By David P. Greisman
Amway Center, Orlando, Florida - It wasn’t quite a title fight, but it was a heck of a consolation prize for Jayson Velez — fighting in front of more than 10,000 people cheering him on as he battled his way to a unanimous decision victory over Dat Nguyen.
Early in 2013, Velez was supposed to challenge Daniel Ponce De Leon for a featherweight world title. But then Velez suffered a fractured right ankle and had to pull out of the fight.
He returned against Nguyen, a gritty featherweight coming off an extended layoff. Nguyen had last been seen in the ring in June 2011, losing a decision to Luis Del Valle on an episode of “ShoBox: The New Generation.” He was supposed to face Gary Russell Jr. in early 2012. That fight never happened, and Nguyen hadn’t fought since.
He fought his rear end off against Velez.
They began to trade in the opening round and continued to trade throughout most of the rest of the night. Every time Velez would land, Nguyen would come back and attempt to retaliate, sometimes succeeding. In the second round, Nguyen landed a one-two and Velez’s glove hit the canvas, the only knockdown of the night.
The action slowed in the third and fourth rounds, with Velez taking a more tactical approach, seeking his spots, making Nguyen miss but not landing anywhere near as often himself.
Over the course of the rest of the fight, Velez worked to make Nguyen miss, but Nguyen made Velez work. Velez still stood in and traded with Nguyen on extended occasions, getting into spirited exchanges toward the end of the seventh round, as well as in rounds eight, nine and 10. Nguyen did land, but Velez largely got the better of these moments.
One judge had Velez winning nine of the 10 rounds, scoring it 98-91 in his favor. The other two judges gave Velez seven rounds, seeing him winning 96-93.
Velez, a 25-year-old from Caguas, Puerto Rico, is now 21-0 (15 KOs). Nguyen, a 30-year-old from Vietnam and now fighting out of Vero Beach, Fla., drops to 17-3 (6 KOs).
- Jorge Melendez’s nickname is “The Destroyer,” and his record showed him winning by knockout in all but one of one of his fights. He stayed true to his reputation against Jamaal Davis, scoring two knockdowns in the first round and finishing the fight soon thereafter with a technical knockout in the second-round of their 10-round junior middleweight fight.
Davis came out aggressively in the opening seconds of the fight, digging a left to Melendez’s body. Melendez responds with a right to the body, and then landed with a right hand to the head that flung Davis toward the ropes and canvas. Just after Davis went down to his right knee, Melendez sent another right hand behind Davis’ head.
Davis rose, but the tone of the fight had been set. Melendez had far too much power for him. Davis, meanwhile, had far too little power to keep Melendez off, and he didn’t have anywhere near the chin required to withstand his punches. Davis went down again in the first round, this time from a jab that landed with about a minute left.
Davis tried to scrap away with Melendez in the second round. Melendez essentially shrugged off his shots, then landed a chopping right that had a delayed effect on Davis’ legs. A little later, Melendez landed a pair of right uppercuts that wobbled Davis, then landed a third uppercut followed by a right cross. Davis stumbled back, and the referee had seen enough. The stoppage came 2 minutes and 29 seconds into the round.
Melendez, 24, of Manati, P.R., bounces back from a decision loss in June to Nick Brinson, improving to 27-3-1 with 26 knockouts. Davis, 32, of Philadelphia, fell to 14-11-1 with 6 KOs.
- Lightweight/junior lightweight prospect Felix Verdejo promptly showed himself to be far too much for Gary Eyer, bloodying his opponent and battering him en route to a second-round stoppage.
Seemingly everything that Verdejo threw landed cleanly, be they leads or counters. Eyer was all to willing to stand in with Verdejo, but the best he could do was remain standing.
By the second round, the jabs, hooks and crosses had drawn crimson from Eyer’s nose, and it poured forth profusely enough to draw the attention of the referee, who examined Eyer and then called on the ringside physician. Eyer was allowed to continue, though the bout didn’t go on much longer.
Verdejo sent out a barrage of hooks, and Eyer wobbled on his feet. The referee then jumped in, convinced that the result was clear and that there was no need to allow the beating to continue. The stoppage came 2 minutes and 53 seconds into the round.
Verdejo, 20, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, is now 8-0 with 6 KOs. He weighed in at 133.4 pounds for this bout; all of his previous appearances had him come in within two pounds of the junior lightweight limit. Eyer, a 27-year-old from Duluth, Minn., is now 11-4-1 (7 KOs).
- Moises Carrasquillo Jr. took a four-round unanimous decision in front of an approving hometown crowd, winning by shutout (40-36 across the board) against Steven Chadwick. Both men came in slightly above the middleweight limit.
Carrasquillo, a 22-year-old from Orlando, was able to land southpaw left crosses all night as Chadwick, also a southpaw, often circled to his left and into their path. Carrasquillo began to pull away in the third round, digging repeatedly to Chadwick’s body and tagging Chadwick more frequently with the left crosses. Most of what Chadwick threw was dodged or blocked off of Carrasquillo’s shoulders. What did land didn’t do damage, and Carrasquillo kept at him, undeterred, with cleaner and harder shots.
Carrasquillo improves to 4-0 with 3 KOs. Chadwick, 35, of Jacksonville, Fla., falls to 2-5 with 1 KO.
- In the show’s opener, featherweights Ricky Tomlinson and Lamar Charlton fought to a spirited but otherwise inconclusive split draw.
The scorecards were 39-37 for Tomlinson, 39-37 for Charlton, and an even 38-38.
Tomlinson, 29, of Thonotasassa, Fla., is now 1-0-1 with 1 KO. Charlton, 35, of Ocala, Fla., is now is 1-4-2 with 1 KO.
Pick up a copy of David’s new book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon . Send questions/comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org