Praying for the unexpected
Undefeateds rack up wins in tuners and step-ups
Ringside by Chris Cozzone with Miguel Maravilla
Photos by Chris Cozzone
A boxing fan knows they're in for a night of predictable pugilism when one-half of a line-up is comprised of undefeateds with the opposing corner, a motley collection ranging from merely game to barely challenging.
Packing the cushy Cosmopolitan's Chelsea Ballroom on the eve of what is, arguably, the most important fight of the year, fans had to settle for coffee talk on a seven-bout card, rather than witness something worth reminiscing about in the final hours leading up to Mayweather v. Guerrero.
If there was something to talk about, it had happened the day before when a severely dehydrated Jose Aguiniga collapsed in the gym, leaving Francisco Vargas without a dance partner. Unable to do much but shrug, Golden Boy Promotions elevated the co-main to top billing and shuffled around the undercard to accommodate the FOX Sports telecast.
The suddenly-main event, bumped up from eight to ten, saw unbeaten junior welter Antonio Orozco add another tally mark to his win column with a slow-but-sure defeat of mop-headed Jose Reynosa.
Lacking the height and reach of his Riverside foe, the San Diego youngster from the Espinoza camp made up for it by plowing steadily forward into and, eventually, through his less durable opponent.
Lunging in and missing with his punches, Reynoso was rocked with counter rights in the second. Unable to fend off Orozco, who trudged ever forward, Reynoso was forced to fight on the inside, which became an increasingly losing proposition.
Orozco backed up his prey in the fourth and dropped him to his knees in the fifth from a combination of body shots. Holding his bright red-mottled side and wincing as he beat the count, Reynosa survived but was kept on the defense until the seventh. After trading in the center of the ring, another "bombination" from Orozco lowered Reynosa to the canvas again. This time, referee Kenny Bayless pulled the plug, stopping the bout at 1:13.
Orozco bumps his numbers to 17-0, 13 Kos while Reynosa, who was coming off a second round kayo loss to hard-hitting Ruslan Provodnikov, adds another loss, falling to 16-5-1, 3 Kos.
Wagging "The Dog"
Apparently making up his mind to go the distance and "treat" the crowd to a sparring session, comebacking Anthony "The Dog" Dirrell, 25-0, 21 Kos, spurred on and toyed with gutsy Dan Mouton, 11-7-1, 9 Kos, for eight only-slightly-interesting rounds.
"C'mon Dan! C'mon!" Dirrell invited Mouton into close quarters, easily weathering overhand tags before battering back with faster, harder combinations. Staying well within Mouton's range – kind of like holding a tasty Scooby Snack before the weather-beaten junkyard dog before him – Dirrell put a leash on his reach and footwork, in order to shake off a year-and-a-half of rust. Instead of leveling the playing field and giving Mouton half a chance for an upset, however, the bout devolved, from prizefight to playfight.
Mouton took it seriously, at least. Taking advantage of Dirrell's invite to c'mon in, he pressured and swung for all he was worth, occasionally landing clean shots and swaying judges to score at least two or three rounds his way. Dirrell taunted and smothered, sometimes complaining to ref Russell Mora about head butts, but never truly fought. Content to casually batter back between his bantering, Dirrell picked up the majority of rounds, winning with scores of 78-74 twice and 77-75.
In the opening bout, Los Angeles' jr. featherweight Joet Gonzalez (4-0, 1 Ko) outboxed game-but-outgunned Alex Chavez (1-1), of San Fernando, Calif. Gonzalez boxed well, using his jab to tee off Chavez's head. Despite a bloody nose, Chavez made Gonzalez work for his win. Scores were 40-36 twice and 39-37, all for Gonzalez.
In a six-round junior featherweight bout, 2012 U.S. Olympian Joseph Diaz (4-0, 2 Kos), of South El Monte, Calif., took out Puerto Rico's Eric Gotay (3-2, 1 Ko) in the third round. The southpaw Diaz bided his time in the first, then proceeded to batter Gotay in the second – so much so that even his feints bounced back Gotay's head. A big left in the third sent Gotay to the canvas. Though beating the count, Gotay's swaying in the still air prompted ref Vic Drakulich to call off the bout at 2:13.
At junior middleweight, Dallas' Errol Spence (5-0, 4 KOs) had a ridiculously easy time with Missouri journeyman Brandon Hoskins (16-5-1, 8 Kos). A big left to the body and a left uppercut sent Hoskins to the canvas on two separate occasions. With his eyes as big as saucers and clutching his reddened torso, Hoskins did not argue when ref Tony Weeks waved it off at 2:35.
In a sixer at junior lightweight, Puerto Rico's Carlos Velasquez (15-0, 11 Kos) had the challenge of the night against, perhaps, one of the most annoying fighters in boxing, Giorgi Mtchedlishvili (8-5-1, 1 Ko). The equivalent of the proverbial mime everyone would love to take a Wiffle ball bat to, Mtchedlishvili showed off his wide range of accomplished athleticism and theatrics, namely sprinting backward, sidling and slinking sideways along the ropes, and floppily flailing his feeble fists at an increasingly frustrated Velasquez. Fighting with blood steadily dripping out of a left brow cut sustained in the first, Mtchedlishvili continued to taunt at Velasquez, who had better success in the late rounds when he revved up a crowd entirely on his side by dropping Mtchedlishvili with a hard left hook combination. Alas, he could not finish matters and had to settle for a unanimous decision win, with scores that completely discounted Mtchedlishvili. Scores were 60-53 and 59-54 twice.
In the worst pair-up of the night, 2012 U.S. Olympian heavyweight Dominic Breazeale (5-0, 5 Kos) showed flaws-a-plenty against roly-poly Lance Gauch (3-7-2, 3 Kos), who was clearly there to pick up a paycheck. Looking like the number "10," Breazeale was set up to deflate the planetoid that was Gauch with a meteoric crash to earth. Gauch, however, was able to point out Breazeale's imperfections with alarming ease, breezing through the bigger, badder man's defense with several slappy shots. Gauch might've been surprised how easy-breezy it was to tag Breazeale, but a flooring right called his attention back to script. Gauch beat the count and made it into the second stanza when another big right blasted him into his corner, prompting ref Drakulich to prematurely call it quits at 2:41. Gauch didn't complain – that is, until the crowd booed – at which point he offered up a smidgen of resistance before leaving the ring.
With pink-clad, boxing-gloved go- go dancers swiveling and gyrating in of the backdrop, the Cosmopolitan had their share of celebs, a list that includes Fifty Cent, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Bernard Hopkins, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Tarver and, of course, Oscar De La Hoya.