|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY July 09, 2010||
THAT'S THE MIKE WE LIKE
You can't always trust the poster for a boxing match. Often you have to take the claims that they make with a grain of salt. But the sales pitch on the ads for Mike Jones' post Fourth of July fight poster turned out to be 100% true. It promised "The Fireworks Continue". And they did, thanks to a revved up Mike Jones and a very live Irving Garcia.
The two welterweights staged a nice brawl Friday night (07/09/10) in the ballroom of Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall. The scheduled 12-rounder for Jones' NABO & NABA belts went nowhere near the distance, much to the delight of the large crowd that came to see the man touted as Philly's next big thing.
After a slow start in round one, Jones started loosening up, and before long the promised fireworks were in full swing. Credit should also go to his tough opponent who came to fight, and may have lit Mike's fuse with his own stiff punches early on. Garcia raised a swelling under Jones' right eye and caught the rising star a few times with hard shots. But Mike Jones was in a fighting mood and the firepower he unleashed was just too much for Garcia to handle. A volley of vicious inside shots in round five decided the fight. Jones started his attack to the body and finished with uppercuts and hooks to the head and another body blow that dropped Garcia in his own corner. Irving remained on his hands and knees and took the full ten count from referee Randy Neumann. The time was 1:22. After the end of the bout, Garcia's corner complained that the body punches had strayed low. [Editor's note: Upon review of a recording of the Showtime broadcast, it is clear that the final blow was low.]
The victory made Mike Jones 22-0 with 18 KOs, and kept him on his suddenly speedy track toward a world title fight. His already impressive ranking by the four major sanctioning bodies makes him a lock for a big fight in the very near future. And although it might be in his best interest to take a few more developmental fights first, this young man is in a hurry. He says he's ready to accept whichever opportunity comes first.
The best part of this the fight was the way Jones performed. It's been a while since I have complimented him for that. But with this fight, he is due for a pat on the back. Instead of the recent frustration of a wheels-turning-overly-cautious-thinking-too-much-fighter that appeared to be inviting a misstep, the Jones we got against Garcia was the one we like. It was the Mike Jones we really, really like. And it was the Mike Jones that has the best chance to make some noise at the top of the already noisy 147-pound division. Instead of waiting and thinking and trying too hard, this Mike Jones just fought. After a wary first round - when both fighters just circled each other and barely stretched their jabs long enough to reach the other, things got started in round two. Mike began to jab and Garcia started to counter. The fight heated up rather quickly. Garcia blasted Jones twice by the mid-point of the second. It was at that very moment when Jones' game clicked. He didn't over think it. He fired back. And he fired back with glee.
One of the most frustrating things about Jones' past year or so has been his lack of emotion in the ring. He almost seemed like a bystander in recent fights. And although he kept piling up wins, he didn't seem to be enjoying it very much. But this was not the case on Friday night. Jones tore into his opponent. And for the first time in a while, he really looked like a winner. The passion was there. And he put it on display for everyone to see. That's what makes fans take notice and that's what makes them root for a fighter.
However, it wasn't easy. He had to take some shots and get past that swollen eye that clearly bothered him. But it almost felt like Mike had reached a new level in his career. Perhaps he's matured to the point where he's just going to be himself in the ring. And as fans, that is exactly what we want.
In his interviews leading up to the fight, Jones described himself as having Tyson's power, Ali's jab, and the combinations of Roy Jones. It's a good line, and maybe he believes it. But thinking such things isn't going to get him where he wants to go. When the time comes he'll have to rely on his own power, jab, and combinations. There is only one Tyson, certainly just one Ali, and thank God, just one Roy Jones. Mike Jones is not a Frankenstein monster made up of all the best parts of past boxers. He is Mike Jones. He has a great frame for the welterweight division, excellent power, a good jab, and a mean streak that when let out of the cage, can overwhelm any opponent. We don't want those other guys. Besides, none of them were Philly fighters. Mike Jones is. And he actually looked like one on Friday night.
He fought. He got hit. He got marked up. He worked through it. And he won the fight doing what HE does best. Garcia was a willing accomplice, but he too was fighting a plan that might have worked for him. I had the fight close (2-1-1) after four rounds. Garcia ruffled Mike's feathers, but he couldn't stay in there with a guy that perhaps, is finally coming into his own after all. His confidence seemed genuine in and out of the ring. "If he had gotten up, he would have been knocked out anyway", Jones said after the fight. No one could argue with that.
I'm not sure Jones should go for the title next. He's still improving and more seasoning wouldn't hurt. But if he fights like he did against Garcia, he'll prove to be a worthy challenger for any of the top guys. And perhaps with another good night, the same intense focus, and that beautiful passion that he finally showed, maybe he can come away a champion.
Good job Mike. This is what we want to see - Mike Jones being Mike Jones. That's why all those fans bought tickets. And with a national TV audience watching on Showtime, Jones picked the right time to bloom. The Mike Jones story is getting good, and I can't wait for the next installment.
Nine other fights supported the Jones-Garcia bout.
The evening started promptly at 8:30 PM with a four round super middleweight fight between Atlantic City's Rafael Jastrzebski (3-6-1, 1 KO) against the debuting Phila-delphian Joe Dunn (at right with trainer Billy Bricsoe). Jastrzebski won all four rounds and made Dunn look like he'd chosen the wrong profession. The decision was a unanimous shutout.
Next up, Camden's Miguel Corsino halted Epi Cosme Rodriguez, of Harrisburg, after two knockdowns just 58 seconds into their welterweight bout. Corsino improved to 2-0, 2 KOs, while Rodriguez fell to 0-3.
The third bout pitted Josh Mercado of Cape May against North Philly's Kywame Hill (at left with trainer Fred Jenkins) in another welterweight fight. Mercado came away with the unanimous points win and bettered his record to 5-1, 2 KOs. Hill dropped to 1-5, 1 KO.
Anthony Caputo, of Kennett Square, trapped Walter Edwards, North Carolina, on the ropes in the second round of their scheduled four round light-heavyweight affair, and convinced referee Steve Smoger to stop it without scoring a knockdown. The time was 2:44. Edwards was no match for Caputo as every punch landed was like a brick. Caputo improved to 5-0, 4 KOs. Edwards went home 1-5, 1 KO.
New Yorkers Steven Martinez and Jason Thompson put on a good junior middleweight show, trading shots until Martinez, of the Bronx, finished Brooklyn's Thompson at 2:37 of round two. It was the fifth straight win for Martinez. Thompson dropped below .500 at 5-6-1 with 4 KOs.
Camden's Jason Sosa pounded out a unanimous four round decision over Philly's Bryheim Douglas in their junior lightweight match to go 3-0-1 with 1 KO. The disappointing Douglas fell to 3-4-2, 1 KO.
The six round bouts looked to have had real promise going in. But Wilmington's Ryan Belsaco won his decision over Philadelphia Kevin Carmody in boring - but convincing - fashion. One judge gave him all six rounds while the other two gave him five. Belasco improved to 12-4, 3 KOs. Carmody lost his fifth straight bout and by the end of the evening, found himself 10-13-3 with 1 KO.
As the 11PM Showtime broadcast neared, the most interesting preliminary bout was cut from six rounds to four to ensure there would be no TV delay. But in the end, it didn't matter. These welterweights punched like crazy and only needed two rounds to settle things. Ardrick Butler, of Southwest Philly, scored first. He dropped Manuel Guzman early in round one with a solid right hand. But Guzman, Lancaster, PA, got to his feet and toppled Butler with a ramrod jab. Ardrick stood up and won the round. But everything turned in the second. With time running out in round two, Guzman cracked Butler with a right hand that stretched him out flat on his back. Referee Steve Smoger didn't hesitate for a second. He stopped the contest as soon as he looked at Butler lying on the canvas. The time was 2:53. It was Butler's second loss (5-2, 2 KOs) and Guzman's seventh win (7-9-2, 3 KOs).
The opening TV bout was a 10-round welterweight match between hotshot prospect and potential future Mike Jones opponent, Antwone Smith, Miami, and Lanardo Tyner of Houston. This one was a shocker. Smith took round one, but Tyner started to batter the rising star and built a solid lead. Smith fought back to win the fifth and sixth rounds, but Tyner regained control of the fight in the seventh and pounded Smith into submission at 1:15 of round nine. Referee Earl Morton stopped it after a hard body blow dropped Smith. Jones and Garcia followed this bout and capped off a long but good night of fights.
The card was promoted by Peltz Boxing in association with DeBella Entertainment. The crowd was near capacity. Lynn Carter, Emil Conforti and Luis Rivera judged all of the four and six rounders. Steve Smoger and Ricardo Vega alternated as referees.
The two main bouts were refereed by Randy Neumann (Jones-Garcia) and Earl Morton (Tyner-Smith). The judges didn't play into the televised bouts, but George Hill, Donald Givens and Joe Pasquale scored Tyner-Smith, while Steve Weisfeld, John Stewart and Hilton Whitaker judged Jones-Garcia.