Photos by Tom Casino/SHOWTIME
Chris Martin upset promising bantamweight Chris Avalos in the main event on ShoBox: The New Generation on SHOWTIME®. In the co-feature, Lateef Kayode knocked out Alfredo Escalera, Jr. to remain undefeated at the Grand Casino Hinckley in Hinckley, Minn.
Usually going by the nickname of “The San Diego Kid,” Martin changed his moniker to “Marvelous” for this fight against Chris “The Hitman” Avalos to symbolize his belief that he’d defeat Avalos, much like “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler defeated Tommy “Hitman” Hearns in 1985. Although Avalos-Martin didn’t play out quite as brutally as Hagler-Hearns, Martin (19-0-2), of San Diego, Calif., proved to be the better fighter for much of their 10-round distance bout. The split decision was scored 98-92 and 97-93 for Martin and 98-94 for Avalos, though the fans and telecast announcers were audibly surprised that Avalos won the card of judge John Mariano of Hugo, Minn.
As the favorite heading into the fight, Avalos (16-1, 13 KOs), of Lancaster, Calif., by way of San Diego, was unable to display his power against Martin’s slick defense and counterpunching. Missing long and wide, the hard-hitting Avalos’ inability to connect opened the door for Martin to take control of the fight. Though not known for his knockout power, Martin used methodical combinations and seemed to grow stronger as the fight progressed. SHOWTIME analyst Steve Farhood attributed Martin’s success to his punches being “shorter, sharper and faster” than Avalos’.
Despite his victory, Martin will not leave with Avalos’ NABO bantamweight belt. Unable to make the contracted weight of 118 lbs., Martin weighed in at 120 pounds and negated the title fight. Title or not, the fight proved the point Martin was trying to make to the boxing community. At Thursday’s weigh in, Martin told the press that after his Friday night bout against Avalos, “You’ll remember Chris Martin.”
Although he entered the new territory of rounds five through eight, Kayode (13-0, 12 KOs), of Hollywood California, by way of Nigeria, fought his way to the familiar outcome of knockout against Escalera (18-3-1, 12 KOs), of Orlando, Fla., by way of Puerto Rico, in a 10-round cruiserweight bout. From big left hooks to devastating uppercuts, the Kayode lived up to his nickname of “Power” through each round. Though missing on more punches than usual, Kayode dictated the fight’s pace and direction with the guidance of Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach in his corner. In the eighth round, the 6-foot-2 Nigerian put together a combination ending with a left hook that whipped around Escalera’s head before sending the former contestant on “The Contender” into the ropes.
Referee Joe Cortez scored it a knockdown before calling the fight as a TKO with one second left in the eighth round after consulting the wobbly Escalera and his corner. Kayode remains unbeaten with a knockout streak of 12 straight.
The doubleheader was promoted by Gary Shaw Productions, LLC. ShoBox will re-air on SHO 2 on Monday, Aug. 9 at 10 p.m. ET/PT and can be viewed On Demand from Aug. 9 through Aug. 22.
Curt Menefee called the action from ringside with Farhood and Antonio Tarver serving as expert analysts. Gordon Hall is the executive producer of ShoBox with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.
For information on SHOWTIME Sports Programming, including exclusive behind-the-scenes video and photo galleries, complete telecast information and more, please go the new SHOWTIME Sports website at http://www.sho.com/sports.