Friday night from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, junior middleweight Tony Harrison used his blistering hand speed to stop shopworn Antwone Smith in two rounds on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights.
Harrison (20-0, 17 KO) knocked Smith down with a long right hand late in the first. Smith (23-6, 12 KO) beat the count, but absorbed a vicious beating for the last few seconds and was knocked down again right at the bell. Referee Robert Byrd correctly gave Smith a count and allowed the fight to continue, but warned Smith in the corner that if he got into trouble again he would pull the plug. It didn’t take long for that to happen. Harrison pounced on Smith immediately in the 2nd and had him reeling, prompting Byrd to step in and halt the bout.
It’s hard to know what to make of Harrison from this fight, since Smith had absolutely nothing. What we can say is that Harrison has phenomenal speed and good power. Hopefully his backers will move him along more quickly. He looks ready for a fringe contender.
Smith, on the other hand, needs to call it a day. He had been out of the ring for a year and a half prior to this bout and looked rusty and tentative. His heart may still be in it, but his legs and chin definitely are not.
In the co-feature, Ukrainian middleweight Ievgen Khytrov (pictured above, via DiBella Entertainment) impressed with an 8th round stoppage of tough Jorge Melendez. Khytrov (9-0, 9 KO) was in complete control, alternating between cutting the ring off effectively and circling Melendez. If the plan was for Khytrov to get some rounds in, he did just that, and did it extremely well. Melendez (28-5, 26 KO) had sporadic moments of success, but was unable to match the Ukrainian’s superior technique, footwork, and power, and as the fight progressed he was taking a beating. Melendez’s corner wisely threw in the towel after he took a knee on a delayed reaction from a crunching body shot from Khytrov.
Khytrov is good. Really good. He moves fluidly and has excellent balance, which masks his lack of foot speed. Khytrov also throws well in combination and every punch is well leveraged. When he works behind his jab, which is thudding, he’s fantastic. He is also relaxed in the ring. At no time does he appear rushed or jittery. Some fighters never develop that level of comfort, and he has it in spades. He may not be quite ready to fight a contender, but he’s damn close to that.
In a fight that lasted an entire 93 seconds, junior middleweight prospect and former national amateur champion, Erickson Lubin (10-0, 7 KO) dropped Kenneth Council three times forcing the bout to be waived off by referee Russell Mora. ESPN’s Teddy Atlas predicted this would be a mismatch before the opening bell, and he was not wrong. Lubin is a quick southpaw and his right hook was dialed in from the outset. Council (8-1, 6 KO) had nothing for Lubin.
In the opening bout, middleweight prospect Caleb Plant won a squash job on woefully overmatched Daniel Henry. Plant (7-0, 5 KO) dropped Henry with a combination less than a minute into the fight and couldn’t miss thereafter. Henry (2-3-3) tried to fight back, but was not able. The end came when Plant landed a big combination on Henry, who staggered, then turned his back in the corner. Plant kept punching knocking Henry cold. Where was referee Jay Nady during this? Getting nachos, sending snapchats, checking out the ring card girls, who knows. He damn sure wasn’t doing his job. This was a mismatch made worse by Nady’s incompetent performance. Henry was taken to the hospital after the fight.
Rabies Watch: Teddy was calm. It was awful. In fact, the only thing rabid during the card was me yelling at my TV, thoroughly incensed by Nady’s abysmal refereeing.
ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna interviewed the perpetually tedious Adrien Broner, who claims he is maturing. OK then. Maybe make weight before you claim you’ve grown up. I hate myself for actually watching that interview. It was three minutes of my life that I can never get back.