Kirk Johnson scores TKO over Gilbert Martinez, Soliman outpoints Joval

19.07.04 - By Kent Appel @ringside: The Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California, USA was the scene of a Goossen Tutor Production that featured two headlining fights on Sunday July 18, 2004, as well as five other supporting bouts. One of the main events was a heavyweight bout that featured comebacking heavyweight contender Kirk Johnson of North Preston, Nova Scotia, Canada verses Gilbert Martinez of Sacramento, California.

The other headliner pitted number two IBF middleweight contender Raymond Joval of Rotterdam, Netherlands against number four contender Sam Soliman of Melbourne, Australia in an IBF middleweight title elimination bout.

The Joval verses Soliman fight will be broadcast on a delayed basis in America on Fox Sports Network Sunday Night Fights on July, 25 while the Johnson verses Martinez fight will air on August 1, also on Fox Sports Network Sunday Night Fights. Check your local listings for show times.

Johnson, 32, looking more fit and trim than in his last fight, a second round knockout loss to current WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko this past December in a WBC title elimination bout, also showed a certain amount of humbleness when I asked him for a prediction just before he weighed in at 242 pounds, eighteen pounds less than he was against Klitschko, for his bout with Martinez, 38. "I am going to do my best to do what it takes to gain a victory," he said, declining to make a specific prediction. This was refreshing in this day of constant trash talking surrounding a lot of sporting events. But would his words transform to victory when push comes to shove in the bout itself?

Johnson got what he needed for a first bout back after a devastating loss. He got some rounds in against a game but limited opponent giving him an eighth round TKO win when the referee Dr. James Jen Kin, on the recommendation of the ringside doctor, stopped the contest after the round due to a severe cut over Martinez's right eye.

Johnson spent the first four rounds working mainly behind his left jab and an occasional right hand lead to the head and while he outscored Martinez, Johnson's timing was not as sharp as it has been in the past. Martinez, 232 pounds, for his part, fought hard but his main offensive output were straight left hands to the body and at times, to the head. But except for the second round, in which Martinez landed the harder punches, Johnson did most of the scoring.

Johnson looked sharper in rounds number five and six in which he started adding hard left hooks to go with his continued use of the left jab and a stepped up output of right hand leads to the head. Round number seven saw Johnson back to his earlier pace of jabs and right hand leads and he held a slight lead in this round that became a ten to eight round when referee Kin deducted a point from Martinez for hitting behind Johnson's back. Ironically, it was Martinez's best round since the second round because he landed some hard left hands to the body and head.

Johnson really stepped up the pace in round number eight by scoring with a variety of punches, jabs, left hooks, left uppercuts, and right leads that opened up Martinez's cut near the end of the round, causing the referee to stop the contest. With the win, Johnson improved his record to 35-2-1, 26 by KO while Martinez falls to 18-8-2, 7 by KO.

The Joval verses Soliman fight was a perfect example of one fighter simply outhustling another fighter. Not to take anything away from Joval, who put up a game fight, but Soliman did what trainers and managers are always asking their fighters to do, he let his hands go and to say he did so in abundance is an understatement.

I did not have access to punch count statistics but Soliman seemed to throw almost non stop punches from the opening bell to the end of the twelve round middleweight elimination bout to gain the victory on all three judges scorecards by scores of 119-108, 120-107, and 120-107 and with it the opportunity to face the winner of this coming September's middleweight title show down between champion Bernard Hopkins and challenger Oscar De La Hoya.

The fight started with Soliman working behind his left jab in round number one to set up punches such as left hooks and rights to the head. This trend continued throughout the contest with the output and variety of punches seeming to increase as the bout went on. In the fourth round, Soliman began adding hard right uppercuts to his repertoire, one of which resulted in the fight's only knockdown. Soliman also used hard left hooks and rights to the body to try and slow down Joval, particularly in rounds five and six. But to Joval's credit, he did his best to keep up with Soloman's onslaught but he just couldn't keep up with the pace.

Soliman didn't let up much, even in the latter rounds when it appeared to all those in attendance that Joval would need a knockout to win. I have to give Soliman credit for not resting on his laurels and costing to a victory as Joval desperately pursued him in hopes of landing the punch or punches that would wrestle victory away from the arms of defeat. With the win, Soliman ups his record to 26-7, 8 by KO while Joval slides to 32-3, 14 by KO.

Also on the card: In a featherweight contest, scheduled for six rounds, Rudy Domiguez of Coachella, California squared off against Gilberto Belanos of Ciudad Obregon, Mexico. Domiguez weighed in at 123 pounds while Belanos tipped the scales at 122 pounds. The two figthers fought to a six round majoity decision draw but I felt Domiguez deserved the victory because he controlled the first four rounds of the contest with his superior hand speed. Belanos did make a late fight charge in rounds five and six but I felt he fell short of offsetting Domiguez's advantage. The judges scores were as follows: 59-55 for Domiguez, 57-57, and 57-57. Domiguez is now 10-0-1, 2 by KO while Belanos is now 9-7-1, 9 by KO.

In a six round junior welterweight fight, James Armha of Accra, Ghana took on Carlos Cisneros of San Miguel, El Salvador. Armha weighed in at 142 3/4 pounds while Cisneros weighed in at 141 pounds. Armha was the winner by unanimous decision by scores of 59-55, 60-54, and 60-54. Armha improves to 13-0, 6 by KO while Cisneros falls to 5-7-1, 3 by KO.

In a four round heavyweight fight, Raphael Butler of Rochester, Minnesota fought Victor Ortiz of Simi Valley, California. Butler weighed in at 256 pounds while Oritz weighed in at 232 pounds. Butler, the 2004 American National Golden Gloves champion, knocked out Ortiz at 1:54 of the first round with a barrage of two handed punches. Butler was relentless in his pursuit of Ortiz and he is definitely a fighter to watch in the future and I expect good things to come from him. Butler goes to 2-0, 2 by KO while Ortiz takes a step back to 5-2, 3 by KO.

In a four welterweight round bout, Jovanni Rubio, 146 1/2 pounds, of Santa Rosa, California battled Ricky Funez, of Van Nuys, Califorin also 146 1/2 pounds. Rubio won by TKO at 2:12 of round number two when the referee stopped the contest with Funez taking many unanswered blows. Rubio improves his record to 4-1, 3 by KO while Funez is now 1-2, 1 by KO.

Finally, in a bantamweight fight scheduled for four rounds, Torrence Daniels, of Colorado Springs, Colorado went up against Francisco Urrabazo of Lancaster, California. Daniels weighed 119 1/2 pounds while Urrabazo weighed 120 1/2 pounds. The two fighters fought to a majority decision draw with the judges scoring the bout by the scores of 39-37 for Daniels, 38-38, and 38-38. Daniels' record is now 0-0-1 and Urrabazo's record is now 4-0-1, 3 by KO.

Article posted on 19.07.2004

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