The hot-streak of programming just goes one for ESPN as the July 26th edition of Friday Night Fights proved to be another quality broadcast. Featuring a pair of lightweight bouts, both match-ups included established contenders whom were paired up against opponents attempting to break into potential contender-ship.
The first bout of the evening featured former amateur standout, Miguel Gonzalez (22-3, 16 knockouts), against Josenilson Dos Santos (24-2, 14 knockouts) in a 10-round affair. Going into the bout, many expected to see a competitive affair. After all, Gonzalez has come up short before, and Dos Santos’ record seems to indicate that he’s a fighter on a bit of a tear. Instead, fans were treated to an absolute dominant performance by Gonzalez, while Dos Santos’ record has been exposed to being one filled with wins over weak competition.
In the early rounds, the bout seemed to be off to a competitive start. Gonzalez would answer the bell both confident and aggressive, while Dos Santos would try to keep him at bay with a series of jabs and straight hands. Unfortunately for Dos Santos, this gameplan didn’t do much to stop Gonzalez. Instead, Gonzalez would charge forward, swarm Dos Santos along the ropes, and after initiating a wild exchange would go back to stalking the Brazilian around the ring.
With each passing round Dos Santos grew more impatient with Gonzalez’ tactics, forcing him to respond to Gonzalez’ exchanges with single looping power punches or uppercuts. As powerful as these shots seemed at times, there was just no ignoring that Gonzalez had the much higher output between the two fighters.
Things began to get worse for Dos Santos following round four; a round which saw him get docked a point for excessive holding. Whereas Dos Santos only became more desperate in his attack, Gonzalez’ confidence grew. Gonzalez continued bullying Dos Santos along the ropes and throughout the ring before finally putting an end to the fight in the eighth round. After starting the round fairly strong, Dos Santos was hit with a body shot that sent him charging to the opposite corner of the ring in hopes of ending the assault at the hands of Gonzalez. As Dos Santos sat stooped in the corner of the ring, the ref gave him the formality of the ten-count before waving the fight off.
The main event proved to be yet another example of a fight that ended in a manner many hadn’t originally expected. Featuring all-action contender, Juan Carlos Burgos (30-1-2, 20 knockouts) and Yakubu Amidu (18-4-2, 16 knockouts), many saw the main event as being one that would prove to be as exciting as the outcome would be predictable. After all, Amidu had taken on the fight on a little more than two weeks notice, so there’s no way he’d stand a chance against a fighter like Burgos, right? Once again, it appears the pundits were wrong.
The early rounds seemed to have played off like many had expected. Burgos was picking Amidu apart with beautiful combinations to the body and head, while keeping the kind of punch output that would overwhelm or even stop lesser opponents. Although obviously losing these opening rounds, Amidu kept his composure as he continued coming forward and responding with his own calculated style of offense.
Two rounds down, Amidu came out during the third round and quickly began getting warmed up. Amidu finally began to rely on his movement and body punches to help keep his hard charging opponent at bay. With Amidu landing the harder and cleaner shots it was obvious that this had become the competitive fight no one had expected.
From rounds four to twelve, both fighters engaged in a fight that was as exciting as it was seemingly even. It was the kind of back and forth between two fighters where one would have such a hard time scoring a round for a particular fighter that the best option is simply to sit back and watch the violence unfold.
Both fighters were forced to dig deep and pull out every tool in their arsenal in an attempt to walk away with the decision. Just as things seemed set to come to a close, Burgos came forward in the 11th round and tagged Amidu with a pair of shots that had him badly wobbled along the ropes. Much to his credit, Amidu stayed right in front of Burgos and continued trading shots until the round ended.
After a twelfth round which saw both fighters close out in the expected strong and competitive manner, all focus went to just how a fight like this would be scored. Many ring-side scored the bout slightly in favor for Burgos, while the viewers at home seemed to see Amidu winning the fight by a wide margin. The judges saw a completely different fight with the scores of: (116-12, Burgos), (116-112, Amidu), and (114-114).
The decision of the bout being a “Split Draw” will undoubtedly be a disappointment to both fighters, but with how competitive this bout was it will serve as a win more than anything. This holds especially true for Amidu whose stock has undoubtedly risen considering he took the fight on such short notice. Even though both fighters were forced to settle for a draw, it was the fan’s who won and in the end that’s all that matters.