By Lee Payton
Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions produced a PPV attraction that showcased a colourful cast of top lightweights, and the result was a fight card that delivered the goods.
Though some of the PPV line-up was sort of patched together in a hurry, the fighters took care of their end of the bargain with 4 conclusive finishes. The crowd at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas created a fun atmosphere for what must have been a memorable live show.
Edwin Valero is something of a mysterious southpaw prodigy to many boxing fans around the world because of a fuzzy medical issue involving a blood clot resulting from a motorcycle accident. The injury left athletic commissions in the U.S. reluctant to grant him a license to perform, so this was his first shot on the big stage in America.
This is only my second time seeing Valero in action, but he looks like he's for real.
Now 25-0 (25), the unique left-handed hitter scored a fantastic TKO victory in the 2nd round against seasoned puncher, Antonio Pitalua. A crunching right hook twisted the old veteran's head around and planted him on his back.
Brave, but with little control over his legs, Pitalua rose only to be put down twice more by an overwhelming attack that ended matters. The main event served it's purpose in a big way; Edwin Valero has arrived.
The kid has a few flaws (the most obvious being how high his chin can get during delivery), but he's very fast, and loves the KO. The lightweight division is full of intriguing match-ups that could tell us more about what he's got inside.
Is he ready for World Lightweight Champion, Juan Manuel Marquez? I'm not sure about that. However, his speed and power would surely make Marquez uncomfortable for awhile. I just think 12 rounds is a bit too long for him to go without getting caught by one of those beautiful counter shots. The champ is just too seasoned, in my view.
A fight with former champion, Juan Diaz, is a natural. Two all-action fighters who could fill the house anywhere in Texas. How would Diaz go about attacking a quick, powerful lefty who shoots almost everything down the middle? Is Valero ready for that kind of step up in class? What does he have on the defensive side? I'd love to find out, and I think we will by the end of the year.
While I'm sure this guy will be entertaining against just about anyone, I think a fight between Edwin Valero and Humberto Soto is one of the best fights in boxing. It would be a battle of offensive machines who take different paths on their way to turning the lights out. Anything could happen! Hopefully Oscar and his old pal, Bob can make that one a reality soon.
There's also a barbarian from down under...
Hometown fighter, Jesus Chavez, broke my heart yet again when he was forced to retire after 7 bruising rounds with Aussie fan favourite, Michael Katsidis. At 36, Chavez just didn't have the stuff to keep the younger, stronger man off, or meet him-head-to-head without getting hurt, so the plug was pulled.
A wildly supportive crowd tried to will their man to victory, but the snake-bitten warrior's 36 year old body just couldn't stand up to the heavy hands and suffocating style of Katsidis, who never let him catch his breath.
Chavez had some early success with the cutest moves I've ever seen from him. He gave the brute some smart angles, found success with a few right hands from the outside and turned many uppercuts beautifully from underneath.
Eventually though, superior fitness took over. Katsidis pounded away relentlessly, silencing the once delirious crowd with the thud of his powerful blows.
I'm not sure if Chavez ended it himself, but the people in his corner should have known enough to stop it. Either way, I've never been hard on a fighter who knows he is beaten. If he did quit, that's OK with me. In my opinion, there is no dishonour in surrendering to the better man.
Michael Katsidis is a tough hombre, and I look forward to seeing him again, but I just wanted to touch on some of the poor luck that has plagued Jesus Chavez's career.
His first ever title shot was against none other than Floyd Mayweather. There are something like 21 title belts per division these days and this is the number he draws...?
In his next big fight, he goes to war for 3 rounds with Mexican great, Erik Morales, only to injure his right arm so bad that he couldn't use it for the remaining 9. He literally fought El Terrible with one arm and went the distance. It was an unbelievably courageous effort.
Then he won his first title against Leavander Johnson, who died in the hospital 5 days later, as a result of the injuries he received during the bout.
No fights in 2006.
Finally, a torn up knee knocked him out in his first fight back from a year and a half on the sidelines.
Chavez is proof that boxing, and life, isn't always fair. I'd like to see him get out before something else happens.
Vincente Escobedo earned a hard-fought 10 round decision over comebacking Carlos "Famoso" Hernandez of El Salvador. It's a good win for the Olympian, who had lost his way a little bit before hooking up with Nacho Beristain. Nothing came easy on this night, but he was a clear winner, and his career now seems to be back on track.
I want to send special recognition to Hernandez for the heart and desire he displayed in taking the fight to his younger, more gifted opponent all night. The hunger he showed in that thrilling final round was something special for a fighter his age. It was a helluva way to end a respectable career.
Rolando Reyes opened the card by knocking out Julio Diaz in 5 rounds. The first 4 rounds were slow, with little in the way of clean punching. Some sharp work put "The Kidd" on queer street, and he was never able to recover.
It was reported that Diaz was just under the jr. middleweight limit on fight night. This likely had something to do with the way he reacted to every punch Reyes landed.
Here's hoping that this PPV is enough of a financial success that the brass at GBP decide to keep offering similar fight cards. It really was a lot of fun. I told some friends of mine, who follow boxing very casually, to check this one out...
The next time Valero and/or Katsidis fight, they want to know.
e-mail Lee Payton
Sunday, April 5, 2009
By Lee Payton