Friday Night is all Right for Boxing

19.01.05 - By Tom Donelson: The boxing season has begun. Friday night, you can sit yourself down in front of your television set and watch four straight hours of great boxing. You know, the way it was in the fifties when all of America sat down and watch Friday Night Fights. First from ESPN, Juan Diaz puts his version of the lightweight title on the line against Billy Irwin.. With 30 KO’s to go with his 45 wins, Irwin will provide a stiff challenge to Juan “The Baby Bull” Diaz. The prelim fight features undefeated Calvin Brock vs. Clifford “The Black Rhino” Etienne.

Etienne has faced some of the biggest names in boxing including Tyson and Fres Oquendo, so Brock will be tested. With 19 KO’s in 23 straight wins, Brock now has to answer the big question- is he ready for primetime? Etienne will provide some answer in that direction as his hands carry some wallop of his own. This fight will measure how far Brock has come and how close he is to cracking the Heavyweight top ten.

As for Diaz, he is one of boxing great guys. Here is a kid whose goal is a law degree and yet he finds time to fight. And fight he can. In winning the title against Lakva Sims, Diaz showed that he could box as well as fight toe to toe. He ventured from Plan A to Plan B and back to Plan A as he out thought and out fought the veteran Sims. Now he faces Irwin, who fought for the championship back in 2000 against Paul Spadafora.

For those who never seen Diaz fight, be prepared for non-stop action. Diaz is not a big knock out puncher as evident by his 12 KO’s in his 26 wins but the guy is a perpetual machine who throws punches from all angles and all night. He never stops punching. A victory here and with Diego Corrales watching from the ESPN studio, this could set up a match with the winner of the Corrales-Castillo fight in March. The lightweight division is deep and Diaz is one of top fighters in the division. But to be recognized as the best, he has to get by Irwin and eventually defeat the Castillo-Corrales winner. I like Diaz to prevail but it will be by decision.

After viewing ESPN, then turn your cable dial to Showtime for ShoBox: The Next Generation. ShoBox has excellent card to open their 2005 season. ShoBox begins with Sechew Powell vs. Pat “One Punch” Thompson. The last time I saw Powell, he barely survived a tough fight against Grady Brewer. Thompson has a lot of similarities to Brewer since both fighters career have been built around the fact that they will travel anywhere to fight. Both fighters often journey to the other fighter’s backyard and most recently; Thompson lost a split decision to Matt Vanda in Minneapolis. So Thompson is used to being the underdog and understands that it is better for him to knock the other guy out since close decision are often not in the card. Powell is a slick boxer but Brewer was able to punish him in the later rounds. Powell was lucky that he was only fighting eight rounds against Brewer or else, his O would have been a 1. Let see if Powell has learned from his fight with Brewer.

The main even features two upcoming welterweights, who both eye a title shot. David Estrada is not a big puncher but he is one of those fighters who throws a lot of combinations and who can out hustle you. Chris “the Mechanic” Smith has all the tools. He can box and he can go toe to toe. Both fighters have been tested. Smith has beaten fighters such as Sam Garr and Grover Wiley. As for Estrada, he lost a decision to the undefeated Ishe Smith but in his last fight on ShoBox, he upset the undefeated Nurhan Suleymanoglu. Both have seen the glare of television lights and tasted a little of the big time. So the bright lights of Showtime will not affect them.

The southpaw Estrada will most likely initiate the action and Smith will use his boxing skills to spear the attacking Estrada. Both fighters have already taken risks, and now the stakes are even higher for the winner will be a legitimate title contender and the loser will find himself taking a few steps back. We are being treated to a typical ShoBox presentation, in which young fighters roll the dice and see what they are made of. In this fight, I like the classic style of Smith to win but this fight will be close and could go either way. Smith by a squeaker.

Fight fans, there you have it. Four hours of great boxing. So chill the beer and get out the popcorn. It Friday Night Fights starting with ESPN and concluding with Showtime great boxing series- ShoBox. What a way to begin 2005!

Article posted on 19.01.2005

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