Protect yourself at all times. Halfway through the 5th round of a scheduled 10 round junior welterweight fight from the Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage, Calif., on Friday, Aron Martinez turned his back on his opponent Josesito Lopez, and referee Jack Reiss waved the bout off, saying (and then repeating ad nauseum) that Martinez had “abandoned the fight.” It was an odd moment, to be sure. Lopez (32-6, 19 KO) was solidly in control of the fight, but Martinez was fighting back. Just before the stoppage, Lopez trapped Martinez (19-3-1, 4 KO) along the ropes and fired a vicious combination to the head and body. Immediately after taking a sharp left hook, Martinez turned his back and held on to the corner post.
Though obviously a little worse for wear following the punishment he absorbed in losses to Canelo Alvarez and Marcos Maidana, Lopez looked fresh. He was busy throughout and looked happy to be back in his natural weight division. Lopez is still too good for most ESPN2 level opponents, but is going to be in over his head against the better fighters at 140 and 147. I’m not sure what to make of Martinez. He hasn’t fought consistently, and his vociferous defense of his behavior after the fight wasn’t convincing. He panicked and quit, no matter what he claims.
Thomas Williams Jr. continued his winning ways with a step-upish 3rd round stoppage of journeyman Enrique Ornelas. Ornelas (34-9, 22 KO) has fought a pretty solid list of fighters from middleweight to light heavyweight, including Bernard Hopkins, but he had no answers for the younger, harder punching Williams (17-0, 12 KO). There were stretches during which Ornelas was able to land his right hand as a lead, but Williams took them well and halfway through the 2nd round, he dropped Ornelas with a chopping overhand left. The 3rd round featured more of the same and with less than 30 seconds to go in the round, Williams caught Ornelas with a brutal combination that dropped him flat on his back. Ornelas appeared to be standing up but fell back down and the fight was waived off.
Williams is a likable prospect. He’s athletic. He has decent technique. He can punch, and he isn’t afraid to get hit in return. I suspect that we will see him move his head more as his competition improves, but I’ve been wrong before. Ornelas hinted before the fight that he was either going to give his career one more hard charge or pack it in. Take option B, Enrique.
In an oddly timed six round super middleweight bout, prospect Immanuwel Aleem (8-0, 4 KO) stopped Michael Noriega (4-3, 4 KO) with a beautiful counter left hook with a minute left in the 2nd round. Stopping Noriega, who had lost his last two and hadn’t fought in 18 months, doesn’t mean much. Aleem does look solid, though. He throws sharp body punches, he can punch with both hands, and he is very athletic. He also has a solid amateur background and good technique.
Rabies Watch: It wasn’t just ESPN’s Teddy Atlas this week. Obviously Shannon Briggs gets some attention for his incredibly depressing antics attempting to bait Wladimir Klitschko into a fight that he would lose every round of and then reveal that he had been diagnosed with pulmonary edema/ebola virus/tertiary syphilis six weeks before the fight and blah blah blah. Briggs needs to go back to wherever he has been hiding for the last few years.
Teddy was mildly rabid throughout. His obsession with Williams being bigger than Ornelas was expected and annoying, but we got a treat when he was discussing Klitschko-Leapai with Todd Grisham. I’m not sure there were any sentences in his answers, just a great deal of frothing about the strength of “Samoyans.”
Breaking News: Chris Arreola is in the best shape of his career. I think he really means it this time.
More Breaking News: Bernard Hopkins is old, and he wants everyone to know that he is old. For someone as intelligent as he is, Hopkins gives atrocious interviews.