By Sam Geraci at ringside
Photo by Kyle Wolff for Tomba Images
Last night, 8 Count Productions and Round 3 Productions gave their fans who packed into Cicero Stadium in Cicero, IL, an early Christmas gift in “Crosstown Rivals: Windy City Fight Night 23,” the year’s final installment of the promotional company’s popular “Windy City Fight Night” series.
In the main event of the evening, in an all-action brawl between two of Chicago’s most courageous and entertaining fighters, junior welterweight Adrian “El Tigre” Granados (11-2-1, 7 KOs) used his clean punching, tight defense, and world-class ring generalship to beat-up and then stop an incredibly game and remarkably chinned Antonio “Aztec God of War” Canas (6-1-1, 3 KOs) in the fifth round of one of the best fights of the year.
In the first round, Granados attempted to use his footwork and jab in order to create distance to outbox Canas. As would be the case throughout the bout, however, Canas successfully plowed through the jabs and crisp right hands of Granados in order to score with thudding hooks to the body. Despite being the aggressor and bringing the crowd to their feet on several occasions with his all-out style, Canas appeared to be the worse for wear by round’s end (especially after absorbing several sharp right hands in the final seconds).
Sensing that he had Canas hurt towards the end of the first, Granados met Canas in the center of the ring and attacked him with five rapid-fire shots punctuated by a thudding left hook to the body that somehow did nothing to deter Canas from walking him down. For the next thirty seconds, Granados used his superior footwork to turn Canas repeatedly in order to create opportunities to potshot Canas with crisp and well-timed 1-2′s. In the middle part of the round, Canas’s constant pressure forced Granados to stop and trade with him in the center of the ring; Canas appeared to get the better of the exchanges with his left hooks upstairs and thudding hooks to the body. Despite Canas’s success in the middle of the round, with less than twenty seconds remaining, Granados was able to get off several dynamic and clean combinations that should have been enough to sway the judges in an otherwise close round. As the bell sounded, both fighters were trying to land killer left hooks that might have ended the bout if either had landed. Although there would be no quit in the “Aztec God of War,” for the first time in his short career, Canas’s facial expression showed that small hint of resignation that fighters with Gotti-like courage but journeyman-like skills often come to wear against top-tier opposition.
Throughout the third, Canas continued to show his will and grit by walking through Granados’s stiff jabs and right hands, but he was no longer able to score effectively once he closed the distance. Instead, Granados’s ring generalship reduced Canas into plowing forward headfirst in order to land a couple of wide body shots before being forced to clinch. While Canas’s all-out aggression continued to make the round entertaining, Granados’s ability to turn Canas in order to avoid his body attack turned the bout into a one-sided matchup between slugger and boxer.
To start the fourth, Canas attempted to attack Granados but Granados caught all of his shots on his arms and turned Canas in order to land a brilliant straight right. Towards the end of the first 45 seconds, Granados caught Canas with a chopping counter right that buckled Canas’s knees. Canas somehow fought on and managed to muscle-out a few more left and right hooks to the body, but overall, Canas’s attack lacked the aggression and power that it did in rounds one and two. In addition to lacking the power he had in rounds one and two, throughout the fourth, because of fatigue and the amount of punishment he had already absorbed, Canas began to make one of the worst mistakes a slugger can make against a fighter with Granados’s punching accuracy: he began to bend at the waist to avoid shots. As a result, Granados repeatedly feinted in order to get Canas to bend so that he could land his sharp right hand. As the round concluded, many at ringside looked on with wonder as Canas somehow remained on his feet to return to his corner with the desire to continue fighting.
In the beginning of the fifth, somehow, Canas came out again and attempted to pressure Granados. Although Granados appeared to be fatigued, Granados responded to Canas’s pressure and his body shots by out-boxing him. At about the one-minute mark, Granados unleashed an onslaught of ten unanswered shots that dazed Canas but was unable to stop him from coming forward. With about a minute remaining in the round, Granados was able to walk Canas into his corner to score a series of devastating shots that seriously hurt Canas and sent him reeling to the other side of the ring. Although Canas remained on his feet, referee Celestino Ruiz wisely called a halt to the bout at 2:36.
For Granados, this was the type of fight he needed to energize his fan base and to geared-up for a big 2013. For Canas, although he lost the fight, he earned his nickname and won hundreds of fans with his gutsy performance.
When asked about the bout, promoter Dominic Pesoli of 8 Count Promotions said, “It was a barn-burner. I didn’t want it to end. They gave 150 percent. Adrian’s will to take tough fights is what makes him special and is what drives him to be the best. I’m going to work to get the rematch televised.”
In the third bout of the evening, super middleweight Paul Littleton (5-0-1, 4 KOs) of Chicago, IL, appeared unusually sluggish in scoring a unanimous decision over a game but clearly outclassed Jordan Brown (3-1, 1 KO) of Hannibal, MO, with scores of 60-53, 59-55, and 59-54.
Throughout the first round, Littleton was able to outbox Brown by using his superior footwork and his stiff jab and appeared to be well on his way to winning the round before getting caught with a great left hook that buckled his legs and put him in serious trouble for a few seconds. Although Littleton fought back, the damage done by the left hook probably carried the round.
In the second, which appears to be becoming a pattern in his last few fights, Littleton made the adjustments and came out sharper and more focused. Littleton began to work beautifully behind his jab and landed several crisp right hands that slowed Brown’s all-out attack. While Brown had his moments, especially in catching Littleton with several thudding hooks to the body, overall, Littleton’s consistent 1-2′s as well as his bodywork towards the end of the round carried the round.
For most of the third, Littleton simply out-boxed Brown by using his footwork to create openings to land 1-2′s followed by thudding hooks to the body. Towards the middle of the round, Brown fought with his mouth agape and appeared to be spent. Despite controlling the round, at the end, Littleton elected to exchange with Brown and Brown caught him with several terrific left hooks that appeared to daze Littleton. Overall, however, the third was a convincing round for Littleton.
For the first fifteen seconds of he fourth, Brown stormed Littleton and tried to impose his size by pressuring Littleton with hooks to the body and head but was unable to land anything of significance. For the next 45 seconds, Littleton out-boxed Brown before Brown was able to close the distance to land several left hooks. Although Littleton began to appear fatigued in the round and Brown scored with some good left hooks, Littleton probably did enough to squeak out the round.
To start the fifth, Littleton again attempted to use his jab and footwork to create distance, but Brown was able to walk through his shots to score with big left hooks to the body and head. Despite scoring early, however, Brown appeared to have punched himself out after the first minute while Littleton probably managed to do enough with his jabs, check left hooks, and body shots to carry the round. Very close round.
In the sixth, Brown pressured Littleton but it was Littleton who did the scoring with his stiff jabs and solid straight rights. Towards the middle of the round, Littleton was credited with a knockdown after grazing Brown with a short counter right that appeared to be more of a slip than a knockdown. Although Littleton won by a wide unanimous decision, this was not one of Littleton’s more impressive performances and some at ringside questioned whether Littleton would benefit from a short break after a great 2012.
In the second bout of the evening, undefeated cruiserweight Junior “Hurricane” Wright (5-0, 5 KOs) of Evanston, IL, continued his streak of knockouts scoring a TKO against Nick “The Brick” Reeder (3-1-1, 2 KOs) of St. Louis, MO, at 1:30 of the second round.
Although Wright controlled the first round and scored several stiff left hooks and straight right hands, he did not appear to be his usually explosive self. In fact, besides one spurt in which Wright landed a short double left hook, overall, he looked sluggish when compared to expectations (which were incredibly high).
To start the second, Wright imposed his superior power and hand speed in flooring Reeder within the first thirty seconds with a series of shots punctuated by a double left hook upstairs followed by a quick body shot Wright continued batter and outclass Reeder for the remainder of the round before Reeder was forced to take a knee again after being caught with a terrific right hands. Although Reeder attempted to continue, the bout was stopped.
In the first bout of the evening, welterweight Ed Brown (1-0, 1 KO), one of Chicago’s top amateurs and hometown favorites, made his pro debut in emphatic fashion by scoring a TKO over veteran Dontre King (6-14-2, 2 KOs) of Cambridge, MD, at 2:26 of the first round.
Brown controlled the opening minute of the round with an incredibly tight defense followed by a stiff jab. Whenever King attempted to punch, Brown showed his extensive amateur background by stepping back to create space in order to counter with accuracy and power. Towards the second half of the round, Brown began to walk King down while working behind laser-like his jab. With about a minute remaining, King attempted to open-up but Brown countered with dynamic right followed by a combination of shots punctuated by a chopping right hook that sent King crashing to the canvas. While King muscled-up the energy to rise to his feet, referee Dave Smith called a halt to the bout at 2:26 of round one.
A couple of years ago, Brown was considered one of the Midwest’s top prospects. Last night, in dominating a gritty veteran like King in his debut, he might have reestablished himself as that prospect.