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FNF Report: Smith A Welter Prospect To Keep An Eye On (Maybe Two)

BY Michael Woods ON May 25, 2009
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Gentlemen and ladies, there is a new name you might want to add to your watch list of hitters in and around 147 pounds.

Antwone Smith, who won a unanimous decision over Richard Gutierrez in the main event of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights at the Fountainbleu Resort in Miami Beach, does everything pretty darn well.  And there is no reason that at age 22, if he keeps progressing, Smith can’t hop into the top ten and then top five among welterweights by next year.

Smith didn’t score a knockdown, but with 8 knockouts in 16 wins, power isn’t now his main calling card. His ring generalship is, however. He worked at a distance and inside on Gutierrez, touched him with enough thudding rights to keep the loser honest, and the judges liked what they saw, tallying cards of 97-93, 96-94, 100-88. Teddy Atlas saw it 100-91, for Smith, a card that TSS can back.

Smith (from Miami; 146 1/2; 15-1-1 entering) is nicknamed “The Truth;”  Gutierrez (from Colombia; 147; 24-2-1 coming in) is 30 years old.

Smith’s hands looked faster from the first. A cut over his left eye didn’t detract from his concentration in the third. He saw Gutierrez’ launches coming, for the most part, and slipped smartly. The men worked in close quarters, mostly, though Smith would sometimes take a trip, regroup, and then wade back in. Smith, who shows that front shoulder a la Floyd Mayweather at times, piled up a combo to close out the seventh, but you didn’t feel a stoppage would occur. Smith stayed smart to the close, as his jab stayed peppy late in the game. Obviously cardio isn’t an issue with him. He stayed cool as the cut dripped more, too, into his left eye. Didn’t phase him at all.

Junior middle Erislandy Lara, out of Cuba, took out Edwin Vazquez in the TV opener. The winner had his man down in the second, and then finished the scrap in the fourth. The ref stopped the tussle after Lara, who puts combos together in extremely smooth fashion, used his whole arsenal on Vazquez. The end came at 1:13 of the fourth. “He’s a great prospect,” said Freddie Roach, and Dedham Freddie said in perhaps a year, Lara could be ready for a title fight.

Two time Olympic gold medallist Guillermo Rigondeaux, debuting,  stopped Juan Noriega in the third round (1:09), via TKO. Rigo, age 28, counterpunched smartly at times, against a foe who fought worried. He scored a knockdown in the first, did the lefty. Teddy Atlas said the 122 pounder could be moved quickly, and could be a world champion, if he keeps his head on straight.

Freddie Roach went on the trash talk offensive, saying to Brian Kenny in studio that Floyd has ducked Margarito, Mosley, Cotto and now Pacquaio. Why’d Floyd come back from his hiatus and fight JMM instead of the man who holds the top P4P spot now, Manny, Roach asked rhetorically. To prime the pump for the Mayweather/Mannt match, of course, which Freddie knows of course. Who woulda thunk it, a few years ago, that Dedham Freddie would emerge as one of the very best trash talkers in the fight game?

Viewers saw bits of Mayweather’s interview with Brian Kenny, a 2009 version of semi-contentious Ali/Howard Cosell quizzings in the 1970s. Why not go after Shane Mosley, Kenny asked Floyd? Floyd said that Mosley has five losses, and isn’t a pay per view attraction. As opposed to Juan Manuel Marquez, Kenny countered? Roach said that Floyd picks and chooses the style matches to best suit his own style, and thus avoids guys who will bring it to him, guys like Pacman, Mosley and Cotto.

Floyd said it would be hard to make a deal with Pacman, because Arum and he didn’t see eye to eye when Arum promoted him from 1996-2006.

Roach drew a line in the sand regarding a Manny/Money fight, saying that a purse split of 60-40 split would work…but the bigger piece of the pie would have to go to Manny. He also said he’d like a Manny/Mosley bout, provided Mosley fight at around 143 pounds or so.


SPEEDBAG Massachusetts Matt, Matt Damon took in the card, as did Jake LaMotta.

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