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Hopkins-Jones Undercard: Final Thoughts

Since I didn't go too much into the PPV undercard last night in the Hopkins-Jones recap, let's do that now.

Jason Litzau TD-7 Rocky Juarez

This wasn't the exciting fight it could have been. It went the fight's other potential way: Juarez and Litzau were both tentative, and neither of them ever really opened up. Litzau was booed pretty heavily by the audience after the fight, which I thought was rather unfair to him. I had him leading 67-66 on my card when the fight was stopped, and I feel he deserves the win. The crowd was probably booing so much because they thought Litzau wasn't a warrior or didn't have a Spartan heart!!! or whatever, but the doctor stopped the fight, not Litzau. His eye was nearly swollen shut and he probably couldn't see much. Litzau may not be the all-action guy he has a reputation as being (that has really slowed down after his two bad losses), but he's not a wimp, either. I felt bad for him having to soak in boos he really hadn't earned.

Meanwhile, Juarez was cheered, which I found just as puzzling, but also assume has something to do with the crowd assuming Juarez was gaining momentum (he might have been), and that Juarez deserved to have the fight finish. But if the boos were at all because the fight itself was pretty dull, I blame Juarez before I do Litzau. Why would Litzau storm at a guy who's a better inside fighter than he is, who can punch, when Juarez wasn't going to make him do that?

As always, Rocky Juarez came into the fight saying, "I know I start slow, I need to start quicker." But he didn't do that. After the fight, he said he was planning to turn it up in the last few rounds. He had the eighth, ninth and tenth rounds to turn up the heat, and sure he could have knocked out Litzau, but why not attack earlier? Litzau has in the past shown a willingness to completely abandon a smarter boxing style to trade bombs, and it's gotten him beaten down. This win for Litzau is by far the biggest one he has on his sheet now. I don't want to say Rocky Juarez "let him" win, because that's too far, but Rocky Juarez genuinely didn't do much to stop Litzau from winning this fight.

Juarez is now 28-6-1 (20 KO). He is 0-4-1 in title fights (0-5-1 if you count the interim title fight he had with Humberto Soto). He's now lost to Litzau, who is a big step down from Barrera, John and Soto. Where does he go? What does he really offer anyone? I know it was heat of the moment and post-fight interviews aren't always much to care about, but Juarez seemed unsure whether or not he wanted to be in the stepping stone or gatekeeper position that he probably is now. To be honest, if he has the desire to keep going, it wouldn't be the worst thing for him to do. Juarez still has the power and ability to knock off overconfident, potentially overhyped guys on their way up, and then he's back in the mix.

But he's never going to change his style. I'm done being frustrated as a fan of Rocky Juarez. He is what he is, a good guy and a good fighter who most of the time is his own worst enemy in the ring. Given the lack of depth at 130 pounds, Jason Litzau (who I still don't feel is top 10 or too close to it in that division) could very well get a title shot if the Square Ring people try to find one for him.

Sergio Mora TKO-7 Calvin Green

Calvin Green was never going to win this fight, but damned if he didn't try. At 5'8", he was clearly fighting overweight against Mora, who is a legitimate middleweight -- not a big one or a strong one, but a middleweight. And Green was also clearly out of his depth in terms of talent. But the Texas club fighter came to his first-ever televised fight on a mission. He was going to knock Sergio Mora out.

It didn't happen, but hats off to Calvin Green for not just accepting a rollover position for the former junior middleweight titlist and "Contender" winner. Green brought the fight to Mora. Problem was, he just wasn't big enough to hurt him, so eventually Green worse himself out, and Mora took full control of the fight. Sergio seemed in the middle rounds of the fight to get that he could let Green punch himself out for two minutes, then storm on him in the final minute of the round and leave a big impression. It worked, and eventually Green all but fell into the corner and referee Russell Mora stopped the bout, which was a good call. Green was upset because he wanted to finish the fight, but it was a proper stoppage.

Mora probably could use another tune-up fight, and one that comes soon. Even if it's just a fight with a decent journeyman on Fight Night Club, Mora needs to stay more active. I have never been a Sergio Mora fan, but when he's on his game, he's a tricky, awkward guy and a tough out for just about anybody. When he was set to fight Kelly Pavlik last year, I thought Pavlik would win, but that Mora would give him some trouble. Mora's still just 29 and hasn't taken a lot of punishment in his career, so there's still a chance for him to win some titles and make some money. Golden Boy will get behind him if they can, I reckon. That's up to Sergio now. How bad does he want it? I think by signing on to fight Pavlik last year, he showed us that perhaps he's past that stage of his career where he flubbed a Jermain Taylor fight over location and wound up drawing Elvin Ayala instead, which threatened to all but remove him from the relevant boxing scene. But he came back, beat Vernon Forrest, and turned his career around. He's still got a window, but it's smaller than it was before. It's on him to do something now.

Ismayl Sillakh TKO-2 Daniel Judah

Judah is not as durable as he used to be, but Sillakh is the real deal. He fights with precision -- he's a good puncher, likes to target the body, has a useful cockiness about him ("swagger," you might call it), and fights smart, too. He got cut in this fight, not in a good place, so he came out in the second round to rid himself of this fight, and busted Judah out of there at 0:49 of the second frame. He's got the killer instinct.

Now what's left to find out is what he can take, mentally and physically. Judah had nothing in the ring last night, really, and while he was a big step up for Sillakh, there are more steps to take. I'd call Sillakh a blue chip prospect, but there's still a lot to learn about him. Eventually, no matter how good you are, you find yourself in with someone who can take your shots and bring some back to you. Sillakh hasn't met that guy yet, but he will. Sometimes it happens on the major stage, sometimes it happens in a club somewhere. But it'll happen, and then we'll know more.

Frankie Gomez TKO-3 Clayvonne Howard

Despite the insistence of Joe Tessitore and Doug Fischer, Howard was no real test for Gomez. Yeah, he fought kinda hard, but he didn't fight that hard, and obviously the 18-year-old Gomez was way too much for him. Gomez also weighed 140 on the scales, with Howard at 134. That's two different weight classes. It means nothing (Gomez was going to beat him no matter what), but this was just your run of the mill pro debut for a touted prospect.

Gomez is an East Los Angeles product, same as Oscar de la Hoya and Sergio Mora. He drew comparisons in our live thread last night to Juan Diaz, a relentless guy with little fear. We'll see how that translates as he moves up, but he's definitely someone to watch.

Ray Narh TKO-2 Angel Hernandez

Narh was supposedly going to fight Breidis Prescott last year, but didn't. Like Prescott, Narh is a tall (5'10") lightweight with a punch but not a whole lot else. I think he'd probably beat Prescott, though. At 31, he's not a prospect or anything like that. The Ghanaian has been a pro for nine years and it's time to get a move on. He blew past Hernandez, but then he should, and he's been blowing past guys on Hernandez's level for a while now.

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