The decided underdog? Chris Martin takes Chris Avalos to school

On one of their many exchanges, Chris Martin (left) is shown delivering a powerful short left hook while Chris Avalos delivers his own left to Martin's chest.

After tuning in to watch Showtime’s Showbox, the next Generation, I thought perhaps I had been placed in some weird time warp as I listened to the announcers preview the upcoming bout between bantamweights Chris Martin of Chula Vista, CA and Chris Avalos of Lancaster, CA.

All three announcers, Curt Menefee, he’s great on Fox NFL football, Antonio Tarver, the former light heavyweight champ, now boxing analyst, and that gentleman from Brooklyn who used to be the editor-in-chief of The Ring and KO Magazine, Steve Farhood, were noticeably one sided when they previewed Friday night’s main event.

“We’ve all seen what Avalos can do. He had 104 bouts as an amateur, done very well, especially in the 2004 and 2005 Golden Gloves. He’s a knockout artist who is now ranked #5 by the WBO (and he could have added #11 by the WBA).”

Avalos himself sounded a bit cocky when giving his thoughts about the upcoming match: “He (Martin) runs a lot – tries to come in and out. I’m going to take those wheels from him.”

Antonio Tarver’s stated: “In order to win, Chris Martin has to fight the perfect fight.”

After listening to these opening remarks, one would think Martin didn’t have a ghost of a chance. I thought to myself, ‘Aren’t these gentlemen, as journalist, supposed to remain neutral? Did they do their homework? Martin has been in 20 fights and hasn’t lost yet. Or maybe they’re trying this approach to force a particular reaction. Knowing what I know, heaping all this praise on Avalos is going to bite somebody in the ass.’

And sure enough, it took all of two rounds for Martin to change their opinions. From that second round on, Martin was sitting at the controls. After every Avalos miss, came the damaging counter – a stiff jab, a hard left hook, a right uppercut, an overhand right, all to snap Avalos’s head back. Avalos’s only recourse was to cheat. Each and every round his dirty tricks were right out there to draw the ire of the fight fans – the late hit, the use of an elbow, holding behind the head and hitting, rabbit punching, and hitting on the break.

What I found most hilarious were the estimates of Chris Martin’s weight. At the official weigh-in on Thursday, Avalos weighed 118 pounds and Martin weighed 120. After round one ended, Farhood made mention that he thought Martin had ballooned all the way up to 134 pounds. Is there anybody you know that can put on 14 pounds in 24 hours and then go 10 rounds of boxing?

To paraphrase the most ridiculous comment of the telecast: “Martin appears to be 135 pounds or so. So what you’ve got is a bantamweight trying to knockout a lightweight. It’s an example of bad matchmaking.”

By the late rounds came several attempts to make amends for those earlier gaffs: “With Martin’s technique and skills, he’s way too crafty for Avalos. ”

If you wanted to get the real scoop of what was happening in this match all you had to do was listen-in on the conversations between Avalos and his dad, Felipe Avalos. At the end of round five: “You’ve got to get off first! Be first!” Round six: “He’s stealing these rounds from you.” Round seven: “Come on son, you’ve got to be busier.” Round eight: “Come on, we’re losing!” Round 9: “Come on man! This is the last round. We’re losing all the rounds.”

And then came the shocker as the ring announcer bellowed out: “And after ten rounds of boxing, we have a split decision.” Say what! “Judge Rob Hecho scores it 98-92 for Chris Martin, Judge John Mariano scores it 98-94 for Chris Avalos.” And the deciding Judge scored it 97-93 for the winner, Christopher Martin.

Addendum: All I can say is that’s one less Christmas card the Martin family will have to send.  Saturday morning, I received a phone call from Lou Messina, the boxing trainer for middleweight contender Lester Gonzalez. He brought up the subject of how bias the Showtime announcers were and the one judge’s ridiculous scoring. “I’m wondering if that judge Mariano was even there at ringside. Maybe he only listened on the radio and based his scoring on what Steve Farhood said.”

Despite his victory, Martin did not leave Minnesota with Avalos’ NABO bantamweight belt. Unable to make the contracted weight of 118 lbs., Martin negated the title fight. Title or not, the fight proved the point Martin was trying to make to the boxing community. At Thursday’s weigh in, he told the press after his Friday night bout against Avalos, “You’ll remember Chris Martin.”

In the co-feature, Lateef Kayode (13-0, 12 KOs), of Hollywood, California, by way of Nigeria, was matched up against Alfredo Escalera (18-3-1, 12 KOs), of Orlando, Fla., by way of Puerto Rico, in a 10-round cruiserweight bout. From big left hooks to devastating uppercuts, Kayode lived up to his nickname of “Power.” Though missing on more punches than usual, he dictated the fight’s pace with the guidance of Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach in his corner. In the eighth round, the 6-foot-2 Nigerian put together a combination ending with a left hook that whipped around Escalera’s head before sending the former contestant on “The Contender” into the ropes.

Referee Joe Cortez scored it a knockdown before calling the fight as a TKO with one second left in the eighth round after consulting the wobbly Escalera and his corner. Kayode remains unbeaten with a knockout streak of 12 straight.

Alfredo Escalera is knocked back into the ropes shortly before the fight was stopped with just one second left in the eighth round.

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