Mostly quick takes on the three bouts on ESPN2′s Friday Night Fights, in chronological order, then some thoughts on Bernard Hopkins’ studio work:
- Lightweight prospect Adrien Broner got a little lucky to emerge with the decision over Fernando Quintero, which I scored a draw. Broner clearly won the 1st, 7th and 8th, but everything else was clear for Quintero or at worst borderline. Broner has serious speed, and he showed it in the 1st and 2nd, which I gave Broner. And Broner has good defensive reflexes. But Quintero eventually began to take advantage of Broner’s wide stance, which had me confused that he was an exceptionally short lightweight at first. The jab/overhand right/work the body on the inside tact was very effective. But Quintero took the fight on four days notice, and Broner was better conditioned. He also began to circle Quintero on his toes in the last two rounds, and he was better able to counter with his feet not being so set. One judge saw it a draw, and two gave it to Broner, 77-75 and 78-74. How a judge found six rounds to give Broner I don’t understand. Broner has some physical capabilities, and his amateur background may, in the end, help him more than it hurt him (ESPN’s team was all over Broner for not sitting down on his punches), but he’s got a ways to go. He’s only eight fights in, but Quintero seemed smarter than him, despite that amateur background. Maybe it’s just that Broner is 19.
- In his third pro fight, junior middleweight prospect Charles Hatley made short work of his opponent, who was there to get beat with his 3-3-1 record and three-fight losing streak. The first punch Hatley landed, a counter straight right, scored a knockdown, the second punch nearly did, and the third punch, a left hook, finished the job in the 1st round. Too soon to tell much of anything here. Moving along.
- Middleweight prospect Craig McEwan (not McEwen, as ESPN spelled it throughout… don’t they know the name of the main attraction, even?) scored a unanimous decision win over Brian Vera, and it wasn’t close in reality, even if the judges scored it 97-93 across the board against Vera, a local Texas lad. I only gave the first round to Vera, from the big looping rights he was landing. Vera would land the occasional looping right after that, but McEwan, for the most part, adjusted, not going straight back — usually, stepping in or to the side. In every round, almost, he flashed some new stuff that confused Vera. One round it was leadt lefts. Another round, it was fighting well with his back on the ropes. In another round, it was the uppercut from the outside. Vera was confused, and while ESN’s Teddy Atlas wondered aloud whether Vera’s recent knockout loss had something to do with his seeming lack of effort, I think he just couldn’t keep up with McEwan’s versatility and didn’t know what to do when his big rights weren’t landing. McEwan would trade with Vera in the 7th to give Vera a chance — even though McEwan got the better of the exchanges, Vera outlasted Andy Lee last year in a slugfest because he’s so stupid tough — but he regained his form in the final two rounds. Vera was tired from all the punches McEwan landed and all the missing by the 10th, so there was no hope of a crazy knockout shot. Is McEwan all that good? I don’t see it, because he’s slow, doesn’t hit hard and makes mistakes that a better fighter will exploit, like moving backward with his hands down, but I stick by my earlier assessment that he can “fight a little.” And now we know he’s got heart and composure, because Vera will test that about you. In a weak middleweight division, he could maybe crack the top 10.
- In the studio, Bernard Hopkins was inclined to think light heavyweight Antonio Tarver only weighed in at 172 lbs. for tomorrow night’s rematch with Chad Dawson because he wanted more speed. I wonder if Tarver didn’t overtrain. That figure is surprisingly low. Also, Hopkins was a little bit more bold in his predictions for upcoming fights and a little more willing to be critical of Golden Boy Promotions products, which he’ll have to be if anyone is going to take him seriously as a broadcaster while he holds a role with GBP.