Over in Ontario, California – around 35 miles east of Los Angeles – Victor Ortiz and John Molina were meant to be facing off over the course of a scheduled 12 rounds with both men looking for one final crack at the big time. That was until Ortiz got himself in a spot of bother with the police, having handed himself in on charges of sexual assault – a wholly serious affair – promoter Tom Brown was forced to bump Brandon Figueroa vs Oscar Escandon to main event with The Hearbreaker, Figueroa, looking to move 17 and 0 against the gritty Colombian and former world title challenger.
Flying high as a professional, Brandon Figueroa was seeking to claim the biggest scalp of his career in the form of Oscar Escandon and with a streak of three successive knockouts, he certainly fancied his chances pre-fight of getting the job done within the scheduled 10 rounds.
Figueroa stood firm at the centre of the ring, statuesque for the first thirty seconds before resting on the shoulder of Escandon and working the inside pockets, getting big shots his Colombian opponent along with the occasional swift overhand.
Escandon looked to push the case for himself and extended his jab frequently, looking busy and fresh with his work but landing nothing of particular substance. Figueroa, on the other hand, was landing the more noticeable shots with a cracking straight left landing flush to the face of his opponent.
Fighting in the light blue shorts, Figueroa took a heavy tumble in the second – and a tumble, only – and sought to double up on the jab as he switched stances periodically. A real tussle emerged on the ropes with both men firing across the horizon, Escandon tagged the younger boxer with a god body shot to bring a wry smile from the face of Figueroa.
A real postage stamp fight over the opening third of the fight, both men were mixing it with good shots of their own but it was the younger fighter that, perhaps predictably, was showing the better energy and landed a couple of solid left hooks to keep Escandon in check.
Escandon was seeking to echo the plan of Figueroa in working on the inside and wearing down the body and whilst he was finding moderate success, it was hard to claim he was winning the fight.
Cut above the left eye, it made no difference to the strategy and confidence of Figueroa who snapped in and out of range from his counterpart but remained ever constant with accurate jabs and crisp left hand shots.
Round 5 of a scheduled 10 saw the fight from a little more with Figueroa starting to dictate the pace of the bout to greater effectiveness, good left hooks from the body saw Escandon visibly slow in his movements but he kept firing shots into his opponent – showing plenty of guts.
Figueroa snapped back immediately, hurting his man but chose not to follow up in pursuit of a stoppage and the rhythm continued into the latter half of the fight with both men finding pockets of success throughout each fight but Figueroa controlling much of the bout with his superior work-rate and more vicious punch intention.
Just when the bout looked destined for a routine points victory, Figueroa wound up and landed a flush right uppercut to the chin of his man to send his to the canvas in an instant – Escandon tried to get back up but only collapsed back, a sickening punch and a mesmerising knockout. Job done for Brandon Figueroa.
Joe Joyce, the British protagonist, was making his Stateside debut against Iago Kiladze, the Georgian Grizzly Bear, with the Juggernaut seeking to make an immediate splash over in America.
Up against Kiladze this fight was always going to be a “Joe Joyce showcase” with there being very little genuine hope of Kiladze springing an upset but the former cruiserweight prospect is known for his ability to make situations difficult so it was pertinent that Joyce stuck to the fundamentals that have seen him go to 5 and 0 in the space of a year and claim the Commonwealth title along the way.
The arts graduate from Putney, London, was punching downwards against a smaller opponent but Kiladze scampered across the ring during the early phases, skipping his way along the ropes on his toes and evading the awkward limbs of Joyce.
With eyes set on his Georgian counterpart in a manner akin to a bird of prey, Joyce never looked anything but focussed and mirrored Kiladze’s movement to an inch, Joyce began to target the body and, as he did, Kiladze threw back some adventurous shots of his own.
Into the second round we moved and a huge hook, seemingly from nowhere, sent Kiladze to the canvas with an audible thud. Sensing the stoppage was near, Joyce continued to pepper the body of his more experienced opponent, sinking his hands into the ribcage of Kiladze.
Kiladze, beginning to look worse for wear, seemed now to stagger as opposed to scamper and a left hook followed by a right and another left to the head of Kiladze saw his head bobble around like a ship in a stormy sea – the scarlet red face of Kiladze was a testament to the power that Joyce possesses.
The British heavyweight began to loosen up as the fight progressed and towards the end of a, relatively dull, third round, he exploded into the body of Kiladze – who was on the ropes – twisting the full power of his torso into the shots and dropping the Georgian to the canvas for a second time.
For the third time in the fight Kiladze hit the floor, in the fifth round, with a shot that, actually, was just a tentative, pawing jab from the big Putney man but it was enough, he’d had enough and returned to his corner, to secure Joe Joyce a 6th win and his 6th by knockout.
In the opening heavyweight bout of the evening Efe Ajagba (6-0, 5KOs) took on a fellow unbeaten professional in Nick Jones (7-0, 5KOs) with the 2016 Olympian hoping to get a stiffer contest than his, now infamous, one second bout versus Curtis Harper back in August.
Standing 6foot 5inches tall, Ajagba came into the ring looking like a figure sculpted from clay, impeccably formed and he led with a rangy, reaching left jab before landing some big right hands early on to signal his intentions from the off.
Looking patient from the centre of the ring Ajagba was in clear control even from the immediate offerings and Jones began to soak shots up almost instantaneously, several clubbing rights landing to the temple of Jones with those snapping hands of Ajagba breaking Jones’ guard with an alarming frequency.
With Jones ignoring the warning signs, Ajagba barely even flicked up a gear as he pieced together the punches with ease, throwing a soft left jab to tee up a crunchy nut of a right hook, snapping the neck of his counterpart back to send him crumpling to the canvas. A first round stoppage for Efe Ajagba within two minutes of the bell – the 24 year old moves to 7 and 0 with five of those victories now coming in the opening round.
Earlier on in the evening Jesse Rodriguez advanced his unbeaten record to seven without defeat when he issued Ediwn Reyes with an eight round shellacking, the scorecards were 80-72, 80-72 and 79-73, whilst Stephen Fulton dazzled over the course of eight rounds against, 102 fight veteran, German Meraz with some hard-hitting body shots and impressive hand speed – the scores for that contest were 80-71 across the board as Fulton moves to 14 and 0.
Brandon Figueroa lived up to his name, breaking the heart of Escandon but the real story of the night was Joe Joyce who lived up to expectations and moves on to December 1st, the undercard of Wilder-Fury, with both Luis Ortiz and Gerald Washington as rumoured opponents.
The world awaits!