PBC's televised cards appear to focus only on two bouts, and in most cases, tonight's card would have likely taken place on last Saturday's undercard. Having a two-card program for network (or in this case, basic cable) TV is a smart move for winning over the causal, attention-deficit viewer who is looking or doesn't mind a sitting down for a good fight, but who does not want to commit many of hours, either. The slate for this second edition isn't "sexy" enough for a network broadcast, but has enough notable players in the mix that promoting them here will could build intrigue for a few good match-ups with bigger names in the future. To put it succinctly, take tonight's card for what it is (and cross your fingers for both being better than Broner-Molina or Mares-Reyes…).
Andre Berto UD Josesito Lopez
—After being more generous with the KOs, I'll settle back down to a UD win for Berto. I have never been high on Lopez, who rose to fame with his stoppage of Victor Ortiz and display of vigorous fighting spirit, but whom I have never seen as anything more than a slightly above-average club fighter (or, at best, a very poor man's Arturo Gatti). Berto can be an awe-inspiring force with his hand-speed and physicality, he can be prone to making his poor decision which, in consequence, can lead to lackluster fighting. He can lean more towards the former, though, and brings more to the table than the lesser-skilled and weaker Lopez. I would not rule Lopez out, though, in what could/should be a pretty good fight.
Shawn Porter TKO5 Erick Bone
—Shawn Porter had incredible upside and, prior to his Aug. 2014 bout against Kell Brook, seemed certain for stardom. After being deflated by the Brit in an exposing loss, Porter has a chance to grab the attention of the sport again, albeit under a dimmer spotlight after Roberto Garcia outweighed himself out of the match and is now paired with unknown, last-minute sub Erick Bone (on a stage and with an opportunity this big, you get yourself kicked out of a fight…). I would assume Porter will feel safer with barraging through his new opponent and making a flashy spectacle of it, but after last week's fights and not knowing how much the Brook loss has affected him, I cannot say that much. However, it is difficult seeing him lose under these circumstances…
Shawn Porter KO5 Erick Bone
—Hey, I got one (sort of…this one wasn't technical)! That said, it did not appear it would be ending there, as Bone looked fight-ready and fit, and made a good showing despite the circumstances by trading leather with a former champion. However, Porter had his power and heavy aggression, and that eventually caught up with him, as Bone went down once in the fifth (possible impaired by an ankle injury in a slip) and was crushed by two hooks in route to a count-out. Despite that, Bone did himself well in defeat and hopefully that will serve him just as well in landing a good spot on a future card. Porter, meanwhile, looked somewhat improved, but not drastically so. At this point, I would not put him in with a Brook-type technical fighter until he truly tightens his skill. Good as Bone fought, he was a late-sub and still looked the part at times, yet was able to land too many flush shots. Porter's not there, yet…
Bonus Coverage: Chris Arreola UD Curtis Harper
—Based on last week and what I said this week, I was not sure whether to mention anything about Arreola's fight, but with the early stoppage, airtime needed to be filled and his match against Curtis Harper was served up next. And a what an affair it was! While both were not sterling examples of the "sweet science", bastions of fitness, or best the heavyweight division has to offer, they did create one of best and most entertaining fights of the young year. Harper barely survived a first-round stoppage at its conclusion (that looked like it should have been), and hung in to trade wild bombs with the like-minded veteran. Haymakers, hooks, wobbles, clean whacks to the face…that was essentially the non-stop brawl in a nutshell from both fighters.
Harper, past the second, battled hard to take the lead, but Arreola stood tough as well and took some nasty shots to the head to win most of the second half. Harper was looking worser for the wear between the two (again, finally) and it essentially came down to the 12th round, which Arreola won out. Two of the judges' scorecards were too generous to him and I am inclined to say Harper "did more" to win, but it was too close a fight and the Mexican deserved it thanks to the final round and what he did in the first. I don't think it did anything to change my low opinion of Arreola (nor did his step backward from his weight loss help) but he does create intrigue in the ring, at least (and it was good to see him actually better guarding). Harper's no revelation, but he is certainly worth seeing at least one more time.
On a Debby Downer note, though, seeing so many crushing shots thrown with reckless abandon was a little unnerving…
Andre Berto TKO6 Josesito Lopez
—Speaking of…poor Lopez. In one, single fight, he both showed some fine improvement technically and tactically, and also showcased why it is hard to get fully behind him. In the former case, he landed a number of strong, sticking shots to Berto's body and was outperforming him in a focused and controlled effort. He looked quite good opposite a far-too-tight and tense Berto—more so than usual—but once the Haitian loosened up and opened up more, Lopez began to dissolve fast, as tends to be the case. Just as suddenly as that and a knockdown in the fifth came, the fight was immediately waived off the second Lopez hit the canvas again. It appeared far too immature, particularly in the aftermath of Arreola-Harper. Despite it, Lopez has something good to build upon and is still enough of a name to get more good spots on a card. Berto, while the victor, did not show much of a change beyond being more chiseled and muscular. Time will tell for both, in the end…
Overall, it was a much, much better fight night than the inaugural NBC telecast. Part of that was due to tonight's bouts being that much better and more entertaining than the bulk of what took place last Saturday, but considerable props also are due to Spike's broadcast team, led by Scott Hanson, of "NFL Redzone" fame. The whole team was engaging and loose, and was enjoying the action as much as the fans were, while still remaining professional and insightful about their observations. None of this is to discredit the previous telecast, but flat-out, it was the greater and more fun of the two.
Not too shabby for a less-sexy, B-Side event…