The season finale of Wednesday Night Fights last night was an eventful episode, with junior middleweight prospect-turned-star Joel Julio highlighting the action with a six-round stoppage of Julio Varela in the main event.
I just now got to sit down and watch the Julio-Varela fight, and man, did Joel look good or what? There's no doubt in my mind it's time to step him back up; actually, I thought it was time a couple fights ago, but he so clearly has nothing left to prove against guys at Varela's level that it's almost insulting to keep him down there.
Julio dropped Varela with a right hand in the second round, and then followed up by flooring him again moments later with a left hook. Varela went down again in the third and fourth rounds, yet somehow (and for some reason) kept on fighting. He never backed off, and he deserves credit where credit is due: Jose Varela has guts.
It was stopped after six rounds, which was more than enough time to see who the better fighter was on this night, and likely any other night. Julio has now rattled off seven straight wins since the crushing loss to Carlos Quintana at 147 pounds. It's time for him to get in there with one of the big boys (it's a relative term) at 154 pounds. Really, I think he's got the talent to beat them all. With Julio, Alfredo Angulo and James Kirkland all rising fast, the 154-pound division could be must-see in the next couple of years.
The undercard had a wild brawl between 154-pound prospect "Mean" Joe Greene and rugged vet Jose Miguel Torres. Greene won the fight handily (118-107, 118-107, 119-106), with a 10-6 round thrown in for good measure in which Torres was both dropped and hit with a two-point deduction. The fight itself was bowling shoe ugly, with guys tasting mat and referee Tommy Kimmons involved way more than you'd like -- I'm not even really faulting Kimmons for that one, there were moments where the fight was out of hand and needed controlling. Fouls, knockdowns, and at the end of it all, Greene came away with a win he might learn something from. Though it wasn't a great test of his skills, it was a good test of his will and patience. All prospects go through that at some point.
The other fight I got to see was Kenny Galarza wiping out Devarise Crayton with a second round knockout, catching him flush with a left hook counter that simply stiffened Crayton's body up before he hit the mat. It was immediately waved off by referee Telis Assimenios, and rightfully so. Galarza is now 7-0 with seven knockouts.
Nate Campbell was in the color commentary chair for Teddy Atlas, and I thought he did an OK job. He was no Shannon Briggs, who I genuinely enjoy, but Nate gave some insight here and there and did well. He told us that he knew fellow Floridian Crayton, in particular, and that Crayton's problem was he wouldn't train. Galarza sure made Nate look good on that one.
The season finale of Friday Night Fights isn't for a while; they end on September 5, and have some decent main events between now and then. I'm really looking forward to the September 5 card, featuring James Kirkland's post-Shaw split debut against Ricardo Cortes and an intriguing fight between veterans Rolando Reyes and Ivan Valle. Valle was involved in a barnburner this past March against Jose Reyes, and this is his return from that loss.