Rodriguez TKOs McGirt Jr. on ShoBox
Ringside by Ben Tighe
Photos by Jesse Kelly
On a card televised on Showtime's ShoBox, from the Scheels Arena in Fargo, N.D., Edwin Rodriguez and James McGirt Jr thrilled the crowd with a back-and-forth battle.
Rodriguez dominated most of the first two rounds with speed and power that McGirt couldn't match, but as the second drew to a close McGirt began to bang with Rodriguez, and the result was electrifying.
The third and fourth rounds were McGirt's best of the fight, as he used movement and counterpunching to keep things close. There were even moments in the middle rounds when he seemed to have "La Bomba" unsteady and off-balance. Yet, by the middle of the fifth, Rodriguez was reasserting himself and McGirt seemed unable to do anything about it.
The sixth, seventh, and eight rounds belonged to Rodriguez on the basis of his strength and speed; and the complete lack of respect he showed for McGirt's power. Rodriguez demonstrated tremendous conditioning, maintaining an almost continuous attack on McGirt that nullified McGirt's commendable spirit and drive to perform. McGirt landed his best punch of the fight (a big right hand that snapped Rodriguez's head back and threw him bodily into the ropes) near the end of the eighth round, but it was a fluke, as Rodriguez came back harder and stronger at the end of the eighth and the beginning of the ninth.
In the ninth round, Referee Mark Nelson of Maplewood, MN finally stopped the fight, and justifiably so. McGirt had stopped competing and was merely hanging on, and Rodriguez was pummeling him more with every passing round. With the win Rodriguez improves to 17-0 (13 knockouts) while McGirt, the son of former world champion Buddy McGirt, falls to 22-3 (11 knockouts).
Pryor overcomes Davis
Aaron Pryor Jr, practically a novice boxer despite his age (32 years old), overcame his opponent's advantage in speed and athleticism with superior power and a growing understanding of the nuances of boxing.
This fight began with Davis zipping in and out, landing hard jabs and harassing hooks to the head and body, and eluding Pryor's every offensive foray. Pryor landed a nice three-punch combination near the end of the first round, however, which foreshadowed the eventual outcome of the match.
Davis looked good in the early going; his speed and the sharpness of his punching were problematic for Pryor, though Davis never hurt Pryor the way Pryor would hurt him. The difference in the early going was that Pryor could barely land on Davis, but as the fight progressed Pryor was like a novice sailor just gaining his sea legs. The longer the fight went on, the more Pryor seemed to figure out what he was doing and how to do it.
The shorter Davis failed to go to the body in the early rounds, and it began to show in round 4, when Davis started to slow and Pryor didn't. Pryor began to keep Davis on the outside with his jab, and to batter Davis at range.
It was round six when Pryor first landed the big power shot that he'd been loading up on almost the entire fight. From the sixth on Pryor was able to force straight punches down the middle of Davis's defense and hurt Davis with his superior power. In the seventh and eighth rounds Pryor seemed to be thinking knockout, but he had to settle for a decisive scoring win. The judges were unanimous in awarding the win to Pryor; the scores were 79-73, 79-73, and 78-74.
Johnson "Too Much" for Engel
In a definite mismatch, Kevin Englel, depsite an impressive 18-3 record coming in, tried boxing on the outside, punching from midrange, and mauling on the inside. Each strategy favored his opponent, Marcus "Too Much" Johnson.
Engel fought Johnson from the outside in the early going, but Johnson's speed allowed him to get in, hit Engel, and get out faster than Engel could react. In the second Engel cut the distance in hopes that he would have better success on offense, and the tactic worked - with an unintended consequence: Johnson also connected on more of his punches, and Engel was getting punished. The third round saw Engel try to get inside where he could smother Johnson's punches and still land his own, but on the inside Johnson hurt Engel to the body and that was the beginning of the end. Engel slowed more with every body shot form Johnson, until there was little he could do but keep his head down and punch blindly.
Thankfully the blindly swinging Engel didn't punch a ring post or the referee, Mark Nelson, before Nelson stopped the fight after three rounds had been completed.
Off TV Action:
Hometown hero Andy Kolle, who grew up 60 miles east of Fargo in Fergus Falls, Minnesota (now 23-2 with 17 knockouts) defeated Francisco Ruben Osorio (now 12-8 with 10 knockouts) by KO at 2:57 of the first round. Kolle had to walk through some hard shots but put an end to Osorio's upset bid with his own assault which was punctuated with a crushing right hand to the jaw. Kolle was cheered on by a contingent of hundreds of fans, friends, and family.
Ishe Smith (now 22-5 with 10 knockouts) defeated Alexander Pacheco Quiroz (now 14-9-1 with 12 knockouts) by second round TKO. Smith battered Quiroz, dropping him to the canvas in the opening round. Quiroz could only grab and hold which resulted in a point deduction in round two. Quiroz was unable to come out for round three due to a hand injury.
Antwone Smith (now 19-2-1 with 11 knockouts) defeated Martinus Clay (now 13-27-4 with 5 knockouts) by TKO when Clay retired with a shoulder injury after five rounds. Clay was game but unable to keep pace with the stronger, quicker punching Smith.
Jamal James (now 2-0 with 2 knockouts) defeated Wes Ronchi (now 0-1) by KO in the first round of four scheduled. James put Ronchi to the canvas early with a body shot with the knockout coming shortly after at 1:37 of the first round.
Corey Rodriguez (now 5-1-2 with 3 knockouts) defeated Nick Runningbear (now 4-4 with 1 knockout) by UD after four rounds. Rodriguez dropped Runningbear three times in the process. Scores read (40-33, 40-33, 40-33).