Tonight's Friday Night Fights card was chock-full of knockouts, and just may have been ESPN's best boxing card of the year so far.
The main event was short and sweet. Tony Harrison was supposed to be facing the toughest opponent of his young career in Antwone Smith, but he made Smith look like the novice. Harrison (20-0, 17 KO) stabbed Smith with his jab, staggering him with that punch early in the fight. When it became clear that Smith (23-6, 12 KO) wasn't keen to fight back, Harrison stepped up the pace, started putting his right hand behind the jab, and dropped Smith twice before the end of the round. Smith's corner let him come out for round two, but the referee made the decision to save him when Harrison put him down for the third time just seconds into the frame.
Tony Harrison defeats Antwone Smith by TKO (referee stoppage), Round 2
Much like the feature bout, the penultimate fight pitted a highly touted novice against a tough veteran. Blue chip prospect Ievgen Khytrov turned in a tremendous performance, boxing and battering Jorge Melendez in equal measure for round after round. Melendez (28-5-1, 26 KO), who suffered defeat at the hands of Javier Maciel in his last fight nearly one year ago, was certainly Khytrov's toughest professional opponent to date. He even looked to be giving the Ukrainian import trouble in round two with his powerful body work, but a quick adjustment gave Khytrov (9-0, 9 KO) the upper hand for the rest of the bout. He staggered Melendez badly in round six, battered him against the ropes in round seven, and put him down with a body shot in round eight, prompting the referee to step in.
Ievgen Khytrov defeats Jorge Melendez by TKO (referee stoppage), Round 8
Erickson Lubin returned to ESPN to get his second win in the space of a month, stopping Kenneth Council in the first round. Council (8-1, 6 KO) came into the fight with an undefeated record, but all but one of his wins came against professional opponents with losing records. That empty experience caught up to him tonight, as Lubin (10-0, 7 KO) dropped him three times with ease. Council kept swinging till the end, but the referee wisely stepped in after the third knockdown and saved him from further punishment.
Erickson Lubin defeats Kenneth Council by TKO (referee stoppage), Round 1
Caleb Plant and Daniel Henry faced off in the first televised bout of the evening. Henry (2-2-3, 0 KO) was brought in to lose to Plant, and he did so in spectacular fashion, with a little unsolicited help from referee Jay Nady. Plant (6-0, 5 KO) knocked Henry down a minute into the first round, and continued to land clean punches until the other man backed himself into a corner, turned his back, and waited for the referee to save him. Nady wasn't interested, and Plant landed three more clean punches that put Henry out cold. Henry was taken away to the hospital after the bout. Shameful job by Nady, but an impressive performance from Plant.
Caleb Plant defeats Daniel Henry by KO, Round 1