Barclays Center Undercard Report, Before Gervonta Davis Main Event
In the Showtime PPV opener, we saw Eduardo Ramirez (age 29; from Mexico, 26-2-3 entering) meet Luis Melendez (17-1) in a junior lightweight battle set for ten. Melendez threw and landed more, but would the judges call it along those lines at Barclays Center in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn May 20, 2022?
Nope; it was Ramirez, a majority nod, by scores of 95-95, 96-94, 98-92. Melendez didn’t by the way act wounded or robbed at Barclays Center on Saturday early evening, before the Gervonta Davis-Rolly Romero feature scrap on this Premier Boxing Champions event.
Ramirez had fought for the IBF world 130 pound crown, coming up short to Lee Shelby in 2017. A four fight win streak since then made him the A side. The 24 year old Melendez is a Floridian from Puerto Rico, he hadn’t been tested like his foe had. A win over ShoBox perennial Thomas Mattice last November opened a couple eyes.
Ramirez landed more shots in the third, and his right hook looked like it could be instrumental. Melendez showed good hand speed on landing a lead right. Both men had their moments through three.
Melendez squared up noticeably, but then he’d reset and offer a front shoulder as impediment. Blow by blow man Barry Tompkins noted in round 5 that Ramirez was getting a lead. But Steve Farhood, the unofficial scorer, had Melendez up one after five.
Both were open enough to make it that much more dramatic.
In the eighth, Ramirez the lefty went more aggressive after hearing it from his corner. Melendez, who switched righty and lefty, slipped and ducked on the corner but he wasn’t answering. In the ninth, Ramirez (below, landing a left, in Amanda Westcott pic) bore in, head down, winging shots. Farhood saw it even after eight. But Melendez wasn’t shrinking, his energy level went up to kick things off in the tenth. Both raised their hands as they waited for the cards to be read.
I gave props on Twitter to whoever made this match for Premier Boxing Champions.
Luis Arias took on Jimmy Williams in a junior middleweight scrap set for ten. This was a totally solid scrap, and it went to the cards after ten. By scores of 99-91, times three, Arias got the nod.
They both worked hard, and round four, especially, stood out. Arias, coming on off an upset loss to Vaughan Alexander, pressed and landed clean with a nasty right in the first minute. Jimmy slung counters, and also take a turn pressing forward. He worked to the body, and showed toughness and chin as Arias stayed busy.
Brian Campbell called the fight informally with J Roc Williams and Stephen Jackson, as part of a two fight Showtime freeview.
Williams sashayed around the ring, to start the tenth. Maybe he thought he had this in hand? The 31 year old Arias (from Milwaukee, living in Florida) did his thing, staying on the hunt. The 35 year old Connecticut boxer kept the feet going, but Arias (20-3-1) let the hands go hard in the home stretch. He knocked Williams (18-8-2) down with less than ten seconds to go, it was called a slip. Arias has a solid resume, he will keep on chugging. Williams is a proud journeyman, that's not a knock.
In the freeview opener, which ran on YouTube, we saw Jalil Hackett (4-0 with 3 KOs) get the W in a welterweight tussle. In round two, Belloso was eating clean rights, and Artie Mercante pulled the plug. A smashing right hurt Belloso, and it almost ended there. He got extra time, to recover his mouthpiece, but that only postponed the inevitable. After eating two filthy left hooks, a lead right connected so the ref halted it.
Hackett is just 19, a DC guy with a solid skill set. Belloso, a Cali guy from Arkansas, went to 4-1.
In the “co-feature,” Erislandy Lara had his way with Spike O'Sullivan, and defended his WBA middleweight title. It was easy work, only harder because the Irishman is tough and stubborn. But he's 37, and maybe seeing the end of the line. His record stands at 31-5, he's been stopped in four of those losses. The 39 year old Cuban cutie turned pocket puncher is 29-3-3, and gosh, he must have a superb manager, because after those toughies against Jarrett Hurd and Brian Castano, he's been taken care of:
Here is how the Lara-Spike scrap was described in the Showtime release:
In the co-main event, Cuban star Erislandy “The American Dream” Lara (29-3-3, 17 KOs) dominated Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan (31-5, 21 KOs) to retain his WBA Middleweight Title via an eighth-round TKO.
A two-division champion who landed 54% of his power punches in the bout, Lara waited patiently for his opening against the aggressive O’Sullivan, and broke through for the first time late in round four. He sent O’Sullivan down in the closing moments of the round with a blistering counter left hand that hurt him before dropping him with a straight right hand.
“This new style that I’m demonstrating is for all the boxers to show them how I can fight now, just being able to change up,” said Lara. “He was a tough boxer, too. I’m a smart boxer, a slick boxer, that’s what I did tonight. I waited until he attacked and then I did what I had to do to win the fight.”
O’Sullivan was again saved by the bell in round five, as Lara hurt him as the round waned with a right hook-straight left combination. Showing the precision that has made him renowned as one of the sport’s most skilled fighters for years, Lara struck again at the end of round seven, wobbling O’Sullivan severely moments before the bell rang.
After receiving attention from the ringside physician before round eight, O’Sullivan ran into another straight left hand from Lara early in the round, prompting referee Benjy Esteves to waive off the bout 23 seconds into the frame.
“I saw the opening, he was leaving himself open and that’s when the left came in and knocked him down,” said Lara. “I saw in the eighth round he didn’t have any more power and that’s when I stepped up and showed my power.”
Here are all the fights on the card, off #BoxRec: