It sure as hell wasn't pretty, but it was great. Guillermo Jones stunned the Moscow fans in attendance at Crocus City Hall today, stopping home favorite Denis Lebedev in the 11th round, when the Russian southpaw simply could not continue on any further after a brutal war that tested the wills and resolve of both men, who proved their toughness many times over.
Jones (39-3-2, 31 KO) was fighting for the first time since late 2011, and despite some awkward moments early and some energy issues here and there, didn't look like he'd missed a beat during his absence. The 6'4" Panamanian was able to use his big reach advantage to catch Lebedev (25-2, 19 KO) with several long right hands, keeping his jab involved enough to make a difference, and finding a consistent home for a right uppercut, as well.
In the very first round, Lebedev, 33, suffered a bad cut that only got worse. By the end of the night, Lebedev's right eye was in as gruesome a state as I can remember seeing in modern boxing. Here's how he looked as he saluted the crowd after the bout:
Lebedev fought at least half of the bout essentially with one functioning eye. The photo here doesn't even quite do the injury justice, since it's been cleaned up, blood wiped away, and finally settling.
There's a legitimate chance that this fight may have ruined the remainder of Lebedev's career. Though his performance was very admirable and he delivered a ton of strong shots that Jones, 41, simply walked through somehow, there's just no question that referee Stanley Christodoulou allowed this fight to go on far too long, as did Lebedev's corner, as did the commission, though it was hard to tell if there even was a doctor for this fight. Lebedev took sustained punishment, round after round, to an eye that was busted open pretty heavily in the first round of the fight. It became brutal after a while to watch the pummeling of the injury continue on, ceaselessly.
For Jones, it's obviously a very big win, one of the best of his career. It would be great if we could expect to see him fight again later this year, or even early next year, but there's no counting on that. He's notoriously lazy about his schedule, and Don King is the perfect promoter to give you all the rope you want on that front.
For those who missed this fight, definitely track it down -- this was a war, pure and simple, and beyond worth watching.