By: William Holmes
“What you saw tonight, and thanks to NBC and their willingness to look at things differently, is what happens when a matchmaker makes the fight and not a television executive or a newspaper reporter. What you saw is three tremendous fights.”
—Kathy Duva, Promoter of Main Events.
No truer words were spoken on Saturday night. When Main Events Promotions first announced their partnership with NBC Sports Network, they publically signaled a willingness to work with any promoter, and announced the hiring of respected promoter and matchmaker J. Russell Peltz to help fill out their cards. Even though Saturday was only the second televised NBC Sports Fight Night card on the NBC Sports Network, the goal of the partnerships was on full display as the crowd was entertained by a night of solid fights, featuring a main event between Main Events Boxer Zab Judah and Don King Promotions Boxer Vernon Paris.
Zab Judah (41-7) vs. Vernon Paris (26-0); Junior Welterweight
If I had to describe the main event in one sentence, it would be this. Vernon Paris continuously smacked his own chest throughout the fight, and Zab Judah continuously smacked Paris’ face throughout the night.
As Zab Judah and Vernon Paris made their way into the ring, you almost got the sensation that a riot may break out. Vernon Paris had his passionate supporters sitting behind his corner proudly wearing their Detroit gear, and the supporters of Judah were loudly chanting “Brooklyn” and were anxiously awaiting Judah’s entrance into the ring. The fight had continuous action, with Judah dominating most of the way. After Judah’s gloves were re-taped in the middle of round one, he came out firing and the action at the end of the first round put the crowd on notice that Judah was not a washed up and over the hill veteran.
Paris was able to land his lead left hook early on in the fight, but a hard left hand from Judah seemed to severely hurt Paris and audience members thought he may have broken the nose of Paris. Paris was breathing throughout his mouth throughout the rest of the fight, and was unable to find an answer for the slick southpaw style of Zab Judah.
Paris’ best moment of the fight came in round four, when he was able to land some decent inside power shots while up close, but Judah stayed focused and finished nearly every round with quick combinations. As the rounds continued, it became patently obvious that Paris was not yet ready for a boxer the caliber of Zab Judah, and by the eighth round a hard left hand by Judah nearly crippled Paris. Judah finished him off with a flurry by the corner forcing the referee to stop the fight, as Paris was not answering the onslaught of punches that Judah was bringing. Zab Judah scored the TKO 0:27 into round 9 and gave Vernon Paris his first defeat.
Afterwards, Judah and his promoter briefly spoke with various members of the media and had a few comments. Duva indicated that they were going to look at the tapes of the Garcia fight and consider if he’d be a good possible matchup, in addition to the winner of Amir Khan and Lamont Peterson.
“My game plan was to come in and hurt him, and hit him with some good shots. We watched him in the weigh in and everything and his body didn’t look like the expectation of what we thought him to be. Credit Vernon Paris, he’s 26-0,” Judah continued, “I just went in there and executed”.
Tomasz Adamek (44-2) vs. Nagy Aguilera (17-6); Heavyweight
The televised bout preceding the main event was a heavyweight tilt between Tomasz Adamek and Nagy Aguilera. Of all the fights that were announced before Saturday, this one seemed to be the biggest mismatch on paper, but even this was an entertaining fight. There was a large Polish contingent in the crowd and it gave the impression that Adamek was fighting on his home turf. Adamek controlled most of the fight but started slow as he tried to find his range and timing. Aguilera had some moments, and especially landed his straight right cross upstairs several times throughout the night. Adamek however, fought the smarter and started to land his 1-2 combination cleanly and frequently from round five on. Aguilera might have won round eight, but the rest of the fight clearly belonged to Adamek. Tomasz Adamek scored the decision victory and nearly go the sweep, with official scores of 99-91, 100-90, and 100-90. He was seen icing his hands after the fight, and indicated that the injuries may be bad enough to keep him out of action.
Adamek briefly spoke with Boxinginsider after the fight, and stated. “My performance was good, conditioning was good, Nagy prepared very well, 100%. In his fights he attacks, I think we made a good fight. He did not hit me hard, but I don’t know what happened to my hand, after two rounds I’m feeling my hand and in the fifth or sixth my right hand. I couldn’t hit him strong”
When he was asked if Jennings might be a possible future opponent for him, he stated “I don’t know. I’m never thinking about my future opponent before my fight. Tomorrow I can think about my next fight, but the next fight is going to be at the hospital and the pictures will show what happened to my hand.”
Bryant Jennings (12-0) vs. Sergei Liakhovich (25-4); Heavyweight
The other televised bout was this writer’s favorite one to watch, and the winner made a loud statement that he is for real and will be a force to reckoned with in the future.
Bryant “By-By” Jennings won the main event on the inaugural NBC Sports Fight Night event, and was even more impressive tonight. Sergei Liakhovich is a former legitimate heavyweight champion, but looked a little bit out of shape at the opening moments of the bout. Jennings fought an extremely smart fight, and was able to stay on the outside popping in and out with quick combinations. He ended most rounds with a flurry to put an exclamation point on some of the rounds, and had the left eye of Liakhovich puffed up early.
Jennings looked more confident as the fight progressed, and hurt Liakhovich badly in round five. Liakhovich was cut by round seven, and was rocked by an uppercut near the end of the round. You could see both fighters talking trash to each other at the beginning of round eight, but Jennings backed up his trash talking and made Liakhovich a bloody mess at the end of the round. A ringside doctor was seen talking to Liakhovich at the beginning of round nine, and Jennings pounded his opponent again near the end of the round. Liakhovich did not answer the bell for round ten, which gave Jennings the TKO victory in the biggest win of his career.
Not only did Jennings win, but he won easily. Other heavyweights are officially on notice: Bryant Jennings is a legitimate prospect with high ceiling potential.
Afterwards, Jennings gave a few comments to the media and boxinginsider.com, and in response to what’s next he stated: “The top is next. The top is the goal. To be a World Heavyweight champion. I’ve got to get there, whatever the vehicle, whether I got to do it on foot, do it in a car, running backwards, bicycles, motorbike, Chevrolet or chevy legs…whatever, I’m going to get to the top. That’s the goal. I like to achieve goals. I set goals and I like to achieve them.” When this writer asked Jennings what was said during round eight, he stated, “I told him I was tired….I said come and get me. I’m tired, come and get me. Because I was waiting for the veteran or the experience to come out, where was that at? That was the biggest edge for him. Everybody knows I have ability, they probably thought I was moving too fast, his experience was supposed to take me over……I didn’t see that.”
The undercard also had some exciting bouts. Lightweight Alan Beeman won his pro debut with a TKO at 2:27 of the second round. His opponent Angel Garcia was knocked down twice in the second round, and declined to fight anymore after the second knockdown.
Curtis Stephens improved his record to 22-3 with a one round destruction over Romaro Johnson in the middleweight division. He knocked him down three times in the first round, and Johnson feel like a bag of bricks with the third knockdown. Stephens showed he has finishing instincts, as he won by TKO at 2:16 of round one.
Santander Silgado remained undefeated with tougher than expected decision victory over Willie Herring in the cruiserweight division. Herring had some moments early on in the fight and may have won rounds one, four, and seven. Silgado was able to survive some early attacks from Herring, and caused Herring to backpedal for most of the fight with his longer reach and 1-2 combinations. Silgado won by decision with official scores of 77-75, 78-74, and 78-74.
The last fight of the undercard was between Vinny O’Brien and former The Ultimate Fighter competitor and Ring of Combat champion Jeff Lentz. O’Brien looked to be the more technically sound boxer, but the awkward style of Lentz gave O’Brien fits and stopped O’Brien from executing his gameplan. By the third round it became painfully obvious that Lentz is more of an MMA fighter than a boxer, as most of his punches were long, looping, and wild. One of his punches connected in the third round and knocked O’brien down. This was enough to give Lentz the victory as he won by official scores of 39-36, 38-37, and 40-35.