This past Friday night, what happened outside the ring was the bigger story that what happened in the ring. Nick Charles made his return to television after fighting cancer for the past half year. Charles voice reminded us of why he is one of the best play by play in boxing today. For the inception of SHOBOX, Nick Charles teamed up with Steve Farhood to make up one of the best announcing team in sports. The addition of Antonio Tarver, who was never lost for words when he was one of the best light heavyweights, strengthens one of the more entertaining team in boxing. Nick Charles was back where he belongs, on SHOBOX, The Next Generation.
The opening bout featured trial horse Derek Campos challenging the undefeated local star New Mexican fighter Archie Ray Marquez. This bout was hardly much of a fight as Marquez stayed on the outside and simply outboxed the over match Campos. Using his three inch height advantage, Marquez hardly broke a sweat. This is one of those fights in which a prospect fights a tough but undermanned opponent and gets in a few rounds. What was proved that Marquez can go eight rounds.
In the main event of the SHOBOX, undefeated bantamweight prospect Chris Avalos faced slick boxer Jose Nieve. Power slugging Avalos goal was to trap Nieve but in the first round, this was not an easy chore. Nieve moved around the ring and Avalos couldn’t put combinations together against the mobile Nieve. He chased a ghost.
The second round was changed when an Avalos combination sent Nieve down. The combination began with a right hand followed by a wild left hook that missed before a right hand put Nieve down. From this point, Nieve found himself trapped on the rope and played rope a dope. A second knock down followed in the roundand Avalos changed the tenor of the fight.
From this point, Nieve strategy of rope a dope merely delayed the inevitable as he lacked the firepower to match that of Avalos and he allowed Avalos to simply unload on him as Avalos battered Nieve along the rope. An Avalos uppercut sent Nieve down for the good in the fourth round after a series of battering ram punches. Avalos moved closer out of the prospect status into becoming a contender.
ESPN Friday night fight featured the best fight of the evening when Curtis Stevens and Jesse Brinkley faced off to determine who will challenge Lucian Bute. Stevens promised a quick evening like a 50 seconds knock out and was the favorite. Brinkley greatest claim to fame was his appearance on the Contender series but he never quite made the jumped to the upper echelon of either Middleweight or Super Middleweight.
Stevens began the first round with the idea of fulfilling his prophecy as he nailed Brinkley with numerous left hooks. Stevens’ hands were quicker and his power self-evident as Brinkley right eye began to swell from the hooks that nailed him.
Brinkley kept retreating and moving out of harms way in order to survive the onslaught that Stevens promised.
Stevens easily won the round but he failed to knock Brinkley out. In the second round, Brinkley threw his jab and started to move in and out; confusing Stevens. The second round was closer but it set the pattern for the rest of the fight. Brinkley changed his pattern between boxing and jabbing before moving into overdrive and attacking Stevens. Brinkley slowly changed the momentum as his guile forced Stevens into a pitch battle that he was not prepared for.
In the sixth round, Brinkley nearly ended the fight. Brinkley jab set up a series of power punch including three big rights that first stunned Stevens then sent him down. Stevens survived the round but barely. Brinkley tried to end the fight in the seventh but Stevens survived the assault.
Stevens showed something as he not only survived but he counterattacked Brinkley as well. Brinkley continued to mix up attack but occasionally he ran into Stevens counters and going into the final two rounds; Brinkley was winning on the cards but Stevens still had his power. Stevens knew that he had a puncher chance and Brinkley habit of lower his right when he jabbed, opened him up for Stevens’ left hook. Stevens figured one good left hook over the right could end the fight.
In the eleventh round, Brinkley jabbed for the first two minutes but in the last minute both fighters exchanged punches but Brinkley got the better of the exchanges Both of Stevens’ eyes were swollen and he had the look of a beaten fighter as he returned to his corner for the fial round. Stevens went out for the twelfth round with but one goal, knock out Brinkley.
Brinkley jabbed and boxed for the first two minutes as he had a big lead on the score card but in the last minute, Brinkley attacked with renewed ferocity and a big right sent Stevens reeling into the rope and only rope kept Stevens from falling. Stevens received an eight count and that the eight count kept him from being knocked out. Over the last 30 seconds, Stevens survived and Brinkley won a unanimous decision.
Brinkley won his biggest fight and showed that guile and experience can overcome power. Stevens had the advantage in hand speed, power and youth. What Brinkley had was the knowledge that this would be his last chance for a title shot and he fought as if he had everything on the line. He did. Brinkley used his knowledge of the ring to frustrate Stevens and Stevens made the mistake of underestimating his opponent. He did not prepared physically or mentally for a long fight. Boxing is as much mental as physical and Stevens’s lack of respect for his opponent cost him the fight. As Jesse Brinkley observed, “The guy told me what he was going to do and I simply prepared for him.” Brinkley knew if he could survive the initial onslaught, he could win the fight.
But this evening belonged to Nick Charles, as boxing world welcome back one of its best announcer.