Friday Night Fights 10th January 2014

By Steve Bateson on January 13, 2014
Friday Night Fights 10th January 2014
Rodriguez records a majority decision over Vicente

The ESPN cameras were rolling inside the Emerald Queen Casino, Tacoma, Washington for another edition of “Friday Night Fights”. The main event of the evening was scheduled for ten rounds in the Junior Lightweight division but Arash Usmanee was forced to pull out just four days before fight night.

That left Juan Antonio Rodriguez without an opponent until Yennifel Vicente stepped in at short notice to fill the void. The bout was cut to an eight rounder and although Vicente started the first round brightly, it soon became clear that he wasn’t quite at peak condition to take advantage of the opportunity he had been presented with.

Vicente spent most of the fight on the back foot, trying to counter Rodriguez as he came in to exchange on the ropes, but his opponent was able to keep him at bay with a well-timed jab and flurries of hard left and right combinations. It would be unfair to say Vicente was outclassed, because that really wasn’t the case, but he just wasn’t doing enough to pressurise Rodriguez, who was fighting in America for the first time.

Vicente’s right hand often landed, once or twice stopping Rodriguez in his tracks, but he never built upon it, choosing this single punch method over a more eye-catching combination approach. Rodriguez was able to present himself as the dominant fighter as he was constantly walking Vicente back to the ropes and landing with stiff jabs, bloodying his rival’s nose in the process.

By the end of eight rounds it seemed obvious that Rodriguez had done enough to clinch victory, a far higher punch percentage was registered in his name, but one of the three judges felt that Vicente had done enough to earn himself a draw (76-76). Luckily the other two officials were watching the fight in front of them and scored in favour of Rodriguez (77-75), giving him a majority decision victory.

Had Vicente had longer to prepare for this fight then perhaps he could have picked up a victory, he certainly wasn’t fazed by Rodriguez’s punching reputation (25-4 22KO’s), but instead he was handed his second career defeat, leaving him with a record of 25-2-2 with 17 KO’s. Not the best fight in the world, bar a couple of exchanges in the middle rounds and Vicente falling through the ropes in round three, it will not live long in the memory.

The Undercard

The main event was backed up by two feature fights: The first pitted former Olympian, Zahir “King” Raheem earning a unanimous decision against the “Mongolian Mongoose” Bayan Jargal in a ten round, light-welterweight contest. Raheem is best known for his 2005 unanimous decision victory over Erik Morales but his most recent performance indicates that his best days are far behind him.

Early in the fight, Zahir was too quick for his opponent and wobbled Jargal in the third round with a hard overhand right. But an unwillingness to throw combinations and a tendency to stand back and admire his own work highlighted Raheem’s lack of killer instinct, something that he been pointed out time and again in his career. By round six Raheem was starting to coast, easing up on his punches and allowing Jargal to walk him down, pressurizing Zahir into making mistakes and taking shots that really were not necessary.

Jargal continued his relentless approach right up to the final bell, earning himself a little credit for never giving up despite the class difference between the two fighters. Zahir had become sloppy, throwing and missing wildly, which allowed Jargal to capitalise and punish him, had the Mongolian fighter been able to find that sort of success from the outset then a very different result could have been possible. Raheem (now 35-3 with 21 KO’s) was a clear, deserved, victory but I wonder how many more miles are on the clock for the 37 year old. He missed his boat back in the day for title contention so it really does beg the question, where can he go from here?

Kayode wins again

It took five rounds for Lateef Kayode to start using his jab against “journeyman” Jonte Willis but as soon as he did, the fight was ready to be called to a halt. The scheduled six rounder at Heavyweight was slow and lethargic for the first four rounds, Kayode allowing Willis to throw punches whilst he missed wildly with uneducated swings, something he hasn’t been taught by Freddie Roach, but as soon as the corner urged him to use his reach and size advantage there was only going to be one winner.

The unbeaten Nigerian (now 20-0 with 16 KO’s) wobbled Willis badly in the 5th round, a triple jab followed by an uppercut worked wonders and turned his opponent’s legs to jelly, but somehow the American was able to see out the round. But the inevitable was barely delayed as Kayode started the sixth, and final, round with bad intentions. He landed a solid jab, pressing Willis back onto the ropes, and followed up with a flurry of left and right hooks that forced the referee to intervene. Willis complained to the referee but there was little point, he was merely trying to survive and offering nothing back, the decision was a correct one.

Kayode remains undefeated but judging by this display it may not last much longer, especially if he has designs on stepping up his level of competition. Freddie Roach will have to work hard to combat Lateef’s tendency to throw wild punches, leaving himself wide open for counters, because at Heavyweight there will be a queue of fighters willing to test out Kayode’s punch resistance if given the opportunity.

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Lateef Kayode vs. Jonte Willis

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