Without a doubt, this season of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights series has proved to be one of the most memorable and action-packed in recent memory. The last few broadcasts have delivered in every regard from action, technique, and even some interesting drama. More impressive is the fact that slowly but surely each has managed to out do the last, and the July 19th broadcast proved to be no different.
The three-fight card began with a 6-round heavyweight bout between two untested prospects, Charles Martin (9-0-1, 8 knockouts) and Aaron Kinch (5-2-1, 1 knockout). Quite frankly, the less that is said about this bout the better. With a massive disparity in regards to both size and skill, the fight screamed of a mismatch. Even with its uneven ground, neither fighter managed to look impressive in a fight that proved to slog through the four rounds it lasted.
Martin was both the bigger and better fighter, but for most of the fight he seemed rather gun-shy. This forced Kinch to come forward winging wild hail-mary style punches that were way off their mark, while Martin often failed to capitalize. Both fighters seemed content in throwing single power punches, and to no surprise Martin was landing the better shots, leading to a knock down of Kinch in the third round. Luckily, Martin managed to pick up the pace and finally managed to stop Kinch for good in the fourth round of the fight. It was far from impressive, but at least its another knockout for the fighter’s record.
The co-main event proved to be a memorable one as junior lightweights, Miguel Soto (11-1, 11 knockouts) and Ryan Kielczewski (17-0, 4 knockouts), engaged in what was supposed to be a ten-round affair. Going into the bout its hard to ignore Soto’s 100% KO ration, especially when compared to the seemingly light punching Kielczewski’s, but as impressive as it may seem one can’t help but question the legitimacy of those knockouts as well as the type of opposition it was earned against. As Kielczewski proved, good technique is enough to stop anyone, no matter how impressive a record may seem.
From the opening bell, both fighters came out incredibly aggressive. While Soto came out throwing hooks and scant jabs, Kielczewski relied on his patience and superior boxing to methodically breakdown Soto. Each of the early rounds seemed to follow the same pattern: Soto comes storming out of the gates swinging hooks, Kielczewski keeps him at bay with a peppering jab, and Kielczewski continues his calculated as he shows the many flaws still found in Soto’s game.
In round three, Soto began landing some good hooks, but he continued getting forced along the ropes as well as getting battered to both the head and body which led to Kielczewski running away with many of the rounds. The big surprise was that even though Kielczewski’s record indicates that he’s not necessarily a puncher, he was hurting Soto both early and often from rounds three to five.
With Kielczewski’s lead on the scorecards apparent, Soto came out in round five especially aggressive in an effort to put his opponent away. Instead, Kielczewski makes him pay for this over-aggression and rattles off a series of punches to the head and body of Soto as he comes forward. The damage inflicted was beginning to catch up to Soto and it was apparent by Kielczewski’s ability to land shots at will, but especially by the large hematoma that was forming over his right eye. Just as round five was reaching its end, Kielczewski lands a sneaky right hook to the jaw of Soto that sends the formerly undefeated fighter crashing to the canvas. It was just the type of victory that Kielczewski needed, and the emphatic one-punch knockout that would make a fan out of anyone.
The main event was guaranteed not to disappoint as two of the junior welterweight division’s most exciting fighters, Hank Lundy (23-3-1, 11 knockouts) and Olusegun Ajose (31-2, 14 knockouts), were set to face-off in a ten round contest. The first round played out like many had expected with both fighters coming out both confident and aggressive as they traded blow-for-blow. The big surprise came in round two when Lundy decided to adopt a more counter-punching type gameplan against Olusegon. This allowed Olusegon to become the much busier fighter, but it was plain to see that Lundy was managing to land the cleaner and harder shots with each opportunity he had to counter.
With each passing round, Lundy’s confidence just grew as he embraced the role of the counter-puncher. With a certain level headed-ness that has been absent in his previous fights, Lundy managed to hurt and thoroughly dominate Olusegon throughout the ten round fight. This was especially true from rounds five through ten as Lundy managed to stagger Olusegon at least once each round. As the fight wore on, the effects from Lundy’s punches were beginning to show on the swelling face of Olusegon, and his gameplan became one that was more focused on survival rather than aggression.
By round eight, Ajose began to grow tentative after having sustained so much damage from Lundy’s counter shots. This led to Lundy dominating the final rounds, and eventually walking away with what would be his biggest victory to date. The Unanimous Decision victory was awarded to Lundy on scores of (100-90), (98-92), and (98-92). With a landslide victory against a legitimate opponent, Lundy has proven that he could be a real threat in the junior welterweight division. At this stage in his career, Lundy’s worst enemy is himself, but if he remains as focused as he did on July 19th, the sky is the limit for the Philly fighter.