Tonight's ESPN Friday Night Fights main event ran a risk of being a bad style clash, but junior welterweights Vernon Paris and Tim Coleman instead put on an entertaining chess match that wound up with a great finish and a big win for Detroit's Paris.
Paris (25-0, 15 KO) was a little less accurate early in the fight, and found himself likely behind on the scorecards through the first five rounds. Coleman (19-2-1, 5 KO) scored a flash knockdown on a nice counter right in the second, and for the most part just looked like the more disciplined, more sound package in the ring.
But in the fifth round, Coleman started looking tired, and Paris found himself in a position to do some serious damage. And that's exactly what he did. In the sixth round, Paris put a waning Coleman on the canvas twice with left hooks to the body, and Coleman was saved by the bell to survive the round. Though Coleman told his corner he was good after the round, it was just a waiting game, and Paris didn't make us wait long, putting Coleman down on another left hook to the body, causing the stoppage 27 seconds into the seventh round.
Paris and Coleman traded a lot of harsh insults in the build-up to the fight, which was the focus of the ESPN broadcast, but in the end, Coleman congratulated Paris and his team on the win, even though the two sides still seemed a little heated. It was good to see after some frankly ridiculous and off-putting trash talk before the bout.
For Paris, it's a career-best win, and if he can get his career seriously on track, he's very much someone to watch. He doesn't always look pretty, but he's a talented fighter who punches with decent power and has always seemed like a raw, natural talent who just took well to the pro fight game. The issues with Paris have always been mental/personality type stuff, and that sort of thing is fixable. Hopefully he gets more active, because this win was a good one, and showed what he can do.
The lightweight co-feature was cut short by an accidental headbutt opening a gash on Cristobal Cruz in his fight against Art Hovhannisyan in the fourth round. Referee Raul Caiz Sr immediately stopped the fight, which then went to the cards under the California rules that really need to be changed. The fight was ultimately scored a draw, with cards of 39-37 for Cruz, 39-37 for Hovhannisyan, and 38-38. Bad Left Hook had it 39-37 Cruz at the time of stoppage, and the card for Hovhannisyan was bad, to put it nicely. The 38-38 card is arguable, but in the end it's a fight I think should be a no contest, so I guess it's fair enough. A 10- or 12-round fight just should not be scored after three and a half rounds, in my view.
With the short opener, we saw a swing fight featuring New York prospect Mikey Faragon, a lightweight who improved to 16-0 (7 KO) with a second round stoppage of Ira Terry (24-6, 14 KO), whose record really overstates his ability. I don't have very high hopes for Faragon personally, but we'll see.