That was unsatisfactory, but we knew it would be. On Friday Night Fights, Carlos Molina beat up an aging Cory Spinks for a decision victory, while Antwone Smith woofed at an ancient Jose Luis Castillo and also hit him sometimes for a decision victory. The bouts didn't totally lack in significance, but in some of the wrong ways. The bouts didn't totally lack in action, but in no way was the action blood-pumping -- it was empty, semi-sad action featuring old fighters taking punches they once wouldn't have.
On the ESPN2 undercard, Castillo didn't have the legs or the size to contend with Smith at junior middleweight, and dropped a decision to him. Castillo was last truly relevant as a contender in 2007 against Ricky Hatton at junior welterweight, and probably was toast even then as a result of his all-time great ring war with Diego Corrales and other slugfests. A win over Ivan Popoca in 2012 surely gave Castillo the wrong impression about his viability. Smith had to have disabused him of it were Castillo a realist, except I wouldn't count on Castillo retiring because it doesn't seem like the kind of thing he'll ever do after fighting terribly for six years and thinking it's something he ought to continue doing during that whole time. That he had some success at all spoke ill of Smith and where he is in his career right now, but Castillo will probably find some reason to fight on because of it. Smith, for his part, needs to knock off the barking when he throws punches, and maybe a manager or business adviser said as much, because he started off muffled before turning up the woofing to all-time volume highs. On the other hand, maybe nobody said a thing, because Smith doesn't seem to have any trouble getting TV dates despite annoying most people to the point that they mute their televisions during his bouts, probably because he, like Castillo, has a name fans recognize. Why mess with "success?"
The main event wasn't nearly as competitive, but if you are the kind of person who likes seeing Spinks getting smacked around, this was the fight for you. There was a period where Spinks' fading legs made him more exciting becaue he couldn't nimbly bounce away from opponents and had no choice but to trade, but Spinks is beyond even that now -- never powerful, he at least was sharp, and Friday he was reduced to periodic ineffectual lunges that went nowhere. Molina, by contrast, is a top-10 junior middleweight who is sturdy, knows all the angles and compensates for his lack of power with volume. He managed to drop Spinks at one point, but couldn't finish him off late despite Spinks being rendered a husk of a shadow of himself. The winner of this bout was to be in line for a title shot against Cornelius Bundrage, presumably after Gabriel Rosado gets his shot, which is remarkable considering that Spinks has twice been stopped by Bundrage and would've somehow gotten a trilogy bout had he won this one. Writers who talk about the sanctioning gangs ensuring good fights happen tend to cherrypick the periodic good bouts they result in and ignore things like that.
Overall, the most surprising part of the evening was that Castillo, who had missed weight so often before, had an opponent who came in overweight, while Molina, who has been dinged by fans for holding, had an opponent who was penalized a point by the referee. Whoopee!