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Bad Left Hook Fight of the Month Poll: April 2009

Some good stuff this month after a shallow March that at least had one truly great fight that definitely deserves its FotM status.

Past winners:

January 2009: Antonio Margarito v. Shane Mosley (53%)

February 2009: Juan Manuel Marquez v. Juan Diaz (93%)

March 2009: Ricardo Cordoba v. Bernard Dunne (81%)

Instead of adding new notes, I'm just going to put our post-fight thoughts from the original articles, since those really describe things better, I feel.

Here are the contenders for April:

Vicente Escobedo v. Carlos Hernandez, April 4

Hernandez went down in the first round. He went down again in the second. He later scored a knockdown on Escobedo when he accidentally stepped on his lead foot and Escobedo tripped up. But the 38-year old Hernandez, who was undersized and outgunned, showed remarkable courage and made this a fight to remember, a war of attrition that joins the short list of 2009 Fight of the Year candidates with Marquez-Diaz and Dunne-Cordoba. Escobedo (20-1, 13 KO) became, as Doug Fischer said, a man with this fight. For Hernandez (43-8-1, 24 KO) this was likely the end of the line. He said he'd retire if he lost this fight. He hugged Escobedo at the start of the 12th round and when the final bell rang, the two received a well-earned standing ovation. The fight was simply outstanding, rough and tumble with two guys who badly needed the win and fought like it. If this truly is the end of Hernandez's career, he went out on his shield like so many great warriors before him have. Happy trails, Carlos, and thanks for one more great fight.

Timothy Bradley v. Kendall Holt, April 4

Bradley (24-0, 11 KO) unified his WBC 140-pound title with Holt's WBO strap, and put himself in position for a fight with a bigger star, though that may end up just being Nate Campbell and not the Hatton-Pacquiao winner or anything. For Holt (25-3, 13 KO) this was a heartbreaker, as he lost on scores of 115-111 (twice) and 114-112. Both guys were in good form, the fight was pretty crisp and moved quickly, and Bradley proved for certain he's no one-fight wonder, he's a world class guy at 140 pounds. Holt also acquitted himself pretty nicely against a good boxer. The two competitors exhibited great respect for the other man, which might explain why their forced trash talk was so awkward in the build-up for this fight.

Ulises Solis v. Brian Viloria, April 18

Brickhaus handled this one:

In a spectacular bout, Viloria knocked out Solis in the waning seconds of the 11th round. Both fighters really gave all they could in the ring. Viloria was Solis early in the fight, landing the bigger shots, and wobbling Solis a few times, but every time he had Solis hurt, Solis would fall back into the ropes and Viloria would throw a wild combination that would mostly miss. He did manage to open cuts over both of Solis's eyes, including a gusher near his left eye, but Solis's corner did a great job of patching them up and they didn't become a major distraction. In the middle rounds, Solis came back to control much of the fight from the middle of the, being more aggressive and stalking down Viloria, throwing lots of good jabs and doing nice work to the body, but Viloria still having a lot of nice spots where he'd hit the mark with big counters. In the later rounds, Viloria's corner really admonished him not to let another title fight fall out of his grasp, and he turned the aggressiveness back up to 11. Every time Solis came in, Viloria came right back with twice what Solis dished out. And finally, with seconds to go in the 11th, Viloria landed a picture perfect right hand on the chin that wobbled Solis's knees and put him down. It didn't look like he was so hurt that he couldn't get up, but he just didn't have enough breath and energy left to get back up. He was on his knees, on the floor, helpless to get up until the referee hit 10, and Brian Viloria was a titlist once again.

It's a great start of a second act for Viloria, who said after the fight that he would have contemplated retiring had he lost the fight. He fought five times last year, and while he didn't face worldbeaters, it was the trip down the Yellow Brick Road that Viloria needed, and the Tin Man was able to find his heart. For Solis, it was a nice run, and he should be back. He's still a very good fighter, and he showed a ton of heart and grit. He makes great fights, and here's to hoping he can make it onto US TV more often in the future.

Cory Spinks v. Deandre Latimore, April 24

Spinks (37-5, 11 KO) won on scores of 115-112, 114-113 and 112-115 despite being dropped in the first round by the fast-starting, younger Latimore (19-2, 16 KO). Latimore seemed to lose a lot of steam after the first four or five rounds, and a sloppy, clearly declining or at least really rusty Spinks was able to take advantage and swing the fight in his favor for the majority of the latter half of the contest.

It was a decent showing for the young Latimore, whose offense needs straighter punches and whose defense needs to start existing, but it was clear he just wasn't quite ready for a deep fight. He was really exhausted in the 12th and final round, which essentially won the fight for Spinks. Latimore looked like a stiff breeze could've blown him over in the waning moments.

For Spinks, it's another recognized world title and a chance to get back into the mix at 154 pounds. Most probably hoped he would stay gone, but give credit where it's due: As sloppy and rusty as he looked, he came to fight tonight. He didn't run at all. Rather, he was generally the pursuer against Latimore, walking him down and testing his reserves. He wore on him a ton by staying in the pocket endlessly and leaning on the young man. In the end, Spinks' mid-rounds adjustment and savvy wound up paying off.

Carl Froch v. Jermain Taylor, April 25

Carl Froch stunned Jermain Taylor with a late comeback that resulted in a stoppage with just 16 seconds left in the fight, keeping his WBC super middleweight title and his undefeated record, and sending Taylor's career back into limbo.

Taylor (28-3-1, 17 KO) lost his third fight in his last four outings, and it came with the same questions that were raised against Kelly Pavlik. Taylor started hot and was downright dominating Froch for much of the fight. I had him up 106-102 going into the final round -- Taylor had used a piston-like jab and some good power shots, decking Froch in the third round. It was the first time Froch has been down in his pro career, and he recovered quite well. But the difference in handspeed, athleticism and skill was clear much of the fight.

However, in the middle rounds, Taylor seemed to slow down just a bit. He was still winning the fight, but in the final few rounds, it was Froch who took over. In the 12th round, he attacked Taylor with a ferocity, clearly feeling he needed the KO. He turned out to be right: Two of the official judges had it 106-102 Taylor, same as I did.

Froch floored Taylor, who tried desperately to hang on. With 16 seconds left, the referee jumped in to stop Froch's massive assault -- it was the right call. Even though there was almost no time left in the fight, Taylor couldn't be allowed to be pounded on anymore.

Juan Manuel Lopez v. Gerry Penalosa, April 25

Note: This fight is being included mostly out of respect for Penalosa's Herculean effort to stay on his feet under a massive assault against Lopez. It's unreal that he wasn't knocked out, knocked down, or seriously hurt in the fight. This is sort if in the Margarito-Mosley camp of super entertaining, one-sided fights.

Juan Manuel Lopez beat the hell out of Gerry Penalosa for nine rounds before Freddie Roach stopped the fight on behalf of Penalosa. Lopez (25-0, 23 KO) was completely dominant, breaking down Penalosa's defense and just wailing on him for most of the fight. Penalosa went out a warrior, falling to 54-7-2 (36 KO). It may well be his final fight, but who knows? He turned it into a firefight and it didn't work out, but he sure as hell went at it hard.

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