On the latest installment of Friday Night Fights, ESPN2 opened up what most assume will be an underwhelming weekend of fights with a surprisingly entertaining card that featured a rare total of four bouts.
Program mainstay Ruslan Provodnikov made quick two-round work of Jose Reynoso in the main event, effectively ending any hopes that a Riverside, Calif. product would score an upset in a boxing main event two weeks in a row.
As action in the bout became interesting, what with Reynoso’s tricky style and movement and all, Provodnikov concentrated on body work before trapping Reynoso near the ropes and finishing him with a series of right hands.
In the co-headliner, hard-nosed and underrated Chris Martin snapped Roberto Castaneda in half with body shots after seeming stifled by the latter’s busier style for a handful of rounds, stopping his man in the 6th of a satisfying outing in terms of action.
The support bouts came in the form of two four-round scrapes between Roberto Crespo and Oscar Godoy, and Aaron Acevedo and Daniel Martinez, all of whom accounted themselves without complete embarrassment.
Ruslan Provodnikov’s style is his own in-ring press release. He’s the type of fighter that you’ll tune in to see even against sub-par opposition because, quite simply, he’s just fun to watch ply his trade. Whether his opponent is a boxer, a puncher, a boxer-puncher, or whatever other description could be wedged in there, he’ll likely fight as if he wants a clean decapitation.
Provodnikov pressed to start out the 1st in just about the only way he knows how to fight, while Reynoso wisely clinched in close, avoiding sustained exchanges. A nice southpaw left hand from Reynoso caught Provodnikov flush, but little to deter him from marching on and going to his body. A pair of lefts again caught the Russian at the close of the round. In Round 2, Reynoso drew a few warnings for holding, and Provodnikov reached with right hands to the body. A cracking right from Provodnikov opened Reynoso up for a few more, and another sweeping right hand dropped him hard up against the ropes.
Failing to beat the count, Reynoso still made it to his feet, revealing an absolutely crushed sniffer as he bobbed to his corner wearily.
In elevating his record to 22-1 (15 KO), Provodnikov took care of an opponent that, although riding a nearly three-year unbeaten streak, wasn’t exactly proven against a hard-charging upper-ish echelon guy like Ruslan. In the meantime, Provodnikov’s shortcomings were capitalized upon, however briefly, but Reynoso was still able to befuddle him for a few moments by simply not standing in front of him.
It should be noted, though, that Provodnikov set up his right hand bombs with body work, rather than strong-arming them to the target as he has in the past. It’s doubtful he’ll rise far above a Friday night level if he does at all, but whatever gets him on television more often than not suits both him and the fans just fine. Tenacity and punching power are attributes that rarely make for bad TV.
There’s not a lot to say about or for Reynoso, now 16-4-1 (3 KO), as he didn’t have a lot of time to pull a Josesito Lopez — last weekend’s upset artist — before dining on right hands early on the bout. His style looks as though it could trouble some simpler opponents, but his only answer inside and at a mid-range was to hold, which isn’t likely to cut it at this level.
Former amateur standout Martin, 24-2-3 (7 KO), survived some rushes from Mexicali native Castaneda in the co-main event and turned the tables on him with more accurate shots to stop him ruthlessly with shot to the body. It was entertaining stuff, for the most part, and a nice style clash that wound up playing out well for fans.
A nice jab from Castaneda found its way into the mix early on in Round 1, though the scrappy and relatively awkward Martin managed to pop his foe with unexpected strikes as he came forward, as Castaneda perhaps wasn’t expecting much based on Martin’s knockout percentage. But a left hook with a lot of effort behind it found Castaneda as both a lead and a counter in Round 2. Martin also found a way to negate Castaneda’s jab some with deft parrying, but he was often outworked despite also looping a few rights around the guard.
Castaneda’s flurries and jabs landed with flare, but Martin’s quality and defense shone through not long into the 3rd round, and a good right hand briefly stung Castaneda, who immediately retreated. Martin then likely punctuated the round with a whipping left hook in a follow-up exchange.
Chris Martin opened up Round 4 with a lead left hook and some lead overhand rights before Castaneda came forward behind mixing up upstairs and down. In the middle of an exchange, Castaneda landed a hook that appeared to stun Martin, who gamely fought back but went defensive a bit much and took another left hook as the round came to a close.
The “quality vs. quantity” battle resumed in the 5th, with Castaneda just doing more, thought more effective than likely given credit for as Martin’s counter salvos were becoming a tad watered down. Then, with moments remaining in the 5th, Martin landed a disgusting right hand to the body that sent Castaneda directly to the mat in clear pain. Rising on weary legs, Castaneda survived the round but had little to offer and looked rough in his corner.
Castaneda reeked of blood to begin Round 6, and Martin caught the scent without missing a beat, banging Castenda around for the first minute or so of the round. Castaneda found his sea legs though, fighting back with his own stuff to the body and essentially going right back to his gameplan at range. Martin’s shots looked more damaging, though, and another body shot folded Castaneda in half and had him writhing in agony. Rising at the count of nine, Castaneda clearly had about enough and was immediately stopped by ref Jerry Cantu.
Official time was 2:31 of the 6th.
Coming off a rough patch that had Martin at 0-2-1 in his last three match ups, Chris was ripe for a big win, and he managed to rebound in a noticeable way here. His opponent might not have been all that recognizable, but a win’s on the ledger nonetheless, and he can move on.
That’s not to say Castaneda’s stock should plummet, though. He turned in a good effort and was ended by a couple of very well-placed bangs to the body. Otherwise he put forth a good effort, threw a good amount of punches, and even managed to rattle Martin a time or two. At 20-2-1 (15 KO), he’s still got the kind of ledger that could be pimped out a bit and resold on Friday Night Fights, and he’d probably be watchable.
Beginning the broadcast was a surprise four rounder that had its share of fun moments between two regular spring chickens in Acevedo and Martinez, who both stayed undefeated in fighting to a majority draw.
Martinez dispensed with the pro debut jitters early on in the 1st round, whistling a few right hands at Acevedo, but not without taking some solid ones in return. The fledgling fighters displayed little caution and took turns smacking at one another, but Acevedo dominated the last half of the round with wide shots as Martinez seemed stuck on the ropes. Trading left hooks in the 2nd, Acevedo’s shots, while more looping, had greater effect until Martinez wrenched Acevedo’s head a bit with a counter right hand. Martinez’ output left much to be desired, though, and commentator Joe Tessitore aptly pointed out that he may have been avoiding running out of gas early.
Again Martinez left opportunities un-seized with a lacking output in Round 3, made even more frustrating by the fact that he opened up with nice bombs more than once, but stopped short of capitalizing and went back to attempting defense.
In the 4th and last stanza, Acevedo drove Martinez backwards with stiff shots, though without visibly damaging him much. As Martinez’ left eyebrow showed wear, he lashed out with a brief assault that stopped Acevedo in his tracks before closing the bout with honest effort.
Scores were 38-38 twice, and 39-37 for Martinez, who put himself on the map with a 0-0-1 (0 KO) record. Acevedo moves to 1-0-1 (1 KO).
A twitchy Crespo spent most of Round 1 cautiously playing the distance game, but not without occasionally lunging forward with jabs upstairs and down. Godoy’s efforts paid off with some right hand over his foe’s jab, but not much significant happened. Round 2 began without much change in tempo, with neither man all that interested in taking chances, but a cut over the left eye of Crespo was ruled caused by a punch, which had him moving forward and opening up more. A mid-exchange hook from Godoy landed harder than just about anything else in the round, but a few jabs from him also found the mark well.
Coming forward with a bit more purpose but visibly less zip on his shots was Crespo in the 3rd, and his clinching inside was countered by wide punches around his guard — some to the back of the head. In the final minute, it was actually Godoy holding on, but he also delivered the majority of effective shots.
Again Crespo appeared to understand that he was likely down on the cards, and he attacked willingly in the 4th and final round, though he was countered plenty and again tied up inside by Godoy. Stiff jabs from Godoy rocked Crespo back on his heels late in the round, though about four solid rights and lefts from Crespo closed the round for him.
Judges’ scorecard read 40-36 two times, and 39-37, all for Godoy, who brings his record to 7-2 (3 KO). Roberto Crespo falls to 4-2 (0 KO).
This is right about he level we need you to stay at, ESPN. There’s no need for celebrities, gimmicks or fluff. If you continue scheduling well-matched fights and mapping out broadcasts tactfully, we’ll return.