"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."
~Mike Tyson

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Weekend One - Two: Two Impressive Knockouts On Shobox

Friday Trumps Saturday

Usually boxing fans think of Friday night's fights as a sort of collective undercard for Saturday's bigger events. Both HBO's "Boxing After Dark" and Showtime's "Shobox" are programs that are meant to showcase those boxers on their way up; they are launching pads where prospects either graduate to contenders or fade into oblivion. Both programs are akin to ESPN's now defunct and much missed Friday Night Fights but with a little more polish, pomp, and usually better talent. The Shobox of June 9th 2017 however held more promise and intrigue than did any of the fights happening the following evening. The Showtime card not only lived up to its promise but it exceeded expectations as well. This card featured 3 bouts that, at least on paper, should have piqued the interest of fans everywhere.

Jon Fernandez vs. Juan Reyes

Reyes goes to sleep in round 2
In the opening bout of Friday nights Shobox card we saw Jon Fernandez, protege of former middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, take on journeyman warrior Juan Reyes. Fernandez entered the ring boasting a record of 12-0-0 10 KO's. Reyes on the other hand carried a 14-3-3 2 KO's record into Friday's bout. This being Shobox and given the disparity in punching power, few gave Reyes any chance of winning though to his credit Reyes had yet to be stopped prior to this fight.  With the exception of the opening minute of the fight, Fernandez controlled the fight landing series after series of power shots on the brave Reyes' face. Even after his face begun to show signs of swelling the resilient Reyes continued to adsorb heavy shot after heavy shot. Then out of nowhere at 2:36 of round 2, in attempt to launch his offense, Reyes walked into a sharp Fernandez right hand that appeared to catch him on or near his temple. The shot immediately sent Reyes down to the canvas and it was a scary collapse. Juan Reyes was unconsciousness before his limp body hit the canvas and the fight was immediately waived off by referee Charlie Fitch. In his win Jon Fernandez showed us that he has at least respectable power but as is the case with all prospects...I wonder how effective his power will be when he faces tougher opposition and eventually moves up in weight down the line. For the time being count me among those who want to see Jon Fernandez fight again.

Steve Rolls vs. Demond Nicholson

In a Super Middleweight bout and the penultimate fight of the evening undefeated prospect Steve Rolls faced off against the hard hitting Demond Nicholson. Rolls went to work early and nearly obliterated Nicholson with a left hand near the end of round one. Rolls continued to press the action in rounds 2 and 3 at least until Nicholson caught him with a big punch in the 3rd. From the 4th round on the fight was difficult to score and the judges awarded Steve Rolls a split decision. The scores were 77-75 Nicholson, 77-74 Rolls, 77-74 Rolls respectively and in the opinion of this scribe...incorrect. I had Nicholson winning the fight as did Showtime commentators Barry Tompkins and Steve Farhood.

Joel Diaz Jr. vs. Regis Prograis

140 lbs. contender Regis Prograis
There's something to be said about saving the best for last and that's exactly what happened in the final bout of the evening. Regis Prograis (pronounced Pro-Gray) faced off against the able bodied Joel Diaz Jr. in a Super Lightweight match up. Adding intrigue and some suspense to this fight, both men entered the ring undefeated and with high KO percentages. Heading into this fight Diaz Jr. was considered a tough out for the untested Prograis and a step up in quality of opposition. This was supposed to be a coming out party of sorts for the prospect from Houston Texas and he did not disappoint. Given that both fighters have a penchant for stopping their opponents I didn't expect the fight to go the distance but I thought it might go late believing both men would show one another respect for each others power. Instead of a fight that went deep Prograis dispatched Diaz Jr in a 2nd round that was as brutal as it was exciting. Diaz Jr was was laid out on the canvas not once, not twice, not even three but rather four times. The fourth time Diaz Jr. took a trip to the floor referee Mark Nelson waived the fight off, having seen Diaz Jr. absorb enough punishment.

Post fight, Twitter was abuzz with many praising Prograis for the sobering and impressive statement he made. It wasn't just that he dispatched a guy whom was supposed to be a tough out but it was the way in which he did it. Prograis made it look easy and demonstrated a level of skill that we see only in the sports top ring of talent. The eye test told yours truly that Prograis is not a very good fighter but rather one that might be special. I know, I know, he hasn't fought anyone yet. Fair enough but don't be surprised if the former prospect and now contender becomes a dominant figure in the sport. He called out all of the best Jr. Welterweights, including the impressive Terrence Crawford. I know I'm not the only one that's excited to see where Prograis goes from here. He's certainly got the potential and style to make some noise in the sport. At 28 years of age however I hope he's not moved too slowly. The fast track would benefit not only the fighter but the fans in this case as well. Hopefully we'll know what's next for Prograis very soon.

Final Thoughts

I skipped Saturday nights fights in part because I needed some time with my family. I also thought that Saturday's offerings were almost completely meaningless as well. As a young man in the 80's and early 90's I watched every fight I could find but as a middle aged man I find sitting through bouts that lack drama, a storyline, top talent, and those that don't lead anywhere to be an arduous and tedious task. At any rate next week we've got Kovalev/Ward 2 happening and that should provide plenty of drama and already has one hell of a storyline attached to it. If you haven't seen HBO's 24/7 for this fight watch it now, it's excellent!

24/7 Ward/Kovalev 2 - Full Show (HBO Boxing)

Scott Jarvis is a boxing writer for Split Decision Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com.


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