I elected to watch Wednesday Night Fights a few moments before the broadcast tonight. Usually I go out on Wednesdays and delight the very earth with my karaoke stylings, but since I've got a nasty spring cold that I'm starting to recover from, I decided instead to sit in and watch the fighs. Plus, I like both guys who were in the main event.
I'm sure you've heard by now that former lightweight champ and P4P contender Stevie Johnston was knocked out in the 10th round by Edner Cherry. It was the third time in the fight that he tasted canvas, and it was a brutal shot. Cherry more or less plunged his right hand through Johnston's face, and the valiant 35-year old ex-titlist hit the mat hard, his head slamming down like a basketball being dribbled on a wood floor.
Johnston would remain down for medical attention, but appeared to be relatively fine after what was a momentary scare.
This is the second straight ESPN boxing card where we've seen guys reach the end of the line. Last Friday, Chris Byrd was destroyed by lightly-regarded Shaun George, and last night, we not only saw Stevie Johnston knocked out again, but we saw Freddie Norwood brutally dropped by Johnnie Edwards in the televised opener. Both men should consider their careers over, simple as that. If they don't, they're going to wind up getting hurt.
Stevie was a hell of a fighter and a great guy to root for. He was one of the best in the sport for a time. But watching him get knocked around by Edner Cherry was tough. He just doesn't have the legs any longer. He's been living on borrowed time since his 2003 TKO loss to Juan Lazcano. Since that fight, he's gone a respectable 7-3, but who has he beaten? The best fighter in those seven wins is probably Steve Quinonez back in 2006. He did beat Humberto Toledo last year, but Toledo has been thrashed by all three of the worthwhile fighters he's ever faced (Johnston, Humberto Soto, and Lamont Peterson).
He was manhandled by Vivian Harris in 2006. Rolando Reyes gave him a beatdown last October. And now Cherry has notched Stevie on his belt. I'm not saying Stevie couldn't make an OK living fighting and beating guys like Dairo Esalas (which he did in March). But he really doesn't seem like the type of fighter that is content with mediocrity. He'll always try to take on another younger, stronger fighter to get back into contention. And he'll get waxed in the process.
It was a damn fine career. It's time for it to be called off.
In the co-feature, Johnnie Edwards knocked the crap out of Freddie Norwood with a seventh round temple shot, which probably puts the stamp on the 38-year old Norwood's career. At this age, it's sad for Norwood, another former world titleholder and one-time conquereor of Juan Manuel Marquez, to be fighting eight round openers on Wednesday Night Fights. And Edwards pounded on him for much of the bout. I was never a Norwood fan like I am a Johnston fan, but he's another guy that's just at the finish line. Past it, really.
The other televised bout featured 43-year old ex-cruiserweight star Arthur Williams mopping up a bum by the name of Clarence Moore. Should Moore ever read this, I hope that doesn't totally offend him. But he's a 33-year old man with a 5-4-1 record. Why was this fight on television? Williams, if you care to know, looked every bit his age, but at no point in his life has Moore been as good a fighter as even the 43-year old Williams is.
Williams fought a lot of good fighters in his younger days. O'Neil Bell twice, David Haye, Vadim Tokarev, Chris Byrd, Kelvin Davis, Vassily Jirov, Orlin Norris twice. He lost to all of them. But he did beat a 39-year old Dwight Muhammad Qawi in 1992.
It was an interesting card on a lot of levels, and one that reminded us all of how far ESPN's boxing coverage has fallen over the years. We still get some great fights on the network that produce superb action, but this was a card that showcased the worst side of the network, with has-been fighters taking up TV time that could've been better spent elsewhere.
I would like to say that the crowd at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, NC, was outstanding, though. Marines make for a nice fight atmosphere, and ex-Marine Johnnie Edwards did them proud.