Friday night fisticuffs don't fail to fascinate

Pop quiz time: What were there more of on Friday night’s Spike TV Premier Boxing Champions broadcast from Biloxi, Mississippi: Rounds of boxing, knockdowns or fur boots abandoned mid-fight?

The answers, respectively: 13, 12 and one. That last one was courtesy of Fernando Guerrero, who entered the ring dressed like an extra from Coming to America.

And none of this is even counting the replay of Radivoje Kalajdzic’s one-punch knockout of Fabio Garrido, when the whole fight was aired in a cut-away right before a commercial break.

Opening the broadcast was Thomas Williams Jr.’s second-round TKO over Umberto Savigne. Then came Bryant Perrella’s first-round demolition of Chaquib Fadli. And that was followed by Guerrero’s seven-round stoppage over Daniel Souza Santos.

But the fight still on everyone’s mind some 72 hours later was Edwin Rodriguez’s high-flying seesaw affair with Michael Seals.

Rodriguez came out blasting, catching Seals with a left uppercut to notch the first knockdown about a minute into the contest. Seals answered with a pair of knockdowns of his own, twice crumpling Rodriguez with straight rights. Those two shots nearly ended the fight right there, but Rodriguez managed to hold on until the bell sounded.

The back-and-forth blitz of the opening frame already has some observers talking about it as the round of the year.

“Unfortunately, I lost the round,” Rodriguez laughed. “I’d be more excited with fight of the year or knockout of the year. The reaction I heard from the fans and people who don’t even like boxing has been big enough that I’m going to have a bigger following because of it. That’s the type of fight you want to be in every time.”

In the second round, Rodriguez tagged Seals with an overhand right. The same shot connected early in the third, and this time Seals' legs turned to jelly. It was a stunning reversal after nearly getting wiped out in the first, but Rodriguez said sheer will carried the day.

That doesn’t mean he didn't spend plenty of time over the weekend breaking down the film which showed 73 punches landed, 64 of which were power shots. 

“Like a thousand times,” Rodriguez said. “I’m not going to act like I wasn’t hurt. He hurt me in the first round. I was hurt bad, [but] I was able to hold him and recover, and come right back at him and get him out of there.”

In fact, there were a whopping 340 power shots landed in the four fights combined, with Williams connecting on 58 percent of his big bombs in his victory. The "Top Dog" put Savigne down in the first, but the Cuban-born fighter came right back and connected on a right to get even in the knockdown game and rescue a surefire 10-8 round to turn it 10-9 in his favor on all three cards.

Williams, though, imposed his will in the second round, firing what seemed like a year’s worth of uncontested head shots at the aggressive Savigne, who kept coming forward and absorbing the punishment. Williams notched another knockdown in the round, and even though Savigne beat the count he was obviously damaged. Sensing as much, Williams finished him off in short order with a series of thudding blows that pinballed Savigne’s head back and forth from left to right.

"That was the best PBC card yet, hands down," Williams said. "I'm talking about from bottom to top, top to bottom. They ragged on the card so much when it was announced, but they should have given it a chance from the beginning. That was the best card I've seen, card, period—PBC, anything—in years.”

After coming off an 11-month layoff, Williams wants to get back in the ring as soon as December or January. He'll have plenty of options in the 175-pound division, including the divisionmate he shared a card with on Friday night. It's the kind of card with a rising tide Willaims hopes will lift all boats.

"I wanted to have a dramatic finish. I think I got that on Friday," Williams said. "It definitely puts me in people's minds. Like hey, we remember this guy from having that good fight with Savigne. It gives people a sense of wanting to see me again."

Not to be outdone, Perrella landed a body shot on Fadli that took all the starch out of the Frenchman in the first. Fadli got up, but Perrella was on him immediately and the fight was stopped after 90 seconds.

On any other night, a seventh-round stoppage would be something to hang your hat on. On Friday, it was almost pedestrian. Still, Guerrero overwhelmed Souza-Santos and got him out in the seventh—well after one of his two fur boot covers started slipping off, and he was forced to discard it between rounds.

Not a bad night of boxing when errant footwear is far more rare than guys hitting the mat. 

For complete coverage of Rodriguez vs Seals and Williams vs Savigne, including photos, video and more, make sure to hit up our fight pages.

Edwin Rodriguez and Michael Seals

Edwin Rodriguez and Michael Seals trade shots Friday night in Biloxi, Mississippi. (Photo by Eli Baylis / Premier Boxing Champions)

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