Mike Arnaoutis could've been forgiven if he came into his featured fight on Friday Night Fights at Ballys in Atlantic City, New Jersey thinking he'd be in for a reasonably easy night. He was matched with Lanardo Tyner, an unbeaten fighter whose record was built up on a foundation of journeyman and perma-opponents. But boxing is the theater of the unexpected, right? No, Arnaoutis didn't get shocked and dropped and stopped, but Tyner actually proved himself to be a durable, capable foe. And Arnaoutis had to use all of his skills and utilize his wide edge in experience to leave AC with a unanimous decision win.
Arnaoutis enjoyed scores of 116-112, 118-110, 118-110, after 12 competitive rounds, and retained his USBA junior welterweight crown.
The Greek Arnaoutis (139 3/4, age 28) came in with a 18-2-1 mark, while Michigan's Tyner (139 1/2, age 32) entered at 19-0. Arnaoutis has lost to Ricardo Torres and Kendall Holt, and he said before the bout that he's been working on his skills to take a leap up in effectiveness. Tyner said before that he sees Arnaoutis as a rich-kid type, who has had it easy on the rough road of the fight game.
In the first, the lefthanded Greek fended off Tyner's opening rush. Tyner settled down, as did Arnie, and it looked like we'd be in for a decent clash of styles. In the second, Tyner again came out blasting. Arnie went to the body to try and remove some of Tyner's zest for combat. Tyner caught Arnie with a left hook backing out and followed with a right. Not bad for a relative unknown, viewers had to think. In the third, Arnie kicked up his movement, knowing now that Tyner packed pop. But late in the round, he let the gap close and got some work done. In the fourth, Arnie's movement gave him the early edge. We saw Arnie's wife, pregnant with triplets, watching hubby ringside. Tyner landed too, smartly landing sharp rights. In the fifth, Arnie really mixed his shots up, and scored well. Arnie sensed his less experienced foe was tiring some. In the sixth, both men let up off the gas. Arnie won the round by dictating distance with his jab. In the seventh, the tide turned, bigtime. Arnie started tagging Tyner at will, and the ref nearly stepped in to stop it when Tyner ate the umpteenth flush shot. But just then he fired back and finished the round. He actually smiled after that and came back in the eighth with more grinning, and posturing. Arnie, maybe a little gassed from the last round, wasn't as busy. In the ninth, Tyner got some good work done. He made worse a slice over Arnie's right eye. In the tenth, Tyner had to know, or should have known that he'd need a KO to win, but he was too tired to go for it. In round 11, Tyner caught backtracking Arnie with a right and Arnie's legs wobbled a bit. But he collected himself and continued to peck away. In the 12th, Tyner didn't have enough gas to go for broke. All in all, a good workout and good win over an unbeaten for the Greek, while Tyner proved to himself and watchers that he is a world class boxer, even if he is a little rough around the edges, and has a cubic zirconia record.
Ohioan Devin Vargas (15-0 coming in) took on Philadelphian Dave Brunelli (8-3 coming in) to kick off the program. The heavyweights looked mismatched on paper, as Vargas has an amateur foundation that Brunelli, who went pro without any am action, did not. Brunelli hit the deck midway through the first round, on a right-left combo, and stayed down from a vicious right soon after. Though Brunelli holds a win over pro hockey toughman Frank Biolowas, the matchmaker did the unschooled fighter no favor by offering him the fight with Vargas. The end came at 1:31of the first. The loser looked pained afterwards, truly irked that he got stopped. He was game, but out of place.
Ray Serrano (5-0 entering) met Charles Wade (4-5 entering) in a welterweight faceoff. It was another quickie. The 18-year-old Philly fighter Serrano knocked Wade to the mat with a right, and then with a left hook. He got up and then went down again from I'm not sure what. He stayed down, on his back, but then sat up. It looked on the replay that Wade either has the world's worst chin, or he was not in it to win it. Analyst Teddy Atlas told it like it was, and described the fight as a mismatch. He told viewers that Wade might have thrown the fight, but then backtracked some, and said a body shot got through. Wade has lost four in a row, three by KO, and his effort was so dubious, that any matchmaker of repute should steer clear of using him. After, studio analyst Steve Forbes politely said Wade looked like he didn't want to fight.
AC resident Pat Majewski (7-0 entering) met Ariel Espinal (6-2-2 entering) in a middleweight scrap. Majewski hit the deck after getting caught with an overhand right in the second. But he caught his wits and got his legs back. He stands too tall, and tips forward. After four the cards were read: Majewski won a UD4, 38-37, 37-37, 38-37.
The aforementioned Forbes joined Brian Kenny in studio. He said that he gave a "very gutsy" performance, and fought his heart out against Oscar last week. He said that did believe he could hurt Oscar, and said his training with Jeff Mayweather helped land the shots that brought on a hairline fracture on Oscar's face.
He said he was surprised that Oscar's jab was sharp, and he hoped that Oscar would fade late. They showed Oscar being interviewed right after the fight, and he said he'd take a week off and then get back to training.
Forbes said that he's sparred a few hundred rounds with Mayweather, but not in years. In the Money/Oscar rematch, Forbes said he thinks it will be a different type fight. But, he said, it will be difficult for Oscar to come out on top. Prediction: Floyd ekes out the fight at the end, and it will be more enjoyable for viewers than the first encounter. An ESPN Poll showed that folks believe, by a 63-37% margin, that Floyd will win the rematch. 37% really think Oscar will win? Wow, maybe some David Archuleta fans used their skills at stuffing the ballot box to bolster Oscar's numbers. But hey, ya never know.
Forbes said he might fight Junior Witter if Junior beats Tim Bradley on Saturday evening.
SPEEDBAG Who caught Atlas' pointed commentary on WNF? He laced into an unnamed HBO party who he felt acted like a cheerleader, a shill, for Oscar. Hmm. Wonder who he meant? Anyone got a guess? Not a very blind blind item.
---The Incredible Shrinking Boxer, Chris Byrd, fights on FNF next week.
Who wins the WBO Middleweight title fight Dec. 19th?