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The ESPN2 Friday Night Fights TV Cheat Sheet- Aug. 19, 2011

Sadly, this is the final “Friday Night Fights” show of the season, which is departing for its yearly hiatus to make room for college football. As has become the custom, ESPN has gone all-in for the season finale delivering one of the network’s best cards of the year. The “FNF” season began with an upset, Mauricio Herrera edging a close decision over Ruslan Provodnikov, and Demetrius Andrade will have to be 100% against Grady Brewer to ensure he does not become the second piece of an upset bookend. In the opener, a former world champion squares off against a resurgent Philly prospect. Either bout could have headlined, so it is great to see both land on the final ESPN2 card of the year. A fitting sendoff to an entertaining “Friday Night Fights” season.

At the Horseshoe Casino, Hammond, IN
(ESPN2) Demetrius Andrade (13-0) vs. Grady Brewer (28-12)
(ESPN2) David Diaz (36-3-1) vs. Henry Lundy (20-1)

Henry Lundy - Somewhere in Philadelphia, there is a boxing factory that churns out contenders at a record pace to which “Hammerin’ Hank” Lundy is re-aspiring to after an unexpected loss. Like most Philly prospects, Lundy had solid amateur schooling, sporting a 65-5 record with a Pennsylvania Golden Gloves title and second place finish at the National Golden Gloves. Began boxing in the amateurs at age 15 and has not been coddled since turning pro, Lundy’s résumé sports a good mix of opponents with three undefeated prospects losing their zeroes to Lundy. Combination punching makes him fun to watch and Lundy definitely has the Philly mindset of punching with an opponent instead of countering. Despite fast hands, Lundy does not avoid bodywork in favor of flair or pitty-pat combinations. Fights out of orthodox stance but switches to southpaw on occasion and even squares up at times before selecting which hand to lead with. Needs to work on defense; much of Lundy’s guard is reflexive, pulling back instead of using good footwork or keeping his hands up. When Lundy gets comfortable with a foe, his hands are held much too low; the jab suffers for it while other punches remain fast enough to land. Carries a lot of his weight in the upper body, with rounded burly shoulders, but stoppages (45% kayo ratio) are generated by fast hands and feet which launch him into opponents. At first sight, looks like purely an offensive banger but Lundy lays the groundwork with body shots and will back up to allow opponents to walk into punches. In lone loss to hard-punching John Molina, Lundy was far ahead on scorecards but was caught by a huge right hook and never recovered from it in the 11th round stoppage setback. This is his second fight of 2011 and Lundy averages four ring appearances a year. Did well to get in two educational ten-round bouts with lanky Cuban trickster Richard Abril and undefeated southpaw Tyrese Hendrix before outclassing former Olympian Patrick Lopez in his last bout. Lundy can be exciting to watch and his sometimes wild punching receives comparisons to Vinny Pazienza in New England area. Like Pazienza, is an entertaining talker who enjoys running down opponents as much as talking about himself. A still rough-around-the-edges prospect, Lundy’s fighting instincts were fortunately not trained out of him in the amateurs.

David Diaz - Of the great boxers Manny Pacquiao has faced in his last six bouts, Diaz might well have given “Pac-Man” his sternest test despite losing by ninth round TKO. People forget Diaz sent Erik Morales into temporary retirement, where Diaz rebounded from a first round knockdown to wear down and score a deserved unanimous decision over the future Hall-of-Famer. Nevertheless, how much did the Pacquiao fight take out of Diaz, who struggled to a majority decision win over tough but faded Jesus Chavez (a hometown rival and friend) afterward? Diaz is a southpaw who has been boxing since age eight, a decorated amateur finishing with a 175-16 record. Beat Zab Judah twice including the Olympic trials, registering three National Golden Gloves titles but losing in the 1996 Olympic Games to future world title challenger Oktay Urkal. A fine boxer, Diaz uses intellect to create space and lead or counter according to exploitable weaknesses in opponent’s defense. Must do that because Diaz is not the fastest in terms of hand speed and at age 35, I wonder if his reflexes still allow for that style. Positions himself well with footwork, not hesitating to punch either leading or directly after absorbing a blow. Heart shone through in Pacquiao loss, refusing to give in despite a horrible cut and continually getting beat to the punch. Diaz has been a pro for almost 15 years, answering the bell for 258 rounds, which shows in a relaxed ring demeanor. That same relaxedness is why Diaz does not have many stoppages, 17 in 40 fights, satisfied to stop and pop instead of going for a stoppage. Fought once a year for the last three years, going 2-2 (against good foes) in his last four fights. Diaz spoke about fighting Lundy, “You can’t go in overconfident because you end up losing. Hank Lundy is exceptionally good. He has great speed, decent power and he switches off, so it’ll be a hard fight but I believe I want this more than he does. I’ve had the better opposition and my experience will show in this fight.” Diaz did not rise to world-class level despite a lack of skills. It’s actually quite the opposite and he is underrated because of a low-key personality.

Verdict - Everything Diaz was, Lundy has the ability to slowly mature into. So, the question is at what juncture of the crossroads are these two are meeting? I am afraid Diaz has missed his exit and is running on fumes when he needs a full tank to ward of the speed and awkwardness of Lundy. Lundy’s movement and more importantly, darting feet, will keep Diaz off-balance and unable to establish a rhythm while Lundy scores from the outside, thanks to a slight reach and speed advantage. Diaz remains physically stronger but won’t get close enough or have the consistent pressure to make that matter. Lundy stays on the outside and attacks when he wants for a cut or swelling-induced stoppage with a round left in the fight.

Grady Brewer - The Oklahoman is gunning for a second straight upset over a highly-touted prospect after starching Fernando Guerrero in four rounds two months ago. The best way to describe this battle-hardened boxer is as an elite gatekeeper, a full notch below serious contender. Even at age 40, Brewer has tread left on his tires, winning ten of his last 11 to include emerging as the champion of the second season of “The Contender” TV series. A fight before ruining Guerrero’s unblemished record, Brewer took away the undefeated record of Canadian based Nigerian Albert Onolunose. First gained prominence derailing an Anthony Thompson that many thought had championship abilities. Not content beating up on youngsters, he has defeated titleholders Steve Forbes and Cornelius Bundrage as well as Michael Stewart, showing Brewer can deal with intelligent as well as youthful opposition. Was riding an eight-fight winning streak against good foes but ran into a hot Erislandy Lara, who stopped him in the last round of a lopsided affair. Only fought twice since then but at his age, Brewer needs more time to recuperate. Never enters a ring out of shape, and at 5’10” with a 72-inch reach, is a solid junior middleweight who can absorb early punishment. Took all of 2007 off and only averaged two fights a year since 2006 but given his fast starts, the layoffs do not seem to affect him adversely. Brewer was thrown to the wolves early in his career, losing to the likes of Jermain Taylor, Kelly Pavlik, and Peter Manfredo before his 17th fight. Overcame this and prospered because of the toughness those fights give a fighter who does not break mentally. Brewer is at his best when he gets a stiff jab working early and is surprisingly good when the fights lack excitement due to his movement and counterpunching abilities. Has the experience to frustrate foes looking to land big punches to go along with the intellect to avoid boxers who do not set up punches or throw combinations. Even at age 40, is a dangerous test for any prospect and Brewer thrives in his role as a spoiler over the last decade.

Demetrius Andrade - Blue-chip New England prospect was a 2008 Olympian, nurtured and educated in the finer points of pugilism since age six. The consensus opinion around Andrade was that he had the best pro potential of a below-average Olympic team. The southpaw was a disappointment in the Olympics, losing controversially (11-9) in the third round to two-time bronze medalist Kim Jung-Joo of South Korea. However, Andrade did win the 2007 World Amateur Boxing Championships and nearly every national amateur tourney in an unpaid career that spanned nearly 300 bouts with only a handful of losses. A two-time U.S. national champion and Golden Gloves champion, Andrade holds victories over Daniel Jacobs and current WBA world titlist Austin Trout. Twice defeated much-hyped Fernando Guerrero and German prospect Jack Culcay as well. Is a physically mature 23-year-old junior middleweight now, carrying the punching power from his amateur welterweight days up to 154 pounds. Andrade’s 69% kayo ratio, stopping nine of 13 foes, is based on speed, accuracy, and punch selection instead of brute force. However, the level of opposition had been decidedly weak considering Andrade’s pedigree. There is also a concern that Andrade is not developing optimally, continuing to use his father as lead trainer without seeking outside guidance. Aside from that, Andrade has all the tools in his bag to develop into a world titlist. When in rhythm and feeling comfortable, snaps off a piston-like jab and can switch from southpaw to orthodox stance in an instant. In that sense, Andrade is like his boxing hero, Roy Jones Jr., and carries the kind of reflexes and ring intuition to get away with mistakes for now. A major criticism has been consistency because Andrade only shows his terrific skills in spurts, pointing to either a lack of mental poise or boredom with the opposition. In every outing, sharp footwork has gotten and kept Andrade in punching range but he did not exploit it with combinations or aggression, frankly. Andrade is accepting of the easy connect when more pressure could open up an opponent for the stoppage. At 6’1”, Andrade uses his size well on defense, employing long steps to get out of range with one fluid motion leaving opponents reaching and off-balance. Andrade is a bright and likable kid but like Andre Ward early in his career, mediocre opposition (until tonight) and lack of fire has fans viewing him as passionless.

Verdict - I hate rooting against my pick and I want to call for an upset in this bout! Logic states (I try to keep my emotions out of picks) Andrade sports all the advantages but one: experience. That edge will be overcome by Andrade’s exceptional athleticism, size, and superior reflexes. Simply put, Andrade’s physical skills allow him to get away with mistakes against a slowing Brewer. I am concerned that this is Andrade’s first ten-rounder (the kid’s only been eight “having his way” rounds), which could be a problem if Andrade is forced to fight while consistently backing up. Andrade is taking the fight on pretty short notice as well. I get the feeling a dangerous opponent will bring out the best in Andrade, his mental focus lending snap to his jab and right hand to deliver a resounding victory. Andrade stays on the outside and catches Brewer on the way in consistently and as the rounds progress, I hope Andrade comes forward instead of resting on his laurels as in the past. Brewer needs opponents to engage him to cause the upset but Andrade’s amateur pedigree and ability to box off the back foot keep him in good stead for a 97-93 victory on the scorecards.

Prediction record for 2011: 86% (107-17)
Prediction record for 2010: 85% (218-40)

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