By Jake Donovan
The ESPN Friday Night Fights televised opener saw upset specialist Chris Chatman overcome an opening round knockdown to score one of his own late in the fight to earn a majority draw with unbeaten Dallas native Charles Hatley.
Scores were 75-75 twice and a suspension-worthy tally of 77-73 for Hatley from the third judge.
Things couldn’t have begun better for the hometown kid, unloading with a series of head shots that sent Chatman tumbling to the canvas less than a minute into the contest. Hatley didn’t let up on the pressure, continuing with power shots as Chatman spent the rest of the round regaining his legs and composure.
The second round reached a point where it was questioned whether or not Hatley punched himself out. Chatman carried the action for most of the round, while Hatley seemed befuddled by his opponent’s newfound aggression.
Chatman switched back and forth between conventional and southpaw stance in an attempt to disrupt Hatley’s rhythm. The strategy produced mixed results in a competitive third round that saw Chatman score to the body, but also briefly wobbled by Hatley midway through the round.
The next couple of rounds featured the same back and forth shifts in momentum, though not quite as action-packed as what was offered earlier in the fight.
Hatley focused more on boxing, dancing on the outside and attempting to catch Chatman coming in. Chatman effectively bobbed and weaved his way out of trouble, but rarely landed more than one punch at a time in return.
Fatigue began to set in for both fighters as things grew a bit ugly heading down the stretch. Chatman controlled the real estate in the seventh, cutting off the ring and forcing Hatley to fight in reverse. Neither fighter was scoring with very much, though Chatman managed to connect with an uppercut and a pair of left hands in the closing moments of the round.
The final round became a race against the clock for Hatley, who was running on empty while Chatman cleaned out the kitchen in his greatest effort to score yet another upset. The San Diego resident provided the locals with a nail-biting moment late in the fight, scoring a knockdown with just over a minute to go.
Hatley collected himself and did his best to stay out of harm’s way for the remainder of the fight, and even appeared to score a late knockdown of his own, though it went unnoticed and thus uncredited by the referee.
The turn of events in the final round bailed out the judges, as Chatman would’ve otherwise lost a fight in which he seemed to be in control for the majority of the night.
Instead, he earned a 10-8 score on all three cards in the final round that resulted in a draw verdict, one that had Hatley storming out of the ring mere seconds after it was announced.
It’s not a loss, but Hatley for the first time in his pro career fails to end a fight with his arm raised in victory. The former amateur standout is now 14-0-1 (11KO), having now struggled in his past two fights. His previous ring appearance saw him suffer the first knockdown of his career at the hands of career steppingstone Emanuel Augustus.
Chatman accepted this fight on less than three weeks notice after being forced upon Hatley as the opponent of choice. The risk proved to be well worth the reward. His record now stands at 9-1-1 (4KO), though chances are he lands another TV fight in the near future.
The bout was Chatman’s sixth against a previously unbeaten opponent, his record now 4-1-1 in such fights. His lone loss came against Demetrius Andrade – Hatley’s old amateur rival who went on to serve on the 2008 U.S. Olympic boxing squad.
Local junior bantamweight Ray Ximenez, Jr. (2-0, 0KO) enjoyed airtime in a televised swing bout, taking care of Houston journeyman Alfredo Berto (1-4, 0KO) en route to a lopsided four-round decision. Scores were 40-36 across the board.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected] .