Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fernando Guerrero Stars in's Debut Show

Andrew Fruman reviews last night's's debut PPV webcast show.

Photos © Cheryl Nemazie

Despite a busy schedule of televised fights including the light heavyweight battle between Jean Pascal and Adrian Diaconu, the only option I had last night to watch a live event was the $4.95 PPV from Prize Fight TV featuring the up and coming Fernando Guerrero against Brian Norman.

What about ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights? Not shown live for those of us north of the US border. And the aforementioned big fight from Montreal between Pascal and Diaconu? Surely that was available in Canada? Not unless you had Bell ExpressVu. Viewer’s Choice, the Canadian PPV provider for cable subscribers didn’t offer the event.

With my choices limited, I happily forked over the modest cost of the Prize Fight TV show.

Now as most potential viewers are in the US, my first instinct is to wonder why put the show up on a Friday night up against two other televised boxing cards. But after hearing that a big live crowd regularly shows up to the Wicomico Civic Center in Salisbury for all of Guerrero’s fights, I’d assume catering to the local market is the main concern when it comes to scheduling.

I’ll get to Guerrero’s performance in a minute, as well as the other fights, but first a couple comments regarding the online broadcast.

The audio was clear, but it was limited to the commentary and ring announcer, as all the fight sounds that viewers are used to hearing were not picked up. No sounds of thudding punches landing, or the crowd cheering or the bell ringing. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it was definitely noticeable and as a result the overall atmosphere of the show didn’t fully come across.

The picture was good, although there were moments when the screen froze, and others times when the feed wasn't smooth and for this reason there were a few rounds that were a little difficult to watch.

It's not realistic to expect HBO quality production values, but I'm sure both those issues could be improved upon.

Now onto the fights...

Fernando Guerrero was impressive.

Brian Norman’s no walk in the park. This is a fighter who gave Jean Pascal a solid run over 10 tough rounds 18 months ago and he showed his physical strength early last night when he managed to push Guerrero back steadily during the opening frame.

Norman kept pressing forward and working the body early in the second round, until the kid from Salisbury by way of the Dominican Republic took over. Showing his full repertoire of punches, Guerrero deposited Norman on the canvas twice, prompting referee Kenny Chevalier to call an early end to the night’s fistic activities.

The first knockdown (pictured left) came about a minute and a half into the round after Guerrero hurt Norman with a heavy combination, and followed it up with an array of power shots. A right hand was the blow that eventually put the 30 year old from Georgia down along the ropes.

After taking the count, Norman bravely waded back in for more and Guerrero reciprocated with a torrid assault that included some heavy body shots, and vicious uppercuts. Finally after a number of clean shots found the mark, a left-right combination sent Norman to the canvas for the second and final time.

Explosive stuff from the big punching 22 year old.

On the undercard…

Opening the show was Dominic Wade, who showed some nice skills in a win over Anthony Cannon in moving his record to 3-0. The 19 year old super-middleweight did a great job of working the body while pounding Cannon with combinations until referee Bill Clancy stopped the bout mid-way through the second round.

Up next in a 4 rounder and making his pro-debut was Alex Guerrero – the older brother of Fernando. The lanky 190 pound cruiserweight took on 201 pound Rodrika Ray, and despite tiring quickly managed to do enough to take a majority decision by scores of 39-37 twice and 38-38.

The next bout was a bit of a disappointment as 2008 US Olympic alternate Shawn Porter’s (pictured right) scheduled opponent Dion Savage never made the trip to Maryland from Florida. In his place, taking the fight on only 24 hours notice and arriving in town at 3 AM was journeyman Brandon Wooten.

Wooten did his best under the circumstances, but was no match for the quick handed 2008 Olympic alternate, lasting only 2:09 seconds while tasting the canvas 3 times. Porter, who turned pro a little over 10 months ago improved his record to 9-0. He's looked sharp each time I've seen him and he's definitely someone to keep an eye out for.

The final supporting bout featured Philly fighter Farah Ennis taking on Norfolk’s Bobby Jordan in a competitive 8 rounder. The 29 year old Jordan started slow, but got himself back in the fight with surge over the middle rounds. Overall though, Ennis was just a little sharper in a bout were both fighters turned it up in a very exciting final round. The scores were 79-73 twice - which I felt was too wide - and a much more reasonable 77-75 for Ennis who moves to 10-0. The previously unbeaten Jordan dropped to 6-1-1.

Was it worth the $5?

Yes, I'd say so. This was the first online PPV I've purchased, and I appreciated the opportunity to watch a smaller show that I otherwise would not have had the chance to.

Guerrero himself goes a long way in making it worth the money. Anytime you get a chance to see one of the most exciting young fighters in the sport in action, I think forking over a few bucks for the privilege is small price to pay. Throw in a few more talented youngsters, on a full card of five fights and I think $5 is pretty reasonable.

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