By Jeff Zimmerman at Ringside
Photos of Ximenez-Nichol are by JA Escobar. All other photos are by Stacey Verbeek.
In a packed house at the Cendera Center in Fort Worth, Texas, Paulie Ayala Productions, led by 2-time World Champion Paulie Ayala, had a little bit of everything in their 2nd show of their new Friday Night Fight Series. There were big knockouts, a former UFC fighter on the card and a couple of local standouts looking to take their skills to the next level.
One of those fighters with big dreams was bantamweight Ray Ximenez (10-0, 3KOs), a former Dallas amateur sensation who has quietly built his record out of state in Florida. Ximenez homecoming, however, was no easy task against the baby faced Shawn “Bones” Nichol (7-13, 5KOs) from Denver, Colorado. Nichol was coming off a victory in his last fight against another 9-0 opponent, so fighting Ximenez in his backyard did not faze him. However, Ximenez did just enough to squeak out a majority decision, 60-54, 58-56 and 57-57.
This fight, you might say, had a little bit of Leonard vs. Hagler similarity, on a much smaller scale, of course. Ximenez was the one with the speed and able to throw punches in bunches where Nichol, all 120lbs of him, was the one with the bigger pop. Leonard of course had pop too, but you get the comparison.
Ximenez came out with his blazing speed and with his hometown behind him hoped to make it a fast night of Nichol. But Nichol never flinched and began to walk right through the punches and started landing some straight rights on the face of Ximenez. By the 2nd round, Ximenez had a mini-mouse around a left black eye and blood trickling from his nose.
In the 3rd round, Ximenez was hoping that his speed would kill, but it only seemed to energize Nichol who would mock him at times by keeping his hands down and shaking his head as if to say, these punches don’t hurt. Nichol landed a couple of uppercuts in the round as both men went toe to toe as the bell sounded.
The next three rounds were much of the same for the two southpaws; Ximenez landed his multiple combinations to the delight of the crowd while Nichol, less active, seemed to be landing the more effective shots. By the end of the fight, both fighters were bloodied up as Ximenez came away with the win.
As Referee Richard Steele stated in interviews after Leonard vs. Hagler, “the more he watches it, the closer and closer it get,” that may very well be the case in Ximenez vs. Nichol for those that are fortunate to watch it again.
Samuel Clarkson vs. Kenneth McNeil
Super Middleweight Samuel “The Main Event” Clarkson (7-1, 5KOs) showed once again why he may be the most entertaining fighter in Dallas Fort Worth. Not only does he bring the action in the ring, he also has a knack for creating excitement outside of it. Like he did in his last fight against Don Mouton, he went nose to nose with his opponent at the weigh-ins, Kenneth McNeil (3-1, 1KO), that the two had to be pulled apart to avoid any pre-fight fisticuffs.
Although Clarkson got stopped for his first loss as a pro against Mouton, he was matched against another bull-like fighter in McNeil. This time the outcome was different as Clarkson was able to hurt McNeil and score two knockdowns in the 4th round and then hang on for a split decision victory with the scores of 56 -57, 58-54, 57-55.
Clarkson used the first couple of rounds to find his range and unleash a series of left, right combinations to the head of McNeil. McNeil occasionally would counter with a straight right of his own as well as go to the body of the lankier Clarkson.
McNeil started the 4th round with good left and right hooks to the body of Clarkson, but out of nowhere, Clarkson caught McNeil and had him wobbling around the ring. The only thing that kept McNeil upright was his ability to hang on to Clarkson. Finally, in attempt to get McNeil off him, Clarkson appeared to throw McNeil to the ground but because he was clearly hurt it was a ruled a knockdown. McNeil got to his feet, but Clarkson jumped on him again and knocked him down for the 2nd time in the round.
McNeil recovered from the 4th round onslaught and came out the aggressor in the 5th round hoping Clarkson may have punched himself out. Clarkson came alive in the latter half of the round as both men were unloading power shots in hopes for a knockout. In the 6th round, McNeil landed an upper cut much like Mouton did to Clarkson in his last fight that seemed to hurt him, but unlike the Mouton fight, Clarkson countered with a short left hook and was going strong as the fight ended.
Clarkson told Fightnews afterwards, he is fighting these strong, tough fighters to get better. Let’s hope on his quest to improve, he doesn’t take too many big shots as he is as fun to watch as any fighter in DFW right now.
Juan Ocora vs. Will Campuzano
In an entertaining four rounder, Lightweight Juan Ocora (1-0) won his pro debut against former UFC fighter Will Campuzano (0-2). The judges scored it 39-37, 40-36 and 40-36 for the unanimous decision for Ocora.
Ocora stalked Campuzano much of the fight hoping to land one big shot to end it. He threw several left and right hooks to the body and head, but Campuzano seemed to absorb most of the shots pretty well. Campuzano had his moments with a straight right and a few combinations, but Ocora was just a little stronger. The fight ended with both fighters looking for the knockout. Ocora walks away with his first victory as a pro and Campuzano looking forward to his next fight in his other sport, MMA, in April.
Atlay Miranda vs. Alex Hipolito
In his pro debut, Bantamweight Alex Hipolito (1-0, 1KO), scored a stunning 1st round knockout of Atlay Miranda (1-2).
It was a slugfest from the opening bell as both fighters went right after each other. Miranda opened a deep cut over the left eye of Hipolito prior to being stopped. A thumping left hook by Hipolito landed through the gloves of Miranda and dropped him to the canvas in a delayed response. Miranda made it back to his feet but he was clearly disoriented as he headed back to his corner while the referee was still counting at which time the fight was stopped at 2:24 of the 1st round, giving Hipolito his win as a pro.
Adam Clark vs. Jas Phipps
In the opening fight of the evening, light heavyweight Jas Phipps (2-0, 1KO) mauled Adam Clark (0-1) from the first bell with shots to the head and body before finishing him off with a left hook to the head at 26 seconds of the very 1st round. Clark got to his feet before the referee waived it off.
Phipps goes to 2-0 with the knockout victory.