(A rundown of all the blazing television action that took place over the weekend.)
Exciting Chris Avalos nailed Jose Nieves into the canvas in four rounds on Showtime and never once looked like a fighter who could threaten top bantamweights or featherweights in the future. One of those alleged switch hitters who seems to be middling from both southpaw and orthodox stances, Avalos likes to mix it up and appears immune to the concept of defense. With his jaw floating in the air like a party balloon, a stance better suited for quickdraw at high noon, and with punches wide enough to make XXL snow angels, Avalos will be fun for as long as his chin holds out. Nieves, 17-2-3 (8), boxed neatly in the first round, but could not seem to recover his poise after suffering a knockdown in round two. Although he landed occasional sharp counters while leaning on the ropes, Nieves was simply overwhelmed by a ferocious opponent. Now 15-0 with 12 knockouts, Avalos is raw power and aggression, a natural crowd pleaser and young enough, at 20, to improve, but his unbridled attack may catch up to him sooner than later.
If anyone can find anything good to say about the fandango between undistinguished Raymond Serrano (soon to be a “Hot Prospect,” no doubt) and Oklahoma City card-carrying circuit member Ronnie Warrior, please e-mail The Cruelest Sport ASAP. Warrior fought like a man with chronic fatigue syndrome and Serrano fought like a man who did not know that Warrior, in this day and age, has fought more no-decision bouts than Jack Dempsey. Nothing short of a booby hatch could make this bout interesting. All that was needed was a nice trap door somewhere near center ring, one that would open at random and without warning, like something out of a Parker Brothers board game. Maybe ESPN2 prefers its own games, however, like pretending Ronnie Warrior can fight. But that game, unfortunately, is played an awful lot these days and, in fact, can be considered a cyberspace fad by now.
When Jesse Brinkley spanked Curtis Stevens over twelve rounds in a rare ESPN2 main event worth watching, it was a victory for grit over glitz. A packed house at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada, treated to a solid club fight, roared when the decision was announced for Brinkley after twelve rounds of solid milling. Stevens, one half of the now-defunct but formerly overhyped “Chin Checkers” duo along with Jaidon Codrington, has never been able to match his marketing–or his mouth–with accomplishments.
Early in his career, Stevens would enter New York City rings accompanied by aggressive hip-hop tunes cranked to tinnitus levels, backed by a rollicking entourage whose number probably outstripped that of Leon Spinks in 1978, and dressed in some kind of urban ninja outfit–including an outlaw bandana covering half of his face. He would then perform some kind of arcane war dance during the ring announcements and then charge out of his corner and blast out some of the most hapless pugs to ever stagger through the ropes on the Eastern seaboard. One of these palookas, Henry Dukes, actually entered the ring draped in a Spider-Man beach towel! If Stevens did not whack out his hand-picked piñata quickly, he would develop a tic–visible only occasionally on ESPN2 last Friday because television is obsessed with showing boxers only from the waist up like Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show–where he would lift his right foot up and tap his toes into the mat. This bizarre move ranks up there with Mike Tyson chewing his own glove against Kevin McBride and Allan Green playing peek-a-boo with his feet whenever things get icky. When Stevens gets to tapping out Morse code with his right foot, it is an indication of his realization that Henry Dukes, alas, is not in the ring with him. Like most “prospects,” Stevens pole axes the meek with regularity and struggles against anything resembling a prize fighter. The Cruelest Sport covered the “Chin Checkers” psuedo-phenomenon, along with the phony New York prospect scene in general, a couple of years ago for East Side Boxing (Before learning stiff lessons about the company one keeps): Positively Alice In Wonderland.
Brinkley is only moderately talented, but, after 13 years of scraping a living as a prizefighter, he has learned a few tricks of the trade. That, and the ability to make a fist, was more than enough to make a patsy out of Stevens. Brinkley feints, more often than not circles to the weak side of his opponent, works the body on the inside, throws combinations in order to create openings, and rides with punches to dull their effect. Aside from his collapse against Joey Spina in 2006, he has also shown a certain amount of durability in the ring. Brinkley scored two knockdowns on the way to a wide decision victory and is rumored to be on the Lucian Bute hit list. Stevens, on the other hand, will probably talk some more, knock out a few pieces of driftwood here and there, and then talk some more.
Another big fight over the weekend was contested for the World Wicca light heavyweight championship. Beibut Shumenov proved to be the better sorcerer by hypnotizing two of the three judges at ringside and walking away with a supernatural decision over Gabriel Campillo after twelve brisk rounds. The two combatants combined for a total 32 professional bouts and it was noticeable. Shumenov cannot fight, but tries his best and has a funny name. Campillo, a southpaw whose nickname translates loosely into “Good-looking Dude,” might have learned how to fight if he had had a world-class trainer to work with him when he was young. As it is, he cannot even be bothered to move his lead foot first. Not only does he not move his lead foot first, but he moves his back foot, in this case the left, out to the side and then steps forward with his lead foot. Any fighter worth his salt would merely step to the left and have Campillo off-balance and practically facing the opposite direction. Any fighters out there worth their salt these days? Campillo works hard, is in fantastic condition, has a decent jab, and appeared to sandblast his unimaginative opponent, Beibut. Now what does the peanut gallery howl when an actual stinkeroo of a decision appears? Since every competitive fight is labeled a “robbery” these days, it might help if another term can be used for absurd decisions now that “robbery” is passé from overuse. How about “pilfering?” Will “pilfering” do? It was a pilfering! By the way, the foolish alphabet trinket these two amateurs fought for has now been successfully defended a total of five times since Roy Jones Jr. was promoted to “Super Champion” in 2004.
In a battle of Olympian futility, Eduardo Escobedo earned a unanimous decision over inept Joksan Hernandez over 10 stupefying rounds. So haphazard was the action that even the network producers seemed confounded by it: At one point they ran commercials for two minutes between rounds and joined the, umm, inaction in progress. Who could blame them? The Tecate ads were much more entertaining. As for the fight, Escobedo was the less un-skillful of the two, and came away with a unanimous decision. In a perverse way, we should hope that Hernandez, who appeared to be sporting tattoos of “set” signs on his back, is a better gangbanger than he is a boxer.
Jorge Arce, 30, is now a FOUR-TIME WORLD CHAMPION after notching a technical decision over Indonesian tongue-twister Angky Angkota (known as Double A hereafter) for the WACI super-duper flyweight championship. Arce is redeemed, rejuvenated, and resurrected, Lord have mercy, we know it! The fight was stopped after an “accidental” headbutt left Double A with a nasty cut over his right eye and unable to continue during the seventh round. Except, of course, Arce was using his head as a wrecking ball throughout the fight and also landed so many low blows that Double A probably qualifies as a late-blooming castrati by this point.
Double A also chose a peculiar strategy in Mexico last night. See, he rarely left his corner after the bell would ring to start a round. Instead, he would lean against the turnbuckle shortly after rising from his stool and allow Arce to work him over, perhaps in a spirit of bipartisanship. Every now and then Double A would counter or wiggle like a contestant on “Sabado Gigante.” This unusual tactic, one whose allure remains a mystery, was probably last used by Roger Mayweather. The “Black Mamba” employed it without success against Kostya Tszyu in 1995. Double A needs new role models. Arce, who has had 24 WORLD TITLE fights (26 if you count WORLD YOUTH titles) in 60 career bouts, remains the poster boy for alphabet lunacy, a disease much harder to understand than pica or trichtillomania.
Topics: Chris Avalos, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Curtis Stevens, Double A, EPN2, Gangbangers Who Cannot Box, Henry Dukes, Jesse Brinkley, Jorge Arce, Jose Nieves, Oklahoma City Card-Carrying Circuit Members, Palookas, Pica, Pilfering, Raymond Serrano, Roger Mayweather, Sabado Gigante, Spider-Man Beach Towels, Super Middleweights, World Wicca Light Heavyweight Championship