FNF - No Long Count in Chicago Tonight: Escalante Crushes Stark

By Paul Strauss: ESPN2 commentator Teddy Atlas made reference to one of boxings most historic moments.......i.e. the "long count" that occurred in the 1927 rematch between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney at Soldier's Field, Chicago. Well, despite the build up, there was no history made tonight at the UIC Pavilion, but there were a lot of knockouts, which meant more time for interesting studio commentating offered by Brian Kenny and Dan Rafael.

The lights out night started with Deontay "The Bronze Bomber" Wilder. He rivals the Klitschko boys in height at 6'7", but is on the light side for modern heavies at 215. However, he does have knockout power, especially in his big right hand. After tonight's bombardment of Joseph Rabotte at 2:33 of the first round, he boasts a 4W (KO4) record with no losses..

Rabotte, who took the fight on short notice, went down with the first Wilder right hand of the fight. The punch landed high on the left side of his head. Lucky for him, or the fight might have been over right then. The proverbial writing was on the wall though, and Wilder’s next left - right combination put Rabotte down again. Seconds later, another right put him down for a third time. This time his legs were awkwardly bent underneath him. His was obviously in no shape to continue.

The great Mark Breland is Wilder's trainer, and he immediately conducted a teaching session with his charge before the rosin dust even settled. Breland has his work cut out for him, because Wilder is a bit of a raw prospect. He leans in, giving up his height, and his punches, although hard, are not straight. Still, he got another impressive victory to add to his outstanding amateur career.

Back in the studio, Brian Kenny and Dan Rafael engaged in a conversation about tomorrow night's big fight between Carl Froch and Jermain Taylor. Film of Froch reveals he is slow and awkward, but extremely tough. He has 19KOs in 24 fights, but his level of competition is suspect. On the other hand, Taylor looked very impressive in his win over Jeff Lacy. The consensus is Taylor by decision. They also played an excerpt of an interview with Wladimir Klitschko concerning David Haye, and a T-shirt he wore depicting a decapitated and bloody Vitali Klitschko. Wladimir expressed his displeasure, mixing things up a bit by saying Haye's behavior was cheap, bad, over the head (?), below the belt........" On the same tape, Manny Stewart said he thought David Haye presents a very dangerous opponent for as long as he is in there. Manny said Haye is explosive, and can punch, but he has a questionable chin, but so does Wladimir. Dan Rafael expects Klitschko to KO Haye. Kenny and Rafael also reported James Kirkland is in big trouble because he was arrested for felony possession of a firearm. Kirkland is on parole for armed robbery, and thereby prohibited from possessing a firearm. A judge refused his request to leave the state so that he could participate in the May 2nd undercard of the spectacular HBO presentation of the Pac Man vs. Hitman Battle. Talk about stepping in it!

The next FNF bout featured middleweights Daniel Jacobs and Jose Varela. Varela was another "short notice" fill in, and someone who had lost his last four bouts, so no expectation of a big upset with this one. Surprise, surprise Varela got KO'd at 1:29 of the second round.

It was obvious from the opening bell that Jacobs was much faster. He quickly landed a hard left hook to the body that referee John O'Brien felt was a bit low, so he issued a caution. Jacobs continued throwing the sharper, harder punches of round one. A great right hand from Jacobs in the second ended the fight. He set it up with a jab, then a right to the body, and then the right to the head. It's a good thing for Jacobs that the fun ended early, because he now is slated to fill in for James Kirkland and fight Mike Walker on the May 2nd MGM card. Kirkland's bad luck is Jacobs’ good fortune. Jacobs pits his undefeated record against Walkers 19-1-2 record. It is interesting to note that Teddy Atlas no sooner said that he didn't think Jacobs was a big banger, then Jacobs landed the big right hand. Teddy declined to change his opinion though. Time will tell whether Jacobs KO record is a true reflection of his power.

Back in the studio, Kenny and Rafael offered up tidbits about the Pacquiao vs. Hatton fight. The two of them, along with Teddy think this fight will be a much tougher one than the Oscar de la Hoya fight was for Manny. Well, there's no great revelation there. The three are in unison thinking the fight is going to be rough and exciting. Rafael is withholding his pick until the weigh-in, etc. Teddy Atlas went out on a limb, and is picking the underdog Hatton to pull off an upset. He feels Hatton's quick feet, strength and good body punches will turn the tide. He added that he thought the ease in which Manny beat Oscar might actually work against him. Teddy feels that with that great upset victory, Manny might have reached the pinnacle of his career, and is no longer hungry, whereas Hatton still burns over his defeat at the hands of Pretty Boy.

Back in Chicago, we had another quickie. Ronnie Howe went down from the first right hand thrown by Noe Perez. The punch did hit him on the chin, but he seemed in control of his faculties, enough so that he made a defensive move to his left. However, he then apparently thought better of things, and went down. He stayed down and took a ten count, much to the displeasure of the fans, who loudly booed their disfavor. Howe will undoubtedly be drifting off into another line of work. The official time was 1:46 seconds.

Kendall Holt's name came up. Apparently he has entered into a plea agreement of sorts, admitting to handling drug money, but with the understanding that that was all he did. In other words, he contends that he was not involved with possession, sale, etc. of drugs He did pick up some money, but he admits he knew or should have known the money was dirty. Holt states that he is cooperating with the authorities, and is grateful to the prosecuting attorney for treating him fairly. Kenny and Rafael also discussed the possibility of Floyd, Jr. coming out of retirement. Rafael feels it will happen, and suggested negotiations are currently underway between Floyd Jr's management people and those of Juan Manuel Marquez. The sticking point is at what weight the fight will be fought. According to Rafael, Floyd, Jr. wants 145 lbs. and Marquez wants 142 lbs. This is obviously an interesting match-up between two of the best P4P fighters in the world. The same old question springs to mind once again.........great big man versus great small man. In this case, there won't be the speed advantage Manny possessed over Oscar, and probably will possess over Hatton. However, Marquez has proven again and again that he should not be underestimated. In this case, though, he might be sacrificing too much. Exciting to contemplate, though, don't you think!

The main event showcased the exciting super bantamweight Antonio Escalante KO’g the cagey Gary Stark, Jr. Stark knew he had to box Escalente. He planned to move a lot, use a lot of feints, and counter punch effectively to continually keep Escalente off balance. Teddy Atlas made mention at the out set that Stark had been a victim of the flu the week before the bout, and he wondered whether that might be a factor?

The bout started out as expected. Stark boxed effectively. He made Escalente reset, and reset, which prevented him from unloading his big shots. In fact, Stark was boxing well enough that he took the first two rounds. There were a few moments though when Stark allowed himself to get caught on the ropes. It cost him an abrasion under his left eye.

Jacobs came out strong in the third, noticeably stepping up the pressure. He did exhibit some bad habits in the form of occasionally dropping his hands, and shaking his wrists. In the first two rounds, his aggression came in spurts, but in the third it was more sustained.

It paid off, as he launched a sweeping left hook, that Stark instinctively felt was headed to his body. As a result, his right arm was dropped to offer protection for the body shot. But, the punch came up to the head and put Stark down. Another left hook, followed by a hard right put him down again and ended the fight. The time was 1:31 seconds of Round 3.

Kenny and Rafael rounded out their discussion with comments about how impressive Paul Williams looked in his win over Ronald "Winky" Wright. Rafael feels Winky fought well, but Williams is too much for just about anyone. However, Rafael added that Winky is probably now faced with the reality that he is not going to get anymore big fights. Rafael avoided calling Winky "an opponent", but seemed to imply it. Rafael also commented on the exciting Chris Arreola, making the obvious observation that Chris needs to get in better condition. His grocery bill is the real Nightmare!

Article posted on 25.04.2009

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