Anyone who watches boxing for any length of time is familiar with any number of analysts recommending a fighter work the body of his foe, a tactic that they state will pay dividends down the line, in the late innings of a fight. Antonio Escalante worked that angle, but his tactic paid off early, as his bombs-to-the-body sapped the legs of opponent Cornelius Lock on Friday Night Fights from the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas. Once Lock slowed down a tad, by the third round, Escalante got down to business; he scored two knockdowns in that round, and threatened to put away Lock down the stretch of the ten-rounder. The only reason Escalante exited with a unanimous decision win, and not a TKO victory, is because Lock boasts a lion’s heart, and he refused to fold up shop.
The judges saw it 100-88, 100-88, 98-90, for Escalante, notching his seventh straight triumph against a hitter who’d been off over a year.
The Mexican-born Escalante (19-2, 13 KOs entering; age 24; lives in El Paso, Texas) was 124 pounds, while Lock (18-3-1, with 11 KOs coming in; trained by Cornelius Boza-Edwards; helmed by Leonard Ellerbe; age 30) was 122 1/4 .
In the first, Lock’s hand speed was apparent right away. The lefty took a right to the body, and we saw Escalante’s power. Lock gave it back to the body, with a right hook. Escalante followed the more mobile fighter, and tried to land home run bombs, some of them wider than many a trainer would like. In round two, Teddy Atlas shared his scouting report on Escalante’s tics: he drops his gloves to push down his trunks, and sometimes shakes his gloves, like he’s rattling maracas. Would Lock see these moves, and time them? Blood dripped from Escalante’s left eye, from a punch, the referee decreed. The replay showed it was a head clash, quite possible. In the third, Escalante kept at the body. Would Lock drop his hands as a result, and get tagged? Would his legs get sapped as a result? Yes, apparently. Lock hit the deck, off a underneath right to the body with 40 seconds to go. He went down again, at the end of the round, off a flurry up top.
In the fourth, Atlas told us that Lock has the skills to get back in the game. But he’d stopped his smart movement, largely, and that didn’t bode well against the slugger. Lock was backed up against the ropes to end the round. In the fifth, Lock was rocked by a left hook. Points to him for hanging tough. In the sixth, Escalante featured more torso movement, contrasting somewhat with Lock, who often is too erect for his own good. In the seventh, it looked like Lock wanted to perhaps just finish the fight. Then again, he tossed a flurry with 15 seconds to go. In the eighth, an in-control Escalante stayed smart, and avoided the intermittent Lock tosses. In the ninth, the Texan worked to get a stoppage, but Lock hung in. In the tenth, we wondered if Lock would last. Bless him, he did, and he was swinging hard at the close.
The unbeaten Velasquez brothers, out of Texas, went 1-for-2. Junior featherweight Jose Beranza (32-15-2, 25 KOs) took out Juan Velasquez (9-1, 5 KOs) in a six round unanimous decision. Beranza, age 33, had lost six of his last seven fights; he dropped Velazquez twice in round three, knocked out his mouthpiece in the fifth, and rightfully got the nod, 58-54, 58-54, 57-55.
Twin brother Carlos Velasquez (11-0, 9 KOs; age 23) scored a unanimous decision victory over Juan Nazario (6-2-1, 4 KOs), all seeing it 60-53.
SPEEDBAG Teddy Atlas sparred lightly with Brain Kenny in studio. Teddy said Cotto was breaking down some in his fight with Joshua Clottey, and then Kenny defended Cotto somewhat, as he interpreted that Atlas was implying Cotto was searching for an escape route. Teddy told BK to clean out his earpiece! Hey, someone get me a roll, and some mustard, cause we got some beef here!
---The season finale on Aug. 28 is a doozy. Titlist Juan Urango meets Randall Bailey in a battle of 140 pound sluggers, and Clinton “No Relation, Especially If He Loses” Woods gives Tavoris Cloud a title shot in a light heavy tussle.
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?