Ruslan Provodnikov vs John Molina Jr, Demetrius Andrade vs Nelson, Zlaticanin vs Mamani
BY KID HERSH
From the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona New York came Showtime Championship Boxing. After the broadcast started with Ali tributes and memoirs from the team the night was kicked off with Dejan Zlaticanin (17-0, 10ko's) vs Franklin Mamani (21-2-1, 12ko's). In the first round Zlaticanin landed a left to the top of Mamani's head only fifteen seconds into the round that wobbled him. The shot was near the temple and it buckled Mamani's legs very noticeably. Zlaticanin followed up but clearly was not overly excited about an early stoppage win. Mamani regrouped and was able to make it through the round although he threw very few shots. In the second round both men looked very predictable, as Paulie Malignaggi pointed out, but in the third round Zlaticanin was able to catch. Mamani on the top of the head again - near the temple area like in the first round. The shot buckled his legs and made it clear that for whatever reason Zlaticanin did find a huge chink in the armor in the first round. Mamani was able to stay on his feet (minus getting pushed down) but the referee had to stop the bout due to his awkward way of taking shots - which was to absorb the full blow as he looked like one of those guys off the street that is worse than not having a defense because he actually seems to absorb everything the punch has to offer. So, the fight was stopped and Zlaticanin became the first Montenegran to become a world champion - with none other than the same belt that Hector Camacho won over thirty years ago. Fitting, with Camacho's induction coming tomorrow.
Next up was Demetrius "Boo Boo" Andrade (22-0, 15ko's) vs Willie Nelson (25-2-1, 15ko's). In the first round it was all Andrade, as Nelson came forward behind a guard but was not getting his shots off due to Andrade's excellent footwork. He landed a straight left through Andrades guard late in the round - with the shot stunning Nelson and backing him up. Andrade smelled blood and pursued his wounded man, scoring a knockdown off of a beautiful right hook flush to the chin. Nelson rose and made it through nearly an entire minute being hurt but this is nothing new as we all know he is a warrior that comes in tip top shape and ready to fight every time out. Nelson was a punching bag until the end of the third round when the announcing crew missed the fact that Andrade got hurt when he was bulling Nelson into the ropes. With less than a minute left in the third round Nelson landed a vicious uppercut while his back was on the ropes that violently snapped Andrades head back. He was hurt and so he bulled forward into Nelson to smother further damaging shots. The referee finally broke them up and Andrade got nailed by a right hand that sent him back further to end the round. Andrade came out looking slightly renewed in the fourth but I sensed a bit of urgency to his attack and demeanor. He looked as if he was being forced to fight a pace that he did not want to. Sure he was landing many shots and controlling the entire ring but really I thought that he was not relaxed and his punches were wild and looping at times because of it. In the fifth round Andrade showed some great athleticism when he landed a beauty of a lead uppercut just over thirty seconds into the round. He was very fun to watch but I think people were missing the fact that this is not his usual style of fighting - it was in fact far from it. He is handling the pressure but clearly bothered by Nelson, despite handling it well. In the sixth round Andrade settled down into more of a boxers rhythm that I expected from the start. The next couple rounds were still all Andrade, who I see committing some errors while still dominating the fight. One of which is when he leans over towards Nelson's power hand. Sure, he appears to be positioning himself far too low for Nelson to hit, but I would argue that there are times he could easily get caught whether it is an uppercut or a shot to the back of the head that could really hurt him. By the time the tenth round rolled by Andrade was really starting to beat up on Nelson, who is back to a heavybag standing in front of Andrade to fire off at. At the end of the tenth round he fired off about a fifteen punch combo that went unanswered, to show the dominance gap. He dropped Nelson with a right hook behind the guard with only a couple seconds left in the eleventh - with the bell saving him from a sure knockout if there would have been time left in the round. In the twelfth and final round Andrade got a rare knockout after two more knockdowns, with Nelson completely spent. Overall I would say it was of course a good showing against a solid opponent but I do not agree with a virtuoso performance like it is being chalked up as in many corners. Andrade has gaps in his game to work on yet, or else I expect them to exploited against top guys in the division.
A final ten count was tolled for the greatest of all times Muhammad Ali before the main event which featured Ruslan Provodnikov (25-4, 18ko's) vs John Molina Jr. (28-6, 23ko's). Molina rehydrated to a whopping 160lbs tonight - a 20lb gain overnight! In the first round Molina was looking to box as he moved around the ring and landed jabs and powwerful body shots. Provodnikov was not cutting the ring off, instead following Molina around and not getting off much of any punches. The fight turned to an inside one in the second round as Molina came forward and showed the massive size difference (which is literally a middleweight fighting a welterweight) as he was able to back up Provodnikov - who is rarely, if ever, backed up in the ring to this point in his career. Molina was still winning the exchanges as he was landing more shots both in jabs and power connects. It wasn't until the fourth round that Provodnikov had success as he landed some flush power shots to the head of Molina instead of just the body. The succes did not last though as Molina went right back to being the ring general in the fifth round, working off of a great jab and controlling the ring no matter whether he was on the inside or outside. In the sixth round the fight almost turned comical as Molina showed his dominance by throwing a 1-2, taking a step back, and simply repeating the same thing for what seemed like ten times straight at about the one minute mark in the sixth. He continued doing it but disguised lining up Molina with his left by letting his jab linger in Provo's face - essentially holding his spot for the right to come behind it. The only real success Provodnikov was having was an occasional power left hook landing flush but they were very few and far between. Molina was throwing nearly a hundred punches per round but many of them were jabs. He was doing an excellent job of throwing lots of arm p0unches to land and keep Provodnikov occupied but then he was sitting down on occasional shots to do some damage as well - as evidenced by Provodnikovs red and swelling face. Over the course of the next couple rounds it turned into more of a chess match as Molina was controlling the distance with less punches and Provodnikov looked like he simply could not get his punches off. Provo was bouncing on his toes and looked like he had plenty of energy but he was not punching often. He was also breathing through his wide open mouth - but again did not look like a spent fighter. The story then got even weirder in the eleventh round as Provodnikov outboxed Molina! he got back on his toes and moved laterally to confuse Molina. The movement and unpredictable outbursts negated the effective jab that Molina had been controlling him with throughout the fight and caused him to reset frequently. Both fighers left it all in the ring in the twelfth and final round - with Molina gettiing super active again and seize control of the fight in the type of manner he wanted it to go. The UD would indeed go to Molina and it was well deserved. He threw over 600 jabs in the fight, which off the top of my head I cannot even remember the last time I have seen that many thrown (effective to boot).