PBC delivered another predictable mismatch in a FOX main event tonight, wrapping up a 2020 filled with them on what is the sport’s biggest platform, as David Morrell Jr thrashed Mike Gavronski en route to a third round stoppage.
Morrell (4-0, 3 KO) missed the 168-pound limit at Friday’s weigh-in so this was changed to a 10-rounder and his interim WBA title was not at stake, but the fight went about as everyone imagined it would. Gavronski (26-4-1, 16 KO) was in way over his head with the 22-year-old Cuban, dropped in the first round, dominated in the second, and beaten up until referee Jack Reiss stopped it in the third. It’s about the same result we saw when Gavronski fought Jesse Hart back in 2018. This level is just way beyond him.
Morrell, if he can still make 168, is an interesting fighter going forward. He’s got a ton of offensive skill and good power, and while he’s still a bit raw, he’s also quite ambitious for his level of experience; this isn’t some Lomachenko amateur or anything. Even if he has to move up to 175 going forward, he remains a very intriguing prospect.
- Travon Lawson TKO-4 Angel Barrientes: An upset in the swing fight on FOX, as 31-year-old Alabama fighter Lawson (4-0, 3 KO) stops the heralded 18-year-old 122-pound prospect Barrientes (3-1, 2 KO) in the fourth round. There was lots of hemming and hawing and obviously Barrientes wanted to continue, but if the exact same situation — punches taken, degree to which the fighter was visibly hurt, etc. — were reversed, Lawson would have been stopped and no one would have said a thing. Barrientes’ twin brother Chavez had won earlier on the card.
- Juan Macias Montiel TKO-1 James Kirkland: Whatever memories you have of the once-ferocious Kirkland, put them to rest. He is beyond shot at anything more than the untelevised club level. He flat out could not take shots from Montiel (22-4-2, 22 KO), and while yes, Montiel can crack, it’s just a different thing when you see it. Kirkland also was slow, didn’t have anything in his legs at all, no hand speed left, no decisiveness on what to do offensively — which if nothing else, that was never a problem for him when he was in his short prime. He had nothing here, and PBC should not entertain supporting his efforts to fight again, and neither should anyone else with televised cards. He is going to turn 37 next March, and he hasn’t had a decent win since 2013, and this was his first legit fight since 2015. I want to say that I know I’m being a harsh critic here, but I like James Kirkland. I have the same very entertaining memories anyone does, and I always rooted for him. He let his career get away from him in many ways, which everyone knows. It’s a sad thing, watching a fight like this, but it’s the cruel reality of boxing. This is not a forgiving sport, and he was straight up incapable of defending himself here. Please don’t ask if Ann Wolfe can fix him; it’s just over.
- Jesus Ramos RTD-4 Naim Nelson: Nelson (14-5, 1 KO) was the right sort of opponent for the 19-year-old Ramos (14-0, 13 KO), a veteran who can defend himself and had only ever been stopped due to a rotator cuff injury against Mario Barrios in 2017. But Ramos was just way too much for him, too big, too strong, too young, and he passed the test with flying colors. Ramos can fight at 147, he seems to be looking to make his way down to 140, while Nelson is really a lightweight who fights at 140, so the size difference between the two was apparent very quickly. Ramos just beat up on the 30-year-old veteran, dropping him on a shot late in the third, and then staggering him into the ropes for another knockdown late in the fourth. He hammered the body and marked up Nelson’s face, and Nelson’s corner called it after four, having rightly seen enough. Trainer Zahir Justice did not have a conversation with Nelson about it, no debate, no “I’m giving you another round,” it was clear that this was a fight beyond his guy and he stopped it. The fighter had his pride, and the cornerman had his job to do, which sometimes is to make a tough call — even if it really isn’t to an outsider.
- Alantez Fox UD-10 Marcos Hernandez: Scores were 96-94, 97-93, and 98-92 for Fox, who improves to 27-2-1 (12 KO) with the win. The 28-year-old Fox, who at 6’4” or 6’5” is tall and lanky at 168, just as he was at 160, can be an inconsistent guy, and he didn’t look great the first two rounds here, as the scrappy Hernandez (14-4-1, 3 KO) seemed to be getting the better of things. But after the fourth round, Fox pretty well took over the fight for sure, moving better, looking sharper, keeping the range he wanted more often than not, throwing some nice, crisp, short punches. Hernandez, 27, is always game as hell and kept coming, but this one just got away from him.
- Chavez Barrientes RTD-3 Paul Carroll: Barrientes is, like his brother, an 18-year-old junior featherweight prospect. He got the better result tonight. Chavez (4-0, 3 KO) pretty much had his way here with the 36-year-old Carroll (4-2, 4 KO), a South Carolina club fighter who was out-classed badly, and the Carroll corner pulled him after three rounds, with this scheduled for six. He was exhausted and there was nothing he could do with the younger guy.
- Radzhab Butaev KO-3 Terry Chatwood: The 27-year-old Butaev (13-0, 10 KO) doesn’t really project as an elite welterweight, but a good guy to have on a roster. The Russian hadn’t fought in 13 months, since his loss in Monte Carlo to Alexander Besputin, later changed to a no-contest when Besputin failed drug tests post-fight. Chatwood, a 36-year-old from Arkansas, really did try here. Butaev got the better of the first round, but Chatwood (9-1-1, 5 KO) knew his way around the ring and may have even nicked the second, before Butaev destroyed him with a liver shot early in the third and put it away there.