Demond Nicholson takes a risk that pays off
Confession No. 1: I wasn’t sure about the wisdom of the match-up, from the perspective of super middleweight Demond Nicholson’s side, being he was coming into the fight off a stoppage loss.
Confession No. 2: I messaged the kid before that stoppage loss, to Jesse Hart in April, and he came off as humble, likeable, ambitious and a guy easy to root for. So when I saw him lose to Hart, then choose a power-puncher as his comeback foe, I shook my head.
So that was in my head, as I was doing color commentary, sitting next to blow -by-blow man Ray Flores, Saturday night, at Live! Casino in Hanover, Maryland, on a Jeter Promotions show, portions of which ran on CBS Sports Network.
Is this Brazilian Isaac Rodrigues the smartest choice for a guy coming off getting knocked to the mat a few times?
However as I saw Nicholson pumping the jab, sliding, getting off and getting out, the negativity lifted. Then that shifted; Rodrigues started closing the distance because Nicholson was reverting to stand-and-trade form – or was he prematurely tired and was he headed toward back-to-back stoppage loss?
No way, shape or form.
In round six, Nicholson backed the Brazilian into a corner, ripped a left to the body that reverberated through Rodrigues’ torso, then ripped a right hand to the body. That folded Rodrigues up. He sank to his knees, turned away from referee Harvey Dock, hiding his wincing, trying to get his breath back, so he could beat the count. He couldn’t beat the count. Ten, Dock said, and the joint exploded. Nicholson is a Maryland guy and coach/father Will Nicholson and coach Calvin Ford were over the moon. Ford danced on the apron as Mark Fratto interviewed Nicholson, who held aloft a regional 168-pound crown.
The kid…I call him a kid. He’s 25 but is still figuring out how to handle the emotions that come with climbing the ladder, tasting a loss, soldiering on, learning from mistakes and trying not to let a misstep take him off course.
At 3:30 a.m., I was still winding down, after fight night. So I messaged Nicholson, promoted by Lou DiBella, and asked about that deadly combo.
“I just checked the fight out; it was the left that hurt (Rodrigues) bad. Then behind the left, I brought the right,” the 19-3-1 (with 18 knockouts) hitter said, a few hours after calling out Peter Quillin, WBC titlist David Benavidez and any other big names at 168.
OK, so, to start off, I saw smart boxing, I told Nicholson. Then a bit less jabbing and moving. Why? Did you just feel like trading more, fighting more, moving less?
“I felt I had to make an adjustment from the moving. I felt he started to get my timing down. So I waited until the fifth round to try a different approach,” said Nicholson, “which was to catch his punches and throw my own in between. I saw that he couldn’t really take my power.”
Another tidbit: the day before, I messaged Thomas Williams, the fighter who is transitioning to management, who guides NIcholson. “I see it 70/30 for Nicholson,” Williams told me Friday. “Think it will be a good fight, as long as it lasts. Think my guy will stop him after five or six.”
At 3:45 a.m, after the fight, I messaged congrats to Williams. “I studied this guy (Rodrigues) a lot. I knew it would be the fifth or sixth round,” he said. “I just studied this guy to the max. He is a good fighter early but he lacks intensity after four. I knew that if Demond showed him that he wasn’t going anywhere, he would fold and I told Demond that several times. I said to Demond, ‘Be a man in there.’”
And was Williams worried when Rodrigues (now 25-3, 20 KOs) started closing the distance and landed some power shots? “I never lost faith in (Nicholson). I knew it was going to be a little tough for us early but I knew, as long as we could stay in there and take his punches, it would be OK!”
Follow Michael Woods on Twitter @Woodsy1069.
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