Confession: I wasn’t sure about the wisdom of the matchup, the main event Saturday night at Live Casino in Maryland, from the perspective of the Demond Nicholson side, being that he was coming off being stopped.
Confession 2: I’d messaged the kid before that stoppage loss, to Jesse Hart in April, and he came off as humble and likeable and ambitious and a guy easy to root for. So, when I saw him lose to Hart, and then choose a power puncher as his comeback foe, I shook my head.
And so that was in my head as I was doing color, sitting next to blow by blow man Ray Flores Saturday night at in Hanover, Maryland, on a Jeter Promotion, portions of which ran on CBS Sports Network.
Is this Brazilian Isaac Rodrigues, the smartest choice for a guy coming off getting knocked to the mat a few times?
But as I saw Nicholson pumping the jab, sliding, getting off and getting out, the negativity lifted. And then that shifted; Rodrigues started closing the distance, and was that because Nicholson was reverting to stand and trade form…or was he prematurely tired…and was he headed toward back to back stoppage loss?
No way shape or form.
Nicholson in round six backed the Brazilian into a corner, ripped a left to the body, let that reverberate through Rodrigues’ torso, then ripped a right hand to the body. That folded Roriguez up. He sank to his knees, turned away from the ref, hiding his wincing, trying to get his breath back so he could beat the count. He couldn’t handle the math…
Ten, the ref said and the joint exploded. Nicholson is a Maryland guy, and coach-father Will Nicholson and coach Calvin Ford were over the moon. Ford danced on the apron as Mark Fratto interviewed Nicholson, who held aloft a 168 pound crown.
The kid, I call him a kid, he’s 25 but is still figuring out how to handle the emotions that come with climbing the ladder, tasting an L, soldiering on, learning from mistakes and trying not to let a misstep take him off course.
At 3:30 am, I was still winding down, after the fight night. So I messaged Nicholson, promoted by Lou Dibella, asking about that deadly combo.
“I just checked the fight out, it was the left that hurt him bad. Then behind the left I brought the right,” the 19-3-1 hitter said, a few hours after calling out Peter Quillin and David Benavidez and any other big names at 168.
OK, so to start off, I saw smart boxing, I told Nicholson. Then, a bit less jabbing and moving. Why? Did you just feel like trading more, fighting more, moving less?
“I felt I had to make an adjustment from the moving I felt he start to get my timing down. So I waited until the fifth round to try a different approach,” the winner Nicholson said. “Which was to catch his punches, and throw my own in between. “I saw that he couldn’t really take my power.”
Another tidbit; the day before, I’d messaged Thomas Williams, Nicholson’s manager, the fighter who is transitioning to management. “I see it 70-30, for Nicholson,” Williams told me Friday. “Think it will be a good fight as long as it last. Think my guy will stop him after 5 or 6.”
At 3:45 AM after the fight, I messaged congrats to Williams. “I studied this guy (Rodrigues) a lot, I knew it would be the fifth or sixth round,” he continued. “I just studied this guy to the max. He is a good fighter early but he lacks intensity after four. I knew that if Demond showed him that he wasn’t going anywhere he would fold and I told Demond that several times. I said to Demond, ‘Be a man in there.’
And was he worried when Rodrigues (now 25-3) started closing the distance and landed some power shots?
“I never lost faith in him. I knew it was going to be a little tough for us early. But I knew as long as we could stay in there and take his punches it would be OK!”
Confession 3: Right after the win, I talked to Will and Calvin, and told them that their guy maybe just can’t help himself, he likes to FIGHT. Smart boxing is the way to an easier win, in theory, but fighting like he did Saturday, that’s what makes the joint explode. There was mad cluster of media around Demond after the win and he and his team were SO AMPED. I’m just sayin’….
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