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The Travelin’ Man goes back to Atlantic City: Part two

Super middleweights Ronald Ellis (right) and Christopher Brooker clash on Jan. 20, 2017, at Bally's Event Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Photo credit: Marilyn Paulino/Showtime
Fighters Network
02
Feb

Friday, Jan. 20 (continued): The element of surprise, accompanied by sufficient talent, can be a powerful and decisive weapon. It certainly was for Daniel Roman, who became the second opponent in six months to deny Adam Lopez a potential 122-pound title shot by out-boxing the boxer in the first three rounds, scoring two fourth round knockdowns (the first of which started the swelling around Lopez’s left eye) and issuing a comprehensive beating before Lopez’s chief second Ronnie Shields stopped the fight between rounds nine and 10 of the scheduled 12-rounder.

No one, maybe even Team Lopez, knew exactly what was coming. Although Roman had won his last 13 fights, none of them were readily available on any file-sharing platform. In fact, the only one of Roman’s previous 24 pro fights that could be accessed on YouTube was his second, a four-round draw against Jensen Martinez in February 2011. Roman surely was a different fighter than that 20-year-old version of himself but how different remained a mystery to everyone outside his team. For Lopez and his people, it must have felt as if they were flying blind. For Lopez, that concept became quite literal starting in round four, a round that saw Roman land 50 of his 105 total punches and 48 of his 82 power shots. Even more startlingly, most of that damage was inflicted in the round’s final 95 seconds.

“I thought I was clawing my way back into the fight but my eye started hurting,” said Lopez in the post-fight press release. “It was the first uppercut that knocked me down in the fourth that got me right in the eye. It was hard to keep on going with my eye like that. When I got back to the corner after the ninth round, Ronnie told me he had seen enough and he stopped the fight.”

Shields expressed concern for his fighter’s well-being in previous between-round breaks and the numbers illustrated why. In rounds seven and eight, Roman out-landed Lopez 64-15 overall, 15-4 jabs and 49-11 power, while averaging a robust 75 punches per round to Lopez’s 44. Because a potential title shot was on the line, Shields allowed Lopez one last chance to turn the fight in the ninth.



Instead, the beat – and the beating – continued. Roman landed 43 of his 80 total punches (54%) and 35 of his 52 power shots (67%), while Lopez could only muster 42 punches and 12 overall connects (29%) accompanied by a 9 of 26 effort in power punches (35%).

By pulling his fighter out of the fire, Shields, who has consistently put his fighters’ health first, produced a merciful end to what had been a merciless beating: Connect leads of 263-77 overall, 62-23 jabs and 201-54 power, as well as percentage gulfs of 39%-18% overall, 21%-10% jabs and 54%-27% power.

“The main event was a shocker,” declared ShoBox analyst Steve Farhood in the release. “We didn’t know much about Danny Roman. And he sure earned that title fight against (WBA “regular” champion, unrecognized by THE RING magazine and RingTV.com) Nehomar Cermeno. (Lopez has) fought five times on ShoBox but now doesn’t look like he is going to get that title fight, since this is the second opportunity he had and he took a real beating. It’s going to take a while for him to come back.” If at all.

Like Roman, super middleweight Ronald Ellis rode the strength of a single explosive round to set the terms of the fight and eventually win it. For Ellis, however, that round was the very first one.

Ellis’ opponent, Christopher Brooker, was expected to push the pace throughout but Ellis literally beat him to the punch by unleashing 90 of them in round one (landing 27), as well as connecting on 26 of his 64 power punches. Meanwhile, Brooker only had time to let 45 punches go, landing eight.

Ellis never again reached that level of production but, then again, he didn’t have to because the intended effect was achieved. Brooker, who had averaged 62.5 punches per round in three previous bouts, was mired in the 40s in five of the eight rounds and topped off at 58 (round four). He spent much more time burrowing inside and, when there, engaging in grappling tactics that created an ugly but highly physical fight. Those tactics kept Ellis’ output down (45.9 punches per round in rounds 2-8) but his superior accuracy (34%-20% overall, 14%-9% jabs, 43%-24% power) allowed him to out-land Brooker in every round and create final connect gaps of 141-77 overall, 17-11 jabs and 124-66 power.

“He was big and strong and was holding a lot but, by boxing skills, took over in the fight,” said Ellis, who dominated the action during those rare times they fought at long range. “He was trying to get on my nerves but I knew that my skills would get me the win.”

Brooker, on the other hand, was outraged by the scorecards that had Ellis a clear winner (79-73 twice, 77-75).

“I don’t know what these judges are looking at,” he said. “I had the better ring generalship, aggressiveness and I brought all the pressure. I feel that, because (Ellis) was undefeated, the judges must have put him on a pedestal. Even though I have a couple losses, look who I have fought and defeated. I am an elite-level fighter, as well, and I should get that same respect. That’s why Showtime has me on. At the end of the day, I just fight. It is up to fans who watch; they are the real judges for me.”

While the numbers heavily suggest Ellis was far more effective, Brooker is correct in this respect: Win or lose, he will produce action and, because of that, he will be back on TV sometime soon.

The theme of titanic, tone-setting three-minute bursts was also evidenced in the opening bout of the telecast that paired super lightweights Kenneth Sims Jr. and Emmanuel Robles. Sims, normally a mobile and technically sound switch-hitter, tore out of the corner and engaged Robles, a volume specialist, in a toe-to-toe trench war. The tactic proved to be surprisingly effective for Sims, for, while both men unleashed 79 punches in round one, Sims’ scorching body punching helped him prevail 46-20 in total connects and 43-19 in power shots. The trend continued in the second as Sims out-threw Robles 88-80 and out-landed him 38-18 overall and 26-13 power.

That robust start came with a price and the first signs of that price surfaced in the third when Sims dropped his work rate to 62 while Robles – very accustomed to the hot pace, given his 106.3 punch-per-round average in three previous fights – fired 77. Yes, Sims still led 26-19 overall and 26-16 power but his legs looked markedly heavier. In rounds 4-6, Robles picked up considerable steam, as he accelerated his work rate to 87.3 during that stretch while Sims averaged 60.3, resulting in Robles prevailing 78-66 overall and 61-55 power. The sixth was Robles’ best as he out-landed the somewhat more ragged Sims 33-19 overall and 27-17 power.

If ever there was a “ShoBox Moment” at hand, the rest period between rounds six and seven was that for Sims. He had just experienced his worst round of the match, one in which a powerful right knocked his mouthpiece out and resulted in a point penalty from referee Benjy Esteves Jr. and, worse yet, he was about to fight a seventh round for the first time in his professional career. Would Sims be victimized by his hyperactive start or would he grit his teeth and find a way to overcome the adversity?

Happily for Sims, he answered this career-defining question by producing the latter scenario. Sims got on his bicycle, firmed up his technique and out-landed Robles 18-13 overall and 16-9 power in the seventh, then produced a tremendous finishing kick in the eighth (31 of 69 overall and 30 of 61 power to Robles’ 21 of 88 and 15 of 59 respectively) to stave off potential disaster. Given Robles’ pronounced mid-fight surge, the final scores of 78-73 and 79-72 (twice) were far wider than reality. In fact, given Sims’ mouthpiece-rule point penalty, the latter two scorecards indicated that Robles was not given a single round.

“I didn’t have my best performance but I still got the win,” Sims said, agreeing that his night’s work was harder than the scorecards indicated. “I was trying too hard for a knockout and that’s not me. (Robles) was a durable opponent but my performance had nothing to do with that. My speed and feet were the difference in the fight but I did not use them as much as I should.”

Robles, while disappointed with the decision, acknowledged Sims’ performance.

“He was moving a lot and I couldn’t neutralize that,” he said. “He was slicker than I thought he was going to be. I was putting a lot of pressure and wanted to work the body but he was slick and able to withstand what I was doing. I just have to get back to training and get better. You’ll see more of me. I will be back.”

I hope so because Robles is a pleasure to watch and a pleasure to count.

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I headed back to the production office to get a can of diet soda but I skipped the post-fight pizza because I still had half the sub I bought for lunch in the hotel room’s refrigerator. With no soda in sight, I purchased it (and a small bag of Fritos) at one of Bally’s gift shops, after which I headed to my room. But, being a work-before-pleasure sort, I first inputted the night’s data into the master database. I finished eating at 2:30 a.m., which meant I had to turn out the lights now if I was to get any decent amount of sleep.

 

 

 

Saturday, Jan. 21: I stirred awake at 6:30 a.m. because I wanted to get some writing in before meeting the other members of the carpool in the lobby at 8 – Andy (our driver) and RF audio specialist Amanda Maguinness, a 21-year-old native of Las Vegas, whose next assignment will be Super Bowl LI in Houston. That’s quite the heavy gig for someone so young but, with three years of experience under her belt, she is well equipped to handle the demands of the job.

Andy flawlessly completed the drive to Philadelphia International Airport and, once Avis’ shuttle bus dropped Andy and me off at the B terminal stop, we all went our separate ways. My route home was quite simple: Board the 11:15 a.m. flight to Pittsburgh and drive two-and-a-half hours home. If all went well, I’d be home around 3:15 p.m.

Thankfully for me, all did go well but, because I made a food stop and also filled my gas tank, I pulled in the driveway three minutes later than anticipated. It was good to be home.

My travel schedule is about to pick up considerably. In February, I am set to travel to three shows for the first time since May 2014 when I went to Las Vegas, Foxwoods and Montreal in a 21-day span. The initial installment will begin Feb. 9, when I will travel to Miami, Oklahoma, to work a scheduled ShoBox quadruple-header topped by super lightweights Ivan Baranchyk and Abel Ramos.

Until then, happy trails!

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Lee Groves is a boxing writer and historian based in Friendly, West Virginia. He is a full member of the BWAA, from which he has won 15 writing awards, including 12 in the last six years and two first-place awards since 2011. He has been an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame since 2001 and is also a writer, researcher and punch-counter for CompuBox, Inc. He is the author of “Tales from the Vault: A Celebration of 100 Boxing Closet Classics.” To order, please visit Amazon.com. To contact Groves, use the email [email protected].

 

 

 

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