If some guys bring outside baggage into fights, one can only assume the posse surrounding Guzman in the Hollywood, Fla. ring was there to tow his matched luggage of weight-making mishaps, layoffs and style thinning.
But neither the series of weight issues nor ring rust prevented Joan "Little Tyson" Guzman from dominating and stopping Jesus Pabon on Friday Night Fights' main event last night. So dominant was the 7th round KO win, that it bordered on aggravating by the time he was able to finally land the big shot he'd been looking for all night.
The Mike Tyson comparisons are a reach at this point, but to ride it out, this was more of a "Bonecrusher" Smith performance than a quick stoppage of Michael Spinks.
Early in the 1st, it appeared as if Pabon might be able to slip some of what Guzman was testing the water with and come forward with purpose, until a hook decked Pabon, who didn't seem particularly hurt. He survived to see round 2, and was rocked by a body shot that drew a grin from Guzman, who usually seemed in no hurry to end matters.
Pabon again tasted canvas in the 3rd, this time courtesy of a right hand to the body. Guzman, to his credit, attempted to press the issue a few times, but his opponent was able to weather brief storms. But in the 4th it became abundantly clear that a consistent body attack could undo Pabon, who again went down thanks to another right to the body.
Visibly slowing in the following rounds, Guzman exhibited the more cautious attitude that he's developed while rising in weight, choosing to pot-shot his way to setting up right hands upstairs, though landing well when pressed. Still, Pabon began to press more and more, and he was actually able to make solid contact in a few exchanges in the 5th and 6th. His connects carried little effect, however.
Finally, after many boxing fans exchanged quips about changing the channel on social media, Guzman upped the pressure in the 8th and landed a right-left combination that cleaned Pabon's clock.
There's not a ton else to detail. The fight was all Guzman, save for a few awkward flurries from Pabon that seemed surprising more than anything, though his confidence looked to be growing a bit as Guzman slowed down. In fact, the combination that felled Pabon came immediately after he'd already gotten hit with a shot and was attempting to taunt Guzman into a firefight.
Be careful what you wish for -- especially when you don't have the durability or class to see it through.
Guzman's record improved to 32-0-1 (19 KO), with 1 no contest, while Pabon fell to 17-3 (11 KO).
In scoring a legitimate highlight reel KO, Guzman salvaged what was otherwise a ho-hum performance. It's difficult to say where the 35-year-old goes from here, or whether an eye-catching stoppage win is enough to nullify the fact that he has essentially become undependable to top networks.
At 140 lbs., where Guzman is supposed to now be fighting, Friday Night Fights has shown love to guys like Ruslan Provodnikov, Mauricio Herrera and Kendall Holt (who fights Tim Coleman on next week's FNF), and it's tough to imagine Guzman can push past that level just yet. Lest it be forgotten, Pabon was coming off a 2nd round stoppage loss to a fighter far below Guzman's class, and a subsequent eight-month layoff. A win against someone approaching "good" is needed.
The co-feature had welterweight Ed Paredes walk his way to a 7th round TKO over the out-classed and out-sized Manuel Leyva.
Paredes, who is 19-1-1 since his only stoppage loss in 2007, began relatively slowly in the bout, with Leyva actually getting in a few solid whacks in the 1st. Leyva seemed able to avoid taking excessive punishment in the next few rounds, even occasionally keeping Paredes at bay with some wild swings, though his output was far too low for a smaller guy lacking in finishing power.
In the 5th, Paredes landed a pair of uppercuts that sent Leyva down once apiece, but the Mexican made it out of the round and Paredes eased up in the 6th.
But in 7, Leyva took a hard left hook to the body and stayed down to accept the loss.
Ed Paredes' ledger is now 30-3-1 (20 KO) overall, and Leyva is 21-5 (12 KO), going 1-4 in his last five bouts.
It wasn't a spectacular win by any means, and at the end of the day, it was exactly what Paredes should have done. But the 26-year-old showed a solid body attack and shifted into a higher gear when he had to, even though he wound up with a small welt or cut near his right eye. Another couple of wins could see him on the fringe and approaching the green.
The most entertaining match-up of the broadcast wound up being the swing bout ESPN2 squeezed in despite being delayed by the Akron vs. Kent St. college hoops game by a good 15 minutes.
A fairly sloppy but worthwhile four rounder between Jerrod Caldwell, 2-0-1 (1 KO), and Abdulah Dobey, 4-1-1 (4 KO) ended in a split draw after a healthy mix of collisions and off-balance exchanges in the last two rounds saw Caldwell cut above and below his left eye. Dobey appeared to drop the first two rounds while the sharper and better-moving younger man Caldwell worked, but the Miami-based Dobey was able to take the fight inside and make it rougher over the last two.