by B.A. Cass
Julian Williams defeated Ishe Smith tonight by unanimous decision. The scores were too lopsided to be taken seriously.
Photo Credit: Mayweather Promotions
In the first round, Williams used his quick, powerful jab to keep Smith at bay. But Smith didn’t back down and kept walking Williams down.
During the second round, it became clear that all Williams has to offer is the jab. Smith, on the other hand, is a multi-dimensional fighter. He put in work to the body while also throwing jabs and rights to the head.
Williams did utilize his right hand in the third round, but that was because Smith made him use it by bringing the action to Williams. During this round, Williams head-butted Smith causing a cut to open to the side of Smith’s left eye.
During the fourth round, Smith slipped and immediately got up. But Smith was soon reprimanded for hitting Williams with a low blow. Smith continued to work the body of his opponent during the third round, but his cut opened again.
The fight really started to get fun in the fifth round. Smith went for it—letting his hands go and hitting to the body and the head. Williams didn’t buckle, and he deserves credit for that. Just before the round ended, Smith landed a great right hand to the head.
For some inexplicable reason, Williams stopped using his jab during the sixth round. His jab had previously been his only defense against the more aggressive Smith. During the seventh, Williams head-butted Smith again, opening a new cut, this time above the left eye. This time the cut was bad, and the blood was coming down into Smith’s eye. In the next round, the referee paused the fight to get the doctor to look Smith’s cut, which was bleeding. “I can see,” Smith said, and the doctor gave his okay.
In the ninth round, Williams was more active, and the Smith’s hometown fans started chanting, “Ishe, Ishe, Ishe.” Williams was still forgoing the use of his jab, and because of this, Smith was able to land a series of clean combinations.
And then in the tenth round, Williams landed another headbutt. I say “landed” because it’s hard to believe that this third headbutt was accidental. Williams came at Smith like a soccer player trying to go for a header. Smith was hurt and stood for a moment doubled over. But the fight continued, and Smith was more active, as he had been for much of the fight. Smith ended strong.
It was a very close fight, but the scores did not reflect that at all. The scores were 99-91, 98-92 and 97-93 for Williams. But bad scoring is something fight fans have come to expect when a fight takes place in Las Vegas.
However, the fight between Earl Newman and Lionell Thompson was judged fairly.
In the first round, Thompson was more active but inflicted no damage to his opponent. Newman landed jabs, mostly to the chest, and seemed to be controlling the movement of the fight.
The second round was uneventful, except for the fact that Floyd Mayweather—wearing a white turtle and grey sportscoat—began offering advice to Thompson from his ringside seats.
Everything changed in the third round. It was during this round that Thompson landed a solid uppercut that staggered Newman. Thompson got his opponent against the ropes and may have finished him, had not the referee, Robert Byrd, interceded. Byrd didn’t stop the fight but instead offered Newman an eight count. It was unclear why Byrd decided to do this as Newman hardly touched the ropes.
During the fourth round, Newman was knocked down. He took his time getting up and once the fight resumed it appeared Newman’s legs had yet to recover. Byrd told him, “Got to show me something, son.”
By the fifth round, it became clear that Thompson was now controlling the movement of the fight. He was making Newman follow him around. Worse, Newman wasn’t letting his hands go. During the sixth round, Thompson began throwing combinations to the body and Newman was staggered once.
Newman started to pick up the pace a bit starting in the seventh round. He was throwing more combinations, but he was still too slow. For example, in the eighth round, he hit Thompson with a solid right but then paused before landing body shots, giving Thompson time to protect himself. Thompson wasn’t damaged by any of Newman’s shots.
Thompson performed much better than probably anyone expected. He was faster, more aggressive, and, baring the eighth and ninth rounds, more active than Newman. Thompson also showed brilliance in backing up and using the ropes to evade his opponent’s punches.
And so, it was no surprise when all three judges gave Lionell Thompson the win. It was the right choice, even if it put the dreams of the top-heavy Earl Newman, two-time NY Golden Gloves winner and formally undefeated fighter, on hold. It’s hard to see where Newman goes from here. He needed a decisive win to progress to the next level, but he has shown that he just isn’t that impressive.
Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch