Friday Night Fights kicked off its second installment of the season with a card featuring some Contender Season Two stalwarts in action in Tacoma, Washington. K9 Bundrage, who made it to the semis in the second season of the Contender, after being scouted out as a muscled up loudmouth by some of the other contestants early on, stepped in with "The Mechanic," Chris Smith.
Joe Tessitore gave an insight into K9's "colorful" past, which included drug dealing in Detroit. His brother is jailed for murder and his uncle drove the getaway car in that caper, Tess told us, but Bundrage said that he found God and has seen the light. Bundrage also touched on the murder of his sister, which came only a month before he fought Nito Bravo in the Contender 2 finale show.
Bundrage was the favorite coming in, as the Jamaican-born Smith has seen better days, and was coming off a loss to Oscar Diaz, his third loss in his last four outings. K9 got off to a quicker start, as Smith, age 31, took a spell to get warmed up. Bundrage, age 33, started some body work in the second. Too often, Smith bobbed, weaved and threw a single punch. Some things are great solo, but punches are best pluralized...
In the third, Smith got the kinks out, and perked up. In the fourth, Smith started by again backing Bundrage up. K9 showed that he sometimes he just isn't all there mentally, as he shoved Smith with his shoulder five seconds after the ref had warned him about that very same maneuver. Atlas had it 39-37 K9 after four...
In the fifth, the 149-pound Bundrage showed one deficiency in his game—when he tosses his right, he squares up and waits for a receipt. Like many of the subpar cashiers in my hood, the 148-pound Smith often forgot to hand the receipt over. Bundrage also was cut over his right eye in this chapter, a slice that was caused by a punch, not a butt.
On to the sixth. Smith had K9 in trouble late, but Bundrage held on for dear life. The reformed Detroit bad apple managed to survive the round. In the seventh, K9 got on his bike a bit more to allow himself to recoup some energy. Smith didn't really look to press the pace as one might think he would've. Still, the Mechanic did look to force the action, and took the round on my card, but not Atlas'. The eighth round saw more of the same, with K9 moving laterally and Smith pressing forward, but perhaps a bit too mechanically, if you'll pardon the wordplay. And the crowd didn't dig K9's strategy—they would've preferred he stand and toe to toe it with Smith. Atlas, though, rewarded K9's movement, and gave him the round. The ninth was Bundrage's early, as he picked away at Smith from the outside. His legs were as important here as his fists—he gets in, get out, and gets it done on the scorecards.
K9 jab was somewhat effective in the tenth and final round, and he showed good energy in this, his first tenth round. Until, that is, Smith caught him with a right and left that sent Bundrage back into the ropes. He stood firm, but Smith smelled closure, and amped it up. He again set on K9 and had him woozy on the ropes. But K9 is in superb shape, and he kept his legs, and his head, as he stayed away in the closing seconds, and even flurried sharply at the close. K9 had the edge in total punches landed, 207 to 196, and Atlas followed the mathematical hint, giving K9 a 96-94 edge. One judge saw it 96-94 Smith, another saw it 97-93 K9 (which drew boos) and the tiebreaker saw it 96-94 K9 (25-2), which drew even more boos. Smith, who doesn't catch many breaks in this cruel sport, drops to 20-4.
Heavyweight man of the hour Sam Peter chatted with Brian Kenny via remote hookup. Kenny presented highlights from last Saturday's Peter/Toney rematch, and played up Toney's poor level of conditioning, even despite the addition of Tae Bo guru Billy Blanks. Peter, ever the chill dude, didn't really bite when Kenny asked if he was in better shape in this outing than in previous outings. "I was in shape, every time I was in shape to try and make my career better," Peter said. What about Maskaev, Kenny asked. "That was a big bridge for me to cross and now Maskaev's next," he said. Of Toney, the Nigerian said he's "a great guy," but it's "time for him to quit." Kenny also helped clear up a mini mystery: at the last press conference, Peter told Toney that he would soon know that Peter is the more powerful, in his native tongue. No, it wasn't a death threat or anything so odious...
Peter said he wants to handle Maskaev first, and then he sees a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko in the cards. Nicolay Valuev, he said, has a head as big as Mandalay Bay (hey, this guy's a crackup!), and he wouldn't pick a winner between the Giant and Jameel McCline. "I would bring him down," Peter said when Kenny asked how he would fight the skyscraping Russian.
In the show opener from the Emerald Queen Casino, Contender alum Walter Wright, a Sugar Ray Leonard fave from Seattle, Washington, took on Dan Wallace, a 29-year-old Michigan resident in a junior middleweight tussle. Wright immediately emerged as a different class of fighter in round one; he was far slicker defensively, and his punches were far crisper than the greener foe. Teddy Atlas picked up on a Wallace trait that diminished his effectiveness—wasted motion. That effort expended, the analyst said, might mean that Wallace was thinking that he may be doing better than he actually was. Wright hit Wallace with a low shot in the seventh, and Wallace took a quick breather, but used about 20 seconds of the allotted 5 minute breather time. Atlas speculated that he may have been faking anyway, and Joe Tessitore quite smartly wondered why fighters never do take the full allowance to shrug off testicular torture. Wright put together about
10 shots to notch a technical knockdown, as Wallace sagged into the ropes a minute into the eighth. Wright didn't let him off the hook, jumping right on Wallace, who took some nasty blows, maybe a few too many, before the referee interceded. Wright is now 13-2, with 7 kayos, while Wallace tastes the bitter ale of defeat for the first time in nine bouts.
In a super middleweight four-rounder, Marcus Pernell from Portland, Oregon tangled with Roger Cantrell of Puyallup, Washington. Johnny Bumphus was working with Cantrell, and Ray Lampkin, a lightweight of some renown back in the 70s, worked Pernell's corner. The two looked to be of similar talent level early on, but Cantrell was throwing more. It appeared that Pernell didn't have quick enough hands to land from the outside and as Atlas pointed out, isn't comfortable doing the dirty work on the inside that's needed. But he did land some from the outside in the fourth round, and perhaps would've benefited from an extra few rounds. The judges handed down the word: Atlas said Cantrell won by a point, while the Tacoma arbiters saw Cantrell (9-0) a winner as well, by split decision. "A couple of judges were watching different fights," Atlas said when one judge gave Pernell (12-2) every round.
Brian Kenny caught up viewers on the latest boxing news, or at least, for those unfortunates who don't log on to TheSweetScience.com. He told watchers about Tyson's indictment, and then showed a clip from an interview with Hitman Hatton. Kenny hit on the Marquez/Vazquez possible go, what's next for Casamayor and told us of a Zab Judah return.
Next week, Angelo Dundee will chat with Kenny. That's saying something—the man is 83 years old, and still has his faculties. Then again, he did the training, not the fighting, didn't he?
By the way, feel free to leave a comment if you thought Smith deserved the nod in the main event...