It was a night of knockouts in Key West, Florida. All four televised bouts ended under the distance, and we also saw the retirement of former IBF Cruiserweight Champion and Friday Night Fights staple Kelvin "Koncrete" Davis.
Also quickly, before we recap the action, Brian Kenny announced in studio that Season Three Contender Champ Sakio Bika will be returning to face former Super Middleweight title challenger Librado Andrade. This is a great fight. Both guys have granite chins, both guys are in The Ring's top ten rankings at 168 lbs. (Andrade at 5th and Bika at 8th), and both guys can fight. Andrade's only loss is to Mikkel Kessler, and Bika's only losses are to consensus Super Middleweight champ Joe Calzaghe, now-titlist Lucien Bute, and an early and since avenged loss to the dangerous Sam Soliman. Though I like Bika, I have to favor Andrade in this fight, but in a battle between two experienced warriors who have never been knocked out, anything is possible.
Randall Bailey (36-6, 33 KOs) TKO5 Anthony Mora (15-2, 10 KOs)
Bailey, in his first fight back after losing a controversial split-decision against Herman Ngoudjo, squared off against six-foot tall Anthony Mora, back after a 22-month layoff following his first loss, a knockout by the fists of Rustam Nugaev. Bailey is an explosive power-puncher, and while he got the expected knockout with a vicious right hand, he spent a bit too much time searching for it and not enough time sticking to the fundamentals. If he boxes against Paulie Malignaggi, who he's been calling out, the way he fought tonight -- wild, looping, and sans the jab -- he'll get picked apart. But then again, as Bailey demonstrated tonight, he's got that great equalizer -- dynamite fists.
As for Mora, from pre-fight chatter there were questions about whether he really wanted to be in the ring tonight, and two straight knockout losses certainly aren't encouraging for a fighter contemplating retirement. If he does keep going, he desperately needs some cream-puff fights to build his confidence back up, because it was not in display tonight.
Ed Paredes (18-2, 11 KOs) TKO5 Cesar Vega (10-13, 2 KOs)
No surprise in the ending here, as Paredes is just on a different level from Vega and throughly out-classed him all evening. Vega was game, active, and throwing punches all evening, but didn't have the skills to really threaten Paredes at any point. Indeed, while in the first round Paredes looked a bit surprised by Vega's aggression, he quickly settled down and took control with patient, effective punching.
Credit to Paredes for doing what he needed to do, but this fight doesn't tell us anything. Paredes has still never really stepped up his competition (including his two losses), and I'm not persuaded as to his ability to hang with the top dogs based on tonights performance.
Eric Fields (11-0, 9 KOs) TKO1 Kelvin Davis (24-8-2, 17 KOs)
Fields, on the other hand, really put on a show in his brief appearance tonight. Yes, Davis had lost three straight coming into tonight, albeit all against good opposition. And yes, Davis had suffered a broken neck and back in a freak training accident, and was probably not at full strength. But you know what? It still takes some serious power to blitz him the way Fields did. And when Fields hurt Davis the way he did, he showed great instincts in finishing the former titleholder off. He sat down on his punches, but more importantly threw them tight and controlled. He wasn't overanxious, flailing for the knockout. It feels odd to talk about patience in the context of a first round knockout, but that's what I saw, and he got the knockout. Fields still needs some more fights before I'd put him in any title talks, but he's got the power, the skills, and the instincts to really run in this division.
Davis, for his part, announced his retirement after this fight. I think it's the right move. He's now lost four straight fights, he said himself he's more worried about getting hurt in the ring than he is worried about beating his opponents, and his body clearly isn't what it was prior to the accident. He's given us some great fights, and I wish him a happy and enjoyable retirement.
Danie Von Staden (6-3, 4 KOs) TKO1 Damian Tinker (3-2, 1 KO)
What are the odds that I'd have seen a 6-3 fighter before on live television? But this is, in fact, the second time I'd watched Von Staden, the first being a decision loss to Alex Brenes, also in Key West, also on a Randall Bailey undercard. Things turned out better for the home-town favorite Von Staden this time, as he landed a solid uppercut to knockout Tinker and delight the fans. It was actually a solid round of action, with both guys hurting each other before Von Staden closed the show.
Neither one of these dudes is going anywhere, but that's okay. Most boxers aren't title challengers. They ply their trade on undercards, do the best they can, and try and entertain the fans. That's perfectly fine, and tonight, it made for a successful end to a solid FNF card.