by Cliff Rold
With a chance to repeat one of his best victories potentially looming later this year, 29-year old Middleweight and former “Contender” contestant Brian Vera (19-5, 12 KO), of Austin, Texas, put forth a steady, workmanlike effort in breaking down tough but outmatched 37-year old Eloy Suarez (11-12-1, 5 KO) of San Antonio, Texas, over eight rounds on Friday night at the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco, Texas.
Both men came in over the Middleweight limit of 160 lbs., Vera at 163 and Suarez at 161 ½.
Vera started the fight aggressively, sticking the left jab and lobbing the right hand over the top behind it. Suarez worked to get his own jab going, a too-wide left and some lunging rights supplied to keep Vera honest. Vera was undeterred into the second round, mixing up his left as both hook and jab. Suarez was usually a step behind but single, booming blows kept Suarez live even as he took more than he gave.
The tone of the bout was unchanged for the ensuing rounds. Suarez would draw a pop from the crowd with the occasional big shot but it was Vera drawing waves of chants as he took his man apart with superior skill. The end came early in the eighth as Suarez ate a right to the face along the ropes and never saw the left below the heart behind it. Suarez dropped in a delayed reaction, finding a turnbuckle to lean against as the referee reached ten at 30 seconds of round eight.
It was Vera’s third win in four affairs, building on his upset of Season One “Contender” winner and former Jr. Middleweight titlist Sergio Mora in February of this year. Vera may be in line for a rematch with Ireland’s Andy Lee; Vera burst Lee’s undefeated bubble in 2008 before falling into a three-fight losing streak.
In the televised opener, 27-year old Middleweight thriller James Kirkland (28-1, 25 KO), 160, of Austin, Texas, reunited with the woman who trained him before a prison stint between 2009 and 2011, former elite women’s champion Anne Wolfe, and returned to the winners circle after suffering his first defeat in April. Making his fourth start of the year, Kirkland scored a first round knockout by blitzing veteran 36-year old veteran journeyman Dennis Sharpe (17-8-3, 4 KO), 157, of Bayonne, New Jersey.
Kirkland, who had been shocked in April by light hitting Nobuhiro Ishida in the opening frame, showed no ill effects and jumped right on Sharpe at the opening bell. Sharpe was ready, and ready to test the whiskers of Kirkland. Kirkland pressed Sharpe to the ropes but Sharpe turned him, both men firing and missing with full force. Kirkland didn’t miss for long, ripping to the body and finding savage uppercuts with the right and left. Nearing the halfway mark of the round, Kirkland landed a left uppercut-left hook combination to drop Sharpe to a knee in the middle of the ring.
Sharpe rose, beating the count of referee Robert Chapa, and occasionally fired back but Kirkland was relentless and too much. A left on the beltline landed just inside the minute mark and the body blast was enough to convince Sharpe to seek another day. Chapa waved off the action at 2:18 of the first.
The win won’t get Kirkland back into contention, but it was a step in the right direction and the best he’s looked since returning to the ring in March of this year.
Middleweights: James Freeman (8-4, 6 KO) UD6 Joshua Burns (3-10-5, 1 KO)
The card was televised on Telefutura as part of its “Solo Boxeo” series, promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]