By Gary Purfield
ESPN kicked off their 13th season of Friday Night Fights in Las Vegas with two fights featuring rising contenders Demetrius Andrade and Ruslan Provodnikov against brothers Albert and Mauricio Herrera. The Herrera brothers were meant to be a step up in competition for each well regarded prospect that would further the learning and records of the favorites. One went along with the plan while the other brother forgot he was the opponent.
Andrade opened the telecast in an eight round junior middleweight fight. The former Olympian and highly touted prospect Andrade was featured several times last year on Friday Night Fights and was accused by many including FNF color man Teddy Atlas of fighting soft touches.
Andrade had little trouble against his opponent for the evening Albert Herrera. From the start Andrade who is bigger, faster, and obviously far more skilled than his opponent easily landed to the head and body with an assortment of punches. In a one sided fight Herrera was a game opponent but Andrade easily moved to 12-0 (8KO) by scores of 79-73 and twice 80-72. Herrera drops to 7-2-1 (5KO).
The main event featured a junior welterweight clash between unbeaten Ruslan Provodnikov and Mauricio Herrera (brother of Albert Herrera who lost the opening fight). Provodnikov was featured twice last year on FNF for good reason. He is talented and very exciting to watch. He comes forward and revels being in aggressive fights. The result here would certainly be considered an upset as Herrera won a close decision over the favored prospect Provodnikov.
It was an action packed fight with a contrast of styles between a boxer in Herrera with little power and a heavy handed pressure fighter in Provodnikov. Herrera did well in the early going boxing but by the fourth round the heavy hands and pressure of Provodnikov seemed to be taking a toll on Herrera who had a cut under his left eye that had the eye nearly swollen shut.
The fight featured back and forth action with both fighters having their moments. At times Herrera looked worn down from the constant stalking pressure and heavy hands of the Russian prospect but seemed to always show his heart and toughness by finding life in his legs to battle back.
Provodnikov seemed in control heading into the championship rounds but Herrera battled well in the 11th and 12th rounds likely winning both. Teddy Atlas’s card was shown prior to the judges cards being read and he had it 116-112 for Provodnikov (I also had it for the Russian at 115-113). The judges did not agree giving Herrera a unanimous decision victory by scores of 115-113 and two cards seeing it 116-112. The result came down to judges choosing the fighter who landed more punches over the fighter who landed harder punches. Another example of how judging a boxing match is hardly an exact science. In the end Mauricio Herrera who improves to 16-1 (7KO) fought with grit and determination against a strong opponent and earned the decision victory. Provodnikov will certainly be back on TV because of his engaging style and the young fighter can learn a lot from his loss tonight.
Quote of the night: Teddy Atlas speaking about the swelling and cut under Mauricio Herrera’s eye in the fourth round Atlas describes a good cutman as a gardner. He stated that “to be a good cutman you have to be like a gardner, you gotta get the weeds out before they choke the plants, before it’s too late, before they overwhelm the whole garden”. Absolutely classic Atlas, love him or hate him he has all his own style.
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