Ismayl Sillakh was too slick, too quick, and just too good for fellow prospect Yordanis Despaigne, winning a good main event on Friday Night Fights that lived up to the hype.
Sillakh (15-0, 12 KO) opened fast and scored a nasty second round knockdown that had Despaigne (8-1, 4 KO) out of sorts into the beginning of the third round. But the 31-year-old Cuban Despaigne battled back in the middle rounds as best he could, turning it into a competitive fight again before Sillakh took over for good down the stretch.
It wasn't a fight where either man really lost much. Sillakh proved himself as a true top-tier prospect in the fight, while Despaigne's bad habits got the better of him, as you might have expected going in. Despaigne's lack of hand speed and lack of big power really does hurt him, and he just doesn't use his jab enough. He wanted to use a counter right hand early, but couldn't time Sillakh and wound up paying for it.
The ESPN2 crew may have gone a bit overboard with Sillakh being a major contender at 175 now, but he's not far off if it's going to happen. Maybe a few more fights. I wouldn't stick him in with the top guys in the division right now, but by 2012 he could be a very tough matchup for Tavoris Cloud, for instance, and there's no one in the division who is a flawless fighter by any means. He uses the speed he does have very effectively, which is something a lot of the light heavies are lacking.
In the televised co-feature, Ray Narh (25-1, 21 KO) managed to grind out a clear decision win over 41-year-old Freddie Norwood (43-4-1, 23 KO). Norwood was game early, but got frustrated with his inability to do much with the taller, younger, far fresher Narh. Norwood, who scored a legit win over Juan Manuel Marquez back in 1999, has been finished for years after missing six years of his career due to a prison stint. He was a very good fighter in his prime, but his prime was over a decade ago and he's nothing more than a veteran opponent now.
Friday Night Fights will be back in two weeks, with prospect Brad Solomon (16-0, 7 KO) against Demetrius Hopkins (30-1-1, 11 KO) in a welterweight main event. Also in action that night will be Chris Avalos (18-1, 15 KO) against Yan Barthelemy (11-2, 4 KO), and a heavyweight bout between Alonzo Butler (28-1-1, 21 KO) and Cedric Boswell (33-1, 26 KO).