By John G. Thompson: Delvin Rodriguez 25-5-2 (14 KO’s) made his thirteenth appearance on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights, and it proved unlucky as Ashley Theophane 27-4-1 (7 KO’s) won a surprising and mind boggling decision. Also in action from the Buffalo Run Casino Don “Da Bomb” George 20-1-1 (17 KO’s) suffered the first loss in his career via controversial stoppage to Francisco Sierra 22-3 (21 KO’s), and Andy Lee won in impressive fashion.
Despite all of his appearances on ESPN2, Rodriguez is not the most exciting fighter in the sport of boxing. While he shows great fundamentals, he still has a number of flaws (like leaving his head up straight when fighting inside) which might manifest when he reaches the upper echelons of the division. Regardless, he is a very good boxer who should have earned a solid victory this evening. Unfortunately, boxing officials have again derailed his career.
Delvin Rodriguez controlled the action from the beginning, establishing his jab, and outworking Ashley Theophane. Theophane had his best moment in the eighth round when he caught Rodriguez with a left hook and followed up with several punches as Rodriguez turned to move away. Theophane also took the tenth and final round as Rodriguez looked fatigued. Otherwise, many observers might have given Rodriguez almost every other round. He boxed well, showed good fundamentals, and worked behind the jab. The only time Theophane was able to land cleanly was when they fought on the inside, and Rodriguez kept distance between them throughout most of the fight. Theophane’s awkward style did not help him. He threw almost no jabs or any straight punches for that matter, instead throwing wide, looping hooks with either hand.
Teddy Atlas scored the match 97-93 for Rodriguez, and as often as this writer disagrees with Teddy, his score was much closer than any of the judges. Judge Jerry Griffin scored the bout even at 95-95. Judges David Sutherland and Gary Ritter (the brother of Gerald Ritter who was the referee for the bout, and who himself had refereed the undercard) both incredibly scored the match 96-94 for Theophane.
Despite a controversial ending in the undercard, the decision was at least justifiable as Francisco Sierra dominated Don George from start to finish. Both men showed a lack of defense to the head and as a result, the audience was treated to an action packed bout. George was the aggressor throughout the majority of the fight, and was actually doing well for the first minute and a half of the round until Sierra connected with an effective counter left hook. George’s legs buckled and he was forced to hold.
Things did not improve for George in the second as Sierra’s confidence grew and he went on the attack, sending George backwards across the ring into a neutral corner. It looked as though the corner kept him from going down, and this could have been ruled a knockdown. By this point George was already bleeding badly from the nose. George kept pressing straight forward, not showing any angles and Sierra wisely kept him at a distance, landing pot shots at will. After one brutal uppercut as George was moving fowards, ringside commentator Teddy Atlas said, “George trying to come in – Sierra charges him an admission fee.” This continued for several rounds and George’s face became a bloody mess.
In the sixth round, Sierra landed again with the counter left hook which had been successful for him all night. He sent George into the ropes, and as George tried to clench Sierra stepped backwards and George fell. This also was not ruled a knockdown. At this point Teddy Atlas was saying, “The corner has to think about the possibility of stopping this fight.” As the fight continued, fellow ringside commentator Joe Tessitore said it best of Sierra’s accuracy and volume, “He can’t miss right now.”
In the seventh round the referee finally ruled a knockdown after a counter shot from Sierra sent George halfway across the ring and down. The controversy came lateer in the round after Sierra landed a left – right combination right at the bell. To be fair, the left came before the bell and the right landed a fraction of a second after. ESPN2 analyst Brian Kenny commented that he felt it was an illegal shot and Sierra should have been disqualified. Teddy Atlas felt that it was an unintentional foul, being that Sierra was in the process of throwing the combination before the bell, even if the second punch was late.
George was awarded up to five minutes to recover from the foul and his corner chose to stop the bout, obviously hoping for a disqualification. George’s corner should have been stopping the fight regardless of any technicality, after the dreadful beating he was taking. Thankfully the local Oklahoma boxing commission made a fair decision and deducted two points from Sierra for the illegal shot and then went to the score cards for a decision. Having won every round to that point, Sierra earned unanimous decision victory.
In the non televised undercard, Andy Lee 22-1 (16 KO’s) continued on his comeback by stopping James Cook 11-4 (8 KO’s) in the fifth round with a left hook to the body. Lee had put Cook down in the fourth round (also with a left hook to the body), though the referee ruled it a low blow. The Irishman living in Detroit, Michigan has now won seven straight (four by stoppage) since his single loss to the spirited Brian Vera back in 2008.
Questions or Comments? BoxingWriterJohn@gmail.com