Tonight's Wednesday Night Fight card was absolutely wild, with all four televised fights making for excellent action (and a combined seven knockdowns). The network executives must be breathing a sigh of relief, because the original headliner, O'Neill Bell, dropped out unexpectedly, forcing a showcase fight for prospect "Mean" Joe Greene to the top billing.
Jose Hernandez (7-1, 2 KOs) UD6 Noe Bolanos (11-2, 6 KOs)
60-53, 60-53, 60-53
This was the last fight televised, but it gets mentioned first because it was the least interesting. That's not a knock--Hernandez scored a big knockdown in round one, and continued to land all throughout the fight with looping hooks and digging body shots. Even though he was over-matched against a taller, stronger opponent, Bolanos showed a big heart, landing some shots of his own, never not throwing back, and hanging around with a fighter who could beat him on the inside and outside. Both fighters were coming off their first career loss, but Hernandez was the one who bounced back. I'd also say he has deceptive power for someone with only two knockouts.
Luis Hernandez (8-0, 7 KOs) TKO2 Jesus Chabon (10-1, 7 KOs)
Jose Hernandez's brother opened up the evening, fighting for just the second time after taking a five year layoff to recover from a car accident. Facing fellow undefeated fighter Chabon, the two fighters went to war. After a non-descript opening round, round two was absolutely wild. Hernandez knocked down Chabon, and had him hurt enough so that he was forced to grab onto Hernandez, prompting a point deduction. But then Chabon caught Hernandez looking to finish the show, putting Hernandez down to the canvas himself. No matter. Hernandez rose to knock down Chabon for a second time, and though he made it to his feet, Chabon was wobbly and the ref called it off. I almost wanted him to get through the round just to see how you score it--I guess 10-7, Hernandez? In any event, Hernandez's power came through in his biggest test to date, and even with the five year lay off, he's only 24. He could be someone to watch.
Francisco Palacios (12-0, 6 KOs) TKO7 Louis Azille (19-4-2, 15 KOs)
Azille was originally scheduled to be in the main event against O'Neill Bell. But when Bell withdrew, Palacios was brought in on five days notice and the fight was moved to the undercard. Palacios is kind of a weird story--he has a stellar amateur background, but has fought only sporadically as pro--this was his 12th fight and he's already 30 years old. Azille, meanwhile, was a former title challenger whose only losses came against elite competition. Palacios, who had faced only mediocre competition in his career, was taking a major step up, and for the first six rounds, it didn't look good for him. Azille was pressuring him, taking away Palacios' huge height and reach advantage and beating him up on the inside. All Palacios was responding with were a few ineffective jabs, and he seemed to be doing just enough to lose. But Azille never really jumped on him, and in round seven it became clear that was a huge mistake. About thirty seconds into the round, Palacios unleashed a textbook uppercut-hook combination that floored Azille. Azille got up, but was dazed and a few more well-placed shots gave Palacios an upset TKO win in a fight I didn't have him winning a single round in.
Palacios has the pedigree that implies he could make a run, but this fight raises more questions than it answers. What was the fluke--his lackluster performance in rounds 1-6, or the huge knockout in round 7? Even though this was easily the biggest win of Palacios' career, I'd still like to see him against a few more solid fighters before he really takes the plunge into the division's deep waters. But with his career's slow start, he may not have that much time left to make his move.
Joe Greene (16-0, 12 KOs) KO1 Darryl Salmon (16-2, 4 KOs)
In my first post blogging boxing, I commented on Joe Greene's last fight, against veteran Jose Spearman. After that fight, I said that Greene certainly looked impressive, but Spearman is really the type of guy that a knockout artist like Greene should put away (he knocked up him down two times en route to a unanimous decision victory). Despite his glossy record, Salmon probably was a less difficult opponent than Spearman was. He had fought nobody--I mean nobody--of substance, and his last fight saw him losing to an 8-13-1 fighter. Greene absolutely needed a knockout in this fight if I were to take him seriously.
Boy, did he deliver. Salmon came out aggressive and firing--surprising, given that had not demonstrated much power even against his D-level opposition. But it paid off, with Salmon staggering Greene early and scoring a knockdown when Greene's glove touched the canvas. But he wasn't seriously hurt, and Greene came back to take control of the rest of the round. Finally, with about 20 seconds left, Greene unleashed a flurry, ending with two devastating headshots, that put Salmon on the mat for a full minute. It was a lethal KO, one that showed the finishing power Greene did not display against Spearman. Salmon, again, is not much more than a shiny record, but Greene's brutal knockout signaled that he is ready to take a step up in competition and fight some more established names.