Sean Monaghan vs Donovan George & Brad Solomon vs Ray Serrano
BY KID HERSH
TruTV Friday Night Knockout from Brooklyn. First up was the undefeated Brad Solomon (25-0, 8ko’s) vs Ray Serrano (21-2, 9ko’s). In the first round it was mainly a feeler, with both men trying to get the jab working while feeling the other out. Solomon was leaving his hands very low and getting cocky but he was not landing much while lightly pressing the action. In the second round Solomon was very cocky still, dropping his hands and trying to wade inside behind no punches or no defense. He has good reflexes, which is the only reason he isn’t getting tagged. Serrano’s best punch was a left hand that Serrano walked straight into in the closing seconds of the round, sending him off balance and down. But the referee ruled it a push – which send Mancini on a small rant questioning why it isn’t a knockdown. It was indeed a punch the replay would show – but a pretty weak one that also did have a “pushing look” to it. Nonetheless I agree with Mancini here; that was a knockdown. In the third round Serrano showed that he has gained confidence as he not only stayed in the pocket more but also was pressing Solomon. Solomon still looks terrible to me as he imitates Roy Jones Jr. with his hands low, feet wide, inviting punches to be thrown and trying to counter with knockout shots. It is not working, and instead he is throwing the fight away. In the fourth round the fighters were landing quite a few punches to the body but still mostly whiffing to the head. Solomon started to take the fight back over to end the fourth round and he carried that momentum into the fifth, where he controlled the pace and distance of the fight with his awkward movement which has Serrano not throwing punches and trying to react. When Serrano throws combinations he lands and does well, but when he tries to react with a counterpunch he is losing this fight. Roy Jones came on the telecast (from the audience) in the sixth round to say that Solomon “would be a bad boy” if he got power in addition to emulate his own style like he is doing. Solomon took over the fight further in the seventh, prompting Buddy McGirt to basically beg his man to throw more punches – which he did heading out right away in the eighth round with a left-right-left combination landing the final blow to set a new tempo. Serrano then landed a left hand (right when Mancini asked for it!) a little under a minute into the round that cracked home and momentarily hurt Solomon for the first time in the fight. Solomon laughed it off like a pro, which may have worked in backing Serrano off, but the shot really did hurt him and definitely stunned him momentarily – which I think Serrano missed. Serrano then backed off for the remainder of the round in a very puzzling manner, considering he actually had the momentum going for the first time in a long time and perhaps for the first time in the fight in the manner he did. This then Solomon back into the round that Serrano had going, as he evened the score to end it by hurting Serrano with a cracking right hand – his best of the fight. The ninth round was a bit sloppy but it was probably another Solomon round, with Serrano looking like a combination of confused and not really wanting to press the fight at all. Everyone was hoping that in the tenth round these fighters would finally let it all hang out, but it was not to be as the round was pretty messy and neither guy really let it all hang out. Solomon would win the UD wide, with one card even having it a shutout for him. I think it was closer as the other cards had it but the right guy won since Serrano never really went for it and looked confused for a lot of the fight.
Next up was the main event with Donovan George (25-4-2, 22ko’s) vs Sean Monaghan (25-0, 16ko’s). Monaghan is an odler fighter at 34 years old, but he is a bit of a local sensation as he got his fighting in on the streets and at the bars and has so far translated that into fighting in the ring as a pro. George, on the other hand, is fighting at the highest weight of his career and is thought to be past it considering all the wars he has been in and his record of late. Nonetheless this is still a step up fight for Monaghan but I wouldn’t consider it a huge one. The first round was pretty measured to start, with George being comfortable and looking to measure out his man. Monaghan was tight to start but then got going near the end of the round, letting some combinations go and landing them near the end of the round while backing up George into the ropes to show that he was the stronger fighter. George was still looking to set traps and counterpunch in the second round, which is very surprising, but perhaps it is because Monaghan is pressing harder and noticeably the bigger and stronger man with punishing blows that George cannot get away from (as I recall before the fight he even said forget winning by decision and that he isn’t in there to be a defensive wizard). In the third round Monaghan was breaking down George to my eyes – punishing him to the body and expending all of George’s energy in not only reacting to him but had him trying to minimize damage while fighting Monaghan off in spots but not doing any damage of any sort himself. This became more apparent in between rounds and in the fourth when it was revealed that he re-injured his right hand that he had surgery on 14 months ago. He was also wincing in pain whenever he threw it and also shaking it off in spots and looking at it. To start the fifth round the doctor took a look at George and was asking about his hand – to which George responded over and over to let him fucking fight and let him go out on his shield. They let him fight and boy was the fifth round something else to see as George is punching with an injured (probably broken) right hand and looking to not go down without a fight but yet putting it all out there in trying to take out Monaghan. It was a very very special round – maybe the round of the year – to see this show of heart and toughness. He landed some great shots to boot but he just isn’t hurting the larger man. Monaghan at this point is just staying consistent for the entire fight – going to the body in spots, and working off of a standard 1-2 while keeping the pressure on. George made it through the sixth round but is finally looking weary and worn out from the punishment and pain he is enduring. In the coming rounds Monaghan still maintained his pace and what he was doing, just like a statuesque machine, while George was flailing at times (especially in the ninth round) but pulling all the tricks out of his bag to make it through the rounds. He showed that toughness that we all know about in taking some hellacious right hands in the ninth and not being moved by them to the point of the referee stopping the fight. And make no mistake, the referee is looking for a reason to stop the fight. In the tenth round George at this point looked like the taller and bigger man in the fight – literally – as he was proud to go the distance on his feet while standing his ground as much as possible. Once again here, George is winning the fans over while losing a fight – just like the Adonis Stevenson fight where he was knocked down five times but left the arena to cheers instead of the boos he received before the fight started. George would finish the fight wincing in pain and throwing punches in bunches while landing some good ones but he just couldn’t move the ex-bricklayer. He won the fans though here tonight, no doubt.