In one of televised boxing’s lowest-action fights in recent memory, Jared “Big Baby” Anderson won a unanimous decision over Ryad Merhy on Saturday at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. 

The fight, which went to Anderson on official scores of 100-90 (twice) and 99-91, headlined an ESPN card promoted by Top Rank. Promoters and organizers were likely regretting the matchup as boos filled the arena for the majority of the fight.

Merhy (32-3, 26 KOs), a 31-year-old from Brussels, Belgium, deserved the lion’s share of the blame for the bout’s lack of action. A former cruiserweight making his first appearance in the U.S. and on a high-profile fight card, repeatedly refused to engage, continually retreating behind a high guard.

The 24-year-old Anderson (17-0, 15 KOs) is considered the current best hope for a future great American heavyweight. He bossed the first round behind the jab as Merhy threw just 12 punches in the round.

Merhy leapt in with a solid counter left hand in the second, indicating that his cautious approach might have been intended to bait Anderson into giving him opportunities. But the rest of the round passed in a monotonous loop of Anderson jabs, drawing boos from the crowd.

The third passed much the same way, with Anderson briefly opening up with a combination towards the end of the round and Merhy landing a hard shot to the stomach just before the bell. Anderson, from Toledo, Ohio, was active, popping his jab out constantly and mixing in occasional power shots, though nothing hurtful landed flush. Merhy looked like he was trying to achieve a meditative trance.

A minute into the fourth round, Anderson had thrown 220 punches to Merhy’s 33.

“Man, this is awful,” said ESPN broadcaster Tim Bradley.

Anderson opened up a bit in the sixth and seventh, throwing more inside power shots. Still, Merhy evaded the worst of the punishment and continued his low-output evasion.

Through seven, Merhy had not thrown as many as 20 punches in a single round. Anderson had dipped below 50 only once, with 49 in the fourth round.

“I never want to see Merhy again,” Bradley said in the eighth. “Ever.”

To his credit, Anderson boxed smartly. Aware that Merhy was looking for openings (if he was looking for anything at all), “Big Baby” upped his aggression enough to ensure he kept winning rounds – but never enough to give Merhy a chance to land something big. Still, Anderson never looked especially interested in going for the knockout, which would have been the only way to salvage the night in the eyes of the fans in attendance.

In the 10th, Merhy threw a few wild combinations, his output exceeding that of the previous rounds, and landed the occasional solid punch. Anderson evaded the worst of it comfortably. 

“We’re coming to knock everybody off,” Anderson said in the ring after the fight, following it with an expletive that the ESPN broadcast team apologized for, despite it providing more entertainment than any moment in the fight itself.

Anderson has a court date on Monday to address his leading police on a high-speed car chase in February. Given Anderson’s seeming lack of desire to stick around boxing for long, it may indeed be wise for Top Rank to fast-track his career.

Nights like tonight won’t help.