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Diaz, Frankel, Esho and 8 Count Heat up a Cold “Windy City”

Photo © Emil Kegebein/LegUpPhotos.com
Photo © Emil Kegebein/LegUpPhotos.com

By Coyote Duran at Ringside


On Friday night in Chicago at the UIC Pavilion, 8 Count Productions played host to a packed house of 3,597 rabid fans, celebrating the return of former lightweight titleholder David Diaz, who headlined the 15th edition of “Windy City Fight Night 15” in a ten-round lightweight attraction.
 
Diaz, 36-3-1 (17), and opponent Robert “Red Hot” Frankel, 27-10-1 (4), weren’t matched by accident. In fact, the two lightweights shared a number of variables that made this fight very interesting. Diaz hadn’t fought in almost ten months, his last outing being a unanimous decision loss to current lightweight titlist Humberto Soto on the Manny Pacquiao vs. Joshua Clottey undercard. Frankel’s last fight was nearly 22 months prior, a ten-round unanimous decision win over Ricardo Dominguez. Each fighter has faced a Pacquiao, Diaz losing via ninth-round stoppage in June of 2008 to Manny and Frankel defeating brother Bobby via ten-round unanimous decision in November 2008 (Bobby Pacquiao hasn’t been seen in a professional ring since). Both have faced and defeated trial horse Ramon Montano, Diaz via ten-round majority decision in March 2008 and Frankel by ten-round split decision in October 2008. Diaz has gone the distance and beat Jesus Chavez and Erik Morales and stopped Jose Armando Santa Cruz. Frankel went the distance and beat veteran Mike Stewart and lost in decisions to Dmitriy Salita and Lamont Peterson, both undefeated at the time. Both Diaz and Frankel have two stoppage losses. That said, some fans might have thought Frankel was a tune-up; this writer didn’t. The Denver, Colorado native did not come to Chicago to get walked over.

The crowd, the Pavilion’s largest in several months (especially compared to the April 2010 “ShoBox” card, featuring Donovan George), was primed for insanity by absorbing some exceptional violence earlier in the evening and was flat-out nutsoid when Diaz entered the ring. Their expectations were most certainly satisfied.
 
Diaz came out in the first round eager and ready to move, eluding a one-two by Frankel. Diaz would counter off the back foot and looking focused, slipping to his own left to dodge Frankel’s straight shots. Frankel cracked Diaz with an upstairs right hand but “Dangerous David” returns one to the body before both tie up. After the two fighters break, Diaz pops Frankel with a short right hook after the break. It was definitely a good feeling-out round with neither man looking too worse for wear.
 
Diaz connects with Frankel’s body in the second, causing a slight stumble. Frankel tried connecting in vain, missing wide shots while Diaz used some serious head and body movement to perplex his opponent. A right hook from Diaz rocked Frankel momentarily but the latter would keep coming forward, trying to seize any precious opening available.
 
The third round was where the action truly kicked in with both men trading on the inside with Diaz attempting to land that patented down south uppercut while the savvy Frankel evaded each try. Wild back-and-forth action and brief clinching would ensue before Frankel would gain his opponent’s respect by cracking him with a hard right hand seconds before round’s end.
 
The fourth and fifth rounds saw both fighters trade off the ropes, Diaz tightly guarding upstairs then lunging for Frankel. The rounds became less and less about defense and more about connecting at all possible. Frankel, cut in the fourth, stayed his course and dug forward in the fifth eliciting a brawl to cap off a difficult round to score.
 
The sixth panned out the same with both men engaging each other in close quarters. In the first 15 or so seconds of the seventh, Frankel scored with a heap of shots, opening a cut that this writer couldn’t tell whether it resulted from a headbutt (from such close head-to-head brawling) or the violent salvo of punches.
 
Both men were covered in blood in the eighth but Diaz trudged through the chaos and connected with steady right hooks. By the ninth, one would think the action would’ve cooled a little from all the effort and blood loss but both men still dug into each other, firing wild, clinching and firing yet again. Both men traded crosses heavily in a phone booth so confining, you couldn’t separate them with a stick of dynamite.
 
The tenth and final round opened with Diaz and Frankel touching gloves and, through the blood, the former titlist offered his praise, a wink and a smile before they both once again tore into each other until the final bell.
 
Judge Ted Gimza scored the fight 95-95 and judges Mike Fitzgerald and Bulmaro Campuzano scored the fight 97-93 and 96-94 respectively. Maxboxing scored the fight 96-94 for Diaz as well.
 
Esho Unleashes Hell on Rodriguez
 
After three straight fights across the border in Indiana, undefeated welterweight prospect Achour Esho, 10-0 (7), saved his own bacon something fierce by becoming a human wrecking ball in the fifth round of a scheduled six-round contest, destroying Corey Rodriguez, 5-2-2 (3).
 
In the first round, Rodriguez worked his jab from the onset, priming Esho for a couple of left hooks upstairs. Rodriguez’s all-offense/no-defense strategy paid dividends as he landed far more shots than the Skokie native was ready for.
 
In the second, Esho started warming up and building his offense, though still getting tagged occasionally and unnecessarily while backing up. The third heat was the setting for a close-quarters brawl before Esho calmed down and started using his side-to-side movement before ultimately getting backed into the ropes. Esho’s face was etched with worry as Rodriguez began connecting with more hard rights and lefts whenever the Minnesotan could exploit even the tiniest of openings.
 
In the fourth, a right hand from Rodriguez, who was very visibly dazed. Rodriguez dominated a truly bad round for Esho, whose saving grace was a right hand that violently snapped Rodriguez’s head back.
 
Suddenly, in the fifth round, it looked as if an action film stuntman took over as Esho violently came out of the box, banging away and taking away Rodriguez’s legs, forcing referee Gerald Scott to administer a standing eight-count. As soon as Rodriguez was given the go-ahead to continue, the ravenous Esho charged in and dealt him a dreadful beating, dropping him once again, forcing the stoppage as the Chicago crowd exploded in approval. It’s easy to say that Esho got exposed but it’s also fairer to say that he stepped in with a guy like Rodriguez who was just as live with as just as many fights under his belt and a winning record. It was the right fight at the right time. The fact that this and the Diaz fight weren’t televised was a cast-iron injustice.
 
Mendez and Gibson Battle to a Draw
 
Prospect Genaro Mendez, 3-0-1 (2), underwent a surprise trial-by-fire in opponent Keandre Gibson, 1-0-1 in a four-round junior welterweight showdown that proved to be daunting and frustrating for the 27-year-old Chicago native. In round one, Gibson came out aggressively and grunting like Venus Williams with every shot. Gibson’s uncanny quickness made Mendez look plodding but no less effective as Mendez’s southpaw jabs and hooks emerged. The more active Mendez got, the more Gibson’s right-handed attempts to the body strayed low, often glancing off Mendez’s hip. Gibson’s frenetic punches-in-bunches looked more flashy after awhile but did little to deter Mendez, who forced him backward. What began as an intimidating approach by Gibson ended with a mild gesture of respect for Mendez as he playful tapped his opponent on his chest with his glove.
 
Mendez’s chief second, the ever-focused Pat Doljanin sternly hollered at Mendez to use the jab and move his head more in the second. Mendez complied, then worked the body while Gibson could do nothing more than tie up Mendez momentarily. In the middle of a Gibson flurry, a straight right got through Mendez’s defense, spurring the Chicagoan to goad Gibson into a neutral corner. Gibson connected with another unnoticed shot to Mendez’s hip and began looking less determined with less flashy shots. Near the end of the round, Gibson started looking as if he was pulling his punches minutely, though, at the same time, trying to make them look and sound good, looking more tired as the seconds ticked away.
 
The third saw more clinching than in either of the first two rounds and Mendez remedied this in the fourth by coming out throwing, encouraging Gibson to do so, in kind. A messy exchange resulted in Gibson slipping to the canvas. After a bit, Gibson resorted to clinching once again to wear down the waning seconds. Mendez would attack Gibson upstairs before both men traded heartily down the stretch.
 
Judge Patrick Morley scored the fight 39-37, in favor of Gibson, while judges Jerry Jakubco and William Lerch each scored the fight 38-38, a draw.
 
Undercard Results
 
Andrzej Fonfara, 16-2 (7) TKO 5 Adam Jaco, 9-4-1 (4), light heavyweights
 
Alex DeLeon, 3-2-1 (3) TKO 2 Jimmy Herrera, welterweights
 
Anton Novikov, 19-0 (6) UD 8 Dashon Johnson, 11-4-3 (3), junior middleweights
 
Ramiro Carrillo, 4-0 (2) UD 4 Clifford McPherson, 2-3-1 (1), junior welterweights
 
Aslanbek Kozaev, 14-0 (5) UD 6 Hector Alatorre, 16-14 (5)


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