Saturday, January 12, 2008

Friday Night Fights: Miranda, Juarez, Marquez,Guerrero,Pittman,Pascal and Honorio

Friday Night Fights is back on the ESPN air with Teddy Atlas and Brian Kenney so last night provided some choices. There was a time overlap and it worried me, having experienced a recent boxing drought. Showtime Boxing had Robert Guerrero against Martin Honorio and Rocky Juarez vs. Juan Marquez. At just about the same time, the headline fight on ESPN featured El Pantera vs. David Banks. El Pantera is Edison Miranda, a Colombian fighter who bristles with danger. Miranda’s a wild and dangerous fighter who has improved in boxing skill since his stunning loss to Kelly Pavlik. Pavlik is currently the middleweight champion, and he has a rematch scheduled in February with former Champion Jermain Taylor. It’s crazy to see the middle-weight and super middleweight classes bunched up like that but it makes for some interesting days ahead in the boxing life.

David Banks, you will remember, was the slick, smooth guy who waltzed to some sort of Pyrrhic victory in the Contender Series. I wondered what came over Banks’ people to match him with Edison Miranda. Banks did alright on the Contender but putting him in the way of El Pantera Edison Miranda was a big mistake and I thought so well before the fight.

The Panther stalked Banks across the ring early in the fight and blasted David Banks so hard that he was asleep before falling. Have you ever heard the grizzled old fight people call someone a “stiff”? Watch the replay of this one and you’ll see the derivative roots of that slang. Banks landed splayed out and stiff straight on the bottom ropes and hung there, half in and half out of the ring, in seeming suspended animation until he woke up about half a minute later. He looked somewhat like a broken kite which had floated back to earth.

Now Miranda gets to fight Jean Pascal, a Canadian via Haiti who didn’t look too hot against Omar Pittman, a North Philly club fighter who came alive in the middle rounds to nearly KO the self-confident Pascal. My prediction is that Pascal will share the same fate with David Banks with the likelihood that he’ll manage to avoid the demolition ball a wee bit longer than Banks did.

Banks wasn’t the only fighter to hit the rack early on Friday night. Mexican Martin Honorio walked into a hard straight power shot from southpaw Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero in the first round. When Honorio finally managed to peel himself off the deck, he pitched forward in a dizzy charge at the ring ropes across the way. Honorio’s a better fighter and tougher opponent than this would indicate. He got caught cold, that’s all, and he rose to his feet from sheer effort of will, though in no shape to continue.

I want to give a shout out to Omar Pittman, a fighter who was hand-picked to lose and make Canadian Jean Pascal look good in doing so. Someone must have forgotten to tell “Pit Bull” Pittman that, however. Though he began sluggishly and was described by Teddy Atlas as having “no confidence”, he caught Pascal with a left hook during the middle rounds which sent Pascal back against the ropes in a wobbly condition. Pittman attacked with renewed confidence, wobbling Pascal a few times more though unable to close the show. The decision went to Pascal, much to the amusement of Miranda, who was smiling and appeared to be wondering how life could be so tough in his Colombian homeland and so full of fat and gravy in the United States. Miranda clearly has little respect for Pascal, the Canadian champion and future opponent.

Which brings me to the 12 round marathon between Juan Marquez and the resilient Rocky Juarez. If a boxing video could be effectively turned into a textbook, it would be this one. At age 34, Juan Marquez seemed more brilliant than ever and completely indefatigable, as fresh in 12 as he was in 1. He worked with the precision of a heat-seeking missile guided by lasers with punches coming from more angles than a circle has.

On the other side of the ring was the durable Rocky Juarez, bleeding from a bad cut over the eye. The cut was sustained in the early rounds by an accidental head butt and it bled profusely throughout the fight. Instead of getting out under the 4 when he could have gotten a “no-contest” instead of a loss, Juarez battled onward, a one-eyed fighter with matchless heart. The doctors kept looking at it and Rocky pushed them off. Juarez, too, was a boxing virtuoso, though always slightly behind in punch volume and speed. He was not ineffective, however, and seemed to gather inspiration in the later rounds as combinations flowed along with the river of blood covering both fighters. The decision clearly belonged to Marquez, but it was a fight that belonged to boxing history as the two great Mexican champions neither relented nor tired.

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