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Enough with the Low Blows, Bro–Ref Byrd DQs Vicente, Jessie Magdaleno Gets Win on ESPN

Michael Woods

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Makes sense, given the times we are in, that the main event at MGM’s “Bubble,” smelling more disinfected than any boxing venue ever, save maybe for the same joint which featured fights on Tuesday, was whacky as hell.

After four, and probably more, low blows by Vicente Yenifel, Jessie Magdaleno got the win at 1:38 of the tenth in Las Vegas and on ESPN. Referee Robert Byrd finally read the writing on the wall, or more so the “EL” on Jessie’s trunks, near his cup area, which the loser kept aiming for on this Top Rank feature.

Magda, a lefty living in Vegas, came in wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” tee, a black shirt, an homage to George Floyd and the BLM push.

Jessie Magdaleno met Yenifel Vicente on June 11, 2020, in Las Vegas

The winner did well to stay aloft and keep breathing, as the loser went low on him time and again. (All photos by Mikey Williams for Top Rank)

Vicente was trying to make that literal, though, it must be said he’s cagey with placement. These were not screamingly, ludicrously obvious shots, aiming for the under-testes.

I took in the action from the relative comfort and safety of my living room, at the home office, so I heard the wordsmithery of Mark Kriegel, setting the table for the main event, and Joe Tessitore calling the action, along with Tim Bradley and Andre Ward. As per usual, Bradley pushed the envelope with his hot takes, his stances, and Ward showcased a style that mimics his in ring manner. He’s studious, confident, and doesn’t make many mistakes. Tuesday’s session was more so of a bigger picture return to the arena, as subjects such as the Black Lives Matter protests and boxing lives lost to COVID-19 were trafficked in. On this night, it was a bit more by the regular book.

Really, I didn’t so much notice no fans were in the arena, because the commentators served up proper levels of excitement as needed.

Magdaleno, coming in at 27-1, was rated No. 1 by the WBC entering, while the 36-4-2 fighter from the Dominican Republic, who is 33 years old and came in with 28 kayoes to his credit.

Many watchers knew that Jessie had been stopped in April 2018, by Isaac Dogboe (round 11), so this fight was part of a re-ascent. The fight was, by the way, at catcheweight of 128 pounds max.

Jessie’s older brother, Diego, is known to ESPN fight watchers. His challenge to Teofimo Lopez in February 2019 went off the rails, and Diego was stopped out. Lil bro probably has the better chance to get title gold, moving forward.

In the first, down went Vicente. He was up pretty quick, with sharp eyes. A minute was left, and the underdog weathered that storm.

In round two, Jessie smart boxed, moved, as Vicente wanted to stalk. But the A sider focused hard and stayed alert and moved constantly. The third saw a light on his feet favorite snap jabs to the body, block jabs coming back at him, and he won the session with ring generalship. But a left hook inside landed clean enough on Magda that it would have knocked out someone with a lesser beard. He needed to keep moving.

In the fourth, a shot went low–it was at or beneath the belly button–and Magda winced, and turned away, and then Vicente took another whack at him, at his noggin. The ref, Byrd, wasn’t right there, so it made the situation iffy. Magda went down, took a few minutes and the action re-started, after Byrd took two points from the loser. Then, another low blow, and Byrd took another point, total of three in the round, from Vicente.

To round five–down went Vicente. Two knocks to this point–this one was a hook, and it caught Vicente coming in. Timing, gorgeous timing, from the winner. In the sixth, we saw the pace being slowed as Magda stayed dialed in. He wasn’t going to trade, and have things get frenetic.

To the seventh round, Magda got more comfy, his slow-down style wasn’t making superb action, but he took that round, and the eighth. You had to think, maybe, while you watched, that WBC champ Gary Russell is at another level than him.

In the ninth, more movement from Magda, Vicente isn’t A grade at pursuing someone who knows what they are doing with their feet.

In round ten, another low blow, right to the belly button. He could have been disqualified. Shoulda, maybe? And then, another one, and Byrd finally snapped. That’s it, it’s over.

Oh yes, boxing is back, and did you need reminding that this sport features more weirdness, more unpredictability than any other in existence?

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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