Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Look Back At A Historic Night For BKB: Big-Knockout Boxing

The theme of the fifth BKB: Big-Knockout Boxing card that took place on June 27th at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada was that it largely consisted of newcomers entering the “BKB Pit” for the first time. It was also however, a card of historical significance for an emerging form of Professional Boxing that is still very much in its growing stages. This card was the first to feature a bout for a World Heavyweight championship recognized by BKB. The undercard however, may well have provided Boxing fans an opportunity to see fighters who could well become stars of BKB in the future.

The night’s action began with a Light-Heavyweight bout between Chris Spang and Samuel Horowitz. This fight was largely dominated by Spang’s ability to get his punches off first and land combinations to the body and head of Horowitz. As is the case in traditional Professional Boxing fights can be determined by who initiates the combat and whether or not that fighter can the effective in his aggression.

Although the BKB format is different from traditional Professional Boxing in that unlike a traditional 20x20 Boxing ring, the BKB Pit has no ropes measuring seventeen feet in diameter and 227 square feet, we have seen on previous BKB Boxing cards that there is still very much an emphasis on Boxing skill and fighters have been able to effectively outbox their opposition in the BKB Pit. The duration of rounds in BKB of only two minutes in duration can also put an emphasis on who was able to get the punches off first and be more effective as compared to a traditional three minute round.

In this fight Chris Spang simply out boxed Horowitz over the course of five rounds. There was however, a brief controversy as Horowitz was credited with a knockdown of Spang in the fifth and final round from what appeared to be a push. The slight controversy notwithstanding, Spang would go on to earn a convincing unanimous decision victory. Official scores were 48-46 (on two scorecards) and 49-46 in Spang’s favor. Unofficially, I scored this bout 49-46 in favor of Spang.

What impressed me about Spang’s performance was how he was able to use his right hand as a focal point of his offense, which set up his combinations throughout this fight. Although Horowitz was very “Game” he simply could not land enough punches to win most of the rounds in this bout. It will be interesting to see how Spang will factor into the equation of the BKB’s Light-Heavyweight division going forward.

In a Jr. Middleweight bout Antonio Johnson faced Anthony Castellon. In a fight that was fought mostly in close, it was Antonio Johnson’s ability to be effective with his punches and counter the aggressive Castellon. Although Castellon was successful in dictating the pace of the fight by coming forward and being willing to engage with Johnson, he was not effective in his aggression and neglected to use his jab as he came forward. This allowed Johnson to counter Castellon periodically throughout the fight with his right hand and mix in combinations.

 Even though Castellon was able to force the action he did not seem to give himself much room to punch as he came forward and ended up smothering his punches throughout this fight. Antonio Johnson would go on to win a five round unanimous decision. Official scores were 48-47 (on two scorecards), and 50-45 in favor of Johnson. Unofficially, I scored this fight 50-45 in favor of Johnson based on his ability to be tactical in executing his offense and landing the more effective punches throughout.

In a Lightweight bout Travis Castellon, the brother of Anthony Castellon squared off with Arturo Quintero. This fight began at a tactical pace where in contrast to the way Anthony Castellon fought his fight against Antonio Johnson, Travis Castellon attempted to keep Quintero at distance with his jab and tried to mix in combinations. Quintero however, was effective in finding a home for his right hand and was able to stun Castellon with a right hand in the closing seconds of the first round.

As the fight progressed Quintero was able to take over the tempo of the fight by being able to slip the majority of Castellon’s punches, pick his spots, and execute his offense in spurts of combinations. The effects of the punishment dished out by Quintero gradually became apparent on Castellon and Quintero was able to force a stoppage of the fight at 1:42 of round four when Referee Kenny Bayless deemed that Castellon was taking too much punishment.

For Quintero, one of several fighters who were making their BKB debuts on this card it was an impressive performance where he was able to make a statement as a player in the BKB’s Lightweight division. As BKB continues to grow it will be interesting to see where fighters like Quintero will be placed in rankings for potential title shots. In the opinion of this observer Quintero could well find himself in position to fight for a BKB world championship perhaps as soon as the next BKB event whenever it takes place.

Although both of the Castellon brothers were unsuccessful in their respective BKB debuts on this card, both fighters showed their mettle and although both walked away from their bouts on the losing end, it would not surprise me to see both back in the BKB Pit in the near future. A question that all newcomers to the BKB format will have to answer following their first exposure to fighting in the Pit win or lose will be whether or not they can make adjustments to how they fought in their first outing. Whether or not the Castellon brothers will be able to answer that question remains to be seen.

In a clash of Jr. Middleweights Urmat Ryskeldiev faced Marcus Willis. Ryskeldiev consistently forced the action throughout this fight landing combinations and getting his punches off first. A consistent theme that has been present throughout the brief history of BKB is more often than not fighters who were able to get their punches off first tend to have an advantage in the BKB format where rounds are two minutes in duration.

Ryskeldiev’s ability to be effective in his aggression was the story of this fight. Willis however, was able to find periodic success throughout particularly when the two fighters would exchange punches in close. Ryskeldiev was simply able to be more effective. Urmat Ryskeldiev would go on to win a five round unanimous decision. Official scores were 50-45 (on all three scorecards) in favor Urmat Ryskeldiev. Unofficially, I scored this fight the same as the official judges 50-45 in favor of Ryskeldiev. Sometimes fights can follow a similar pattern round after round. Ryskeldiev was simply the busier of the two fighters throughout this fight and sometimes that along with effectiveness is enough to win a fight.

Also in the Jr. Middleweight division Janks Trotter faced Ed Paredes. Paredes, who entered this fight coming off of a decision loss to Jesus Soto Karass on the fourth BKB card this past April was looking to rebound against Trotter.

This was one of the most entertaining bouts of the evening as both fighters were willing to engage from the opening bell. A fight where both fighters were able to have periods of effectiveness in exchanges on the inside. Paredes was able to open up and drop Trotter with a barrage of punches early in the third round. Paredes was credited with a second knockdown seconds later from a follow-up barrage, but it appeared to this observer that Trotter was pushed down on the outer wedge of the BKB Pit.

Despite suffering two knockdowns and appearing as though he may have been moments away from being knocked out, Trotter was able to survive the round and the fight continued. The two fighters continued to exchange at a fast pace in the fourth round, but it was Trotter who began to get the better of the action. In the fifth round and final round, Trotter was able to turn the tables on Paredes in scoring two knockdowns of his own in the closing seconds of the fight.

 What was a very entertaining bout that highlighted the intention of the concept of BKB, to provide entertaining, action-packed fights, was also one of the closest fights in BKB’s two-year history. At the conclusion of this fight the official judges rendered a unanimous decision in favor of Trotter. Official scores were 47-44 (on two scorecards), and 47-45 in favor of Janks Trotter.

Unofficially, I scored this fight 47-45 in favor of Trotter. This fight as much as any in BKB’s history thus far exemplified the potential for action-packed exciting fights. Although all non-title fights in BKB are currently scheduled for a five round distance, this observer believes that perhaps those promoting BKB should consider changing round distances to an even number of rounds.

Even though an argument can be made that by scheduling non-title fights for a five round distance and scheduling world championship fights for a seven round distance would theoretically eliminate the potential for draws, this observer believes that if fights in BKB were scheduled for a longer distance, it could go a long way toward determining outcomes of close fights that may otherwise be considered “Inconclusive” as was the case in Gabriel Rosado’s Middleweight championship defense against Curtis Stevens this past April.

In the opinion of this observer the excitement of the Paredes-Trotter bout certainly warrants a rematch between the two perhaps on a future BKB card. Although Trotter got the victory in this fight, I can certainly see an argument for Ed Paredes having won the fight. Whether or not we will see Trotter-Paredes II at some point in BKB is anyone’s guess, but I believe Boxing fans would be in favor of a second encounter between the two.

In a Middleweight bout Shane Mosley Jr., son of former multi-division world champion Shane Mosley scored a devastating first round knockout over Jason Kelly. Mosley dropped Kelly with a body shot early in the round. Kelly was able to beat the count, but it was clear that he was hurt and Mosley was subsequently able to close the show with a flush right hand to the head seconds later forcing Referee Jay Nady to immediately stop the fight at :51 of round one.

As I stated prior to this card, although one might assume that Gabriel Rosado and Curtis Stevens could have a rematch for the BKB World Middleweight championship on a future BKB card, an impressive performance by any fighter competing in weight classes in BKB where there is currently a world champion could elevate that fighter into a championship fight. There is no doubt that Shane Mosley Jr. established himself as a player in his BKB debut in what was a destruction of his opponent.

Whether or not the strength of the knockout victory will propel him into a world championship fight on a future BKB card remains to be seen, but it would not shock me to see Mosley in the world title picture in the near future after scoring what is likely the fastest knockout in BKB’s brief history so far. As for Jason Kelly, it will be interesting to see how he recovers from this knockout loss. Kelly simply just got caught and if he does get another opportunity in BKB, it will be interesting to see what he learns from this experience.

In the final Jr. Middleweight bout of the evening Jesus Soto Karass returned to the BKB Pit following his win over Ed Paredes this past April as he squared off against Adrian Granados. Granados was aggressive and came right out at Soto Karass from the outset. Granados’ lateral movement and combination punching dictated the pace early on. As the fight progressed Soto Karass was able to land periodically to the body and head of Granados, but it was Granados who still dictated how the fight was being fought and who generally get his punches off first.

Although Soto Karass was able to hold his own in several exchanges in rounds three, four, and five, the primary difference in this fight was Granados’ ability to be nearly relentless in throwing punches and it was that near non-stop activity that allowed Granados to earn a five round split decision. Official scores were 48-47 for Soto Karass, and 49-46 (on two scorecards) in favor of Adrian Granados. Unofficially, I scored this fight 49-46 in favor of Granados.

This card had an emphasis on the BKB’s Jr. Middleweight division. It will be interesting to see whether the winners of the four Jr. Middleweight bouts Adrian Granados, Janks Trotter, Urmat Ryskeldiev, and Antonio Johnson are pitted against each other on a future BKB card. If a scenario plays out where all four fighters take part in an elimination tournament of sorts, it could determine the future BKB World Jr. Middleweight champion. This is of course a theoretical scenario, but nevertheless something to think about as BKB moves forward with one of its most competitive divisions.

The eight bout card concluded with the main event to determine the inaugural BKB World Heavyweight championship. Undefeated BKB veteran Julian Pollard faced Rodney Hernandez for the vacant crown. Pollard was originally scheduled to face multi-combat sport veteran Tyrone Spong for the world championship, but Spong was forced to pull out of the fight after sustaining a sprained knee days prior to the card taking place.

Although Pollard would have had an experience edge over Spong, who was going to make his BKB debut in the fight, it is always interesting to see how fighters will respond when opponents change on short notice. In Hernandez Pollard faced a fighter with a record of 7-2-1, with 1 Knockout in traditional Professional Boxing. Despite the change in opponent, Pollard who had a record of 6-0, with 6 Knockouts in traditional Professional Boxing, but a record of 2-0, 2 Knockouts in BKB was still the favorite to win the title.

This fight began with Hernandez coming forward and throwing combinations to the body and head of Pollard. Hernandez also showed his bravado by dropping his hands and telling Pollard to come on. I felt Hernandez controlled the majority of the first two rounds based on his ability to throw punches in spurts. Although he did not land every punch he threw, Hernandez was able to keep Pollard on the defensive and that can win rounds.

Pollard was able to take control of the fight in rounds three, four, and five as he was able to establish his jab and use it as a focal point for his offense which set up combinations. Although Hernandez still was able to throw punches in spurts, it was Pollard who was landing the more effective punches.

By round six Hernandez had the look of a fighter who was battling the effects of fatigue and effects of accumulated punishment from Pollard. Hernandez however, would come out strong in the seventh and final round throwing punches in spurts. Despite beginning round seven strong, Hernandez simply could not sustain his work rate and Julian Pollard would continue to box his way to a convincing seven round unanimous decision to win the BKB World Heavyweight championship. Official scores were 68-65 (on two scorecards), and 69-64 all in favor of Julian Pollard.

Unofficially, I scored this bout 68-65 in favor of Pollard. It appeared as though once Pollard was able to get his jab going and establish an offensive rhythm that Hernandez simply cannot find an answer to avoid Pollard’s jab, which set up the rest of his offense. Although Pollard had knocked out every fighter he had faced prior to this fight, he did turn in an impressive performance in his first world championship fight.

 As for what the future holds for Julian Pollard, it is logical to assume that once Tyrone Spong is healthy that Pollard could defend his BKB world championship against him. How soon that fight could take place is anyone’s guess, but for now it’s clear that Julian Pollard is the number one fighter in the BKB’s Heavyweight division.

Overall the fifth card in the history of BKB: Big-Knockout Boxing continued to show the progress of an emerging form of Professional Boxing. Along with the introduction of some fighters who could be significant figures for BKB in the future, this card much like its predecessors produced entertaining action-packed fights from start to finish

Although this observer was somewhat critical prior to BKB’s card in April of this year due to the titling of the card simply known as BKB 2, as perhaps an attempt to fully embrace the revamped concept of BKB after two previous cards under the original modernized Bare-Knuckle Boxing concept of BKB, BKB has nevertheless consistently shown progress over its first five cards.

In previous coverage of BKB cards readers have become accustomed to this observer pointing out similarities between where BKB is in comparison to where the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) was after being introduced in the United States over twenty years ago. BKB has already adapted from its original concept, which will as I have said in the past likely open doors for BKB to stage more cards in more states. As each card has taken place BKB is becoming more known among both the hardcore Boxing enthusiasts as well as the casual fan.

As has been my opinion after each BKB card, this concept/sport continues to show the potential to grow and has grown considerably in a relatively short time. As the future continues to look bright for BKB, one may wonder whether or not fighters who took part in the first two BKB cards will return to the BKB Pit. It would be interesting to see fighters such as Eric Fowler, who won the BKB World Lightweight championship at the second BKB card in December 2013, or Middleweight contender Don Mouton return to BKB following its revamp to see how they would do against fighters who have participated in the last three BKB cards.

In some ways it would be not all that unlike seeing MMA legends such as Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, and Dan Severn, all of whom participated in the initial Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) cards returning to the UFC’s octagon to face fighters who became stars of the UFC long after the sport of MMA evolved from its initial concept of essentially no holds barred fighting, to its current format where gloves are used and fights take place in several different weight classes. 

Whether or not we will see fighters who participated on the first two BKB cards, who have not been seen in BKB since its revamp return to the BKB Pit remains to be seen. After five action-packed cards however, this observer is very much looking forward to seeing what is in store for BKB 6.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

The Boxing Truth® is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.

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