The Week That Was (February 11-17, 2013)

By Teron Briggs on February 18, 2013
The Week That Was (February 11-17, 2013)
On this night the gutsy Gavin Rees was no match for the ultra talented Adrien Broner.

The best possible fight for Broner at lightweight would be the winner of the bout between WBO champ Ricky Burns and IBF champ Miguel Vazquez…

Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA

Broner bullies and batters Rees before stopping him in five

After two unexpectedly competitive rounds in which 80 to 1 underdog Gavin Rees (37-2, 18 KOs) more than held his own against WBC lightweight titleholder Adrien Broner (26-0, 22 KOs), order was restored in the fifth round when Rees’ corner stepped in to prevent him from absorbing a brutal mauling.

From the second the bell rang in the first round, the Welshmen Rees showed the boxing world that he didn’t travel thousands of miles from the UK to lay down to superstar in the making Adrien Broner on this frigid February night in Atlantic City. Rees, the physically smaller fighter, didn’t let his stature prevent him from trying to abuse the more talented Broner. He attacked with stinging shots to the body as well as a digging left hook to the head, as he was able to get past Broner’s nonexistent jab and rough him up as the two fought in close quarters. As the third round started, there was more drama in Atlantic City then in an episode of Boardwalk Empire, as Broner was forced to defend himself against the kind of assault at which Nucky Thompson would lick his chops. The Cincinnati native Broner, considered by many to be the next great fighter in the sport, rose to the challenge as he systemically began to break down the game challenger. The momentum of the fight had taken a huge shift in Broner’s favor, as he was able to create distance using his sharp jab, which in turn opened up his power shots. A huge, lightning quick right uppercut badly hurt and floored Rees, who barely survived to see the end of the round. The fifth round was more of the same from Broner, as he had clearly settled into his groove. A malicious hook to the body dropped Rees to his knees, and essentially spelled the end of the night for the Welshman. Seconds later his trainer, former fighter Gary Lockett, waved the white flag to signal the first successful title defense for Broner.

All that needs to be said about Rees’ heart can be summed up best in the fighter’s own words as he told the press after the fight, “I would have gone on until I was knocked out cold.”  Rees is one of the better lightweights in the world but on this night he was no match for the ultra talented Broner. The best possible fight for Broner in the division would be the winner of the unification bout between WBO champ Ricky Burns and IBF champ Miguel Vazquez. However, either fighter would be a big underdog if matched with Broner, who probably won’t be tested until he moves up in weight.

“A knockout would be merciful”

HBO analyst Jim Lampley said those words during the methodical and vicious beating that Nikola Sjekloca (25-1, 7 KOs) was suffering at the hands of lunchbox warrior Sakio Bika (31-5, 21 KOs). Sjekloca somehow survived twelve brutal rounds, though that might have been to his own detriment. At the end the judges scored the fight in Bika’s favor 120-108, 119-109, and 118-112.

Sakio Bika won the first round of this fight, and pretty much every round thereafter by simply being the sharper and more effective puncher. Sjekloca, who fought as an amateur for his native country Serbia for close to 20 years, apparently didn’t learn anything about fighting as a professional. The unknown never seriously mounted any kind of offense that led you to believe he could win the contest. He had a couple of moments here and there, but for the most part he was completely outclassed. Bika, who has built a reputation as a tough, hard hitting, but crude fighter, at times looked like Muhammad Ali against Sjekloca. Fighting with new trainer Kevin Cunningham, best known for training world champions Cory Spinks and Devon Alexander, Bika displayed intelligent and accurate combinations like never before. This writer suspects that most of Bika’s newfound skill set had more to do with Sjekloca being a limited fighter than any new career renaissance. By the championship rounds, it was just a matter of whether Bika would be able to knock out the iron-chinned Serbian.

In between rounds Sjekloca’s corner would wave a white towel at their charge, in some farfetched effort to try to give him more oxygen. While watching Sjekloca repeatedly get taken to the woodshed by Bika I kept hoping his trainer would wave that towel at the referee to end things. Sjekloca’s made his American debut after previously only fighting in Montenegro and after this huge failure it’s unlikely he ever fights in the States again. Bika has come up short when he’s previously stepped up to fight elite competition in the super middleweight division, losing to champions Lucian Bute, Andre Ward and Joe Calzaghe. He didn’t display anything on Saturday night that would lead me believe he’s risen above title-challenger status.

Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA

Rodriguez schools “Comanche Boy”

Delvin Rodriguez (27-6-3, 15 KOs) returned to the ring with a resounding technical knockout victory for the first time since his failed attempt to capture the WBA light middleweight title from Austin Trout in June of 2012. Veteran referee Eddie Cotton stepped in to save the hapless and hopeless George “Comanche Boy” Tahdooahnippah at the 2:21 minute mark of the sixth round as Rodriguez was pummeling him.

Comanche Boy’s impressive looking but paper-thin resume had many believing the long-time contender Rodriquez would expose him, but this was less a “fight” than a farce. The Comanche Boy built his undefeated record of 31 and 0 without having to leave his home state of Oklahoma, or having to ever fight a guy with a pulse. Rodriguez looked as sharp as ever as he pounded on the Native American, despite being the naturally smaller man. Comanche Boy’s ring IQ was so slight that he allowed Rodriguez to essentially land the same right hand over and over again. As early as the third round the fighter with the blown-up record appeared unable to defend himself from Rodriquez’s onslaught. No one could doubt his fighting spirit, as he continued to come out round after round. But unfortunately for him Rodriquez wasn’t one of the stiffs he was previously fed. When the end came, Comanche Boy actually tried to protest the stoppage, even though he was getting beaten from pillar to post, without fighting back.

I feel bad for the two busloads of people from Oklahoma who made the close to 24-hour trip to the Mohegan Sun to see their guy not be the least bit competitive. For Rodriguez, I would love to see him face former champion Miguel Cotto at the Barclays Center on Puerto Rican Day weekend. Golden Boy has reserved the arena for June 8th, according to ESPN’s Dan Rafael, and that would be the perfect tough but limited comeback opponent for Cotto.

The punch of the weekend

After a ho-hum first round, lightweight Chris Howard (15-2-1, 7 KOs) recorded a highlight-reel stoppage as he unloaded a devastating right hand that knocked Bayan Jargal (17-4-3, 17 KOs) senseless.

Prior to the TKO, Howard seemed to have difficulty planting his feet and landing any punches of note. That all changed midway through the second round when he flashed a listless hello left jab, meant to distract Jargal, before unleashing a wicked right hand that landed square on Jargal’s chin and dropped the Mongolian native. Jargal got back to his feet, but on such unsteady legs that the referee was forced to halt the contest.

Howard came into the bout on a two-fight losing streak, after starting his career undefeated. He doesn’t appear to be the most talented boxer in the world, but if he can display the kind of power he did on this edition of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights I would love to see him in action again.

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  1. the thresher 05:50pm, 02/20/2013

    I have follwed D-Rod for a long time. He would slice up Cotto like a butcher

  2. Bodyshots 05:42pm, 02/20/2013

    i was calling for a Cotto v. Rodriguez matchup even before the Margarito rematch and favored Rodriguez back then. i favor Delvin to beat Cotto even worse now. Cotto’s been nothing but a glorified gatekeeper at 154lbs. of course, i can’t condemn Cotto for smartly cultivating a “$howdown” v. Floyd but as a fight-fan i certainly won’t praise him either.

  3. the thresher 05:44pm, 02/18/2013

    Interesting week what with a lil guy fighting his heart out.

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