The prelim portion of tonight’s ESPN event is over, and here’s a rundown of everything we saw on ESPN+ from Verona, New York.
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Devin Vargas DQ-8 Victor Bisbal
This was a nothing matchup between a 38-year-old Vargas (22-6, 9 KO) and a 39-year-old Bisbal (23-5, 17 KO). I know saying it was a “nothing matchup” sounds insulting, I get that, but these guys aren’t contenders and they’re too old and not good enough to become contenders. It came about because Bisbal was supposed to be fed to Agit Kabayel in tonight’s co-feature on ESPN, but Kabayel pulled out and Vargas came in on two weeks’ notice to keep Bisbal on the card.
In the end, hey, it wasn’t a bad fight. Actually, it was a pretty bad fight, but in a good way. Chipping and ugly but plenty of clean punches landing from both. Vargas went down in the second round on a left hook that he complained was a trip (it wasn’t), and then Bisbal got docked two points in the fourth for low blows and holding. He’d also been warned for hitting behind the head. The fight went on a while and Bisbal’s pants were in constant danger of falling off throughout, and then in the eighth and final round, an exhausted Bisbal got himself disqualified for another low blow.
Vargas is a quality heavyweight gatekeeper and prospect checker still, a tough dude who knows how to fight and survive, but isn’t a real threat to anyone good. He took this fight on short notice while not training, and he said it was mostly to get his mind off the recent passing of his father. He put in a hell of an effort tonight and was the better man; I had him up 68-62 after seven rounds.
Abraham Nova TKO-4 Pedro Navarrete
Navarrete is a 38-year-old journeyman, now 30-25-3 (19 KO), and he was served up for the Top Rank debut of junior lightweight prospect Nova, now 18-0 (14 KO). The 26-year-old “Super” Nova, originally from Puerto Rico and now based in New York, had previously fought on Murphys Boxing cards, but he needed to step up; he’s a legitimate prospect and the only way he’s going to really advance is by signing with a power promoter, and he’s done so.
Nova dominated this fight, dropping Navarrete in the second round on a body shot, in the third round on a shot that was really behind the head, and then early in the fourth on a little combination. Navarrete got up again, but the referee rightly stopped the bout there. There was no more to see. Nova will look to stay active as Top Rank get their matchmakers a read on what they think he’s really got.
Jonathan Guzman KO-3 Rodolfo Hernandez
Well, we’ve got an early Fight of the Year leader. It won’t last, but this was a wonderful little junior featherweight war that will fly way under the radar, unfortunately. Guzman (24-1, 23 KO) has always been a bomber, and the Dominican won the IBF junior featherweight title back in 2016, losing it that same year. He’d only fought once since then, a 2018 bout, as he’s had promotional and visa issues, but now he’s back under the Top Rank banner at age 30, looking to make another run.
Guzman dropped Mexico’s Hernandez (30-10-1, 28 KO) twice in the first round on body shots, and it didn’t even look like we’d get out of that opening frame. But we did, and then Hernandez drilled Guzman with a 1-2 near the end of round two, dropping the A-side hard. Guzman was incredibly lucky the round ended when he got back to his feet, because he was seriously hurt and not on good legs at all.
He still wasn’t on good legs in round three, as he and Hernandez continued throwing bombs. Hernandez got hurt on a counter shot, then dropped again on another body blow, and he was counted out there. Tremendous bit of violence here, if you missed it make sure you see it sometime. Official time of the knockout was 1:22 of round three.
Christopher Diaz UD-8 Adeilson dos Santos
Diaz (25-2, 16 KO) dominated this fight, winning on obvious shutout scores of 80-72, which is also what BLH had. The 25-year-old Diaz, who came up short in a title opportunity in 2018 at 130 against Masayuki Ito, is campaigning at 126 and looking to get back into the mix after last April’s loss to Shakur Stevenson. The Puerto Rican did well here, but dos Santos (19-8, 15 KO) is an extremely limited fighter who isn’t even the puncher his record suggests; all those KOs came against weak opposition, and he’s been repeatedly exposed now otherwise.
We’ll see where Diaz goes from here. He’s a solid all around fighter but may just not be true world class; in fact, that’s what the evidence would suggest thus far, but he’s young enough to make some adjustments and get there, too.
Jared Anderson TKO-1 Andrew Satterfield
Anderson (3-0, 3 KO) is a 20-year-old heavyweight prospect, 6’4” and coming in around 235 so far early in his pro career. Anderson was methodically aggressive here, picking his shots smartly and not going reckless on anything. He knew this was easy work and he didn’t get silly about anything.
Satterfield (5-4, 3 KO) took a knee on a wicked left hook to the body, but bless him he tried to continue. Anderson just patiently did more work, body and head, before Anderson was down again and indicated he was not going to continue. Official time of the stoppage was 2:30. Anderson has a long road ahead of him, but he’s a really promising American heavyweight, someone you should know already.