Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Recap of Windy City Fight Night 21 in Chicago

With snow swirling outside the UIC Pavallian west of Chicago’s downtown, some of Chicago’s best professional fighters were getting ready to meet up for Windy City Fight Night 21. Put on by 8 Count Production and sponsored by Jack Daniel’s, el Jimador Tequila and X-sport Fitness the line-up featured several up-and-coming fighters taking on their best competition to date.

Here is a quick review of the fights.

Match 1: Curtis Tate (3-3-0, 3 KO’s) vs. Alejandro Otero (3-11-2)

The first matchup of the night pitted the two biggest men on the fight card against each other.  Otero, a 42-year-old Cuban, weighed in at 211lbs while Tate was a very soft 258lbs.  Both fighters were game from the first bell as they came together in the middle of the ring like two bulls crashing together, winging wild haymakers at each other. 

Otero went down early in the first more from exhaustion then one shot.  Both fighters were winded by the 2:00 minute mark and the activity slowed a bit.  Tate, while not in the best of shape, did show a little form and kept the pressure on the Cuban.  The fighter from Tennessee did get caught towards the end of the round as a wild left from Otero knocked his mouth guard out.

The second was a carbon copy of the first with Otero under siege from Tate.  Otero went down again early, again not a clean knockout, more of a stumble aided by a glancing blow from Tate.  He’d make it back up and last until the 1:49 mark when he was dropped by Tate again and referee Gerald Scott had seen enough and put Otero (and the crowd) out of his misery by calling a halt to the fight.

Match 2:  Juan Bustamante (2-0-0, 1 KO) vs. Ryan Strickland (1-3-0, 1 KO)

Barely after the ring was cleared for the first match, the next competitors were announced and heading down the ring.  The super flyweights looked like teenagers, well maybe soccer players, in the ring. I doubt there combined weight was much more than Tate’s.

Once the bell sounding it was apparent that what the two lacked in weight they made up for in talent.  Both fighters had solid exchanges with Strickland getting the better of the action early.  That wouldn’t last.  Bustamante quickly discovered that his hand speed was better than Strickland and started to dominate the action. 

At the 2:29 mark he would land a perfect right hand on Strickland’s chin.  The fight was over before Strickland hit the canvas. The referee could have counted to 100 and it wouldn’t have mattered, Kirkland was out. There is a certain sound from the crowd when a clean shot leads to a knockout no matter what level of competition it is, a noise that is repeated with each replay on the video screen. The crowd made that noise when Kirkland went down.

Match 3:

Junior Wright (2-0-0, 2 KO’s) vs. Rogelio Saldana (1-1-0, 1KO)

Wright, a Chicago native, is an up-and-comer with an extensive amateur background (3-time Golden Gloves winner) who dominated his first two fights scoring knockouts in the first round.  Saldana came out looking to make this a competitive junior lightweight fight.  It was – for about 45 seconds.

Wright weathered a few jabs from his opponent without difficulty.  He spent the first minute snapping off the occasional jab of his own before working Saldana into the corner and unleashing a delicious left hook to his midsection.  Saldana took a knee and wasn’t able to meet the ref’s count and Wright had his third 1st-round knockout of his young career.  After the fight, Wright admitted that he had hoped Saldana could have lasted a little longer because he knew that he needed to get some rounds under his belt as he continues his pro career.

Match 4:

Dimar Ortiz (2-0-0 2 KO’s) vs. Francois Russell (0-1-0)

Ortiz, another Chicago based fighter, brought a boisterous cheering section with him and he didn’t disappoint them. He clearly outclassed Russell throughout the first three rounds of the fight as he muscled the timid fighter around the ring. 

Ortiz would get him into a corner and unleash several combinations while Russell could only hold on until the ref broke them up. Russell offered almost no resistance through the four rounds as he only fired an occasional left jab despite his corner’s fervent pleading to “let your hands go!”

As Ortiz stalked Russell around the ring with a slightly crazed look in his eye it was apparent that it was only a matter of time before he would drop his opponent.  It did in the 4th round as a thunderous right hand brought the crowd out of their seats and the ref stopped the fight at the 2:59 mark.

Ortiz dominated much of the fight and could have ended it sooner, but continued to make the young fighter’s mistake of smothering his punches by getting in too close when he had him along the ring.  Finally during the flurry that ended the match, Ortiz took a half-step back and found the room to land his victorious right hook.

Match 5:

Paul Littleton (1-0-0, 1 KO) vs. Cesar Martinez (1-4-1)

The last of the undercard matches featured another promising fighter in Littleton as he took on the 36-year-old Mexican fighter Martinez.  The Chicago-based Littleton was able to land his jab repeatedly from the beginning of the fight as Martinez kept walking into it.  The older fighter’s primary means of defense was to lunch forward and duck at the waist to avoid Littleton’s power shots.

It took Littleton a round to time the weaving Martinez, but when he did he was able to land 4 crushing right hands that knocked Martinez out at the 2:33 mark of the second round. Littleton did look solid when he was pressing the fight, but a better class fighter might be able to take advantage of some of the holes in his defense.  Martinez landed the occasional shot, but couldn’t hurt the younger man.

Match 6:

Edner Cherry (28-6-2, 16 KO’s) vs. Guillermo Sanchez (13-4-1, 5 KO’s)

The first of the co-main events saw former title contender Edner “The Cherry Bomb” Cherry take on Guillermo Sanchez, a Puerto Rican fighter with thirteen wins to his name. This match, featuring the two most experienced fighters on the card, promised to be a good contest.  And it lived up to the anticipation.

Cherry, a member of the 8 Count stable, is rebuilding his career after losing to the WBC Light Welterweight Champion Timothy Bradley (aka Manny Pacquiao’s next opponent) in 2008. A native of the Bahamas currently residing in Wauchula, FL, he had helped his family pick oranges as a child.

The first round didn’t get off as well as he would have hoped as Sanchez was able to land four huge left hands.  The fourth one send Cherry stumbling to the mat.  He was able to easily beat the count and remained wary of the lethal left for the rest of the match.

And a grueling eight-round match it turned out to be.  Cherry was able to get inside and bully Sanchez around the ring, stifling the younger fighter’s big punch.  By the end of the second it became apparent that Sanchez’s game plan was based entirely on that one punch and Cherry was wise to take it out of play.

Still, Sanchez’s defense was rather tight and Cherry was only able to land a few of his famous “Cherry Bomb” power rights.  His most effective punch was a left hook that he was able to land consistently when the two brawled along the ropes.  In the end, Cherry’s ability to control the ring and land the more effective punches won him an unanimous decision.

Match 7:

Adrian Granados (6-1-1, 3 KO’s) vs. Jamie Herrera (7-1-0, 4 KO’s)

The final match pitted Granados, one of the most exciting sluggers in the 8 Count roster, against a brawler in Herrera.  The two fighters provided the UIC Pavilion with an exciting eight rounds of almost non-stop action.  The handspeed of the two welterweight fighters was head-and-shoulders above any of the other boxers on the card with maybe the exception of Junior Wright.

For most of the eight rounds both fighters stood toe-to-toe in the ring and hit each other with the best that they had.  Very few jabs were thrown with any real intention as both gentlemen decided it would be better to fight in tight and wing power shots at each other.

As the fight wore on, Granados realized his best course of action was to fight in close and then dance away before Herrera could counter his shots.  Frustrated a bit with that tactic, Herrera illicited a few boos from the audience as he continually clinched Granados before he could dance away.

That was the only thing that displeased the crowd as they rose to their feet several times during the match as the action rose in the ring. The fourth round featured an epic exchange along the ropes as Herrera landed a solid left to the body and a follow-up right landed flush on Granados’ face.  Adrian wasn’t deterred as he countered with a solid left of his own that drove Herrera back.

Granados emerged the unanimous victor on points as he dominated a tired Herrera in the last round. After the fight he admitted that he knew he had to outbox Herrera as he couldn’t outbrawl him and Herrera was gracious in his defeat, admitting that the better boxer won the fight.

Windy City Fights 21 was an excellent night of boxing.  8 Count Productions provided an exciting card that featured knockouts, toe-to-toe exchanges, and hard-fought victories.  With another night of fighting already scheduled for March 16th, it’s easy to see why they put on some of the best boxing events in the Chicago area.

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