(Adonis Stevenson; credit, Nina Michele le Floch)
Albert Mensah vs. Mick Katsidis was an intravenous injection to keep us from slipping into some kind of hopelessly catatonic state last week on Friday Night Fights, and this week’s match up was like a booster shot to make sure last week’s treatment took.
The aftermath of weeks of crappy ESPN matchmaking made us feel like nobody who’d graced our television sets before chucked like a Katsidis. But who does?
The guy’s a tough act to follow, win or lose. Even a week later.
But if mismatches is what we get, then the favorites should deliver with results that thrill.
They missed the mark a bit this week, and even managed to deliver a helping of controversy in two of the three televised fights broadcast from the Bell Centre in Montreal.
The main even this week lasted slightly longer than it takes for LeBron James to score about 20 points (five minutes), but fueled some banter among boxing fans as Adonis Stevenson, 18-1 (15 KO), wedged Noe Gonzalez against the ropes and scored a technical knockout win in the 2nd.
Stevenson, a Haitian super middleweight fighting out of Montreal, Quebec, showed little fear early in the 1st, opening up with sweeping shots until the action slowed back down to a feeling out pace. Adonis backed up comfortably later in the round with his hands down, picking off much of what Gonzalez offered.
Adonis retreated a bit in the 2nd, attempting to let Gonzalez’ offense create openings for him. Some pawing jabs mixed with harder ones set Gonzalez up for a left hand around his high guard, and he ambled back to the ropes, which allowed Stevenson to open up with shots either through or again around his guard. After being moved into a corner, Gonzalez was badly shaken by a big left hand and some follow up right hooks that had Gonzalez looking clueless and his guard falling rapidly, prompting a referee stoppage.
In general, the immediate reaction to the stoppage was that of criticism. ESPN2 ringside commentator Teddy Atlas repeated the mantra that the fight had been halted far too early, only to backtrack some upon viewing the slow motion replay, which showed that Gonzalez was nearly helpless along the ropes, ready to soak up more punishment than he already had. Further, it highlighted the fact hat Gonzalez himself hadn’t protested the stoppage — likely due to inability, as his information train was clearly jammed.
Best stoppage in the world, it was not. But if a fighter doesn’t have a great shot at turning the tide as is obviously badly hurt, perhaps that’s not worst kind of stoppage either.
Adonis Stevenson opened up in a way that seemed to highlight weakness early in the 1st before setting Gonzalez up for the stop. Until facing Gonzalez, he’d shown a fair amount of aggression, and we knew he could crack a bit. But in setting traps for Gonzalez, Adonis may have shown the mark of a more sophisticated fighter than many thought he was. And whether or not the end was a quick stoppage, that was essentially what Stevenson was supposed to have done. And he did it with a little bit of flair.
Gonzalez, now 28-2 (20 KO), proved to be briefly tricky, but otherwise easily caught, despite going unbeaten since a 2007 loss to Felix Sturm — albeit against very sub-par opposition. And now, he’s likely headed back to Uruguay for to face the same type of opponents.
The televised eight round co-main featured former Colombian Olympian light heavyweight Eleider Alvarez, now 8-0 (5 KO) against Rayco Saunders, 22-16-2 (9 KO), who basically settled for taking jabs all night between short flurries of inside activity.
And actually, the bout could be summed up in two words: Alvarez’ jab. Eleider pumped it, and Saunders couldn’t get past it.
Every so often, like in the 1st and 6th, Saunders fought as if his corner gave him an earful, coming forward with purpose and trying to make something happen, but mostly he just followed, bull-snorting as if he intended to avenge multiple jabs to the puss.
Alvarez’ body work was at times admirable, and he also opened up in a few rounds with hard, crisp combinations. But he was in with a guy he should have dominated, and did, and he crept into Mikey Garcia territory with the jab control and and refusal to step into shots. Saunders was game, but stationary and ready for a better output.
Judges scored the bout a shutout for Eleider Alvares with three scores of 80-72.
The other controversy of the night came as more experienced featherweight Leonus Marie-Francois, 8-6-1 (2 KO), appeared to outwork, out-maneuver and just plain out-do still unbeaten Lebanese transplant Baha Laham, 8-0-1 (3 KO).
Throughout the fight, Laham probably landed the barely harder punches, but they were mostly missed or taken in stride by the “opponent” Marie-Francoise, who landed uppercuts at will on the billygoating Laham and out-fought him from the outside over six rounds.
Instead, likely favorite Laham was treated to lucky draw.
And that’s not all for Friday night coverage. Our Lord and Savior Timothy Q. Starks had a word or two to say on the woeful ShoBox card that aired right after Friday Night Fights, too.