24 February 2012
Dover Downs may be better known for NASCAR racing on the Monster Mile, but its hotel and casino are playing host to tonight's Friday Night Fights broadcast. Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas are on hand to bring us a card featuring a 130-pound battle between developing talent Juan Carlos Burgos and veteran Cristobal Cruz.
Atlas breaks down the battle between Burgos' left hook and Cruz's right hand while doing his usual run of analogies. Bernardo Osuna is in the studio with Timothy Bradley, who will be facing Manny Pacquiao on June 9. Bradley says he's ready for the huge spotlight because he's been preparing for this moment for his whole life. He's excited and ready to give Pacquiao a big fight.
Osuna points out the obvious by saying the two of them are very respectful to each other, and Bradley says it's because both of them are humble and classy. He assures viewers that it will be a war once the bell rings.
To live action we go, with a scheduled 10-rounder between junior welterweights Edgar Santana and Manuel Perez. Santana is 26-3 and owns his own barber shop, while the younger Perez is just 16-7 as a pro.
Santana is taller and visibly bigger across the shoulders. The first round is far from a thriller, with neither man really looking too excited about letting his hands go. Santana is the first one to get on track, doubling up left hands and following with his right about midway through Round 2. That seems to get Perez into the fight as well.
Both fighters commit to body punching in Round 3, with Santana also coming upstairs with some hooks. He's throwing with bad intentions but isn't doing anything especially tricky or effective to get past Perez's guard, and his relatively slow pace is probably letting his smaller opponent off the hook.
This is only Santana's third fight back after a three-year layoff for legal trouble, and sometimes it looks telling. Perez is in there battling but is showing some redness on his head; Atlas thinks it may be due to a clash of heads since he sometimes jumps in head first.
Perez flips conventional wisdom on its head by simply bulling forward right in front of Santana and whacking him in the body, then looking for shots over the top when he can. Teddy now has him up by a point after five rounds. He just doesn't think Santana is busy enough, and it's hard to argue that thought. Both men get some work done as they stand pretty much right in front of each other for the final 30 seconds of Round 6.
Bradley joins in from the studio during Round 8, saying that Perez did some nice work on the inside for a few rounds but Santana was doing better geting back to a more comfortable range. Just as he says that, Perez crashes home a stiff left hand. He lands another as both men start to find the range right before the bell.
Perez fires off his stool for the ninth round. He's managing to track Santana down repeatedly after weathering an early storm. Both sides of Santana's face have some swelling. Santana digs in and they swing away in a battle of hooks.
Santana opens the final round with one of his best punches of the fight. Perez keeps coming, walking through some shots from both hands. Santana doubles the left hook before Perez returns fire. He keeps blasting body shots; Santana uses uppercuts and some of his own body work to respond. Santana fights his way off the ropes with multiple left hooks. Perez snaps his foe's head back, and they fight all the way to the final bell in a very spirited opener.
The judges all score this one 96-94, giving Perez a unanimous decision win. That's got to feel good for a guy who works two jobs while training as a boxer at the same time.
Back in the studio, Bradley appreciates the work ethic that Perez showed. The scene shifts to the opening press conferences for the Pacquiao-Bradley tour, and we hear from Pac-Man and trainer Freddie Roach. Bradley knows that Manny and his team are taking him seriously, especially because he is the naturally bigger guy. Osuna questions Tim's relative lack of knockout power, but Bradley says his movement and quickness will neutralize any power deficit.
Asked about his game plan, Bradley feels he will be able to do whatever is most effective, whether that means counter-punching or trying to get off first. He also shrugs off a question about head butts by calling it a mind game by Pacquiao and Roach.
Bradley suggests that standing in front of Pacquiao is a bad idea, as evidenced by what happened to Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. He plans on using his footwork and angles to avoid the same fate.
Osuna shows some highlights from Muhammad Ali's 70th birthday gala in Las Vegas. There's also still time for a look back at the Vitali Klitschko-Dereck Chisora bout. Oh yeah, and the post-fight brawl between Chisora and David Haye, which in some ways was more interesting than the fight itself. Bradley calls it "embarrassing to the sport of boxing." No doubt about that.
It's time for the main event between Juan Carlos Burgos and Cristobal Cruz. Cruz comes out first, sporting a 39-12-3 career record. He is 0-1-2 in his previous three, with his last win coming against Jorge Solis in the summer of 2009. Burgos is 28-1 with 19 KOs, winner of three straight since Hozumi Hasegawa knocked him from the ranks of the undefeated in a very exciting fight.
Tessitore notes that the four-inch listed height difference between these two is very real. Burgos is able to keep good distance with his jab in the opening frame, touching Cruz when he tries to come roaring in.
Burgos is warned early in Round 2 for a low body shot. He's just a hair away from landing some big right hands. Atlas doesn't like the way JCB is allowing Cruz to avoid paying the price right after he punches.
The action heats up some in Round 3 with Cruz able to land more of his wild swings. He goes down after a wild exchange; it's ruled a slip but the announce team isn't so sure. Cruz hops back up and shoves Burgos to the canvas.
Cruz is really trying to turn this one ugly, and he gets tripped up and goes tumbling down early in Round 4. Burgos is having a little more trouble dissuading him from coming forward. He's having some success with body shots and counters but Cruz is more than willing to stay in his face to land right hands.
With just under a minute left in Round 5, Cruz goes down on another slip. He gets himself really off balance at times. As evidence, he goes down from a short counter left from Burgos about a minute into Round 6. Burgos hunts for him as blood streams down the right side of his face. Cruz does make it out of the round without further disaster.
Asked for his two cents, Bradley likes what Burgos is doing but would like to see some more jabs and a shorter hook or uppercut that might end this. He applauds Cruz's aggressiveness but calls it mostly ineffective.
We check in quickly with Osuna to look at the kickoff for the promotional efforts for the Chad Dawson-Bernard Hopkins rematch. Bernard talks about the decision finally getting corrected, while Dawson says he wants the Executioner to simply come out and fight.
Meanwhile, Cruz scores a knockdown just seconds into Round 9 that may have changed this fight. Burgos looks a little hurt by that one too. JCB does a lot of running for the rest of the frame, setting up what could be a very interesting final round.
They tie up quickly in Round 10. Atlas has this dead even. Burgos strays low with a body shot, and the ref gives Cruz time to recover. He takes all he can. They battle in the corner with Cruz landing a right-left combo and Burgos trying to respond in kind. Burgos fires left hooks that are mostly blocked. Both men land some right hands during a scramble. Cruz tries to rough up JCB with 45 seconds to go. The final bell arrives with nothing too serious landing, and we'll go to the scorecards.
The scores come back 96-92 twice and 98-90, and Burgos wins by unanimous decision. That call proves unpopular with the fans in attendance as well as Tessitore and Atlas.
In one final studio segment, Bradley says he likes Devon Alexander to take a decison from Marcos Maidana tomorrow, but he feels it will be a gut check.