This week's edition of Friday Night Fights, televised from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, served as a platform for Kelly Pavlik to peddle his comebacking wares against Scott Sigmon more than anything else. There was an appearance from that Subway guy, though.
No, not Jared. And not Michael Strahan either.
On the undercard, Notre Dame alumus and amateur standout Mike Lee walked away with another win on his ledger in decisioning Eliseo Durazo, and Jesse Magdaleno got to hit the slots early following a 1st round TKO of Carlos Valcarcel.
It was actually fun for a showcase type of card though, even if ESPN got away from what made their last few broadcasts before this one entertaining, which is solid matchmaking.
Kelly Pavlik in the main event was sure to turn a few heads -- even against an almost completely unknown foe that he basically had his way with. But the anonymous guy made a bit of a name for himself, as Scott Sigmon's corner saved him from himself between rounds, adding up to a 7th round TKO in favor of Pavlik.
Pavlik mixed probing jabs with tough ones against a kind of squirrelly Sigmon early in the 1st, even stretching out for some body work off and on. Sigmon looked to have no answer aside from putting his guard up and reaching in on the taller former middleweight champ, and he ate a right hand that had his left eyebrow a bit marked before round's end.
Sigmon's lack of balance was exploited in Round 2 by Pavlik's jab once more as he dipped awkwardly into some shots that drew crimson from his sniffer. A hook from Pavlik wobbled Sigmon backwards about halfway through the round, and Kelly showed some nifty defensive looks by slipping a few of Sigmon's combinations in a row. Right hands were on the menu for Sigmon to close the round, and Pavlik grinned impishly when delivering.
Another hook from Pavlik set Sigmon straight in the opening moments of the 3rd, and Sigmon's mush was already looking swelled and bruised where he'd been hit. A right uppercut smashed Sigmon upstaird, and his answer was to physically push Pavlik back to the ropes, though without much effective offense. Bored and/or amused for a few moments, Kelly Pavlik let Sigmon move his hands more than he had previously, but not much scored. With more mustard on his shots in the 4th, Pavlik drew oohs and aahs from the crowd, and he strafed Sigmon with rights around his guard and cracking hooks to the body. Leading with his head to create offense didn't work well for Sigmon, but he toughed out a couple of wild connects.
Changing angles a bit, Sigmon got tricky and was able to land a few hooks early in Round 5 while Pavlik appeared a little frustrated by the fact that his man wasn't going as easily as expected. Pavlik dedicated his assault downstairs though, slowing Sigmon visibly as blood flowed from his nose. The 6th was more of the same, with Sigmon eating shots like they were going out of style, but powering through anyways and throwing what he could on the inside, but leading and following with his head. The left hooks to Sigmon's midsection again had him holding more once again, and Pavlik went back to work as if he'd accepted the coming difficulty.
The opening of Round 7 showed a nasty cut over Sigmon's right eye, but it mattered little to his strategy and the norm resumed. Sigmon pushed forward as if he were in with a chump and took punches for it.
Between rounds, Sigmon's corner halted matters mercifully, likely due to the widening gash in the middle of his eyebrow, making for another stoppage victory on Kelly Pavlik's record, which climbs to 39-2 (34 KO).
In a post-fight interview, regarding where he goes from here, Pavlik stated, "I've been in there with the Hopkins', Taylors, twice, the Martinez', and this is my second fight back now. If it's not a world title or a top five opponent, you gotta give me somebody, I think, that's respectable, because if not, not only that and for my own personal safety, but I think the media will come down on me hard too. I don't think there's any more time for these type of tune-ups."
And he's probably right. Already Kelly Pavlik has felt what it's like to be at the absolute top of a division and on the fringes of pound for pound ranks. Getting rounds in won't hurt after a layoff, but a former champion is only allowed so many tune-ups before getting serious again. Super middleweight and light heavyweight have plenty of prospective opponents for him, and his name is big enough to demand a few bucks against most of them.
Scott Sigmon, now 22-4 (12 KO), contributed much more to the fight than expected, and with some fine tuning he could make a fun return to the FNF level in the future. At the very least, he showed a type of heart and grit that can't be taught, and did it against a former world champ.
The cream in the Friday Night Fights Oreo (in terms of televised bout scheduling, at least) happened to be 2009 Golden Gloves and U.S. National Amateur chamion Jesse Magdaleno and former Puerto Rican Olympian Carlos Valcarcel battling it out in a quick junior featherweight contest.
Starting out tentatively, both men looked to feel the other out with pawing jabs, and Magdaleno drew first blood with a long left from his southpaw look about a minute in. But with just under a minute remaining, Magdaleno's surging offense ended up with a right hook-left hand combination that put Valcarcel down in a corner. Rising somewhat unsteadily, Valcarcel covered up and went completely defensive as Magdaleno teed off, forcing referee Tony Weeks to stop the bout at 2:25 of the opening round.
Magdaleno, now 10-0 (7 KO), certainly has the pedigree to be a damn good fighter with his amateur accomplishments and older brother junior featherweight Diego Magdaleno in tow. His punches are sharp, as are his reflexes based on this fight. It's unclear exactly what Valcarcel brought to the fight though, as his record of 12-5-4 (5 KO) reveals. He's also been inactive, and this loss makes it three in a row for him, though his last KO loss came at the hands of the formerly very good Eric Morel, suggesting his beard is usually solid. That said, this Magdaleno looks to be one to watch.
Light heavyweight prospect Mike Lee essentially kept busy, even getting in a two-round surplus on his planned round total, by decisioning pear-shaped journeyman Eliseo Durazo over six rounds to open up the broadcast. It wasn't ultra impressive, but likely a necessary step and some useful rounds for a 24-year old in need of experience.
Looking soft around the middle but self-aware, Durazo moved decently when pressed by Lee early on in the 1st, slipping some and fighting calm considering his role as "opponent." Lee wisely introduced him to some crisp body punching, but actually took some in return. Lee closed well though, backing Durazo up with harder stuff.
A nicer, more consistent jab from Lee in Round 2 looked to set Durazo up for some stiff rights and the errant left hook, and he asserted himself inside with some shoulders and head rams for good measure. Calls from referee Russel Mora to watch low blows were comical, of course. Durazo stemmed a few rushes with the low business though, but not before backing to the ropes and taking some whipping shots. The jab he'd abandoned halfway through Round 2 reappeared in the 3rd, but Durazo managed to brute force some fairly harmless right hands, getting scrappy when really pressed. Both men traded to end the round, with Lee getting the better of the action.
A fun tit-for-tat began the 4th, with the competitors trading jabs, then hooks to the body, though one of Durazo's strayed low and he lost a point for it. Durazo appeared ready to win the point back, but took a left uppercut that halted the idea. For the most part, Durazo was game, landing a decent amount of what he threw, just out-gunned and out-techniqued. A smacking left hook and long right hand punctuated the round for Lee.
Some comic relief hit the fighters, their corners and just about everyone watching when what was supposed to be a 4 round bout was apparently changed to a 6 rounder once the 4th ended, much to the surprise of Durazo in particular.
The extra two rounds made no difference to Lee, who went back to work with stiff 1-2's on an exhausted and dejected looking Durazo. The Mexican picked up the pace later in the 5th though, landing thumps to the body and a couple of overhand rights that had Lee on the ropes. And Lee elected to work from the outside and move his legs in the 6th and final stanza, which allowed Durazo to put in a little work while chasing with his mouth wide open. Durazo's left eye showed wear with swelling on his eyebrow, but perhaps feeling as though he'd been duped into two additional rounds inspired him some. Finally Lee made a push in the last seconds of Round 6, solidifying what was an easy-to-score win.
Mike Lee, despite being a three-time amateur champion at Notre Dame, sure got hit more than he probably should have, and had a mark or two on his face to prove it. He's a work in progress, without a doubt, but he stands upright and "poses" after throwing a punch, and he doesn't move his head a whole lot, which Teddy Atlas endlessly alluded to. He didn't disappoint his many supporters with the win though, and his record moves to 9-0 (5 KO).
The loss for Durazo makes it three in a row, albeit all to undefeated prospects. But now at 4-3 (1 KO), he's flirting with a .500 record, and his waistline is flirting with an extra belt notch or two. Fluctuating from middleweight to cruiserweight, girth seems to be his biggest issue, as he was actually able to put combinations together and set up shots better than expected. It's doubtful any networks will be looking to showcase him as anything but an opponent at this point though.
These type of cards definitely have their place in the boxing world, and when delivered sparsely, it's no problem sitting through them here and there. So, ESPN, it's time to get back to what was getting blood pumping earlier this season. Big names are fun, but great style match ups are much better.
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