Devon Alexander vs Aron Martinez & Lee Selby vs Fernando Montiel
BY KID HERSH
PBC on ESPN from Arizona on a Wednesday night. First up is Lee Selby's debut with Al Haymon (21-1, 8ko's) vs longtime veteran Fernando Montiel (54-4-2, 39ko's). Montiel is a tough task to take on for your first in the country, but Montiel is definitely past his best and at the highest weight of his career. In the first round Montiel was very tight, as usual, but does not look tiny for the weight at all whatsoever - instead he looks ripped and even like he belongs at featherweight. Selby was loose and got his hands moving while Montiel was looking to pick his spots and cover up. In the second round Selby poured it on more, pushing the smaller man backwards and unloading more shots. Montiel was trying to pump himself up more instead of get into the rhythm of Selby dictating the fight but just couldn't get his offense mounted, with Selby the much longer and rangier man who was getting his shots off first but also landing from distance where Montiel couldn't possibly hope to touch him. It was more of the same through the third round and then in the fourth Montiel started landing some power shots in various spots where he saw openings in Selby's defense. Selby would take the round back over though, again using his range and accurate punching while working off of the jab. Montiel has been throwing next to nothing for jabs - something that he is no doubt far out of range for but perhaps he could work his way inside more effectively if he tried working off a jab. The rounds ensued much the same until in the sixth round it looked to my eyes like Montiel came alive more. The difference in the fight thus far has been mostly inactivity, with Selby throwing more punches and both fighters landing at the same identical clip according to the punch stats. Perhaps Montiel has been saving himself, because int he sixth round he came alive more and his signature left hook landed a few times, reddening up Selby's right eye area and drawing some blood. Despite a little bit of a tough start in the seventh Selby did manage to take control of the ring back over ini the round by using his range and footwork again - his two best attributes that have been winning him the fight previously. In the eighth round both men were showing signs of wear from the high-level it has been fought at. Selby is still the busier man, although a bit sloppier at this point in the fight, while Montiel is still sharp but trying to get off in the correct spots still. Montiel's signature left has been able to open up the cut above Selby's right eye further - spanning the length of the brow nearly - but his corner has done a great job in preventing further flow (plus Montiel is landing only in spurts, infrequently). It was more of the same leading up to the championship rounds, where it looked like despite Montiel typically having above average power, at this weight class it just either is not enough or not enough for Selby's chin. He has been able to cut up his eye well so the power is there, but Selby can take his best shot (and still respects his power). So Selby cruised down the stretch in this fight where he was highly favored to win, but as I said all along Montiel is no gimme fight even though this is the highest weight of his career. He would win the wide UD.
Before the main event there was a bit of an intermission, where Nigel Collins narrated a video on the biggest draws in boxing history and then came on tv with Teddy Atlas to discuss who the next face of boxing will be. Collins went with GGG while Atlas named a few and rested on Thurman eventually. Were I there I would simply have to say "Really guys? This is easy, Andre Ward". Especially after they both admitted that the biggest draw has always been an American that speaks English.
Main event time with Devon Alexander (26-3, 14ko's) vs Aron Martinez (19-4-1, 4ko's). It was a slow fight to start, with Martinez looking to come forward and smother Alexander (maybe in the same manner that Tim Bradley had success with?). The fans were booing in the second round pretty heavily, despite Alexander coming alive and putting in lots of work on the inside - the problem is just that not much is landing clean or doing damage. Martinez, on the other hand, is still just looking to smother his man and also land head shots instead of hand shots. Martinez started to let his hands go more in the third round, looking to land some body shots, but as usual with Martinez it is all too obvious that he does not have much power and is doing no damage, not even slowing Alexander down. The rounds ensued and not much changed, with Martinez unable to land anything of note other than head butts that are debatable if accidental or on purpose - I believe he knows exactly what he is doing because it is the only damage that he is inflicting and he has to know it. Martinez actually started to come on strong in the seventh round, perhaps winning it, and Alexander was complaining in his corner about blood in his eye with his trainer saying "What do you expect - you are in a fight! What do you want me to stop it?!" Alexander looked like he was not in the fight anymore in the eighth round, with Martinez outworking him and even pushing him around the ring. At the end of the eighth round he landed his best punch of the fight when he backed Alexander into the ropes and landed a straight right hand that snapped Alexander's head back violently. The punch did not hurt him but it sent a statementalright. The ninth round was fought on fairly even terms with the round ending on both men trading shots, much the same as the previous round and it was hard to pick between the two men. The cards came in and the upset of the year happened when Martinez won the UD with scores of 96-94, and 97-93 X2. He was as much as a 50/1 underdog on some betting lines!