- Michael Woods, Boxing
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“Da Momma’s Boy” had his mom smiling from ringpost to ringpost, as Denis Douglin got the better of Steven Martinez in the opening bout of ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” Season 15.
The judges saw it 77-75 (Douglin), 77-75 (Martinez) and 77-75 (Douglin) in a super-tight contest which on paper looked like a pick ‘em fight, and played out that way at Mallory Square in Key West, Fla., and on ESPN2.
Message board wiseguys might well say that Douglin, trained by his mother Saphya, enjoyed the Haymon edge when it came time to score the bout; he is managed by the all-powerful Al Haymon, and critics will say that was in the back of the mind of the two men who scored it for the victor.
Douglin (13-1 entering; living in Marlboro, N.J., born in Brooklyn; age 23) and Martinez (11-0 entering; from the Bronx; age 21) fought at the junior middleweight class.
Douglin explained pre-fight that the training arrangement works because unlike a situation when a dad trains a son, she isn’t living vicariously through him.
In the first, the leather was swapped from the start. The lefty Douglin threw them a bit straighter and may have taken the frame. He landed four more blows than his foe, according to CompuBox.
In the second, Douglin ate a lead right to the head and then a right to the body and he didn’t care for it with a minute to go. He was the busier man, but Martinez may have made up for that with his power edge.
In the third, Douglin continued to move, so Martinez couldn’t launch his heavy thunder as easily. The Bronx fighter tends to drop his hands and leave himself open in a glaring manner, and Douglin found him a few times. Martinez went lefty and ate a shot right before the bell, so he ended that experiment.
In the fourth, analyst Teddy Atlas said that Martinez looked predictable, and too often did things the same way. He also, Atlas said, tends to back straight up. Douglin’s trainer-mom told him not to overthrow, to throw shorter punches, and to throw and not leave his hand out there and wait for a receipt. All solid advice…
In the fifth, Douglin looked to be first, looked to get his hands on his foe first. Martinez wanted to land that heavy metal, but too often, Douglin saw it coming. Atlas had it 38-38 through four. Douglin landed a clean left at the bell, at the end of another tight round.
In the sixth, Martinez looked to be the aggressor, looked to track down the mover Douglin. Atlas suggested he go to the body to slow Douglin down. Atlas said earlier that he could see Douglin having success and then bam! seeing an anvil dropped on his head. There were now two rounds left for Martinez to drop the anvil.
In the seventh, Martinez landed a clean left hook that made the crowd exclaim, but Douglin’s chin held. His only loss was a stoppage so that was a question mark coming in. After the round, Douglin’s mom told him to keep it tight. “Really? Really?” she asked, as she tried to motivate him to finish strong. Atlas saw it 68-65 for Martinez after seven.
In the eighth and final round, both men fought the last one like it should be fought. I had no idea how the judges would see it.
Douglin went 152-555, while Martinez was 195-715. Atlas liked Martinez by two points.