Friday Nightís Affair at the Cuban Club
14.07.07 - By Troy Ondrizek @ ringside: I am elated that ESPNís Friday Night Fights is back. I thought that this past Friday had some great fights to watch on TV like ESPNís Cornelius Bundrage/Chris Smith fight and especially Maxboxingís Rubin Williams/Antwun Echols affair. So knowing that these fights were available for me to see, I decided to head down to Tampa Florida instead and check out the lesser known Silverhawk boxing card that was going on Friday night. As I stated previously, TV fights are great and you get to see some of the best fighters or contenders in the game battle on television, however, sometimes checking out the guys who are just getting started and who are hungry to fight anyone and feel privileged to just be fighting at all, thatís food for my soul..
Article posted on 14.01.2007
So I commuted on down to Tampa in no time, only to get there and realize that my Mapquest directions had lead me to a fictitious street and the locals had no clue where the hell I was trying to go. After several phone calls and even more curse words, I was able to traverse to the opposite end of the city to locate the Cuban Club. I got there early anyways (which is rare for me) and checked the joint out. I walked around a bit and found that the ring was set up like the entire event was a TV broadcast. I didnít think the 1500 seat venue was going to support a TV broadcast but hey, who am I to judge? After I settled in ringside I thought, itís time for a beer. So off I went to the concessions and found that beers were $4 and they were all 16 oz except for Fosters, they were 25 oz. I am a man who likes a good value and I couldnít help but get more beer for my buck. As I am cruising back up to my seat I pass Al Bernstein and Jimmy Lennon Jr. and at first thought wow this is some potent beer, where the hell did these guys come from? So I stopped and chatted and I was informed that indeed this would be a delayed televised event that had all the bells and whistles of an ESPN show. I then remembered that the bigger shows had ring girls and such, so I was pleasantly surprised.
Enough already with my pre-fight antics, in the first bout, former amateur stud Vernon Paris took on a local fighter who was much better than his record in Jean Petit Homme. It was evident from the start who was the more talented fighter, but Homme was game indeed. In fact with Hommeís aggression and his lack of fear of Paris, I gave the underdog the first round. Paris in the meantime was just loading up on his shots and didnít really bother to try and box the kid, and that surely isnít a smart way to fight, but it worked in the second round. Paris dropped Homme with a beautiful left hook along the ropes and Homme struggled to make the count, on wobbly legs Homme went to dancing and running and tried to tie up Paris, which he did when the over-anxious slugger smothered his punches trying to knock Homme out. The last two rounds saw the over-matched Homme lung in several times, only to be countered by the more experienced Paris on the way in, but Paris never did land the big shot again and cruised to an unanimous decision victory.
Next we got to see undefeated Shane Benfield take on local toughman Hilario Guzman. Benfield is a natural light heavyweight but had to move up in weight on short notice to fight the natural cruiserweight Guzman. Just like the previous fight with Paris and Homme, it was obvious who the more skilled fighter was. Benfield bobbed and weaved and countered Guzmanís bull rushes, but it was Guzman who was landing all the shots and firing off (sloppy as it was) the vast majority of punches. I had the first round a tie. The second round saw very much the same action with Benfield landing some cleaner blows, but he was being pinned on the ropes by the bigger Guzman and Guzman punched at anything that moved. As the fight progressed it would be a battle between Guzmanís effective-aggression versus Benfieldís countering abilities. I will say this, when Benfield landed they were clean shots and they didnít phase the Dominican at all, when in Guzmanís case, he pushed Benfield around and controlled the pace, but didnít seem to really land a multitude of clean shots at all. At the end of the six round bout I had the score 58-57 for Guzman with room for a draw. Benfield was just out-worked and out-hustled by the inferior Guzman. When the scores rang out with a 57-57 on the first judgeís scorecard, the entire room felt hey this good fight was a draw, fairplay to both. Then the last two cards came out 59-55 for Benfield and the entire room erupted in boos. For the judges to disrespect Guzman and his effort like that is a disgrace to Guzman, the fans, and boxing. So Hilario, brother you deserved the win and some respect as well, so here is mine.
After I got out of the pisser from my now 75 oz of glorious hops, I settled in to watch Jaime Sandoval battle it out with Ken Humpreys. Humpreys had Hump on his trunks so he will be referred as such from here on out. Well Sandoval who happens to be Jesus Chavezí little brother, came into this fight with a mission and his mission was to eradicate Hump. My boy and I sat there looking at Hump and wondered how the hell this guy made 133 pounds. I mean he was all of five foot nothing and Sandoval towered over him. Then my boy went into the Mike Myers So I married an Axe Murderer bit in where the kid had a giant head and it had itís own solar system, yeah Humpís head was half his weight. I thought out-loud, wow that is a big target. Well Sandoval thought the same thing and commenced to finding that massive melon with his right hand. Hump though rocked Sandoval nasty mid-way through the first round and wobbled him again later on in the round against the ropes. I was thinking wow Humpís head is thick like Valuevís and he just might upset this Sandoval kid. Well that was basically Humpís only stirring moment, the rest of the fight up until it was stopped in the fifth due to an arm injury by Hump consisted of Sandoval putting lumps all over Humpís head and body (sorry I couldnít resist that). Sandoval looked very impressive in his victory and showed great resolve in coming back quickly after being hurt.
After a quick body-shot KO for Alexis Camacho I put another Fosters in me and settled in for a cruiserweight bout between 6í6Ē Josh Green (who isnít that tall, my boy is 6í3Ē and they stood eye to eye, but hey Iím not going to burst Greenís bubble there) and some dude named Clarence Moore. Man let me tell you Moore looked like James Toney before Tae Bo. Green on the other hand was a ripped looking guy who seems to be destined for heavyweight someday for he will undoubtedly grow some more. Green came in to some country song and the crowd lit-up in applause (funny, in all my years of living in Orlando and visiting Tampa, I have never heard or thought of Tampa as a country type of city, I mean itís like finding a bunch of John Denver fans Egypt). Anyways that right there set the tone for the fight, the ambience (fancy word for country-type of fighters) was electric and I had an incredible buzz going on so I turned into a fan instead of some version of a reporter.
Well Moore and Green came out firing as soon and the bell let them. Moore found it easy to walk in and pound on the lanky South Carolinianís torso. I was shocked that Green would give up his height so easily, but he was content to throw lead left-hooks and try to counter. Once again it was obvious who had the better skills and ability, but Mooreís desire kept him in the fight. At this point I didnít even try to score the bout as both were just punching each other in the head repeatedly and neither was backing down. The second round saw Green fight off his back foot and try to counter the entire time and with Moore coming in and working the body and finding a home for his left hook on Greenís face. In fact that is how the entire six rounds went; with both men bleeding badly from their noses and both breathing heavily they persevered and kept on fighting. This fight is exactly how two warriors prove their mettle. At the end of the fight the entire room stood in ovation, for both men deserved it. The scores came out 58-56 for Moore and 57-57 the other two. It was a majority draw and my partially drunken self saw this as a very fair judgment. I will say that Green was recently signed by Silverhawk and a solid investment they made in him. Josh is tough as nails, delivers exciting fights and has an immense heart. There are a lot of things for Green to work on, but the kid is 19 and has potential, but donít expect to see him in the rankings in the near future.
Next up was Gerald Nobles and the ever ready victim Andy Sample. Sample has a mindset to lose and seems ready to fall before the opening bell sounds. Now Sample is a nice guy and all, but a better effort out of him the fans should see and they deserve for they donít spend their money for the crap he has been delivering for his last several fights. As for Gerald Nobles, 5í11Ē is a little generous for him, but he is all of the 281lbs he weighed in for this fight. That is an absolute shame, for a fighter should be in better condition, but hey heís a heavyweight so why should we expect better? As for Noblesí weight I knew this fight wasnít going to be anything so I found myself enjoying the commentary of the drunken man behind me. The drunk bellowed advice to Sample as we were waiting for the bell to toll, ďAndy all you have to do is punch Nobles in the boob, just punch him in the boob and heíll go down, I mean theyíre hugeĒ! I found this very humorous and then Nobles started bouncing waiting for the fight to start, his ďMoobsĒ were flailing about and the drunk started screaming for him to stop because we should only see the ring-card girlsí boobs bounce around like that. The drunkís comments were the highlight of the fight because Sample went down three times without Nobles landing a single clean shot. I will say that this fight was the only unsavory one on the entire card.
At this point I am trying to sober up so I can objectively score Adrian Moraís contest with unknown Aaron Drake. Well I managed to sober up enough to see the fight clearly and to stop thinking the drunk behind me was funny any more. I tell you though he wouldíve been funny to me even if I was completely sober regarding his comments on Nobles. Well Mora came out with much fanfare and was clearly the more intimidating figure physically inside the ring. As for Drake, I felt some pity, but that was erased by his game effort inside the ring. Mora controlled the action but Drake kept it relatively close. Mora worked well behind his jab and was content to box on the outside, while Drake was trying desperately to overcome his physical shortcomings and worked on getting in the inside. I had Mora winning the first two rounds but unspectacularly though. Drake seemed into the fight and was not hurt at all, but he was starting to lead with his head while coming in on Mora. Iím guessing Mora or his corner realized this and in the third round with Drake leading in with his head down and low, Mora unleashed a devastating uppercut that separated Drake from his senses. Drake wasnít out cold, but I bet you he couldnít tell you he was in Tampa, and that was a result of the punch and not because of Josh Greenís country music. Before the ref could get to ten he waived off the fight and Mora won by an impressive one-punch KO. A very bold statement by Mora indeed and the kid deserves a fight against a ranked opponent next.
Silverhawk put on a very impressive production and a very competitive fight card. They have some nice prospects in the likes of Paris, Green, Sandoval, and Mora. Nobles needs to get serious about his career or he will be a waste of ink, but the rest of the fighters on display made the night worth it for the fans in attendance, and for this writer as well. I hope that all of you get to attend a live fight at least once a year, but if you donít, Iíll enjoy them for you. Until next time, enjoy the fights.
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