Saturday night, Showtime put on a three-fight card that had all the promise to be a night full of boxing matches that showcased a title eliminator match, and a WBO bantam title fight between Guillermo Rigondeaux and the champion John Riel Casimero. But, as fans quickly found out, the night was going to be anything but ordinary.
In the first match, former three-time Olympian Rasheen Warren (19-3, 5 KOs) faced off against Damien Vazquez (15-3, 8 KOs). With only four wins coming by way of knockout in his previous 21 outings, Warren surprisingly made easy work of Vazquez within two rounds of their scheduled 10 round match.
In the opening round, Warren didn't waste any time and quickly established a spitfire jab that easily found its mark. Within the first 30 seconds of the fight, it was evident that Warren was faster and sharper than Vazquez. The beginning of the end for Vazquez came in the middle of the first round when Warren landed a perfectly timed right hook which dropped Vazquez for only the second time in his career.
With a minute left to go in the first, Warren landed another perfectly timed hook that put Vazquez on the canvas again. Vazquez stood up, but it was evident that he was hurt and was on shaky legs. Warren furiously came out of the corner and threw nothing but power shots, looking to finish Vazquez. The bell sounded ending the first round, and Vazquez survived the vicious onslaught.
Warren started the second looking sharp, and Vazquez seemed to have recovered. However, Vazquez's recovery was short-lived because, in a flash, Warren landed a perfectly timed straight left that crumbled Vazquez and forced the referee to stop the fight.
Warren's trunks had the word “NUKE” embroidered on the waistband, and that's precisely what he did to Vazquez. Warren has surged his career with his dominant performance, and put the rest of the division on notice.
In the co-main event, Gary Antonio Russell (18-0, 12 KOs) was set to do battle with veteran Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-2 12 KOs).
Unfortunately, this highly anticipated WBA title eliminator match was short-lived when the fight was stopped 16 seconds into the first round due to an accidental headbutt.
At the sound of the opening bell, both fighters quickly met each other in the middle of the ring. Russell opened with a lead left hook that missed, and his head clashed with Rodriguez's nose. Rodriguez immediately fell to the canvas, writhing in pain. The ref quickly assessed the situation and determined that Rodriguez was in no condition to continue fighting, so he put an end to the fight.
In the post-fight interviews, both fighters expressed their disappointment with the fight's outcome, and each acknowledged that they want to fight each other as soon as Rodriguez makes a full recovery.
In the main event, veteran Guillermo Rigondeaux (20-2, 13 KOs) faced champion John Riel Casimero for the WBO World Bantamweight Title.
Casimero quickly pressed the action in the opening round and seemed to overwhelm Rigondeaux with his quick jabs, and inside pressure. Rigondeaux hit the canvas in the middle of the first round. However, the referee waved off the knockdown because Casimero's punch landed on the back of Rigondeaux's head.
What seemed to be shaping up like an action fight was quickly diffused when Rigondeaux started pedaling around the ring. In an attempt to ward off Casimero’s frontal assault, Rigondeaux danced on the balls of his feet and popped shot Casimero with firm straight right hands and jabs each time the champion attempted to jump inside Rigondeaux's guard.
This went on for the next ten rounds as Casimero found it challenging to cut off the ring against Rigondeaux's effective footwork. Rigondeaux's plan seemed effective as Casimero frustratedly threw wild hooks and was countered by Rigondeaux's counter right hands. Occasionally the champion would land a punch to the body.
In the championship rounds, Casimero widely willed his way inside Rigondeaux's guard and successfully landed punches to the body and occasionally the head. The fight ended in an underwhelming fashion and left fans wondering how the judges would score this fight.
Casimero retained his title via split decision, which one can only interpret that his pressing of the action resonated more with two of the judges, as opposed to Rigondeaux’s ballet recital.
My Take: Showtime provided three fights with three very different outcomes. It's as if the fans went to a Blockbuster store in the 90s and selected three different movie genres. Warren thrilled us with his action-packed decimation of Vazquez. Russell vs. Rodriguez had an anti-climactic ending typical of most independent movies. And Rigondeaux vs. Casimero just flat-out sucked and would have probably got two thumbs down from Siskel and Ebert. However, in his post-fight interview, Rigondeaux didn't apologize for his fighting style and said he would continue to fight. In the end, I believe the outcome of the fight better suits boxing fans. Casimero lines up to possibly defend his title against Nonito Donaire, or face the monster that is Naoya Inoue.