By Jackie Kallen
With all the fight fans in Vegas this weekend for the mega fight, I expected the ESPN2 card Friday night to be a little bit more exciting. The room was packed and everyone seemed to be having fun. But the fights were the least interesting aspect of the evening.
Oscar was a great host as he posed for pictures with fans and worked the ringside area effortlessly. He was in a great mood and boxing notables like Harold Lederman, James Kirkland, David Haye, Fernando Vargas, Sergio Mora, Danny Garcia and Abner Mares circulated freely.
The woman’s fight started off the evening and it was a flat, one-sided affair as Jessica Rakoczy (now living in Vegas) fought a lack-luster couple of rounds with Denver’s Brittany Cruz. It was never a fight as Rakoczy dominated from the first bell and played cat and mouse with her opponent until the ref stopped it in the third round.
Steve Mestas, Cruz’s trainer, was disappointed and annoyed. “She took it on two weeks notice and her head was somewhere else,” he told me after the fight. “She did not rise to the occasion. It was embarrassing.”
Ishe Smith, of Contender fame, also had an easy night against Ayi Bruce. It was all Smith as he easily pushed Bruce around and threw the harder punches. Bruce did the best he could, I suppose, but it wasn’t good enough. The ref stopped it in the 4th round and it was a wise stoppage. Bruce had nothing to bring to the party.
After the fight, Smith was happy and unusually talkative. He felt good about his win and sees it as a positive step forward. After two losses in a row a couple of years ago, he feels like his career is back on track now. He beat Alexander Pacheco Quiroz six months ago, and looked sharp as he disposed of Bruce. Maybe there is a title in Smith’s future after all.
I was very impressed with a young junior middleweight from Orlando named Daquan Arnett. He has good speed and impressive power. His opponent, Jose Martell, never should have bothered showing up. He had nothing. His corner realized it before the end of the first round and signaled the ref to call it quits. There were only 19 seconds left in the round, but they wisely chose to spare their man further damage.
The main event was anti-climatic and actually a bit boring. At least in person. Maybe it looked better on TV, but those around me were comparing the fight to Nyquil. It never ignited the crowd and seemed more like a sparring session.
Eduardo Lazcano has never been knocked out in 27 fights and it’s obvious why. He has a hard head and a lot of heart. His stance and style are awkward and he somehow manages to hang in there. But it was a very one-sided fight. With his braided tail swinging, Ponce de Leon pressed the action and had an easy night’s work.
His fans love him, but I’m sure they’d rather see him fight Broner again or someone like Diego Magdaleno. Lazcano was not much of a challenge but after Ponce de Leon lost both of his fights last year, I’m sure it was a smart decision to match him carefully. He got in some rounds and was never in any trouble.
Now we are counting the minutes until Mayweather/Cotto begins. I hope it’s an exciting fight. For $35 million, “Money” had better put on an explosive performance.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen