgers are enough to ascertain the reality of each guy’s career. Freitas-Jones appears to be talented, but Espinoza didn’t offer a ton of important resistance and crumbled when hit hard. In other words, we need Freitas-Jones, and less Espinoza.
Early endings made time for another betweener bout in which former UNLV football player and amateur boxer Brett Rather made his pro debut at heavyweight with a unanimous decision in 4 rounds over Terrell Woods.
Rather and Woods engaged in sloppy action in the 1st, but Rather clocked him with a hook that clearly bothered the mohawk-sporting Woods. Brawling his way through the 2nd, Woods was again stunned by a handful of hooks upstairs and down. Woods came alive in the early moments of round 3, and Rather looked to be tiring and his output slowed. He ended the round strong, though, and Woods’ rebbellion was quelled for the time being. And true to form, Rather chopped at Woods’ midsection throughout the 4th, drawing a warning for going low. But he went back to work and managed to potshot when busier, staggering Woods with a right hand and going back to his gut before having his momentum halted with a clinch.
Judges turned in cards of 40-36 across the board for Rather.
Interestingly, Rather is short, but he threw a bunch of leaping hooks and overhand rights, and that type of tenacity and outlook is exactly what a smaller heavyweight with a decent spot of power would need to do against the much larger “class” of the division. It could be interesting to see how he develops.
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