The day that Top Rank's promotional deal with the Versus Network ends cannot come fast enough. Tonight's show featured Anthony Peterson and Vanes Martirosyan against tough veterans -- fine idea in theory, sort of, but yet another stinker when all was said and done.
I don't blame Versus for the series being terrible. Their commentators are solid and know their stuff, they present everything in the classic boxing on TV fashion, and they are gifted with the Top Rank association in that they have interesting young fighters available for broadcast.
Of course, we don't get good fights. This series has been so God awful bad that the network re-airs to this very day awful fights like Ulises Solis-Will Grigsby II and Hasim Rahman-Taurus Sykes. Neither fight wound up worth watching once, let alone several times in the next year.
From the repeated promotion of Tye Fields -- a nice guy, but a hack fighter who fights crap opponents -- to flat-out yawners like tonight's two-fight card, there is hopefully no way that Versus will renew with Top Rank, and will instead go with Golden Boy or someone else. Anyone else. Arum and Co. obviously have no real interest in broadening the scope of their series on Versus, so get them out of there and let someone else try. It can't get any worse, can it?
Anyway, tonight's fights went largely as expected, at least in terms of the winners. Anthony Peterson (27-0, 19 KO) pitched an essential shutout (120-108, 120-108, 119-109, and 118-110 on my generous card) over veteran Fernando Trejo, who had last been seen when Bobby Pacquiao knocked him out in the fourth round.
Peterson, 23, was highly tentative and seemed at times afraid to open up on Trejo, who is hardly a tricky fighter. Trejo stood right in front of Peterson, tried to come inside on him, and was met with good defense and fine fundamentals, but no sizzle from Peterson. Now, look, Anthony Peterson is 23 years old. I'm not trying to judge how he would do against top 10 opposition the way Wally Matthews did tonight. He's clearly not at that level yet. But even a half-step up against a puncher might test him the way he fought tonight. It was a solid advancement in his career, but nothing special.
The same could be said of Vanes Martirosyan (20-0, 13 KO), who beat former Winky Wright challenger Angel Hernandez (28-7, 16 KO). The 22-year old Martirosyan knocked Hernandez down in the opening round with an uppercut and stunned him a lot throughout the ten round sweep (100-89 on all three cards, and on mine). But Hernandez proved double tough, taking Martirosyan's best and staying up, even taunting him and asking for more on several occasions. But in the end, it was a one-sided beatdown that showed more than Hernandez was shot than it did anything (again) special about Martirosyan.
The fights went well for Arum's interests, and for the two winning prospects. But who watched? And what did they think after? These are valid questions.