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ESPN’s Friday Night Fights Recap: Night Of The Knockout


by Sean Crose

Daniel Henry was said to have earned multiple college degrees, but education didn’t help him in his middleweight bout against Caleb Plant at the MGM Grand in Vegas on Friday. For the undefeated Plant (5-0) knocked Henry (2-2-3) down and out in the first round.

It was an abrupt, memorable start to this week’s Friday Night Fights on ESPN2. After being dropped early, Henry was then savagely disposed of by Plant before being taken out of the casino in an ambulance.

After a delay, which featured interviews with Adrien “The Problem” Broner and Dan Rafael, the night’s second bout, between undefeated junior middleweights Erickson Lubin (9-0) and Kenneth Council (8-0), began.

Council went down hard within the first thirty seconds of the fight. He was then put down again twice more in the first, with the bout officially ending at 1:33 of the opening round. “The talent was lopsided in that ring,” claimed analyst extraordinaire Teddy Atlas.

It was starting off as one of those nights. The bouts were exciting to be sure, but exceedingly brief.

The third fight featured middleweights Jorge Melendez (28-4-1) and Ievgen Khytrov (8-0). A thudding puncher, Khytrov plugged away at Melendez, but Melendez was a formidable foe, firing clean shots and remaining cool under fire.

At least that was the case early on.

As the fight progressed, however, the Khytrov, nicknamed “the Ukrainian Lion,” altered his style a bit, moving and striking instead of simply banging away. It made a big difference, as Khytrov was able to dominate the tempo by the middle rounds.

By the end of the sixth, Melendez was being completely taken apart. In fact, it looked like the fight might end right then and there. Melendez made it to the seventh, however, appearing no worse for wear. Yet Khytrov soldiered on and, after Melendez took a knee in the eighth, the bout was wisely stopped at the behest of Melendez’s corner.

After a brief Zab Judah (who’s busy training with a certain Floyd Mayweather Jr.) interview, it was time for the main event.

Junior middleweight Tony Harrison stepped into the ring with a 19-0 record. His opponent, Antwone Smith, had a resume of 23-5-1. Harrison, a showy product of the Motor City, kept his left hand hanging low, Kronk style.

After dropping Smith in the first, Harrison engaged in an annoying, Adrien Broner-style dance in the center of the ring. Harrison then dropped Smith again at the bell. In between rounds, referee Robert Byrd let Smith know he would stop the bout sooner rather than later if Smith didn’t up his game.

Smith didn’t and the fight was stopped in the first few moments of the second round.

The night ended with Jamontay Clark (4-0) facing fellow junior middleweight Rick Graham (2-4-2). Graham refused to touch gloves with Clark before the bout. Perhaps he should have, for although he scored a controversial knockdown in the third, Clark was dominated by the taller man throughout the course of the four-round fight, leading to a unanimous decision loss (39-37 on all three cards).

Overall, it was quite a satisfying night of boxing. Rarely do fans complain that they didn’t get their money’s worth when nearly an entire televised card delivers knockouts. It’s doubtful viewers of this week’s Friday Night Fights will be complaining.

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