Oscar Valdez vs Chris Avalos & Aaron Pryor Jr vs Jesse Hart
BY KID HERSH
TruTV Friday Night Knockouts from Las Vegas the night before the big fight. First up was Aaron Pryor Jr. (19-8,1, 12ko's) vs Jesse Hart (17-0, 14ko's). In the first round Hart was all over Pryor, doing pretty much anything that he wanted to because Pryor was moving about the ring but offering nothing for resistance. If he threw a dozen punches this round then about ten of them came in the final thirty seconds of the round when he came to life a little bit. It looked like Hart hurt him a couple times - both in the middle of the round with a good power combination that he threw and also at the end of the round. Pryor is going to have to get active here because while he is staying on the outside and moving it doesn't matter one bit because he is getting tagged and out-gunned for every second thus far. In the second round Pryor offered a little more resistance but his punches were off balance, slow, and not hitting the mark as they whirled through the air from his long arms at such a slow rate you could have text messaged Hart what was coming. Hart, on the other hand, is not hitting the mark as much - either because some resistance is being offered or because he has not changed anything up. His punches are the same as the first round and he is not going to the body at all as Mancini pointed out - he is head hunting and throwing overhand rights that are not the best punch against a tall opponent. They worked the first round but it is time to adjust your arsenal and look at the long-term for the fight, not getting stuck in the same gear from big success early on. In the third round Pryor was not looking good at all, looking like he did not want to get hit as he squinted/winced every time Hart lunged in with punches. Hart was smothering his own shots though, lunging in and not throwing straight. He was landing but he was also buying Pryor time and allowing him to clinch. In the fourth round Pryor gained some confidence from throwing more shots and that really showed in the fifth, where he stood with confidence and unloaded punches. He has this opportunity because Hart is getting really sloppy, really ugly with his shots and this allows Pryor to get his off unlike early in the fight. Hart is still winning but the margin is not a blowout like early on. Hart continued putting in his physical work in the coming rounds, not putting much science into his shots or strategy and just bulling forward with power shots. The strategy was working but he is making this a much uglier fight than it should be, in my opinion. The fight changed a bit in the ninth round, with Hart throwing out a straight, hard jab, like he did earlier in the fight. He was still not putting his punches together at all whatsoever as he would land the stiff jab and then nothing would come behind it except for a clinch as he fell in, or it would be a looping right hand from left field that would hit shoulder or the back of the head of Pryor. But he did manage to land one of these shoulder rights late in the ninth round to the chin of Pryor. The punch hurt him and Hart went on the attack - eventually prompting referee Tony Weeks to call a halt to the fight despite Pryor likely being able to continue (it was pointless though at this point). Ugly win for Hart who needs to work on a lot of skills ranging from discipline (with a game plan and straight shots) to footwork to combination punching and setting up his power shots. Still a very very raw talent that reminds me of Broner a bit in that he needs to develop his craft before he hails himself as the greatest (Hart has quite the ego).
Next up was the main event with veteran (at only 25 years old!) California Chris Avalos (26-3, 19ko's) vs the fast rising prospect Oscar Valdez (16-0, 14ko's). In the first round Avalos went right at Valdez, who was mostly standing his ground and countering but was showing great footwork as well as Avalos went right at him in a straight line and Valdez used lateral movement and angles to get the better of the American. Valdez showed just how well rounded he is in the second round, where he moved, stood his ground, countered, lead, did all kinds of different things to come out on top of the action. Avalos was trying hard but he is just outgunned here you can already tell, with Valdez on a different level. Valdez is not only more skilled but he has the quicker and more powerful hands to boot! Early in the third round Avalos walked into a left hook that shook his legs, but ever the game fighter he continued forward. Valdez, on the other hand, showed that he is a very smart fighter by biding his time and knowing that the fight was his at this point and did not rush anything at all despite the massive success (take note Jesse Hart). Valdez landed another left hook just like it at the end of the third round that again wobbled Avalo's legs but this time they completely failed him, going out from under him and putting him down for the first time in the fight. He rose but was lucky that the round was over by the time he made the count. In the fourth round Avalos continued forward in the same fashion as the previous rounds, squaring himself up to make for an easy target for the quicker, sharpshooting Valdez - who at this point is just picking his spots easily. Avalos did not look ok this round with his legs still just not quite right beneath him. In the fifth round Valdez came out guns blazing and he hurt Avalos right away again but then backed off, again being a very smart fighter that has "next level skills" as Bradley commented. The referee stepped in to stop the fight midway through the round when Avalos again was on wobbly legs, semi out on his feet but not totally gone just yet. Good stoppage though, nothing he could do at this point was going to win the fight. Valdez, on the other hand, looks like a serious blue-chipper that has crazy good skills. Bob Arum has a nice prospect here that could be something very special.