South Africa's Isaac Chilemba replaced Yordanis Despaigne in tonight's ESPN Friday Night Fights main event just two weeks ago, and he made the chance count. Chilemba won a clear unanimous decision over veteran slugger Edison Miranda on scores of 97-91, 96-92, and 96-92. Bad Left Hook scored it 97-91 for Chilemba.
Chilemba (19-1-1, 9 KO) didn't look particularly good in the early stages of the fight, as he was a bit off-balance and seemed slightly uncomfortable against Miranda, who was boxing patiently and landing the better shots in the opening two rounds.
In the third round, the two clashed heads hard, with both coming in head first, which opened a cut outside of Miranda's left eye. The cut immediately began pouring blood, which would eventually wind up all over those seated ringside, including ESPN commentators Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas.
From that point on, it was Chilemba's fight.
After the cut, Miranda (35-7, 30 KO) lost his focus too often, and the 24-year-old Chilemba gradually figured out how to take advantage of the Colombian's aggression and his usual stamina issues, which were likely accelerated by the constant blood loss.
Chilemba began boxing far more effectively, getting in close and scoring, and then getting out before Miranda, who pawed at the cut repeatedly, could fire back. Miranda had his moments during the rest of the fight, and stayed in it, but Chilemba was simply too well-rounded a fighter for Miranda to defeat.
At 31, Miranda is clearly nothing more than a gatekeeper anymore, but like we said before, a good gatekeeper. He's not the puncher he was at 160, but he's still got above average power, and if a guy's a true pretender, one figures Miranda has the dynamite left to snuff him out. Chilemba may indeed be developing into a legitimate contender.
It was ballsy matchmaking by Warriors Boxing to call on Chilemba to replace Yordanis Despaigne, and as usual, Miranda didn't shy away from the challenge. On paper, this was a tough fight for the veteran, and it turned out to be more than he could handle.
One notable moment came about a minute into the fifth round, when referee Robert Byrd docked both men a point for rabbit punching. The double deduction is a rare sight.
On the undercard, Rances Barthelemy outpointed Hylon Williams Jr in a battle of lightweight prospects, and in the night's comedy fight, heavyweight Magomed Abdusalamov stayed unbeaten, improving to 13-0 (13 KO) with a TKO-2 win over fat Cuban Pedro Rodriguez (8-1, 6 KO).
There's really no other way to describe Rodriguez -- the man is fat and clearly his body is not meant to carry 245 pounds. His gut hung over his trunks to the point that a low blow would have hit nothing but belly flesh. After Rodriguez threw and landed a few right hands in the first round, Abdusalamov hit him in the beer belly a couple of times, and Rodriguez pretty quickly wilted and folded.