The Underachiever met the Journeyman in the main event on ESPN's Friday Night Fights, and the underachiever put an injection of adrenaline back into his career, which was on the verge of flatlining after he went 3-4-1 in his last seven outings.
The Underachiver, 31-year-old, 225-pound Dominick Guinn (entering at 27-4-1) took on the Journeyman, 38-year-old, 237-pound Zuri Lawrence (coming in at 20–11-4).
Guinn, now working on about his third “last chance,” desperately—-for real this time—-needed to win, and look good doing so in a card taking place at the Main Street Armory in Rochester, New York.
He got that win, and in conclusive fashion, finishing off Lawrence via TKO that came at the tail end of the second round of a scheduled tenner.
The first round was of the feeling out variety, but Guinn starting timing his shots better in the second. Lawrence looked to work off the jab, and Guinn looked to time him with a left hook.
Guinn is never a busybody in tight, and this night was no exception. Teddy started to fixate on the silent contracts scenario in clinches, and you had to worry that this one was going to be a run-of-the mill heavyweight stinker. That is, until Guinn landed a right hand in close quarters with his back on the ropes that sent Lawrence pitching to the canvas face first with 19 seconds to go in the second. He got up at four, and took a standing eight. He fell to the canvas again as Guinn went after him, and landed another meaty right, and made it up before the ten-count. But the ref took a look at him, and even though the round ended, waved the fight to a halt. Lawrence didn't stomp or cry, or make a peep of protest.
“I thought Lawrence could have given it a little bit more of an effort,” in the studio guest Paulie Malignaggi said postbout, but admitted that it's possible the 12-year-pro may just be a bit shopworn.
This bout was Lawrence's first since Calvin Brock hit him with a picture-perfect left hook that sent him to Groggytown in February 2006. With the loss, Lawrence is again most noted for the stunning fact that he's been in 37 pro fights, and hasn't yet notched a kayo win.
Back in the studio, Robert Flores sat in for Brian Kenny and shot the bull with Malignaggi, the Magic Man from Brooklyn.
Malignaggi talked up his new alliance with Buddy McGirt, and said he missed Brooklyn, but the weather in his training camp in Florida was a plus. Malignaggi is set to face off with FNF alum Edner Cherry on Feb. 17.
In the opener, in a scheduled junior welter eight, 29-year-old Freddie Soto (entering at 9-2-2) from the Bronx met 24-year-old Rochesterian Jonathan Tubbs (coming in at 9-2-1), a lefthander.
Tubbs moved smartly, and after four rounds, Soto looked dejected in his corner. He gave up a few inches to Tubbs, and didn't look totally at ease against the southpaw. Soto didn't have the foot speed or quick enough hands to stick with Tubbs, who earned a unanimous nod from the judges, and Teddy Atlas.
Malignaggi and the stand-in chatted after the opener and delved into Malignaggi's loss to Cotto. Paulie tossed a barb at the media for saying he had a broken jaw compliments of Cotto and corrected the assertion, saying that he actually had a fractured orbital bone. I have to click over to WebMD.com to figure out what the hell the orbital bone is…
He balanced out some solid humility with a handful of third person references, but gave Cotto props for owning some seriously heavy hands. A documentary on his life, concentrating on the Cotto opportunity, is going to be released soon, Malignaggi said. Of his Feb. 17 scrap with Cherry, Malignaggi said his foe hasn't met anyone of his caliber.
“Paulie Malignaggi always comes prepared,” said Malignaggi of himself, Malignaggi.
The fighter told viewers that he's had three surgeries on his right hand, so give the Kenny stand-in props for interviewing skills.
Next week, Derric Rossy gets it on with Eddie Chambers in a battle of Gen Y heavyweights, and we were told that another mouthy Brooklynder, Zab Judah, will sit in studio and hold court.
We saw some clips of Jorge Arce, who Malignaggi said is a star in the making, and someone who can open some eyes towards the lower weight divisions.
“All these critics want to be like me,” Malignaggi said when asked about his flamboyance in the ring. “There's really no reason to criticize someone.”
Malignaggi weighed in on Saturday's Adamek/Dawson scrap, and Malignaggi said Adamek, a gym-mate at Camp McGirt, is an extremely hard worker. The Magic Man picked Adamek's experience to carry the most weight in the face-off. Adamek will have a cooler head because he's played at the high stakes table before, Malignaggi said.
Paulie also commented on Zab Judah, who's coming back on April 27 against Pito Cardona. Paulie referenced some mystery skeletons in his closet, some out-of-the-ring woes that have dragged Judah down, but Paulie recommended that we judge Judah on his ring skills, not his behavior. That isn't the way the world of professional sports works, though, as athletes are now brands unto themselves, and the public soaks up everything there is to know about them…
After Guinn did his thing, 25-year-old Brooklynder Shamir Reyes (entering at 18-5-2) took on Rochester resident Jose Leonardo Cruz (11-2-2) of Colombia in a junior lightweight attraction. This one went nowhere, as an accidental clash of heads 30 seconds in forced a premature stoppage. Cruz had a vicious gash situated over his right eye, and the doctor said no mas. The record book calls this one a No Contest.
Guinn thus got a chance to chat with Joe Tess and Teddy.
“I'm smiling but I'm not happy,” he said. Atlas went on record saying that Guinn hasn't been all he could be, and Guinn took the shot like a man.
“This year is going to be my year,” he said. “I'll come back to Buffalo and fight Joe Mesi if you want me to. All you got to do is call my name, and I'm there and willing and ready to fight.”
Paulie did a Q and A to fill some time and we learned that Paulie would fight boyhood idol Arturo Gatti only if he were paid a ton of dough, and thinks that Cotto will beat Margarito.
In the final televised tussle, 18-year-old (4-0 coming in) Darnell Jiles of Rochester met with 34-year-old (2-1) James Ventrey of Niagara Falls. Jiles has 152 amateur wins tucked under his belt. He's a polished looking lefty and he stared at Ventrey like a pitcher looks to the catcher for the sign.
Jiles got a knockdown with a left hook with 30 seconds remaining in the first. He got up and Jiles surprisingly didn't jump on him looking to close down shop. He kept in control the rest of the way, and looked like he wanted to finish things down the stretch in the fourth and final round. Jiles, a good looking youngster, took the UD4, and Ventrey earned his paycheck, every last cent.
And once again, I can refer to Guinn by his nickname, the Southern Disaster, and not cringe at the dreadful/wonderful irony.