In February 2004, Puerto Rican jnr. welters Henry Bruseles and Wilfredo Negron put on some of the best back and forth action you’ll ever see on Telefutura. Although both fighters went down, it was the compact Bruseles who triumphed in the seventh session, knocking out the reed-thin Negron.
Almost three years later, at San Juan’s Coliseo Miguel Agrelot, the two met again. Only this time the fight never developed into anything special. Bruseles was in control and won a lopsided unanimous decision by scores of 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110. I had it slightly closer than the judges did, but there was no question as to whose night it was.
The nearly 6-foot Negron has been a pro for almost 13 years and appears shopworn. At 33 he is still a warrior with a good pop, but, increasingly, can’t take his own medicine—and he never took it that well to begin with. Among his 11 losses, more than half were stoppages; one of them to the light punching Hicklet Lau in 2001. He could never beat the name fighters he faced. With this recent loss, he finds himself on a three-fight slide and falls to 25-11 (19). The industry won’t be sending him off into retirement with any big paydays as it has with, say, faded former titlist Sharmba Mitchell.
Bruseles, who’s trained by Evangelista Cotto is from Miguel’s hometown of Caguas, is perhaps a half-notch above Wilfredo. Which means he’s had some good nights on the Telefutura circuit, but when matched against the elite, it’s clear he doesn’t belong. His 2005, eight-round TKO to Floyd Mayweather Jnr. upset many serious-minded fans: How dare they put Mr. P4P in with such an overmatched opponent! What’s the point of this?
Answer: Look what happens when a mere mortal faces an all-time great. It might as well have been an episode of MTV’s Jackass, with Henry playing the role of the unfortunate amateur stuntman.
But the now 25-3-1 (14) Bruseles has Negron’s number. From the beginning he stalked the taller man, pressuring him behind a hard, shotgun jab. Negron fought with his back to the ropes and never stopped moving.
Their weren’t many clean exchanges throughout the bout but here and there Henry would get up on his tippy toes and reach his opponents chin. Both fighters frustrated, they bagan to get dirty in the fifth and sixth, with Bruseles pushing Negrons skinny neck down in clinches and taking illegal shots. Negron would answer with some macho chest thumping, but that doesn’t score points
Don’t expect a third installment.
Bruseles picked up some fringe hardware with the win and has been promised a shot at Colombian WBO beltholder Ricardo Torres. Outside of his big punch and heart, Torres is quite limited, so it’s not inconceivable that Bruseles might give him a good tussle. But I can think of many match-ups I’d rather see Torres in.
Dominican bantam Juan Mercedes opened the broadcast with an eight-round unanimous decision over Kevin Hudgins of Pensacola, Fl. Scores were 72-80 and 73-79 twice. Mercedes goes to 15-1 (11), Hudgins falls to 5-7 (2).
Mercedes has been matched soft so far and Hudgins might have represented a step-up, for the simple fact he’s the first fighter in a while to go the distance with the fireplug. Mercedes couldn’t miss with a sweeping left hook, overhand right combo. But it never put the game Hudgins down.
Upon watching the muscular fighter’s punching technique in slo-mo, I saw that he’s wrists gave whenever his gloves made contact with Hudgins. He applied tremendous torque into his wide shots but the majority of his power when his wrists collapsed. It’s like wielding a menacing bat that then disintegrates when it touches the ball.
Many fighters would benefit from studying martial arts punching techniques, where tendon/ligament and hand strength is emphasized. Boxers, with their hands hidden behind gauze and tape and thick leather gloves, tend to ignore the value in these things—I assure you Rocky Maricano wasn’t one of them. Had Mercedes more structural integrity in this regard, I doubt Hudgins would’ve seen the third.