In what was a pretty rough night for boxing in Chicago, fans were subjected to two split draws in the two main card bouts. Local fan-favorites Adrian Granados and Donovan George both struggled to their respective split draws in front of a very underwhelming crowd. There were far more seats empty in the UIC Pavilion than filled, and the energy never really got going.
ESPN's Friday Night Fights brought their show to town.
Carlos Molina, Mike Lee (“the Subway guy” who got some fight tips from Teddy Atlas in between fights) and Andrzej Fonfara were in the house.
Here’s what happened round-by-round:
Kermit Cintron, who’s been in with some of the best in the sport over the last several years, was making his return from a 16-month layoff as he tried to re-establish himself in the 147-lb division against local prospect Adrian Granados. Granados had only 12 pro fights entering the bout, so this clearly represented the biggest challenge of his career.
The Chicago native’s entrance to the ring was the loudest part of the night, and Cintron was booed on his way to ring while wearing a silly luchador mask.
R1: Cintron looked like the much bigger fighter (not surprising as Granados was coming up from 140, and Cintron had been recently campaigning at 154). Early on, it was tough for Granados to get inside on Cintron. Cintron looked slow, throwing looping hooks. Very little landed with significance for either fighter, so I scored it 10-10 as the fighters felt one another out.
R2: Granados mildly hurt Kermit with a solid 2-punch combo to start the round to get his hometown crowd on their feet. Cintron landed a good right, and showed that he still has some pop. Another hard shot by Granados to take the round. 10-9 Granados.
R3: Granados started looking really confident, and landed a big right. The younger Granados was not at all concerned with Cintron’s power. Cintron began holding way too much, and the crowd let him hear it. After a minute of no action, Cintron started boxing well to take the round. 10-9 Cintron.
R4: After Cintron started leaning on the smaller man to make him feel his weight, he landed a few real big shots that hurt Granados. It appeared that Cintorn was shaking off the rust. What began as a snoozefest was turning into a slugfest. Granados was hurt, but certainly game. As he was shaking off a big shot, he ate another. 10-9 Cintron, who was very fired up in between rounds. Lots of blood coming from nose of Granados.
R5: Both fighters landed a big shot to start the round, but action sizzled after that. 10-9 Granados on account of aggression. Cintron needed to take advantage of momentum he had and didn’t. Cintron simply wouldn’t commit to his power punches.
R6: Crowd roared to its feet as Granados hurts Kermit badly, and Kermit continues to hold. Granados eats a shot but answers back with one of his own. The kid is very game. Granados’ fan-friendly style will likely earn him another invitation from ESPN. 10-9 Granados.
R7: Ref finally talks to Kermit for holding, which was long overdue. Granados began tiring, losing steam on his punches. 10-9 Cintron in a round with limited action.
R8: Cintron’s holding becoming flagrant and the crowd is getting restless. Inside, he was roughing up the less experienced Granados in close quarters. Granados clearly frustrated by the excessive holding. 10-9 Cintron.
R9: With fight up for grabs, neither man does anything to show they want it. 10-9 Cintron (could have gone either way)
R10: Granados trying to close strong, while Cintron does nothing at all. With 25 seconds left in the close fight, Cintron was hurt bad! In what was the theme of the fight, Cintron did some more holding to hang on. 10-9 Granados.
Rounds for Granados: 4
Rounds for Cintron: 5
Even Rounds: 1
Official scoring: Split Draw. While the crowd was noticeably disappointed, and there was some real outrage on Twitter that Granados didn’t win, there were plenty of rounds that could have gone either way. The result really wasn’t all that unreasonable. However, a point could’ve been taken for the excessive holding on Cintron (which would have given Granados a hard-earned win).
The takeaway: Cintron did nothing to show me he’s “back”. He landed some big shots, but rarely committed to them. He never badly hurt his inexperienced foe and would likely be manhandled by the division’s elite (as he was for the last few years). I’d be far more interested to see Cintron try MMA as he once alluded to rather than see him box again. Long story short, I’d pay to see Granados again and absolutely never pay to see Kermit again.
It was now time for the main event, where local fan favorite Donovan “Da Bomb” George took on savvy veteran southpaw David Lopez. Pretty poor production by ESPN/venue as the main event fighters entered the ring with no announcement/fanfare. There was no excitement or buzz from the fans, who were down to about 350 people by the opening bell. I was curious to see how Don’s power translated as he moves down to middleweight (from 168). Historically, he’s been an extremely powerful puncher with his right hand. However, Don lacks creativity as he is essentially just a 1-2 guy (which has been why he’s lost when he steps up in competition). Here’s how it went down:
R1: Don having a tough time getting through Lopez’s tight guard, but did land the biggest shot of the round. Lopez is very much substance over style. Boring, methodical round, but Lopez landed many more punches. 10-9 Lopez.
R2: In a real quiet arena, Lopez continued throwing without much conviction, but landing a few nice lefts. Don’s lack of head movement has hurt him in past, and he was giving a limited offensive fighter in Lopez easy targets. George landed a few thudding rights to take the round 10-9. Lopez landed more clean punches, but George’s were heard throughout the disturbingly silent arena.
R3: Both guys warming up, with George the aggressor. He hurt Lopez badly with several big punches, but Lopez hung on like a true veteran and never wilted. They don’t call him George “Da Bomb” for nothing as every right hand he threw was with malicious intention. Lopez showed resilience, and continued to stick his left hand in Donovan’s face with regularity. Lopez is all substance over style as he continues to land clean shots, but there’s just no steam on them. 10-9 George based on doing some real damage.
R4: Donovan’s defense is simply bad. He didn’t slip anything and his head movement was non-existent. Lopez peppers him with jabs and unimpressive lefts, but he racks up points. 10-9 Lopez.
R5: Good right from George, but his lack of adding a 3rd punch (left hook) to his 1-2 is what’s hurting him. He’s predictable, and it keeps Lopez in the fight. With that said, some good body work from Don. Few more nice rights from Don followed by a couple nice lefts from Lopez. George’s punches were way harder. 10-9 George.
R6: Pretty even round with no major action. 10-9 George as he landed a few more solid rights.
R7: Nothing significant landed for either guy. 10-9 Lopez based on volume.
R8: Don’s losing his excitement factor simply by not throwing much. Solid left lands for Lopez, but George not impressed. Lopez continues landing at will, despite now having any meaningful power on his shots. 10-9 Lopez as George’s pace slowed.
R9: Anyone’s fight going into the final 2 rounds. Don is just throwing hail Mary rights every 25 seconds while Lopez gets in a few jabs and lefts to rack up points. Another big right from Don gets through, but that’s all he’s landed this round. 10-9 Lopez as he significantly out-landed George.
R10: In the 10th and final round of a very close fight, fans still not as loud as previous fight (pretty bizarre). George landed a huge right hand, but there was no follow up. Few more bombs for George to close the show in good fashion, but he still didn’t follow up with a left hook. Probably could have finished the fight if he has better combinations rather than throwing only 2 punches (jab, right hand) at a time. 10-9 George.
Rounds for George: 5
Rounds for Lopez: 5
Official Decision: Another split draw.
While the fans were obviously upset at seeing two draws, this was one was just. Both fighters won 5 rounds, and neither guy showed a real will to win at all costs. George easily could have one this fight by throwing more or having more diversified combinations. He didn’t, and it cost him. George is trying to shed the notion that he is merely a gatekeeper in the division, but this performance hardly told us otherwise. His massive power will only take him so far until he runs into fighters with more power, movement, and technical skill. David Lopez is pretty limited offensively, and he put on a boxing clinic against George. For George to continue to get major TV exposure, he needs to be exciting. Throwing one big punch at a time won’t get him asked back to ESPN in my opinion. His days of headlining cards at the UIC Pavillion may also be over as the tickets just didn’t tell. It should be noted that this was a poorly-promoted card as I—an avid fight fan based in Chicago--didn’t even know about it until Wednesday. The aforementioned Fonfara has sold the venue out in the past, so perhaps Don’s next fight will come on Fonfara’s undercard.
In the opening bout of the evening, local prospect Jose Arambula looked good dispatching an outclassed opponent in the first round.