Thursday, July 12, 2007

Boxing Blogging: July 11th, 2007

Haven't done this in awhile, but last night's WNF card had some interest, so let's hear it. Starting off with the undercard, which featured two "prospects", in the sense that they were undefeated, but neither of whom had faced any real challenges. Although both won, Daniel Lomeli (5-0, 0 KOs) looked far better in his match against Ronald Hurley (1-2-2, 0 KOs), than Anthony Salcido (13-0-1, 8 KOs) did against punching bag Sammy Ventura (25-18, 20 KOs). Lomeli had a built in advantage in that his fighter was willing to mix it up with him, giving us four exhilarating rounds that had no lack of action. But what impressed me most about Lomeli (aside from his first round knockdown) was his discipline in working the body. Good body punchers are tough to find, and its especially tempting to go head-hunting for the big shots in a short fight. For Lomeli to commit himself to that route, at this stage in his career, is a very good sign. Salcido got the knockout that was expected against Ventura (who has been knocked out in over 80% of his losses). But in general, he did not display the killer instinct required to really make it at an elite level. He did not seem to interested in mixing it up with Ventura, somebody who a genuine prospect would dispatch with no effort. Incidentally, I think that the stoppage was early--Ventura should have been assessed a technical knockdown given the way he fell against the ropes, but he deserved at least a count.

The main event, though, had genuine implications beyond developing a prospect. It featured top junior middleweight Joel Julio against "Contender" alum Cornelius "K9" Bundrage. Before the fight, I told my brother that it was either going to be a really good bout, or a mismatch, depending on whether K9 is for real. A lot of smack has been talked about how "Contender" fighters get too much exposure and are thus overrated and overmatched at the top levels. K9 was supposed to be one of the weaker fighters on the show, but gritted out some surprising upsets to take a bronze medal. Although Teddy Atlas said that he had never faced anybody at Julio's level, that isn't entirely accurate. His two losses have come to former titlist Steve Forbes, who probably is a step beneath Julio, and Sechew Powell, who definitely is in Julio's ballpark (Powell's only loss is to elite junior middleweight Kassim Ouma, and he has victories over an impressive roster of fighters). The problem for Bundrage is that his loss against Powell was a first round blowout where he went down twice in about a minute of action (the first was a double-knockdown, but Bundrage was clearly more hurt by it). From that, it was unclear whether he had the chin to stand up to the power punching Julio.

He couldn't. Julio doesn't look like a puncher to me, but records don't lie, and he's knocked out his opponents in all but three of his fights. Julio does have a killer instinct, and looked close to stopping the fight after knocking Bundrage down early in round three. To his credit, Bundrage managed to stay alive and even took the fourth round. But that was his only bright spot of the night, and Julio floored Bundadge again in round 8 and followed up with a flurry that forced the referee to stop the fight. Bundrage's problem (aside from the fact that he was just outclassed) is that he looks to the ref too much for help. At least three times throughout the fight, I saw him get tagged while looking away from Julio to complain. For a guy whose done his share of ethically ambiguous tactics, this is particularly annoying. Also, Bundrage's one advantage over Julio might have been that he's physically stronger, but he didn't make any effort to get inside. In an outside punching war, Julio had two hands and Bundrage had one, and he was going to go down.

Julio's record is now 32-1, 30 KOs, and he is about ready for a title shot. Bundrage falls to 26-3, 15 KOs.

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