By Cliff Rold
In a wave of back and forth trash talk before the bout, Tim Coleman threatened that Vernon Paris might be the first man he beat to death in a ring. The mouth was willing. It turned out the body was not, though it made a hell of an effort.
In an exciting clash of promising young fistic talents, 23-year old Vernon Paris (25-0, 15 KO) of Detroit, Michigan, avoided what has seemed a jinx for the unbeaten in 2011, coming off the floor in round two to drop 27-year old Tim Coleman (19-2-1, 5 KO) of Baltimore, Maryland, twice in round six and for a final time in the seventh, all with body blows, to score the stoppage victory on Friday night at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, California.
Both men weighed in spot on the Jr. Welterweight limit of 140 lbs.
Coleman came out right away with nasty intentions, landing a lead left hook right away. Paris was firing right back, measuring a right hand before the first minute had passed but continuing to take the left. Of the two, it was Paris wisely sticking the jab with authority, his posture suggesting a commitment to rounds. Coleman, conversely, was looking for the home run, rocking Paris with a right hand bomb near the minute mark and another at the thirty-second mark. Paris answered loudly in the final ten seconds, a hard body shot opening up a right to the chin that wobbled Coleman at the bell.
The Paris bomb didn’t change Coleman’s approach, again loading up to start the second and rocking Paris with a right. Paris slipped in a jarring lead left to the stomach about a minute in before the action went to the ropes with Coleman holding advantage. A counter right from Coleman, back at ring center, sent Paris off balance, his gloves touching the floor for the knockdown call. Paris took the mandatory eight-count and returned to the fray. Coleman would lay some more leather on Paris along the ropes before ending the round with both men looking for punching room at ring center.
Round three swung firmly to Paris, his more refined boxing, uppercuts, and consistent digging to the ribs paying dividends. Coleman would have his moments, exploding twice with memorable lefts, but he was struggling to keep up. It stayed much the same in the fourth, Coleman aggressive but Paris accurate, and accuracy winning.
Coleman stepped up in round five and made a run at changing the clearly shifting momentum of the fight. Paris met him head on, violent exchanges showing the desire for victory present in both young battlers.
The toll of all the clean shots he was eating came due at the midway point of round six. Hitting Coleman with an array of blows to the head and body, Paris had his man hurt but Coleman wouldn’t go down, firing back with his left hand as he had all night. Paris shook it off and kept coming, breaking his man down and finally, along the ropes inside the final minute, forcing Coleman to all fours with an echoing left to the body.
Coleman was up at the count of six, removing and then putting his mouthpiece back in to catch his breath. Coleman stepped back into the action, pawing with a jab and then moving away without trying to clinch. Trapped in the corner in the final ten seconds, another left to the flanks sent Coleman onto his left knee, his right glove swinging wildly upwards to grasp the top rope and avoid toppling to the canvas. Coleman rose again, this time at five, and the bell sounded before Paris could land again.
Coleman came out for the seventh round clearly favoring his right side, elbow tucked deep and low. He plodded with the left jab, trying to survive but without answers. Paris simply followed him, waited for the opening, and lowered another left hand to the body. Coleman sunk to the floor and the referee halted the action at 2:37 of round seven.
Paris was rightly elated in victory, adding a few parting verbal salvos in a week full of them, stating Coleman’s trash talk, “put it in me more to really destroy him and show him he is not on my level. That I’m a whole other level. As far as, even him being older than me, I’m way more mature than he is.”
After Friday, it appears Paris may just be maturing into a contender in the deep Jr. Welterweight field.
In the televised swing bout, 24-year old Lightweight Mikey Faragon (16-0, 7 KO), 134 ¾, of Guilderland, New York, scored his first stoppage in four contests, rocking out 24-year old Ira Terry (24-6, 14 KO), 129, of Memphis, Tennessee, in just two rounds. Faragon got it done with hard hooks to the body, Terry stopped without going down as referee Raul Caiz Sr. granted mercy at 2:32 of round two. It was Terry’s fourth consecutive loss inside the route.
The telecast opened in the Jr. Lightweight division, but reached no conclusion there. Undefeated 29-year old Armenian Art Hovhannesyan (14-0-2, 8 KO), 130, of Glendale, California, and 34-year old former Featherweight titlist Cristobal Cruz (39-12-3, 23 KO), 130, of Tijuana, Mexico, made it only to the fourth round before a headbutt opened a cut on Cruz and sent the action to the cards, and a split draw.
The first round could have gone to either man, each scoring in isolated spots. Round two had a different tone, Cruz leading and more active while Hovhannesyan was slow to warm before landing some hard counters late. Cruz again played leader early in the third but Hovhannesyan opened up earlier and was effective in letting his shots land between the intended blows of Cruz. In the final minute of the third, Cruz landed a right to the face and some harsh blows to the ribs.
With the action building, the headbutt that would come in the final minute, a crimson stream flowing from the right eye of Cruz, left the bout fairly without resolution. The scores, 39-37 apiece and 38-38, rendered the correct verdict as neither man had proven a winner and all of the rounds were close.
It was the second technical draw in three starts for Cruz, sandwiched around his loss of the IBF belt at 126 lbs. to Orlando Salido in May 2010. Hovhannesyan, who blew through fellow undefeated prospect Archie Ray Marquez his last time out, garners valuable experience against a serious, and still game, veteran. A rematch would well be in order.
The referee was Raul Caiz Sr.
The card was televised in the U.S. on ESPN2 as part of its “Friday Night Fights” series, promoted by Gary Shaw Productions.
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]