Those looking for a high quality Friday Night Fights card on ESPN2 this week were looking in the wrong place tonight — at least in the main event. What should have been recognized as a mismatch beforehand, indeed was, as featherweight Javier Fortuna took just over one minute to glue Miguel Zamudio to the canvas with a neck-wrenching left hand.
But for a fight card that propped up a mismatch in its main event, this FNF felt strangely satisfying, though admittedly it may have also been because many of us psychopath pugilism fans have been stricken with pathogenic anticipation for this weekend’s action.
Sometimes fight cards that are in ways underwhelming can fill the emptiness with a sensational knockout, or even just decent moments from hard-working pugs.
It will take longer for most scribes to jot down a few sentences about the fight than it took for the Dominican to conclude business.
Wasting no time, Fortuna attacked Zamudio, 25-2-1 (13 KO), with nearly zero discretion, backing him to the ropes with a heap of power punches. Before Zamudio knew which direction would get him out of danger, a stinging left hand from the southpaw put him down hard. Up and a bit cloudy-headed, but not extremely wobbled, Zamudio could barely take a breath before Fortuna was right back on top of him, and a whistling left hand twisted his head sideways and robbed him of consciousness at 1:08 of the 1st round.
Fortuna, as mentioned in just about every pre-fight description of him available, was named a top prospect and among the upper echelon of budding contenders in 2012.
Following a relatively bland showing against Patrick Hyland in December, many were poised to jump off the bandwagon and write Fortuna off, even if only temporarily. And although his quick win tonight wasn’t the type of showing that launches a fighter’s career into orbit, it was at a minimum a reminder of why Fortuna demanded attention in the first place. If Fortuna needed an eye-popping win, he got one, albeit against an overmatched foe.
A big issue for Fortuna, who improved to 22-0 (16 KO) and 1 no contest, will likely be that 126 lbs. isn’t overflowing with the type of opponents that will help him develop. There’s a gap between the middle tier and more seasoned guys at the name-riddled top, where many fighters are in limbo for one reason or another. Either way, a serious top 10 contender is the next logical step for Fortuna, who should be able to negate many disadvantages with fight-ending power.
Opening up the telecast was John Jackson — the son of famed puncher Julian Jackson — essentially outclassing formerly undefeated junior middleweight Cerresso Fort over eight rounds.
Though action wasn’t exactly edge-of-your-seat business, there were enough fun exchanges to keep the fight interesting. Using his reach, Jackson established a solid jab early, but initially seemed uncomfortable inside and was quick to clinch. Both men began to get wild in the 2nd round, though Jackson looked like he was measuring with his jab to land a long right hand.
Swinging freely in a number of exchanges, Fort left himself open to counters and found himself rocked a few times.Though Fort was able to crush his way indoors at the end of round 4, his pressure wasn’t sprouting much fruit, and in the 5th stanza, he was fed a counter right hand that had him pondering abstract concepts for a moment or two.
Jackson relegated Fort to following him around and colliding with him inside in the 6th, as he couldn’t seem to master the distance game and wasn’t committing to many punches, and the 7th round wasn’t much different. Errant right hands were catching Fort easily, and spacial reasoning proved to be a conundrum for him.
Showing a flash of his dad’s punching power in round 8, Jackson put Fort on the defensive with uppercuts and wide right hands, and Fort was unable to heed his corner’s advice to seize a knockout and win the fight.
One confusing 77-75 score wasn’t enough to offset two completely sane 79-73 cards, all of which backed Jackson, now 16-1 (14 KO). Fort’s ledger falls to 16-1-1 (11 KO).
In his third win since dropping a decision to Willie Nelson last September, Jackson showed there are still some improvements to be made before stepping up the opposition with a straight face; he pulls back with his hands low and lowers his hands on the approach a bit much. One might like to see him tighten up his defense and straighten some of his punches up, even though a wide left hook sneaked around Fort’s guard every so often. But at 6’0″ and sporting reach for days, he may be able to present geographical issues for many opponents.
With some time to kill after an unexpectedly vicious KO, FNF continued with its salute to ShoBox and matched another pair of prospects in a six rounder to make up for the short fight.
Ghanaian Emmanuel Lartey took a curiously unanimous verdict against another Dominican in Jonathan Batista, who had been pegged a favorite going into the bout.
Despite appearing hesitant and a bit too eager to wait for countering opportunities to present themselves, and often missing the counters, Lartey won a unanimous decision by scores of 59-55, 59-56 and 60-54.
The fight, while not “boring,” wasn’t particularly eventful either, and Batista appeared to land a good percentage of snappy right hands on the southpaw Lartey, but apparently the arbiters disagreed with that vision, and Lartey was awarded the decision nonetheless.