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Boxing News, September 9, 2007

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Huerta-Hinojosa On Versus



It’s not too often in boxing that the right thing is done. The Versus channel, however, attempted to do just that when it hosted lightweight Miguel Angel Huerta for the second time in a little over two months.

The first time he appeared on the network, on June 14, Huerta faced the heavily favored Almazbek Raiymkulov, a.k.a. “Kid Diamond.” Huerta clearly bested Diamond over the course of 12 rounds, even dropping him in the 11th.

But two shameless judges, Don Ackerman and Frank Adams, robbed Miguel of a victory that was unquestionably his. When the decision was announced, commentators Nick Charles and Wally Mathews were outraged, and the majority of the crowd was no less vocal in expressing their feelings.

As distressing as the decision was, the realization that this might be Huerta’s last time fighting on TV against a top-rated fighter seemed worse. Network execs, usually knowing precious little about the sport, respond to undefeated fighters—regardless of how soft the opposition they’ve been in with. An opponent like Huerta, who fell to 24-8-1 (17) after that loss, rarely gets credit for the excellent fighters he’s been in with—guys like Julio Diaz and Victoriano Sosa (when he was still a badass). No matter how deserving, fighters with two many L’s rarely get a shot at a major or a big payday.

In what will hopefully signal a new trend, the game Mexico City journeyman Huerta wasn’t banished to fighting in the dark. He was once again the main event on Versus, this time facing another grizzled vet in Efren Hinojosa.

Huerta took care of business at the Grand Plaza in Houston, Texas, keeping hope alive for something big down the road. He easily decisioned Hinojosa over 12. Scores were 106-120, 107-119 and 108-118.

While Huerta, 27, obviously needed to win to keep things rolling, Efren needed one that much more. At 35 and 12 years in the game, he’s now a perfectly respectable 29-4-1 (17). Unlike many hyped prospects, several of Efren’s wins have come against credible fighters. But he has lost when he couldn’t afford to, and any momentum in his career has eluded him of late.

This was do or die for him.

It looked like the latter, as early as the second, when a couple flush left hooks to the head deposited Hinojosa on the canvas.

Almost as soon as he was standing again, Huerta caught him with more solid left hooks. (Miguel’s got a great one, by the way.) Efren went down again.

Inexplicably, referee Lawrence Cole waved off this second knockdown. It would’ve been understandable had Cole waved off the fight, which is what I and Wally Mathews initially thought he was doing. How he could’ve missed these clean punches is beyond me?!

Since I mentioned a couple of offensively bad officials above, please indulge me as I give Mr. Cole a little ink. He is the son of Texas’ longtime boxing commissioner Dickie Cole, and whenever there is a big fight in the Longhorn State, there’s a great chance Lawrence will get the nod.

I’d be a wealthy man if I got a quarter for every time LC either blew a call or just exercised miserable judgment as the third man. I’d say his coup de grace occurred last November, on Showtime, at the Dodge Arena in Hildago, TX. He advised a badly cut Juan Manuel Marquez that he could quit because he was ahead on the cards against Jimrex Jaca. The ringside microphones caught him saying this with exquisite clarity.

One must conclude that this ref is either stupid, corrupt, or a splendid blend of the two.  Like his notorious neighbor George W. Bush, LC represents a compelling argument against nepotism.

Anyway, somehow Hinojosa made it though the round, even though a left-hook crazy Huerta couldn’t miss. Just before the bell, Hinojosa briefly slowed Huert down with a right hand. And then, way after the bell, he landed another right which shook Huerta up.

Once again, Cole did nothing. Actually, he went to Huerta’s corner and essentially told them to deal with it. Hinojosa never received a warning.

Huerta switched to southpaw in the third, and towards the end of the round landed a hard overhand left and right hook. Efren attempted to used his height advantage and box on the outside.

Once again, Efren had his best moments once the round had ended. He landed a big right long after the bell had sounded. And once again, no warning from guess who!

A bad cut formed on Efren’s right eye during the fifth. Even though he was losing the round and the fight, he managed to end the round with a good flurry.

No late blows were thrown this time, but, get this: while Efren’s corner worked on his cut, they received a nice favor courtesy of the Texas officials. They were given a full two minutes between rounds. It was as if nothing out of the ordinary were happening. And, of course, LC wsa fine with all of this.

Wally Mathews, confused by the delay between rounds, informed us that the rule in Texas is that whenever the doctor enters the ring to take a look at a fighter, they stop the rest period. But one would assume this is so a fighter isn’t cheated of his 60-second break, not have it multiplied by two.

Huerta was back to orthodox in the seventh and got in left hooks at will. Efren’s cut wasn’t getting any prettier. To his credit, he never appeared rattled by the cut, or the punches for that matter, and boxed fairly well. You could give him the round.

Efren also fought well in the eighth. The commentators observed that he was definitely giving Huerta a better fight than did Kid Diamond. No one can say Efren doesn’t know how to fight.

As was his custom, Huerta continued to walk forward in the ninth, winging left hooks. He doesn’t throw combinations and doesn’t set up his power shots (the only stuff he throws) with a jab. He’s not a guy who’d fair well with a boxer, which Efren qualifies as. Put another brawler in front of him—fireworks.

The championship rounds were busy, but fairly uneventful. Huerta poured on the pressure and Efren used his legs and boxed, but never came close to turning the tide. Miguel showed that, matched right, he’ll be a tough outing for almost anyone. Efren proved he still has some rounds left in him.

Highly touted jnr. welter Victor Ortiz, moved his record to 19-1-1 (14), as he stopped  trialhorse Emmanuel Clottey at 2:59 of the 10th. At the time of stoppage all three judges had it big for Ortiz: 90-79 twice and 89-80. The durable Ghanaian Clottey went to 24-8 (14).

It was a frustrating fight for Ortiz, 20, as Clottey was solely interested in surviving. At no point did the vet attempt to test the callow upstart.

Ortiz landed a right in the sixth that hurt Clottey. But before that shot landed and for several rounds after it, Ortiz’s patience and poise was tested.  In the ninth, the southpaw Ortiz decided to give it a go fighting orthodox.

Ortiz’s best moment came seemingly by accident toward the end of the tenth. Squared up (but having since gone back to lefty) and somewhat off balance, he dropped a short right on Clottey that put him down. I think it surprised both combatants equally.

But there was nothing accidental about the way Ortiz closed the show after Clottey took his eight-count. He dialed it up and landed a series of lefts. If de la Hoya were watching, he’d applaud the young man’s killer instinct accuracy in finishing his opponent off.

A left sent Clottey down a second time in the round, and the ref decided Emmanuel had seen enough.  The vet’s head might’ve been clear, but his legs were walking off in a different direction.

Off-TV Armenian-American jnr. middle Vanes Martirosyan forced Alexis Divison to retire after 3. When are we going to see the 15-0 (11) Vanes on TV?





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