Maybe the network wanted it so, but in retrospect, it would have made sense to flip-flop the main event, and the main undercard attraction on ShoBox, which unfolded at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago on Friday evening. In the support tussle, Don George and Osumanu Adama showed fire and desire, and got the crowd pumped, while Marcus Johnson and Derek Edwards too often showed sparring-level energy in the featured scrap.
Johnson (age 24; from Houston, Texas; 18-0 entering) weighed 167 pounds, while Edwards (age 30; 25-0 entering; from SC) was 168 pounds. The vacant NABO super middleweight belt was up for grabs, but really, this was not the sort of fight that really demanded any sort of belt being given to the winner, who by the way was Johnson, by scores of 98-92, 98-92, 97-93. When the winner was announced, Edwards, who had his hands raised during the callout of the scores, showed the same demeanor that he did during the bout: basically, flat.
Johnson, a former Don King fighter scooped up by Lou DiBella, has a real nice one-two. Edwards owns a long, strong jab, and puts together combos smartly. In round two, after a pick em first, both men showed respect for the other. Edwards showed a possible Achilles, as he bent over at the waist, dipping his head down, as if to serve it on a platter. Johnson was wary of Edwards counters in the fourth, another tight round. Neither man sent a signal that he wanted to decisively take over to this point. In the fifth, the cool vet Edwards was again chill, waiting for Johnson to make a mistake. I wanted to see the young gun with a bit more urgency. We saw more fire to start in the sixth from the Texan. But he still seemed a little too wary of return fire from Edwards. One problem--the arena was pretty empty during this bout, after getting hot for the George-Adama scrap. The lack of buzz did nothing to light the fires of two guys prone to going on autopilot. In the eighth, the Texan sensed that time was dwindling. Johnsons right had more zest on it, while Edwards simply shrugged it off, didnt get spazzy, but also didnt stay busy enough to win the round. Real urgency didnt kick in, ever, for Edwards, strange considering he came in without a loss. Well, he did perk up for a bit in the tenth, but it was way too little, too late.
Don George (age 25; 167 pounds; 19-0 entering; from Chicago, Illinois), who said spending six months in jail in 2008 changed his life, took on Osumanu Adama (age 29; 167; from Accra, Ghana; 14-1 entering). The hometowner sweated out the decision, but after eight rounds, he was tabbed the winner, by scores of 79-72, 76-75, 77-74. There was a service interruption right before the bell was to sound to start the first and a Please Stand By notice filled the screen. After a pause for commercials, viewers were brought back to the fight, now in the third round. Nick Charles said a thunderstorm caused the outage. Both men are upright types. Adama likes to rip left hooks, and was pushing the pace hard in the third. George, who does possess power in both hands, looked a bit surprised that the African was so active. The picture cut out again to start the fourth, and we returned before the start of the fifth. George pushed forward in the fifth. But he was caught and eating punches on the ropes to end the round. We need these rounds, the George corner told their guy after the sixth. The Africans cornerman threatened to stop the fight if his guy didnt keep his hands up. His energy did wane, as compared to early on, for sure. A right sent Adama down late in the seventh. He was firing back at the bell, however. In the eighth, George got tagged. Was his tank empty? Close to E, it looked like, but he still mustered the juice to wing right hooks to the body, and a few heavy hooks. Both men earned their purse, in a big way. There were plentiful boos from the crowd after the decision. George, by the way, was signed by Top Rank, but dumped, after the Chicago Sun-Times reported hed been charged with felony sexual assault against a family member. He was sentenced to six months for aggravated battery, for offenses which took place between 1996-1998, when he was 11-13 years old, and his victim was between 5 and 8 years old.
Edwin Rodriguez (age 24; 169 pounds; from Worcester, Mass., born in DR; 14-0 entering, with 10 KOs) took out former kickboxer Kevin Engel (age 30; 170 pounds; from MIssouri; 17-2 with 14 KOs entering) in the sixth round. Rodriguez has a real good sense of distance. He works the body well, stays balanced, and likes to shoot from different angles. Rodriguez got buzzed bad with a left hook in the third but he shook it off. The Mass. man had gotten a little cocky after having his way for two rounds. He got back on track in the fourth, and hurt Engel with uppercuts, but then got smacked with a straight right, as he backed straight up. Engel was eating too much, and the ref was taking a hard look in the sixth. Engel went to his knees with 36 seconds to go, off a right to the body, and didnt beat the count. The official time of the KO was 2:35. Rodriguez could tighten up the D, remember to keep his lead hand up, and not drop it to his waist after jabbing, but all in all, hes a rock-solid prospect. Hes the best Massachusetts prospects since...lord...Im blanking.
SPEEDBAG Hey, Nick Charles, all at TSS wish you well. Charles is leaving ShoBox for another round of treatment fighting Stage 4 cancer, and he told viewers that God willing, hed be back to call the fights once again. Do it, Nick. Were rooting for you, big-time.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV