By Jake Donovan
With the main event between Sammy Vasquez Jr. and James Stevenson still to come, Monte Meza Clay and Alan Herrera set the bar exceedingly high with their televised co-feature Friday evening at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Meza Clay scored a 6th round knockdown and overcame a late rally from Herrera to earn a stoppage in the 10th and final round of a sure fire contender for Fight of the Year.
There was something special in the air from the opening bell, as both fighters brought their fighting spirit into the ring. Meza Clay is almost never in a bad fight, as the local favorite lives to go to war in the ring. In Herrera, he had a willing dance partner, as the punches never stopped flying.
A rare questionable moment came after the bell to end round two. The fighting spirit of both fighters led to a brief exchange capped by a headbutt from Meza Clay before the instance was immediatel defused.
From there came a war for the time capsule. Meza Clay threatened to pull away in the middle rounds, complete with a knockdown midway through round six. Herrera was floored by a right and left, but gathered his composure and came back strong. Meza Clay ended the round on a high note, just to confirm a two-point round on the scorecards - not that the judges would have a chance to come into play.
Herrera showed amazing courage, rallying back from the two-fisted assault to take the initiative and force Meza Clay backwards for the first time in the fight.
A brief scare came in round eight, when the visiting Mexican warrior was cut over the right eye, courtesy of a stiff jab from Meza Clay in between power punches. Herrera didn't let the sight of his own blood discourage him, instead ramping up his attack as both fighters were consistently throwing over 100 punches per round.
The late surge put the fight very much on the table heading into the 10th and final round. Both fighters dug deep to prove they wanted it, but Meza Clay had a bit too much in the tank for his visiting opponent. Upwards of a dozen unanswered power punches crashed home on Herrera's chin, prompting referee Rick Steigerwald - who did a terrific job throughout - to jump in and rescue the suddenly fallen fighter.
The official time was 2:00 of round ten.
Meza Clay once again hovers around the bottom rung of the contender stage, improving to 36-3 (22KOs). The lightweight gatekeeper has now won eight straight after having suffered back-to-back losses to Fernando Beltran and Jorge Solis in 2009.
Herrera, ever so valiant in defeat, falls to 32-7 (21KOs). The loss is his third straight.
Tags: Mike Tyson , Sammy Vasquez Jr. , Ievgen Khytrov , James Stevenson
Former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson is limited to role of promoter these days, but the opening bout of the Fox Sports 1-televised show was reminsicent of his heyday when fans barely had time to settle in before the fight was over.
Unbeaten middleweight Ievgen Khytrov delivered a performance that did the famed ex-champ-turned-promoter proud, tearing through Willie Fortune en route to a 1st round knockout in their scheduled six-round affair.
Khytrov, a Ukrainian now based in the Brighton Beach section (affectionately known as Little Odessa) of Brooklyn, New York, jumped on Fortune from the opening bell, pinning the American against the ropes and unloading with both fists. The sheer volume of punches was enough to beat the fight out Fortune, forcing him to wilt and for the referee to intervene.
The official time was just 0:30 of round one.
Khytrov remains a knockout every time out, rolling to 6-0 (6KOs). His management team confirmed during the post-fight interview that he will return to this very venue on November 14.
Fortune falls to 17-2 (8KOs), suffering his first career knockout loss. The Detroit native had won two straight following a decision loss to Tureano Johnson last February.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox