WASHINGTON, D.C. — As fantastic as it is that more than 9,000 are expected tonight at the Washington Convention Center, and as refreshing as it is that the audience trickling in is mostly black (they’ve long been thought to be abandoning the sport), it’s more than a bit horrendous that almost half of those people will have an obscured view. The entire layout is flat, just rows and rows of seating, and there are large sections in the back that have significantly obscured views courtesy a giant curtained, girdered structure that looks as though it belongs to HBO.
With that good news/bad news out of the way, we’ll work our way through the undercard here, in chronological order. We’ll talk about not only the main televised undercard bout between heavyweight Seth Mitchell and Timur Ibragimov, but also fights involving local-ish boxers like middleweight Fernando Guerrero and very youthful local prospect Dusty Harrison who no doubt will bring in some fans for this show.
Young White Plains, Md. lightweight Joshua Davis got off to a difficult start in the 1st round of his second career fight, with 2-7-1 Chris Russell connecting plenty despite clear physical disadvantages. He continued to connect on some pretty flush shots throughout, actually, and I’m not sure why; it’s not like Russell was throwing some kind of advanced boxing tricks at him, although he was a little awkward. Davis’ sharper, faster punches bloodied Davis’ nose in the 2nd round, though, and he mostly dominated the rest of the fight. I suspect Russell was a slightly better opponent than his record would suggest; that Davis’ reflexes, despite his speed, are not quite up to snuff; and that, hey, this is the guy’s second pro fight. Davis by unanimous decision, with one judge giving him an underserved sweep and the other two giving him three of the four total rounds.
Another White Plains, Md. 1-0 fellow, Terron Grant, thoroughly overwhelmed his “opponent.” The lightweight pounced on Dashawn Autry — less experienced than Davis’ opponent at 0-1 — and never let up. All Autry could do was back away, cover up and try to launch himself out crazily when Grant cornered him. Grant took advantage of that, too, at one point teeing off on Autry with a giant punch while he was running away. The referee was forced to stop it because Autry was so stationary for such long stretches, taking body shots and uppercuts, hunched over at the end between the ropes even if he wasn’t badly hurt. Grant got the 1st round TKO that way. Grant vs. Davis, maybe, if they both get a little seasoning, to decide the king of the White Plains, Md. lightweight prospect hill?
D.C.-based 17-year-old welterweight sensation Dusty Harrison in his third career pro fight made short work of 0-4 Terrell Davis, knocking him down three times with right hands in the inaugural round, the first one kind of a cuffing shot and the second one enough to make Davis — upon rising — dive toward Harrison’s midsection and miss an attempt to hold on for dear life. The third right was academic; Davis didn’t want anymore after that second shot anyhow, and the ref waved it off after the third knockdown. Harrison showed blue-chip stuff, although it was against a very unskilled-looking foe, about what you’d expect for such a green pro’s opponent.
Middleweight Fernando Guerrero showed little ill effect from his first loss, a stoppage at the hands of Grady Brewer one weight class down, scoring a big 5th round knockout that left his opponent Robert Kliewer in sorry shape, flat on his back. In the 1st round, Kliewer — who’s been in with some relatively big names, like Anthony Dirrell and Danny Jacobs and been KO’d by them — connected on a couple shots. In the 3rd, he landed a flurry after Guerrero cornered him and was teeing off. But mostly Guerrero managed the cornering and teeing off real well, timing the moment when Kliewer would explode off the ropes and getting away and getting his gloves up perfectly. A knockdown came via a lead right uppercut in the 4th, then a combination led to another in the 5th, and finally a sweeping left did Kliewer in after he woke up. Guerrero might take a couple more of these before raising his level of competition again, but every time I see him against this level of opposition he looks like a terrific defensive boxer — not so much against bigger names. I do think he’s evolved as a defensive fighter, probably, and that’s what he’ll need to do before once more getting in tough.
Manny Pacquiao sparring partner Jamie Kavanagh fought to a bloody majority draw against Ramesis Gil, with Kavanagh winning on one card, 58-56. I thought the result was fair, and even though the lightweight Irishman Kavanagh had picked up some mini-Manny moves — in-and-out, quick compact punches — he is afflicted by the same syndrome every Irish boxer is afflicted by, i.e. “Gettinghittoomuch-ism.” By the 2nd round Kavanagh was already bleeding from the left eye, and frankly shouldn’t have been getting hit by some of Gil’s wild, off-balance but powerful two-handed swings. The rounds were close, with Kavanagh generally busier and landing some decent, sweat-spraying shots, but Gil landing harder, more crowd-pleasing shots. Kavanagh’s prospects as a prospects weren’t ever that high, but they took a dip here. He still could be a fun little fighter, though, by way of consolation.
It’s not clear to me how lightweight Anthony Peterson (thought to be the harder-hitting of the Peterson brothers) wasn’t able to knock out Daniel Attah (a career junior lightweight, for the most part, who has been knocked out five times) after whomping on him for eight rounds. But he got the easy unanimous decision. Attah would connect on Peterson with the stray overhand left or hook flurries to the body, but mostly he survived with defensive craft. Peterson still cornered him a ton and hammered away to his ribs and with uppercuts and straight shots to the head. Attah didn’t even really looked that marked up from where I was sitting. Peterson obviously is still rebuilding his career from that bizarre disqualificaiton loss to Brandon Rios, and while he basically did everything right against Attah, I’m still confounded by the lack of a knockout of an older (34 years old), smaller, knockoutable man.
The most explosive performance of the night came via light heavyweight Thomas Williams, who sliced through Reynaldo Rodriguez in two rounds, scoring two knockdowns in the 1st then refusing to relent in the 2nd to prompt Rodriguez corner to wisely throw in the towel. Williams is trained by George Peterson, trainer of all-brawling Paul Williams, and showed defensive responsibility with his upper body movement and glove positioning, when he wasn’t unleashing combos that finished with right hooks that decked Rodriguez. This one got the crowd going more than any other fight of the night; the Guerrero KO was a big one, but it wasn’t as utterly violent a performance as Williams’.
Seth Mitchell buried Timur Ibragimov in a landslide of giant straight and overhand rights, then shoveled some more big rights on the coffin in a massive assault in the 2nd round that forced the referee to step in and stop it. In the 1st, things were going OK for Timur, who was connecting with his jab and straight right while Mitchell worked his jab and the body of Ibragimov to edge the round. In the 2nd, Ibragimov connected on a couple meaningful punches, and it seemed to wake up Mitchell. He began setting up that big right with body shots and left hooks, and from there it was a festival of big rights. If this was an audition for Mitchell to be best American heavyweight, it was a mighty nice showing; Ibragimov is by far the best opponent of Mitchell’s career, if not something of a fringe contender, and Mitchell blew him out. And if it was an audition for “actual exciting heavyweight” as opposed to the unexciting Klitschko brothers that control the division, it was that, too. I’m not saying Mitchell beats either of the Klitschkos anytime soon, if ever, but it’s hard not to like the progress Mitchell has made and the excitement quotient he brings. He’s nearing readiness for a top 10 heavyweight, if he didn’t arrive there Saturday already.