Detroit, Michigan was represented solidly — if not slightly controversially — on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights from the Masonic Temple in The Motor City, as hometown welterweight Vernon Paris scored a unanimous decision win over Manuel Perez, and Cornelius Lock likewise left with a points win over Lonnie Smith.
While initially Paris appeared to be too crafty and slippery for Perez in the main event, beginning in the 3rd round, Perez found a way to time straight right hands down the pipe, and directly over Paris’ low lead left hand. Vernon Paris began to fight back and look to land his own hurt, but retreated into right hands and the occasional left hook while searching for countering opportunities.
Paris, now 28-1 (16 KO) and 3 no contests, managed to conjure up a nice straight right of his own inside of some more looping swings from Perez in round 6, and by the bell, Perez’ left eye appeared to be giving out. As if Paris’ stiff shots weren’t enough, an already somewhat hesitant Perez let his activity dip further in subsequent rounds.
In the 9th round, Perez, now 19-9-1 (4 KO), got noticeably busier, and landed more as a result. The best exchanges of the bout came in the 10th and final round, as Perez continued with his pressure-based momentum, but Paris rallied soon after, and dodged or rolled with many of Perez’ best stuff before countering nicely to end the fight.
After an awkwardly long and silent wait on television, Judges scored the unexpectedly competitive fight 97-93. 96-94 amd 98-92, all for Vernon Paris. Strangely, the scores were announced to television viewers first, as the sound to the in-ring microphone was apparently having issues. In other words, the viewers knew the decision before the fighters did.
Opening the broadcast was junior lightweight Cornelius Lock improving his ledger 21-6-1 (13 KO) with a sloppy, yet fun unanimous decision over Lonnie Smith.
Over 10 physical, push-and-shove type of rounds, Lock consistently landed the harder, barely-cleaner punches despite being muscled to the ropes often, overcoming two bunk knockdown calls in the 4th and 5th rounds. In both instances, the awkwardness of your typical orthodox vs. southpaw match-up surfaced, and Lock went down from foot tangles. The score was evened some in the 10th stanza, however, as Smith was deducted a point for losing his mouthpiece.
Scorecards read 97-91, 96-92 and 95-92, all for Lock. Lonnie Smith, 14-5-3 (10 KO), froze and looked bewildered following the scorecard announcement, clearly feeling he deserved to win the bout.