In the main event of ESPN2 Friday Night Fights’ season, an overmatched Mauricio Herrera (16-1) upset the previously unbeaten Ruslan Provodnikov (17-1) via unanimous decision.
Scores were a 115-113 and 116-112 (2x) in a terrific bout whose ending wasn’t quite in line with those observing from ringside.
Provodnikov entered the ring sporting a blackened right eye. The first round was close as both fighters felt each other out. Provodnikov dictated the pace but Herrera countered effectively.
Provodnikov had a good second round leading and often scoring with his left jab. Herrera was able to land as well, but the difference in power was very noticeable.
The third round was an even better round for Provodnikov as he began feinting with his right and landing straight lefts that left his opponent hurt on more than a few occasions. Herrera was left with a welt under his left eye that was reminiscent of how Antonio Margarito looked when he fought Manny Pacquiao.
Action slowed a bit in the fourth round as Herrera was more effective in tying his opponent but it was still a big round for Provodnikov, who went on to dominate the fifth despite fighting without a gumshield. He was warned for a questionable low blow but other than that it was another dominating round as he kept using his left jab and landed power shots to both the body and head.
The fifth and sixth rounds were more of the same. Herrera showed tremendous heart but was severely outclassed by his opponent. The pro Herrera crowd frantically tried to spur their man on chanting "USA, USA,” reminiscent of watching a Rocky Balboa fight.
Provodnikov kept pressing the action in the middle rounds. He was successful in pinning Herrera to the ropes. With his left eye almost swollen shut, Herrera was susceptible to overhand rights.
Herrera had a good start in the 10th, effectively landing his jab as Provodnikov appeared to take the first half of the round off. Provodnikov picked up the pace in the second half of the round and went back to landing his power shots and jab.
The 11th and 12th rounds featured great back and forth action. Provodnikov delivered more punishment than he received although his right eye began to swell and the black eye he entered the ring with became noticeably darker as both fighters left it all in the ring.
So terrific was the action that the two warriors received standing ovations from the small but lively crowd at fight’s end. The blood and guts that both men left in the ring was a great way to kick off ESPN2 Friday Night Fights’ 13th season.
In the co-feature bout of the evening, 2008 U.S. Olympian Demetrius Andrade (12-0) stayed unbeaten when he defeated Alberto Herrera (7-1-1) via unanimous decision. The scores were 79-73 and 80-72 twice.
The junior middleweight prospect started out strong stunning Herrera with a left uppercut in the 1st round. Herrera appeared to be fighting about two weight classes above his optimum weight.
Andrade controlled the second round using his stiff jab and reach advantage. Herrera had to leap inside to try to land his punches and Andrade had the slow California based fighter timed perfectly.
The pro Herrera crowd tried to will their man to victory in the third but he was too slow and too small. Andrade would lead with a right hand and follow up with a left hook almost at will.
The action started slower in the 4th round as Andrade appeared to be trying to lure his opponent into a trap. Herrera didn't walk into anything big but the end appeared near.
Herrera came on a little in the 5th and 6th rounds as he landed a few combinations but his lack of power was very noticeable as Andrade appeared to put it in cruise control and take his foot off the gas.
Both fighters picked up the pace in the seventh round as they exchanged punches. Herrera landed a few punches but Andrade landed harder shots and more frequently.
Andrade came out throwing punches with reckless abandon to start the 8th and final round. He finally showed glimpses of fulfilling the promise so many boxing pundits have labeled him to have.
Unfortunately after the approximately 15 second long spurt he went back to his safe fighting style and cruised to a boring unanimous victory.
Former UNLV boxer Henry Namuu improved his professional record to 9-3 when he won a unanimous decision over Manuel Otero (2-2). The scores were 59-55 and 58-56 twice.
The local favorite started out slow to start off the fight but came on in the second half of the first round and found success going to Otero's body. Namuu continued to work the body and work his way upstairs throughout the fight but his limited opponent showed tremendous heart and the ability to take a punch.
Richard Contreras (4-0) made quick work of Juan Topaz (4-5-1) when he dropped him with a shot to the liver and Topaz couldn't beat the 10 count. The time of the knockout was :43 in the 1st round.
In a battle of undefeated fighters Oscar Andrade outworked a game Deth'Marcus Hall. In spite of a profusely bleeding nose Andrade won by the scores 40-36 three times.
Both men were very crude and the term "slickness" wouldn't be used to describe either fighter. Defense was definitely optional as both men slugged it out. Hall had a bad habit of keeping his hands down and paid for it repeatedly as both men threw only power punches.
The word jab didn't seem to be in either man's vocabulary. Andrade was the busier fighter and as the fight progressed he landed more and more shots. Hall gets credit for having a great chin and not going down but that is it.
In a battle of junior lightweights Jesus Gutierrez kept his record perfect (2-0) by defeating Frankie Martinez (0-1) via unanimous decision. The scores were 40-36 and 40-35 twice.
For most of the 1st round Gutierrez treated Martinez like a human punch as Martinez offered little resistance and hardly threw punches as referee Russell Mora appeared close to stopping the fight on several occasions.
Martinez was more active in the second through fourth and final round and even landed one nice left hook but Gutierrez was still pot shotting him to dominate every round.
In tonight's the opening bout of 2011 season premiere of ESPN2's Friday Night Fights, super featherweight Lonnie Smith of Las Vegas improved to 12-2-2 by scoring a TKO over Jose Gomez (3-5) at the 2:40 mark of the 1st round. Smith dropped Gomez early and closed the show by landing a wicked left hook to the liver that Gomez was unable to recover from.