Zuniga decisions Echols

antwun echols24.06.07 - By Gary Jones: On Saturday night, Super middleweight Fulgencio Zuniga (19-2-1, 16 Kos) defeated former middleweight Antwun Echols (31-7-3, 27 Kos), winning an easy 10-round decision against the former knockout artist at the Thomas & Mack Center, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Echols, 35, a previous 3-time middleweight championship challenger, appeared old and slow early on against the younger Zuniga, who punished Echols with devastating shots from the start up until 8th round when Zuniga faded badly.

In some ways, Zuniga represents a mirror image of a younger Echols, a fighter with tremendous punching power but for some reason was never able to put it all together in one night to win a championship.

On this night, however, the younger Zuniga was far too much for the 35-year-old Echols to deal with, at least in round 1-8, before Zuniga tired out. The judgesí scores were 97-90, 97-89 and 98-88, showing how badly Echols was over-matched by Zuniga.

Strangely enough, Echols still punches incredibly harder, and seemed to be the more powerful of the two. However, he was unable to match Zuniga's punch output, and following the 1st round, in which I scored the round for Echols, he then badly lost rounds 2-8 on my score card. During this time, Zuniga was a punching machine, looking crude and unpolished, but yet throwing non-stop punches from all kinds of unexpected angles. The strange angles somewhat remind me of Naseem Hamed, only Zuniga doesn't throw as many uppercuts as Hamed.

By the 3rd round, Echols looked exhausted from the constant punishment and the need to keep moving to avoid being trapped against the ropes by Zuniga. Echols was still able to land an occasional huge shot, but they werenít having any effect on slowing down Zunigaís constant attacks.

fulgencio zunigaIn the 4th round, Zuniga knocked Echols mouthpiece out with a huge shot, sending him in full retreat. Somehow, Echols grabbed Zunigaís left arm, preventing him from hitting him, in which case Zuniga preceded to land four consecutive clubbing rights to Echolís unprotected face. It was strange because Echols didnít even try to block them and stood grinning the entire time. The round turned out to be entirely one-sided with Zuniga dishing out tremendous punishment to Echols. Jay Nady, the referee, watched closely and looked to ready to stop the bout, but every now and then, Echols would throw a fairly decent shot which would connect to the face of Zuniga, who never showed a least bit of interest in blocking punches during the bout.

The punishment continued into the 6th round, with Zuniga putting tremendous pressure on Echols with mostly hooks and uppercuts. During the round, Echols spit out his mouthpiece without being a hit, a move that appeared to be an attempt to give him a brief break from the action. Jay Nady, however, thought it to be tactic used by Echols to try and stop the action, and thus deducted one point from Echols. The deduction hardly mattered, though, because Echols was clearly not going to win this fight by decision due to the one-sided nature of the fight.

In round seven, Nady deducted a point from Zuniga for a low blow. Previous to this, I donít recall ever seeing Zuniga warned for low punches, making it seem as if it was a quick call. Nevertheless, Zuniga responded by increasing both his work rate and punching power to make up for the lost point. Later in the round, Zuniga landed three consecutive left hooks, knocking Echols to the canvas in the process. Echols arose, looking unhurt and mostly embarrassed, and finished the strong landing three consecutive blistering right hands to end the round.

In the eighth round, Zuniga appeared to be slowing down, as his punches lacked the power of the early rounds and the number dropped off dramatically. Echols took this opportunity to land a number of excellent right hands, one of which opened up a nasty two-inch cut over the right eye of Zuniga, that bled profusely for the rest of the round.

In rounds 9 & 10, Echolsí power re-merged, as he landed some scorching right hand shots that would have dropped a lesser fighter than Zuniga. To his credit, Zuniga took them, but they didn't have a positive effect him either, as he lost both rounds to Echols, who appeared to be the stronger fighter at this stage of the bout.

Lucky for Zuniga, this wasnít a 12-round bout, because he would have very likely have been stopped by Echols in the final 11th or 12th, considering how tired he looked. Itís strange to say this, particularly because how badly Echols was dominated in rounds 2-8, yet Zuniga appears to have dreadful stamina once he gets beyond the 8th round, making him a sitting duck for any opponent that can last this long. In point of fact, this was the case for Zuniga in his bout against Kelly Pavlik in 2005, a bout in which he was looking good early on but then tired out by the 9th and was stopped on a cut.

Still, Zuniga is an exciting fighter because of his tremendous punching power and his non-stop punching attacks. There are few fighters that can last as long as Echols to even get to the stage where Zuniga hits the wall and exhausts himself, so it's a trade-off, I suppose. Based on watching this bout, one excellent potential future match-up, I think, would be for Zuniga to fight Edison Miranda. Both of them would be throwing bombs from start to finish with the the fight almost certainly not destined to go the distance. Now that Miranda is fighting in the Super middleweight division, this potential match-up is a possibility, though not likely to happen for awhile because of Miranda's recent blowout loss to Pavlik.

Article posted on 24.06.2007

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