ATLANTIC CITY — Greetings from the Hurricane Sandy-ravaged Boardwalk, specifically Boardwalk Hall. We'll have one of the better main events of the year, the lightweight bout between Adrien Broner and Antonio DeMarco, in a separate post later. But keep coming back here for updates about the undercard, which is anchored by exciting American heavyweight Seth Mitchell facing the Kronk Gym's Johnathon Banks. Not much else on it, alas — but Demetrius Hopkins is back in a middleweight bout (you know you were waiting for it!) and the Andre Hunter (of Seth Mitchell fame)-trained Terron Grant is there, too. Reverse chronological order…
Seth Mitchell had all the juice behind him as a promising American heavyweight with HBO backing, but he suffered an enormous upset knockout loss to Johnathon Banks in the lead-in to the main event. This was shocking stuff. It's not that Mitchell losing at all is shocking; he came to the sport late, and as quickly as he advanced, he still had a ways to go before becoming more than a prospect aspiring to contender-hood. But after a good 1st round, albeit one where he appeared a bit skittish, Mitchell got caught with a series of left right combos that dropped him three times. Banks, who dedicated the win to his recently deceased trainer, the legendary Emanuel Steward, waited for his opening and took it when it arrived, as he tried to counter Mitchell and eventually caught him. And when he caught him, Mitchell, who looked like he might have a shaky chin in a come-from-behind win in his last outing against Chazz Witherspoon, didn't take the shots well. To his credit, he got back up, and to Banks' credit, he wouldn't let his wobbly-kneed opponent tie him up. Banks was viewed as the lesser talent, but he was the proven veteran here because of Mitchell's late start in the sport, and his experience was probably an important difference. Mitchell might be even more exciting now, or this could result in something of a collapse. That's on him, and his team rebuilding him properly.
Afterward, Banks dissected how he won.
"Seth never saw my left hook," he said. "He was not experienced enough to hang on or hold, therefore I was able to continue to hurt him at will." He added: "I was very motivated for this fight. Seth is a big strong guy, but boxing is my life and has been my life since I was 15. This is a new chapter in my life."
Mitchell realized he made some mistakes, but his words suggested he was not daunted, anyway.
"I could've gotten through the round but the referee did what he had to do. He caught me and he dazed me. I'm real upset. He is a counterpuncher. He threw a punch that was out of my reach and he caught me," he said. "The 1st round he caught me with some good shots but I still thought I won the round. In the 2nd round the game plan was to be a little smarter and not get caught. And then I threw a looping punch, and he did what he was supposed to do, he counterpunched me, that was the problem.
"I am good. I feel OK. I'll be back," Mitchell said.
Phil Lo Greco came from Toronto and rallied from a 1st round knockdown by Daniel Sostre to take a questionable 7th round stoppage victory in the best fight of the night to this point, by far. Lo Greco (junior middleweight) looked like he was in control in the 1st, but Sostre caught him with a surprise right that hurt him, and then drove him into the ropes and put him down with a left. Lo Greco got back up and tried to slug, incredibly, then came out hard in the 2nd like he was OK. But Sostre hurt him again with the right, but this time the slugging-back approach worked; he started digging into Sostre's body. By the 3rd, Sostre was breathing hard and apparently was hurt by some body shots, and the compound effect made it so that by the 6th he was taking a lot of punishment from the supremely conditioned Lo Greco, and dropping his hands because he was tired, making it so he caught even more of a beating. When the ref stepped in, Sostre wasn't badly hurt, but he was not firing back much. The crowd booed it, which was understandable, but it wasn't an insane stoppage. Lo Greco fought stupidly after being hurt, but he fought with some guts and the comeback was impressive to me from a drama/action vantagepoint, at least. Also, I think Sostre was hurt by ass crack exposure in the last couple rounds. His trunks were so low I saw actual ass crack. A ref couldn't be blamed for thinking that if someone's ass crack was out, he was in trouble. (Lo Greco's quotes after were pretty funny, btw: "I feel like a million bucks. That's two times in a row I was knocked down in the 1st round. I feel like (Felix) Trinidad. I gotta get warmed up.")
Demetrius Hopkins' bout was just slightly over the junior middleweight limit, so only technically a middleweight bout. He was not his usual boring self in this fight, and was in fact rather aggressive against Joshua Snyder, who obliged him with some slugging. In the 1st, the crowd reacted to a punch after the bell by Hopkins, and in the 3rd Snyder backed Hopkins up with a combination, but other than that everything went Hopkins' way. In the 5th, he scored a knockdown that looked like something of a flash knockdown with a right hand; Snyder's knee quickly hit the canvas but he popped back up just as quickly. He even got some time to recover because he lost his mouthpiece. But another right hand from Hopkins hurt Snyder legit a few moments later, and after that Hopkins teed off, forcing the ref to stop it. Hopkins looked good, but has usually looked good in spurts between not beating guys when he steps up. Maybe there's another run toward contendership in him. I wouldn't get my hopes up, but I wouldn't count him out, either.
Philly prospect Julian Williams doesn't hit all that hard — he has four knockouts in nine fights, and was walloping Jonuel Tapia with flush, sweat-spraying punches over and over again, yet Tapia was never hurt — but he got the stoppage by turning up the pressure in the 7th of eight rounds, forcing the ref to save his sluggish-looking opponent. Williams, a junior middleweight, is a little bit of a cutie, about whose signing promoter Gary Shaw was excited enough to issue a news release. Tapia couldn't connect on him except when he would throw combinations, but even then, say, one out of five punches might land, usually to the body. Williams was sharp defensively, and would do nifty things like throwing a left hook to the body followed by a left uppercut. Before the stoppage, he landed 11 straight left hooks to Tapia's head, because, hell, Tapia was letting him as much as anything. Which is not to say Tapia didn't give effort; I'd recommend him as an opponent for prospects for Williams, because he did fight back. Williams was just better. Tapia wasn't badly hurt at the end, but he was taking enough punishment that the stoppage wasn't hideous.
Welterweight Zachary Ochoa, a two-fight New York prospect who brought a little fan contingent with him, massacred poor Michael Salcido, who came to Atlantic Cty all the way from Arizona for a couple minutes of pain. Ochoa did have some speed, and Salcido sure didn't like getting hit by him. The first knockdown came on a right hand that landed while the opening bell was still reverberating. Where things got really bad for Salcido is when Ochoa landed a right to the body with a sharp smacking sound that had Salcido wincing, and the couple head shots that sent him down probably weren't even necessary, because he was going down in a few split secnds anyway. Salcido obviously didn't want to continue, but when the ref waved him forward, he threw a couple weak "Please for the love of God stay off of me" kind of shots that delayed his inevitable demise. That came on a right hand/left hook combo. Ochoa telegraphed some of his shots, but he showed enough that I'll be interested in his progress. Again, as with the opening fight, it's hard to tell much about prospects THIS green against this level of competition. The "He (Ain't) Beating Ochoa" poster in the crowd was clever. HBO, get it? Also: "Zungry" as a nickname? Hungry, but with a Z?
The aforementioned Grant kicked off the card in pretty dominant fashion, fighting his fifth bout and ending matters in the 1st round. The lightweight prospect exacted a withering body toll on Abraham Esquivel (5-2). Oh, and he hit him in the head, too. I never got the impression that Esquivel was woozy from the punches, only that they hurt an awful lot. I wasn't sure he'd even get up after the first knockdown, but he got up after two more, too, befoe his corner wisely waved the white towel. These aren't the kind of fights that will tell you much about a prospect; I didn't get the impression Grant was super quick, and Esquivel connected here and there, and his record of two knockouts prior to this one would suggest he doesn't hit that hard, but he landed flush and with maximum leverage, so maybe he just ran into a couple tough guys prior.