Sunday, April 19, 2009

Donaire Dominates Martinez; Viloria Knocks Out Solis

Andrew Fruman recaps the action from last night's (Sunday afternoon if you're in the Philippines) Top Rank show.

It was a good day for Filipino boxing, as both Nonito Donaire (pictured) and Brian Viloria treated the home crowd at Araneta Coliseum in Manila to stoppage victories.

Photo © Ray Kasprowicz

In the main event, Donaire took care of business in impressive style with a TKO over previously unbeaten Raul Martinez. Using a sharp left jab and powerful combinations, which included some excellent body work, Donaire dominated the bout, sending Martinez to the canvas on 4 occasions. The final knockdown came at 2:42 of round 4, which prompted referee Pete Podgorski to call a halt to the action.

Donaire scored the first knockdown with a cross between an uppercut and a left hook that crashed into the side of the challenger’s jaw. Martinez chose to take the 8 count on his knee before rising and indicating he was good to go, but was down again before the opening frame was over. As was the case the first knockdown, Martinez didn’t appear hurt, but the gulf in class between the two fighters was abundantly clear.

The strategy for Martinez coming into the bout was to work his way inside against his taller opponent, but found it an impossible task. He came out aggressively for the second round, only to run into some well placed counters that included a left hook which deposited him on the canvas again.

Donaire was a little more restrained in the third round, choosing to use his jab more, but still had things all his own way. Other than landing the occasional right hand, Martinez just couldn’t get anything started.

Martinez landed a lunging right hand at one stage in the 4th round, but for the most part it was all Donaire. The final blow was a left uppercut that sent Martinez stumbling backwards, and had referee Podgorski signaling and end without a count. Martinez wasn’t in rough shape and was quick to protest the call, but given the one sided nature of the bout, it’s hard to find too much fault with the call.

In my opinion, there was no real value in the bout continuing. It's just one loss. Martinez can bounce back from that, while taking a really bad beating - and I think that was looking very likely - would have been tougher to rebound from.

As far as Nonito Donaire goes, I think it’s safe to say that a rematch with Vic Darchinyan is the bout everyone (other than maybe Joseph Agbeko and Gary Shaw) wants to see. C'mon Shaw, stop being an ass. If Vic gets by Agbeko, get him and Nonito signed up. Boxing fans want it. Vic wants it. Listen to your fighter! Let’s see it!

The co-main event…

Brian Viloria capped a terrific performance by knocking out Ulises Solis with a crunching right hand in the waning seconds of the 11th round. It was a spectacular finish to a bruising encounter, and a great moment for the 108 pound Hawaiian of Filipino descent, fighting for the first time in the county of his heritage.

Known more for his left hook, it was Viloria’s right hand that proved to be the story of the fight. He found a home for it right off the bat, stunning Solis on a couple occasions in the first round and continued to land the punch with authority, driving Solis back on multiple occasions in building an early lead.

Solis was most effective going to the body, especially with his left hook, although he also landed a number of right hands downstairs as well. After a rough start the dedicated body attack helped the rugged Mexican stay in the fight, but it also came at a price on the scorecards. Solis was penalized in both rounds 3 and 5 for punches that strayed south of the border.

To further his troubles in the 5th round, Solis also suffered a cut, just above and to the side of his right eye.

Undaunted by the deductions, Solis kept blasting away downstairs, and combined with an effective jab and some nice uppercuts, managed to mount a rally in the mid-rounds. After winning rounds 6 and 7 on my card – two rounds with featured several intense exchanges and great back and forth action – the 8th was up for grabs until Solis almost put Viloria down with seconds left in the round after catching the crowd favourite with a combination along the ropes.

The 9th round featured more bruising action, with Viloria rocking Solis early with a right hand and pressing his advantage by forcing the title holder into the ropes. Yet once again, as he had done all night long, Solis returned fire, digging to the body in a gutsy effort to get back his momentum. It was terrific back and forth stuff.

In the 10th, Viloria seemed to up his intensity, and the punishing toll of the battle was now clearly showing on the champ, who was starting to look a little ragged. Viloria was none too fresh either, but he continued to land the cleaner, flashier punches, and while Solis still gamely fought back, it wasn’t with the same vigor he’d shown in previous rounds.

Viloria’s upper hand became even more pronounced in the 11th, and while Solis had taken heavy leather all night without going down, it wasn’t a big surprise that he eventually gave way. Tired and bleeding from cuts around both eyes, he was still bravely coming forward, when he walked into the fight ending right hand.

It was a perfect shot on the money and Solis was down for at least a few worrisome minutes, before being helped to his stool. Eventually, he was able to get to his feet and received a warm round of applause from the appreciative crowd before leaving the ring.

As a fan, I’m always humbled when I see a fighter simply refuse to accept his fate, and Ulises Solis was the epitome of that tonight. That really was a hell of an effort. He took an awful lot of clean hard punches, especially to the head, yet remained grimly determined for as long as his body would allow.

Great win for Viloria, and especially satisfying having it take place in the Philippines.

If these two don’t go at it again, and given the grueling nature of the bout, I wouldn’t be surprised if Solis took some extended time off, how about Viloria against Ivan Calderon?

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