Tonight at 9 pm EST, ESPN Friday Night Fights is back for the second-to-last time with a doubleheader from Hartford, Connecticut, promoted by 50 Cent's SMS Promotions and DiBella Entertainment.
In the 10-round lightweight main event, Reynaldo Ojeda (16-0, 9 KO) takes on veteran battler Monty Meza-Clay (36-4, 22 KO), who has become a reliably entertaining TV fighter. Ojeda, 26, is a Puerto Rican prospect fighting for just the second time in the States, and this is his first serious opponent on American soil. He's fought all but four of his fights thus far in Puerto Rico, with the other three coming in the Dominican Republic. He was last seen on February 28, beating Sergio Villanueva in Gurabo by decision over 10.
Meza-Clay, 34, is all of 5'2" but has been a lightweight for his entire career. He most recently fought in November, losing a decision to Rod Salka in Pittsburgh. Last August, he had a TV war with Alan Herrera in the same city.
The co-feature will see super bantamweight prospect Luis Rosa (19-0, 9 KO) take on Jonathan Perez (33-10, 27 KO) in an eight-round fight.
Connor Ruebusch will be here with live coverage, so join him as the lights continue to dim on ESPN Friday Night Fights.
Reynaldo Ojeda defeats Monty Meza-Clay by Unanimous Decision (99-91 x 2, 98-92)
Luis Rosa defeats Johnathan Perez by TKO (referee stoppage) at 2:29 of Round 5
Ivan Golub defeats Henry Beckford by TKO (referee stoppage) at 2:17 of Round 5
MONTY MEZA-CLAY vs REYNALDO OJEDA
Round 1: No surprise, Meza-Clay comes forward, slipping the Ojeda jab and landing the right to the body. Jab to the chest from Meza-Clay, and Ojeda's looking for the short right hand over the top. He lands it there, knocking Meza-Clay off balance. Sharp left hook from Meza-Clay there. Ojeda struggling to land, but Meza-Clay struggling to counter him after making him miss. Nice right hand on the ear from Ojeda, and another. And there's another after pulling back from Meza-Clay's stumpy overhand right. Body jab from Meza-Clay. Meza-Clay ends the round chasing Ojeda, landing several so-so punches. 10-9 Ojeda
Round 2: Meza-Clay gets in several up-jabs as he forces Ojeda into the corner. Nice left hook to the body from Ojeda before circling out. Ojeda lands an uppercut inside, and Meza-Clay answers with a clean overhand right. There's another short right from Ojeda. Meza-Clay really struggling to cut the ring off here. Good counter right from Meza-Clay after stopping an Ojeda combination, and there's another right hand that gets Ojeda blinking. Sharp lead right from Ojeda, and they clinch up again. Meza-Clay is struggling to close the gap still. Meza-Clay finally closes the distance, goes to work with a few body shots, and clubs Ojeda with a right hand to the temple on the break, right at the bell. Strong finish, but that's another Ojeda round. 10-9 Ojeda, 20-18
Round 3: Nice body shots from Meza-Clay, and there's a double left hook as Ojeda backs up into the corner, the second one landing clean on the chin. They trade left hooks, Ojeda slips out, and walks Meza-Clay into another right hand. Meza-Clay fighting southpaw now in an attempt to block Ojeda's movement. There's a vicious jab from Meza-Clay that staggers Ojeda, and a counter right after blocking Ojeda's left to the body. Another stiff jab from Meza-Clay as Ojeda steps back. Hard right uppercut to the ribs from Meza-Clay. This fight is really heating up, and that's saying something because it was already fast-paced. Meza-Clay trades an uppercut for a right hand, and then lands a left hook at the bell. 10-9 Meza-Clay, 29-28 Ojeda
Round 4: Meza-Clay's corner asked for uppercuts before the round started. Let's see if he can oblige. Ojeda starts off with the advantage, jabbing and dancing his way around the ring, once again frustrating Meza-Clay's attempts to pressure. Meza-Clay rolls under an Ojeda hook and comes up with a well-timed jab. Still coming forward, but eating glancing shots and landing relatively few of his own. Good left hook from Ojeda, and a pair of jabs from Meza-Clay. Ojeda walks chin-first into another jab from Monty. Meza-Clay avoids a few punches, doesn't fire back, and stands up right into a right hand from Ojeda. 10-9 Ojeda, 39-37
Round 5: Head clash as Meza-Clay charges in with a left to the body. Meza-Clay eats a right hand as he walks forward with his feet out of position. And another. There's a hard counter right from Meza-Clay, and a left hook to follow up. He can't keep Ojeda in the corner, though, and the Puerto Rican jabs and moves to keep his space. Another hard right from Meza-Clay. Driving jab from Ojeda, and Meza-Clay may have been hurt by that. He takes some hard body shots as Ojeda now comes forward. Meza-Clay nods as if acknowledging serious punishment received. Another body shot from Ojeda, and Meza-Clay is badly hurt now. Ojeda comes forward and hunts for Monty-s liver. 10-8 Ojeda, 49-45
Round 6: Meza-Clay eats another body shot, but lands a right hand over the top at the same time. Several body jabs from Clay, but Ojeda sneaks out the side and sticks a few jabs of his own, these to Meza-Clay's chin. Meza-Clay sets up for another charge, and Ojeda simply waits for the burst before unleashing that punishing short right. There's a hard uppercut from Ojeda, but Meza-Clay walks right through it to land a hard left hook. They clinch, and Ojeda lands the short right again on the break. Brilliant combination from Ojeda--body shot and short right to the chin. Counter hook from Ojeda, and a lead right. Meza-Clay just can't cut off the ring or close the distance without incurring significant punishment. 10-9 Ojeda, 59-53
Round 7: Meza-Clay starts off well, landing a few body shots and finishing up with the overhand upstairs. Nice right uppercut to the body as Ojeda tries to skirt his way out of trouble, Ken Norton style. Ojeda lands the left to the body again, and Meza-Clay counters over the top with the right hand. Ojeda lands a sharp lead right and skips away, forcing Meza-Clay once again to run after him. Good left hook upstairs from Meza-Clay. Ojeda moving a lot, but punching less than he did last round. 10-9 Meza-Clay, 68-63 Ojeda
Round 8: A moisture-flinging left hook from Ojeda sets the tone, and Meza-Clay walks into another, similar punch right after. Meza-Clay still trying to slip his way in, but he's getting his feet out of position in the process, and Ojeda's taking advantage by popping the jab and pivoting away. Meza-Clay is cut, possibly from a clash of heads. Ojeda's moving well, and mixing in good, straight punches. Meza-Clay could use the same left hook that landed for him earlier in the bout, but nothing doing. Another Ojeda round. 10-9 Ojeda, 78-72
Round 9: Ojeda goes down due to some water in the corner. No knockdown there. Meza-Clay tries to follow-up nonetheless, but Ojeda slides right out of harm's way. Good 3-2 from Ojeda, but Meza-Clay comes right back and lands two hard combinations. That right hand might have even wobbled Ojeda a little bit. Ojeda's back on his bicycle, though, and Monty just cannot find him with the left hand. Monty swings away again, but Ojeda leans back just out of range and pulls his adversary's head down in the clinch. Nice right hand from Ojeda. 10-9 Ojeda, 88-81
Round 10: Meza-Clay rushes out of the corner. He knows he needs the knockout, and he's going for it. There's a nice 1-2 from Meza-Clay. Ojeda slips once again in the wet corner while throwing his right hand. His next attempt is better, though, as he catches Meza-Clay clean coming in, throwing all of his weight right into Meza-Clay's chin. Slapping right from Ojeda now, and he rolls under the counters from Meza-Clay. Nice body shot from Meza-Clay, but Ojeda answers with an uppercut. Meza-Clay's footwork has just utterly failed him here, and he's not going to get the knockout he needs. Ojeda outboxed him brilliantly tonight, and he ends the round showing off his defensive chops, slipping and rolling against the ropes, eating only a single body shot from Meza-Clay in the process. 10-9 Ojeda, and I have him winning 98-90
JOHNATHAN PEREZ vs LUIS ROSA
Round 1: Perez looking to work his jab early. Rosa attacks the body, banging Perez's ribs in the clinch and hitting a nice Ketchel shift to land a left to the solar plexus. Perez ups the activity from the outside and runs Rosa into several jabs in a row. They clinch, and Rosa tags Perez a few times after the referee calls for the break. Gets a warning for that. Rosa in on the body on the inside, but Perez comes back with a nice body shot of his own. Perez feints the jab and lands a cuffing right hand to the temple of Rosa. Rosa counters with a nice hook, but Perez refuses to let him get the last work and responds with a very nice 1-2 to close the round. 10-9 Rosa
Round 2: Rosa counters a Perez jab with a left hook to the body. Several good jabs from Perez, but Rosa cancels all of that out with a pair of hard body shots that move Perez back into the ropes. He seems a little lost at range, Perez, but once he closes the gap he does great work. Oh, but there's a nasty low blow from Rosa that forces Perez to take a knee, and the ref is going to give him time to recover. Perez comes out aggressively to get back into the fight, jabbing and rocking Rosa back with a straight right hand. There's another punch after the referee break from Rosa. Perez tags Rosa with a good right hand, but eats a hard right hand on the chin and gets forced back into the corner, where Rosa bangs away at his guard. Good 1-2 from Perez, and Rosa smashes head-first into his temple just before the bell. This is turning into a rough fight. 10-9 Rosa, 20-18
Round 3: Perez coming forward again, hitting Rosa's gloves but little else. Rosa counters with a nice left hook to the ribs. Good uppercut on the inside from Rosa, but Perez lands a very sharp left hook on the break. They exchange wild punches near the ropes. Perez gets home with a straight right. Rosa jabs his way back in and lands another left shift to the body. Rosa starts to bounce around at range, and Perez makes him pay with some good, straight punches. Right hand on the temple from Perez, and the referee has to warn Rosa about rabbit punches on the break. Rosa lands a hard body shot--might've been low--and yanks Perez down to the canvas. Another warning from the referee. They end the round swinging. 10-9 Perez, 29-28 Rosa
Round 4: Both men swing and miss a bit to start things off. Perez lands a nice wide right to the body. Perez is starting to get physical himself now, and he shoves Rosa back the next time he initiates a clinch. Counters him with the right to the jaw when he comes back forward. There's a sharp jab from Perez. He's starting to look more and more confident. Another counter right from Perez, but Rosa spins him and lands a clubbing right of his own. They get tangled up, and Perez falls to the canvas with a little help from Rosa. Nice left hook from Rosa. Perez counters, but Rosa gets in a pair of head-snapping uppercuts on the inside. Uppercut to the body from Perez, but Rosa responds with volume and aggression, smashing left hooks into Perez's jaw. And there's another pull-down, and the referee takes a point from Rosa. Honestly, Perez was contributing to those rough clinches. Rosa's angry, and determined to win the round to make up for the point deduction. He charges across the ring and slams brutal punches into and through the guard of Perez, attacking like a maelstrom for twenty straight seconds. 9-9 Rosa, 38-37
Round 5: Perez is back on the jab now, sneaking a few through the guard of Rosa. There's another set of hard body shots from Rosa against the ropes. Perez backs up from another Rosa combination, and the American puncher slings hard body shots under his arms, finishing with a hard uppercut to Perez's chin. Perez needs to get back on his straights and fight rough in the clinch if he wants to get back into this fight. Rosa is doing a great job of fighting in the messy transitions, pulling Perez off balance and smashing him with punches when he stands back up. Perez is shelled up against the ropes now, being battered by hard punches from Rosa. The referee things about stopping it... reconsiders. Nope, he's stepping in, and that's not a bad call. Really fun fight.
Luis Rosa defeats Johnathan Perez by TKO (referee stoppage) at 2:29 of Round 5
HENRY BECKFORD vs IVAN GOLUB
Round 1: Beckford busy with the jab early, Golub working to take it away, but suddenly Beckford unleashes a four-punch combination and hammers Golub on the side of the jaw with a hard right hook. Golub throws the left to the body (both men are southpaws here), but Beckford lands another right hook to the jaw in response. And a massive counter hook from Beckford as Golub squares up coming in. Golub goes to the body now, with Beckford in the corner, and follows up with a good cross upstairs when Beckford lowers his hands to counter. Both men trading heavy leather now, Beckford throwing counters and getting caught on the wind-up. Big left from Golub, and another crushing right from Beckford. Great, close round. 10-9 Beckford
Round 2: Beckford playing the jab game nicely to start, catching Golub's lead and responding with his own. Golub and Beckford exchange again, and Golub lands a heavy overhand left. Beckford wraps up Golub's right arm and the Ukrainian goes to work with his left. Golub with a counter hook of his own, right under Beckford's winging left hand. Now Golub has Beckford with his back to the ropes, and he hammers the body, forcing Beckford to shell up. Right uppercut to the solar plexus and Beckford is folded up. he's hurt, and he's trading, smashing Golub with his right hook twice to get some much-needed respite. Golub backs off only for a second, and rushes back in with the double-jab and a left behind it. Beckford just can't avoid the corners, and Golub is working him over every time his back hits the ropes. 10-9 Golub, 19-19
Round 3: Golub has a lot of pep in his step now after that great comeback round. Lands some great jabs on Beckford's chin. But there's Beckford's right hook again, snapping Golub's head around. He's still dangerous, even if he seems to be tiring considerably. Golub throws away a few punches and once again attacks the body. Jab from Beckford backs him off. And again. Beckford really needs to stay on that jab if he wants to keep himself out of the corners. Another vicious salvo of body shots from Golub, and a right uppercut upstairs immediately after. Beckford is hurt again, and once again he's stuck on the ropes with no idea of how to escape. 10-9 Golub, 29-28
Round 4: Golub jabbing and stalking. Lands a hard left hand on the ear of Beckford. They get tangled up in the corner, and Beckford takes the opportunity to get himself back to center ring. Looks to counter Golub's left, but his right hook hits chest instead of chin. And he's cornered again. Golub attacks head and body, eats a hook but stays close and keeps Beckford in the corner. Left to the body from Golub. Beckford is tough; you have to give him credit for that, but these body shots are clearly hurting him. Big hook on the bell from Golub. 10-9 Golub, 39-37
Round 5: Glancing left from Golub, and Beckford ties him up. Beckford tries to work his jab, but Golub counters and backs him up before smashing another left hand into his rib cage. And there's a big left hand from Golub--Beckford shells up, takes a body shot, and goes down. Golub comes roaring at him after the count, smashing more lefts into the body of Beckford and sneaking a hard 1-2 through his guard. Beckford's feet are all over the place as Golub continues to pound him, and there's the referee to save him. Good call.
Ivan Golub defeats Henry Beckford by TKO (referee stoppage) at 2:17 of Round 5