Spike Premiere Boxing champions “Friday Night Lights Out” boxing event, live from Chicago, Illinois, at the UIC Pavilion, showcased Erislandy Lara boxing Delvin Rodriguez for the Super Welterweight World title. The first fight will be Artur Beterbiev vs. Alexander “The Great” Johnson. Beterbiev has 8 wins, no loses, and all of his bouts have been won by KO. Johnson has never been knocked down before. The fight might come down to one punch. Beterbiev reportedly hits so hard, he has difficulty finding sparring partners, according to the sports broadcaster on Spike TV.
The Beterbiev vs. Johnson bout was the first one, a 10-round boxing match in the light heavyweight division. Beterbiew was born in Russia, but he now resides in Montreal, Canada. During the first round, the two boxers both were looking for an opening to deliver a huge winning KO, boxing like even the first round was an all-or-nothing round.
Johnson was a southpaw, but Beterbiev had said before the fight that he had fought against southpaws before and was prepared for anything that might happen. The first round ended uneventfully, but both fighters looked like they were on the verge of exploding in a flurry of punches.
Early in the second round, Beterbiev got in a couple of good punches, but Johnson quickly covered up, blocking the brunt of the blows with his arms. BeterBiev was clearly the aggressor and he got in two lefts and an uppercut on Johnson. Johnson got in a nice punch before the end of the round, but Beterbiev appeared unfazed. Both of the boxers made it through the second round, looking none the worse for wear.
In the third round, both boxers started off cautiously, like in the first round, looking for a big opening. At least one of the judges’ score cards had Beterbiev winning the first two rounds. Johnson tried to get in some blows, but Beterbiev was quick to block them. On his part, Beterbiev landed a couple of punches to Johnson’s face, though again, the round ended with both of the combatants still looking relatively fresh and unhurt.
In the fourth round, Beterbiev got in a couple of big hits, while Johnson landed a few body blows. Beterbiev backed Johnson up into a corner, and got in a few body blows, himself. Johnson had his gloves up in front of his face, fending off any potential KO punch from Beterbiev. Johnson was the first fighter who has faced Beterbiev to make it past the fourth round, of the 8 bouts the Russian-born boxer has won.
Johnson dodged out of the way as Beterbiev tried to step up the action in the fifth round. Then, Beterbiev knocked Johnson down with a punch, though not entirely to the canvas. Johnson recovered enough for the fight to continue. Then, Beterbiev scored a second knockdown, but the round continued, with 30 seconds yet to go. Johnson tried to cover up, but he just seemed to be attempting to last out the round, which he did. Johnson’s trainer, Daryl Tyson, told him in his corner if he did not fight back better the next round, he would stop the fight.
Johnson came out more aggressively in the sixth round, backing Beterbiev up. After that, the action slowed down somewhat, though Johnson landed a couple of solid body blows. Beterbiev looked for a chance to get in another good punch. Blood was coming out of Johnson’s nose, as the sixth round ended.
The seventh round began with Johnson still hanging tough. Both boxers looked for a big opening, and Beterbiev got in another knockdown with a left hook to Johnson’s temple. Johnson got up and continued, but then, after another right hand from Beterbiev, Johnson crumbled to the canvas and that was how the bout ended, just 38 seconds into it. Beterbiev improved his record to 9-0 with every one of his wins coming by knockouts.
After the bout, Beterbiev stated “I’m a boxer, but I don’t like to call people out and insult them. I can’t predict the future, but I’ll work hard to make my winning streak even better than this one. I want the biggest belt that I can get. That’s my goal.”
The main event, Erislandy “The American Dream” Lara boxing against Rodriguez, was next. Lara escaped Cuba by sneaking aboard a smuggler’s boat. Rodriguez, from the Dominican Republic, but fighting out of Connecticut, is fighting tonight for a world title. Both men were boxing to fulfill a dream, though only one of the boxers, of course, was victorious. Rodriguez had the height advantage, but Lara had the reach advantage. Lara had on the green camo trunks, and Rodriguez had on red ones.
The first round, Rodriguez tried to come out as the aggressor. Lara threw some good punches, but Rodriguez blocked them, for the most part. Lara tagged Rodriguez a couple more times, landing most of the punches he was throwing. Rodriguez kept looking for an opening, but failed to find many. The first round ended uneventfully.
The beginning of the second round, stats were shown of the first round. Lara had landed 43 percent of his punches, which was pretty good. Both of the boxers tried to find a big opening, but both still seemed to be biding their time. “The American Dream” got in a couple of very fast jabs, but the second round ended with nothing much having taken place that rattled either boxer.
Lara is tied with Mayweather at 50 percent power punch accuracy, according to the ring announcer. The third round, Rodriguez tried to cover up, but “The American Dream” still snuck in a couple of good jabs with his powerful left hand. Lara tried to go for the chin of Rodriguez, rather than landing many body blows. He got in a few good punches to his opponent’s face. Though “The American Dream” was dominant through the first three rounds, Rodriguez somehow managed to last out the round.
Both fighters began the fourth round still very much in the boxing match. Lara dodged a few of the attempts of Rodriguez to land punches. He tried to connect with a flurry of punches close to the end of the round, but Rodriguez blocked most of them.
In the fifth round, “The American Dream” came in on Rodriguez, fast and furiously, still trying to go for a KO rather than landing any body blows. The crowd started to boo, and whistle, wanting there to be more action. Lara clearly won the first five rounds, but Rodriguez still looked relatively unscathed at the end of the fifth.
Lara had mentioned he wanted to win by a KO, but he would take a win however he could get one. He landed three blows for every one of his opponent’s. Rodriguez slipped and almost fell down, but he got right back up, and the fight continued. With ten seconds left in the round, “The American Dream” got in a great left jab, and knocked Rodriguez down. Rodriguez got back up, though, making to the end of the sixth round.
In round seven, Lara kept on wearing away at Rodriguez. Lara was landing 61 percent of his power punches. Rodriguez resorted to trying to cover up his face as best as he could, and he lasted to the end of the seventh.
In round eight, Lara was making the bout look more like a sparring session. He again dominated the round, though neither boxer seemed to had gotten all that hurt during the round.
Going into the ninth round, the only way that Rodriguez could win would be by a KO, as Lara had unofficially won each of the preceding rounds. Rodriguez did not seem to really be in the fight any longer, just trying to go the distance. Lara still looked fresh and he was as accurate as ever with his punches.
The real miracle of the bout was that Rodriguez made it to the tenth round. He stood in there, despite getting pummeled by Lara. Rodriguez showed a lot of heart and desire, but Lara upped his percentage to landing 63 percent of the punches he threw. One of the only criticisms about Lara’s style of boxing is that he was maybe overly cautious, backing up after he landed some big punches.
Rodriguez had made it to the final two rounds. He had said before the bout that he considered the fight tonight to likely be his last chance at winning a world title. In the eleventh, Lara teed off on Rodriguez, and he fell, but he was backing up at the time, and tripped over Lara’s foot, so the fall was ruled a stumble and not a knockdown. Rodriguez landed a couple of shots, more than he had the last three rounds.
Round 12, both Lara and Rodriguez were still looking for a possible KO. Lara let loose a flurry of punches, but Rodriguez blocked most of them. Rodriguez showed heart, and he refused to go down, though Lara dominated the entire bout. Lara seemed set to take on Floyd Mayweather Jr. in an upcoming match.
All three judges scored it 120-107, for Lara. Lara said after his win over Rodriguez by unanimous decison in 12 rounds that he thanked his whole team, and he said that he wanted to fight Mayweather, among others. Lara stated “We want Floyd Mayweather. We want Miguel Cotto. We want Gennady Golovkin at 160 lbs.” “The American Dream,” was the unanimous winner, though Rodriguez was a tenacious fighter who hung in there to the very end.
Written By Douglas Cobb
Photos Courtesy of Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions