Khan decisions motivated Algieri; Fortuna defeats Vasquez

Photo credit: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

Photo credit: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

 

Amir Khan was able to get the unanimous decision victory  (115-113, 117-111 twice)  Friday night in the main event of a “Premier Boxing Champions” card on Spike TV but not without a spirited effort from opponent Chris Algieri.

 

The crowd at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, was cheering for Khan from the start even though he hails from England, while Algieri is from nearby Long Island. It was likely because Khan is considered the one possessing a higher pedigree when compared to the hometown kid. Khan made his hand speed obvious to start and he got off fluid and accurate one-two combinations from his orthodox stance that seemed to dazzle Algieri into being hesitation. However, Algieri landed one shot toward the end of the first round that made Khan’s legs shaky, reminding everyone of his sensitive chin. Algieri didn’t have to be so wary because, toward the end of the second round, he started becoming more aggressive and, through the third, he started to play the role of the aggressor.

 

With a slight edge in size, Algieri’s pressing began to catch Khan a bit off-guard and he started to land a consistent right hand that would catch Khan’s chin as he stepped closer. Khan was on his heels throughout the fourth round and, while Amir would try and tie up to force a break, Algieri was landing the more memorable punches and forcing the action. Suspected as a fleet-footed boxer leading up to this fight, the aggression was somewhat of a surprise from Algieri and certainly an effective way to slow down Khan’s quick punches in bunches. Up until the sixth, he countered Khan’s right hand nicely by slipping under it and throwing a right of his own.

 

After Algieri showed he came to get in a fight, he quickly won over the crowd in the arena but Khan figured out in the middle of the sixth that a hostile attack of his own was the only way to halt his opponent’s offensive. Khan’s accuracy got him back afloat and, in the seventh, it was apparent that he was able to shift his weight back to his toes after having his balance on his heels in the rounds prior. With his speed still in effect, it also looked like Khan had regained his composure. However, just when you were starting to believe it, Algieri was able to get off his best punch of the fight. The eighth round started with Algieri landing a huge right hand that was certainly the most memorable of the bout and it got the biggest reaction from the crowd. Khan took it well and wasn’t visibly hurt like he was in the first round but it noticeably got him back into a reluctant attitude.

 

It was seemingly after that eighth round in which Algieri was able to get back on the inside and it was plausible that whomever ended the night on a higher note in the last four rounds of the 12-round welterweight contest was going to come out as the victor. Those four rounds were all Khan as he got his two cents in with his flashy hands and then got out of the way with proper footwork. This began to tire Algieri and his puffy left eye at the end of the fight would serve as evidence that Khan outboxed him in arguably the most crucial rounds of the fight. Khan ran a bit in the final round but that was only with the satisfaction that he had quite simply banked the best three rounds of the night from the ninth through the 11th.

 

Perhaps the newest version of an aggressive Algieri, 20-2 (8), is a testament to his new trainer, John David Jackson. Yet, all credit should go to Algieri, who, after an outclassing from Manny Pacquiao last November, came back to give a solid performance in defeat. He forced the fight on Khan and if it wasn’t for the 31-year-old New Yorker, it could have easily been a sleep-inducing, technical boxing match. Khan, 31-3 (19), gets his fifth win in a row since getting stopped by Danny Garcia. It’s been nearly three years since and it was no surprise he mentioned the name of one Floyd Mayweather Jr. after the fight. Whether or not he did enough to deserve to hit boxing’s version of the lottery with this win will be argued, considering he didn’t dominate as much as many had thought he would.

 

In the co-feature of the Spike broadcast, Javier Fortuna scored a unanimous decision win (116-112, 117-111 twice) over Bryan Vasquez in a 12-round junior lightweight contest.

 

There was no feeling out period for both men as they released the hounds upon the sounding of the first bell, and it continued to be that way for a majority of the fight. With Fortuna in his southpaw stance and Vasquez fighting conventionally, both of their legs were cemented in the canvas as they traded nothing but power shots, leaving both wide open for a counter. In the moment, it seemed inevitable that either would get caught with a gruesome shot for a knockout but it never came and neither was visibly hurt.

 

Fortuna was able to move his head much better than Vasquez and this made the difference in the fight as both landed rather consistently. There was a noticeable pattern after the early rounds and that was in the final 30 seconds of each one. Fortuna would become increasingly aggressive. This made for exciting moments at the end almost every round with referee Pete Santiago on his toes anticipating the bell.

 

After Vasquez had tried something different by going southpaw in the fifth round, he went back to his normal stance in the following stanza and started to have his best success. He finally found a comfortable distance on Fortuna whose hands were down for much of the bout, seemingly asking to be hit. By the seventh, it was noticeable that Fortuna’s left eye was beginning to swell from Vasquez’s continued flurries. They weren’t the most accurate punches in bunches for Vasquez but they certainly made his opponent get his hands up higher for protection.

 

Still, Fortuna was stealing rounds in the final seconds of every close round going into the final stretch and if it was all part of a game plan, it apparently swayed the official ringside judges. Fortuna didn’t fight much of the last two rounds by getting on his bike, running around teasing Vasquez and gesturing to the crowd, but it came with the confidence(or lack thereof) of a deflated opponent. Vasquez tried to make it a fight but just couldn’t cut the ring off and, although he may have been given the last two rounds, it wasn’t enough. The final stats ended with Fortuna landing 237 total punches and Vasquez, 174.

 

Fortuna, 28-0-1 (20), stays undefeated and strengthens his case for a title shot in the 130-pound division. The 25-year-old from the Dominican Republic looked solid in front of a national audience but was booed at the end of the fight by the crowd for his blatant running. Vasquez, 34-2 (18), loses for the first time since fighting for a world title in Dec. of 2012.

 

 

You can reach Michael Baca II at michael.baca@ucnlive.com, follow him at twitter.com/wotbboxing and visit him at his blog, writeonthebutton.squarespace.com.

 

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