Joel Julio, looking to regain his status as an ultra-hot prospect, headlined ESPN's Friday Night Fights, from the Cobo Center in Detroit. He showed off impressive focus, so if anyone was thinking that his first loss last year was going to drain his resolve, he showed notice that would be a faulty assumption. Julio came in with a 29-1 record, versus an 11-3-2 mark for opponent Thomas Davis. The Colombian welter/junior middle Julio, still climbing up from a loss to Carlos Quintana in June 2006, showed he is a different grade boxer than Davis, and closed the show at 2:48 of the seventh with a straight right, after dumping a heap of abuse on the loser. Davis went to the canvas, and Julio dropped in a vicious left hook to his side for good measure. The less celebrated boxer enjoyed a significant height advantage, as he looked a whole head taller than Julio. He also impressed guest analyst Bernard Hopkins with a snappy jab and smart usage of his reach. But Julio placed his punches smartly from the start, and hurt Davis a bit with a sharp right in the second. I must mention his stellar corner–Julio has been working with Pernell Whittaker and Mark Breland in the gym. Hopkins, for the record, proved to be a deft analyst. He provided a balance between allowing the viewer to soak in the sites, and commenting, noted that Julio mixed speeds adeptly.

The daughter of ex NFLer Charlie Sanders, Mary Jo Sanders (was 23-0), being pitched as an opponent for Laila Ali; she took on rugged gamer Mahfood (was 19-12-3), who wore a studded dog collar for the pre-fight ESPN interview. Oh, and she had a purple Mohawk on top of her head. The middleweights looked like they wouldn't get out of the first, as Mahfood ate a bunch early. She got into the second, and ate some more. But she kept pressing onward, to her credit. Sanders, who gets in and gets out and moves her feet to great advantage, was simply of a different class. Mahfood just swallowed punches in the seventh and was forced to hug Sanders, and take her down to the canvas, but she landed some body work of her own earlier in the round. Laila wasn't too impressed, saying that she feels like she's “100 times stronger” than Sanders. The judges gave Sanders, who landed 50% of her blows, the nod, in unanimous fashion. Brian Kenny, Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas were out, working the Contender show in England. Robert Flores sat in the studio with guest analyst Laila Ali, taking a break from Dancing With the Stars. Todd Harris and Hopkins worked in place of Joe Tessitore and Atlas. Laila got off to a spicy start, telling viewers that Valerie Mahfood, set to fight in the co-feature, didn't have much left because she “beat her like she's my child, twice.” Someone alert Child Protective Services… Ali said Dancing is on her plate because boxing wasn't firing her up, and she's grooving on the show. She said she likes getting glammed up, getting away from the dirty jockstraps and spitbuckets. In a filler spot, Frank O'Neill (8-0-2 coming in) took on lightweight Kevin Carmody (8-7-2 coming in). Hopkins gave Carmody a 40-37 win, and the judges scored it 40-36, 40-36, 39-37, Carmody. All in all, an OK show, could've been worse if not for the ruggedness of the opposition, Davis and Mahfood, who both could've folded up their tent and bolted the campground early on… Both earned their fee, big time…