Two bouts featuring undefeated prospects, both ending on a foul.
The difference between the two was that Anthony Dirrell was luckier - though also a lot better - than Joseph Elegele on this particular evening.
It was a quick night for the 2004 US Boxing Olympian, who scored a second round knockout of Kevin Engel in the main event of ESPN2 Friday Night Fights at the Morongo Casino in Cabazon, California.
While the outcome was never in doubt, the ending left a dissatisfying feeling to those watching – at home and in attendance. Dirrell was in control and was well on his way to victory, only to win on a low blow that forced Engel to a knee. Referee Dr. James Jen Kim was on the blind side of the action and believed Engel went down voluntarity, and proceed to count him out.
The official time was 1:44 of the second round.
Dirrell was sharp from the outset, boxing smartly in the opening round and then turning up the heat in the second. Engel was dropped early in the frame and never fully seemed to recover, although he had the wherewithal to beat the count.
The most damaging punch of the fight came seconds later, when a right hand sent Engel’s mouthpiece orbiting across the ring.
Unfortunately it was the last clean power punch landed, as the fight ended moments later with Engel on the deck after trying to collect his breath on the heels of catching a left hook well south of the border.
While replays clearly indicated the punch was low, the severity of it is open to debate, as was Engel’s willingness to continue. The journeyman dropped to a knee without thinking twice about and seemed well aware that he was being counted out, yet was in no hurry to even get up and protest the call being made.
Nevertheless, it’s the fifth straight win for Dirrell since returning to the ring ten months ago. The younger brother and ’04 Olympic teammate of Super Six dropout Andre Dirrell improves overall to 23-0 (20KO).
Engel has now dropped three of his last four as he falls to 18-5 (15KO).
Any kind of in-ring ending suits Dirrell just fine, having seen two separate interruptions to his career since turning pro just six years ago. He was forced out of the ring for nearly two years after being diagnosed with Lymphoma in 2007. Ten months of chemotherapy put him on the right track, returning to the ring in October 2008, just shy of his 22nd birthday.
Seven bouts followed before taking another break from the ring between September ’09 and October ‘10, once again returning right around his birthday and having remained active ever since.
The win is the second this month for Dirrell and third in just over two months.
The televised opener saw yet another undefeated prospect lose his “0” on the long running series. Welterweight prospect Joseph Elegele was floored early and battered late en route to a huge upset technical decision win for late replacement Aron Martinez.
Scores were 76-75 and 77-74 in their eight round bout.
Elegele came out cold and dry at bout’s start, and paid the price as Martinez caught the undefeated Floridian with right hands along the ropes towards the end of the opening round. Elegele hit the deck and despite beating the count was still unsteady as he went back to his corner between rounds.
The rest of the bout didn’t feature anywhere nearly as much drama, though it’s not say momentum didn’t shift back and forth. Elegele gained control in the second round, but it came down to his effective boxing skills measuring up against Martinez’ sporadic power bursts.
Will caught up with skill in the seventh round, when Martinez hurt Elegele late in the seventh, applying heavy pressure for the duration of the round. A right hand rocked Elegele at the start of the eighth, though the most damaging blow of the fight came moments later when a clash of heads left Martinez with a huge gash over his right eye.
The cut was immediately deemed too severe by the referee, who waved off the bout at 1:41 of the eighth and final round.
California rules require partial rounds being scored, which meant the judges had to fill out their cards for all eight rounds. Martinez did enough in the round to preserve his lead and seal the deal, resulting in Elegele becoming the sixth prospect on Friday Night Fights this year to suffer his first loss.
Martinez, who accepted the fight on short notice after Lanard Lane pulled out, improves to 15-1-1 (10KO) with by far the biggest win of his young career.
Elegele loses for the first time as a pro, falling to 12-1 (10KO).
In the televised swing bout, Kurtiss Colvin scored a third round knockout over Cleveland Ishe. Colvin (6-0, 5KO) floored Ishe with an overhand right before forcing the referee to step in at 1:24 of the third round. Ishe suffers his second loss in 14 days as he falls to 4-2 (3KO).
The show was presented by Gary Shaw Productions.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]