Tonight's Friday Night Fights from Phoenix was the best of the 2011 season, with a great slugfest in the main event and knockout action on the undercard.
In that main event, hometown boy Jesus Gonzales (27-1, 14 KO) won a 12-round unanimous decision over Francisco Sierra (24-4-1, 22 KO). The fighters traded knockdowns early, both wound up cut pretty badly, and the whole thing just turned into an excellent war of attrition. The replay will be available on demand at ESPN3.com soon, and surely will find its way to YouTube soon, too. It was a great fight, one of the best of the year thus far.
Gonzales won on scores of 117-109, 116-110 and 115-111. Bad Left Hook scored it 115-111 for Gonzales. One of the more notable things that made the fight uniquely entertaining was that Sierra weighed in at 175 pounds for a 168-pound fight. Sierra took the fight on eight days' notice and was reported to have lost 12 pounds in that time. He was an odd choice for short-notice replacement, considering he fought on May 21 and weighed just under 180 pounds for that fight. The original opponent for Gonzales was supposed to be Henry "Sugar Poo" Buchanan, and options may have been limited, but everyone involved had to know that there was no way that Sierra was making weight or even getting close to it, so it was a calculated risk. In the end, it paid off, and produced a very memorable fight.
I also do have to note that the crowd at the US Airways Center was quite impressive for what was, all in all, a local-level fight. High-end local level, but definitely not a big card, not promoted by a power broker, and "only" televised on ESPN2. Steve Kim had a great Tweet during the fight that I do have to share, because it's sadly realistic, and made me laugh:
Jesus Gonzalez is a fun, flawed and entertaining fighter, who sells tickets. Which means he has no future on HBO #boxing
Also notable is that Gonzales is the last fighter to beat Andre Ward, which came a dog's age ago in the amateurs, and Ward says he got robbed. Gonzales has taken to calling out Ward, which is nice and all, but he's clearly about five steps below Ward right now, and is in no danger of landing a fight with his old amateur rival.
In the main co-feature of the night, Yaundale Evans improved to 15-0 (11 KO) after knocking down veteran Emmanuel Lucero four times en route to a sixth round stoppage victory. Lucero (26-7-1, 14 KO) was an opponent at 122 pounds for Manny Pacquiao back in 2003, and has overcome a drinking problem to get himself back in the game. He was very game and very brave tonight, and there were some great exchanges in the bout, but he just wasn't big or strong enough to either hold off or hurt Evans. The 22-year-old Evans notched his best win with this one, but expect a few more fights at this level. His first 14 were very, very soft.
The swing fight tonight even featured great action, as club fighters Janks Trotter and Arturo Crespin rematched after a technical decision draw in March. Trotter (5-0-1, 5 KO) dropped Crespin (6-2-1, 2 KO) in the first round, then knocked him flat with a massive right hand in the second round to secure the victory. The fight even had some fun background, as the Canadian Trotter once quit boxing to work on an oil rig, and Crespin was an amateur standout in his native New Mexico. Just looking at the guys, Trotter looked physically much stronger and better conditioned than Crespin, and that played out.