ESPN2 aired what they called their "ESPN Boxing Special" earlier this evening, featuring Cuban standouts Erislandy Lara and Yordanis Despaigne.
After a brief introduction to Lara and Despaigne, Brian Kenny took the subject directly to Antonio Margarito's denial of a license by the California State Athletic Commission, which took place at a hearing earlier today.
ESPN.com columnist Dan Rafael argued via phone call that while Margarito had not been cleared to fight in California for at least one more year, he had served out his suspension and done everything asked of him by the CSAC, and deserves to be able to fight. Conversely, Teddy Atlas felt the punishment probably wasn't enough based on how fighters caught cheating in the past were dealt with.
Both Teddy and Dan alluded to the fact that Margarito would likely fight the one of the sport's most popular fighters, Manny Pacquiao, regardless of the CSAC's decision.
Yordanis Despaigne opened the telecast by cruising to a win against the formerly undefeated prospect Frank Paines. The former 2004 Olympian Despaigne, now 7-0 (4 KO), knocked Paines down in round 2 and outclassed him over the 10 round distance, taking away his 0 and forcing him to 11-1 (9 KO).
The 1st round began with Paines attempting to establish a jab and move his feet, and the visibly bigger Despaigne looked to walk down Paines and land harder punches behind a stiff jab. Paines found himself on the end of Despaigne's shots at a mid-range throughout the round, playing defense while stationary. Paines went on the attack early in round 2, landing hard to Despaigne's body. Perhaps standing and trading too long, Paines caught a nasty left hook that knocked him onto his seat just under a minute into the round. With Paines not seeming very hurt, Despaigne settled back into his jab and timed hard right hands and hooks to the body that appeared to rock Paines.
Apparently learning from his mistakes in the 2nd, Frank Paines went back to his jab in round 3, attempting to time Despaigne between shots with a left hook. Despaigne landed a crushing right uppercut about a minute into the round, but Paines quickly gathered himself and jabbed his way out. Paines found some success by jumping in with a few combinations towards the end of the round before being spun around and hit twice behind the head by Despaigne, who was warned for the infraction.
Paines got the worst of a few exchanges early in the 4th, before again going back to trying to skate away and use his feet. Despaigne pot-shotted a bit before luring Paines into more exchanges and finished strong, seeming to move Paines even with shots to his gloves.
Both fighters landed chopping shots in exchanges in round 5, maybe coming in a tad sloppy, as an accidental clash of heads opened a cut over the right eye of Despaigne. A ringside physician checked the cut and ruled the Cuban could continue. Paines moved forward as blood freely flowed down the cheek of Despaigne, catching him with a few hard left hands. Despaigne used his legs to move away between hard single shots at the end of the round, his blood tinting the white trim on his trunks a bright pink.
Round 6 brought a switcheroo, with Paines trying to apply pressure as Despaigne tried to keep him at bay with occasional flurries from the outside. Paines generally got hit with the cleaner punches in the round, though Despaigne's tactical adjustment was apparent. Despaigne easily timed Paines with punches from the outside throughout round 7. Paines ate flush shots through his guard, shrugging after being hit with big shots rather than punching back.
Punch stats in round 8 showed Despaigne landing more than three times as many shots to that point in the fight. The punch stats backed up the reality, as Despaigne clowned Paines by landing at will and dancing away. Despaigne's antics drew boos from the crowd and criticism from Teddy Atlas, who complained that fans weren't interested in showboating.
More of the same in round 9, with Despaigne landing the more effective shots from the outside and the occasional sneaky right hand in close. Paines largely followed, looking visibly discouraged walking back to his corner at the end of the round. Despaigne banged home left hooks in the 10th, with Paines doing his best to make a fight of it, albeit unsuccessfully.
Officials scored the bout 100-89, 96-93 and 99-90 for the undefeated Cuban.
Newly crowned light heavyweight king Jean Pascal cited his gameplan, speed and movement as keys to his win against Chad Dawson this past weekend on HBO, during a between-fights interview with Brian Kenny. When asked who he would like to fight next, Pascal said he'd prefer to fight semi-retired future hall-of-famer Bernard Hopkins, being a bigger name than anyone else at 175 lbs. and having defeated Roy Jones Jr.
In the main event, likewise undefeated contender Erislandy Lara blitzed trialhorse Willie Lee in the 1st round of a junior middleweight mismatch.
Lee, now 17-7 (11 KO), took the fight to Lara in round 1, loading up on left hands behind a jab and trying to walk Lara down. Lara floored Lee with a hard right, left, right combination a little over a minute into the round. Lee arose from the knockdown seemingly unhurt and attempted to walk Lara down again, but Lara stepped forward with a series of left hands that wobbled Lee back to the ropes, then swarmed him with quick shots until referee Lawrence Cole stopped the bout at 1:48 of the opening stanza.
Willie Lee calmly protested the quick stoppage by giving Cole an odd stare for a few minutes, but seemed resigned to his fate while leaving the ring and walking back to his dressing room.
The highly skilled Lara improved to 13-0 (8 KO) with the quick win.
In a pertinent sort of "walk out bout" for the broadcast, lightweight bronze medalist of the 2008 Olympics Yordenis Ugas scored his second stoppage win in a row and moved to 3-0 (2 KO), TKO'ing Marqus Jackson, now 2-2 (2 KO), in the 2nd round of a welterweight contest.
Ugas walked down the colorful character Jackson in round 1, not getting started until well into the round, but shaking up Jackson with the flush shots he landed. Ugas seemed aware of Jackson's shortcomings and planted his feet towards the end of the round, catching Jackson in a corner and forcing him to hold.
Jackson's awkward timing and jab kept Ugas away early in the 2nd round, but not for long. Ugas attacked and hurt Jackson with a right hand about a minute into the round, sending him to the canvas with a half throw, half punch. After rising from an ugly knockdown, Jackson was again attacked by Ugas, who floored him once again and earned a stoppage that seemed similar to the Lara bout with its early "mercy stoppage."
Click Here to View and "Like" Beloved Onslaught on Facebook - or follow Patrick on Twitter: @Integrital