by Tom Donelson
In Las Vegas last Friday night, it was Cuban prospects on the way up as Yudel Jhonson challenged Richard Gutierrez and Erislandy Lara took on Carlos Molina.
Ted Atlas described Jhonson as a smooth fighter as he makes boxing looks easy and in the opening, Cuban fighter took his time as he managed to delivere some blows at the end of the round after a slow start. Gutierrez became more aggressive in the opening minutes of the second round but Jhonson nailed Gutierrez with some solid counters as he connected with some solid lefts over Gutierrez’s jab.
In the fourth round, Gutierrez started the round fighting southpaw in an effort to switch things up as he easily the first three rounds but he returned to his orthodox stance as Jhonson slapped a accurate left. Gutierrez tried to use guile to gain any other tricks just to stay in the bout.
In the fifth round, Jhonson continued his workmanlike rate as he simply continued to snap accurate punches against Gutierrez who simply seemed a half a second step slower. Jhonson added some body shots to his arsenal and appeared satisfied to win a decision as he showed a caution nature when it came to boxing. Ted Atlas pointed out that Gutierrez feet were too wide as Jhonson easily maneuvered around Gutierrez.
In the seventh round, Jhonson nailed Gutierrez with a solid right hand hook behind the ear that made Guiterrez’s leg wobbled and followed with combination that ended with second right hook before the referee stopped the fight. Gutierrez looked okay and capable of defending himself but the referee thought otherwise.
While fans booed the stoppage, there was no doubt that Jhonson was the superior fighter between the two and there was little to suggest that Guiterrez was going to win.
In a fight in between the co-main events, Jose Luis Herrera fought another Cuban prospect Yunier Dorticos, undefeated cruiserweight who won every fight by knock out in his young professional career.
Dorticos showed his advantages in skills in the opening bout and in the second round, a low blow allowed Herrera a few minutes to garner his thought like “What can I do with this guy in front of me?” This rest did very little to arrest the trend as Dorticos went for the knock out with a combination that ended with a right that sent Herrera down. Herrera got back on unsteady legs before another combination ended the fight with Herrera trapped on the rope as the referee stopped the fight.
Carlos Molina defeated three of the four southpaw he fought so he had experience in fighting southpaws. This was shown in the early moments as he moved away from Lara power left. Molina managed to land a few punches as Lara merely seemed to content to wait as he merely observed his opponent for weakness.
Molina moved in and out in the second round as Lara merely waited for Molina to make a mistake. In the third round, Molina took advantage of Lara peek a boo defense as Molina went inside to pound the body.
Lara found himself in a real fight as Molina used his veteran guile to steal rounds against Lara passivity. In between fourth and fifth round, Lara’s corner gave their fighter hell to put the pressure on Molina and Lara attacked Molina’s body in the fifth round.
In the sixth round, Lara continued pressure but the pressure did not meet the same intensity as the previous two rounds, allowing Molina a little respite and at the end of the round, Molina changed momentum with a solid right hand uppercut.
Molina pushed Lara around the ring in the seventh round as Lara not only retreated but looked tired with his mouth opened and the unthinkable was becoming thinkable, Lara might lose his zero and undefeated status. Molina continued his own assault despite his lack of power when compared to Lara but Lara seemed contented to allow Molina to get off first and score.
With two rounds left, Team Lara feared that their fighter was behind and implored their fighter to take the foot off the gas tank to push Molina. With thirty seconds left, Lara shook Molina with a solid left in the corner and Lara dominated the rest of the round.
With a close fight and his undefeated status at stake, Lara’s corner led by trainer Ronnie Shields told Lara, “Go all out.” Lara was the more active but Molina managed to land a solid a right hand uppercut in a round that could go either way with Lara winning the first portion of the round but Molina may have won the last half. In a fight that could have been scored either way, Lara fate was in the judges’ hand.
Lara escaped with a majority draw as one judge had it 97-93 in Molina’s favor but the other two judges 95-95 even. Molina came to the fight with a plan and nearly pulled off an upset whereas Lara spent most of the fight looking for the big punch that never came. Instead, Lara had to struggle just to get a draw and looked less than a championship contender and more like a prospect with much left to learn.