If you like boxing in volume, tonight’s DAZN main event from Orlando, Florida was a dream come true, with four main card fights going the full distance. The main event, if not the greatest entertainment, featured Richardson Hitchins dominating 12 tedious rounds against proven veteran Joze Zepeda, working a smart 1-2 attack from range to a near clean sweep on all scorecards.
Hitchins (17-0, 7 KO) fought like an economy class Devin Haney, making it very tough for Zepeda (37-4, 28 KO) to get within striking distance, and tying him up thoroughly whenever he managed it. A smaller man like Zepeda taking on an opponent with a nullifying defensive style needs a tightly called fight, and referee Christopher Young has already proven clearly that he is not that sort of official.
Things started slow, then settled into a dull pattern of Zepeda eating jabs while trying to get within range, only to be met with a series of headlocks and hugs. When he didn’t get snuggled, he got fouled, with an elbow in the 7th opening a cut on Zepeda’s eyebrow and hairline, made even worse by a clash of heads in the 10th when Hitchins missed with a forearm block.
Zepeda was left bleeding profusely, and seemed demoralized in the final few rounds, frequently pawing at his forehead and eyes to keep his vision clear. The fight was effectively over at that point, though, with the final scorecards coming in at 120-108, 120-108, and 119-109.
Afterwards, Hitchins called for Teofimo Lopez or the winner of Regis Prograis vs Devin Haney. He’d better get himself in line for a mandatory order if he wants any of those names, because he’s unlikely to get a voluntary opportunity. He’s a nightmare matchup for a smaller opponent, and the style we saw tonight won’t sell many tickets or pay-per-views.
Conor Benn UD-10 Rodolfo Orozco
Something was missing tonight in Conor Benn’s triumphant short-notice return to the ring. Maybe Mexican club fighter Rodolfo Orozco, who started his pro career at the 108 pound junior flyweight limit, just has a sturdier chin than the Chris Algieri that won a decision against Ruslan Provodnikov for a 140 pound world title. Maybe the jump from 147 to 154 is the toughest one in terms of retaining power. I don’t know. I’m just a caveman. But, I do know this: Conor Benn had to go 10 full rounds with Rodolfo Orozco, and Orozco was walking through power punch after power punch while stalking him down.
Benn (22-0, 14 KO) landed a lot of power punches, but they didn’t really discourage Orozco (32-4-3, 24 KO) from bringing pressure and trying to attack. Benn put a cut over the eye of Orozco early in the 2nd and shook him up pretty good in the 3rd, but Orozco kept coming, and made a case for several of the middle rounds.
Orozco gassed out late in the fight, laying on his trainer during breaks and throwing with much less frequency in the 9th and 10th. A little more fuel in the tank might have given us a split result, as one official judge scored it 96-94 for Benn. But, the other two both had it 99-91, so there was never a realistic shot at an upset here.
Afterwards, Benn said he felt a difference fighting above 147 pounds, and that he hopes to return to fight in the United Kingdom again soon. If he decides to reverse course on both? Maybe we can get a welterweight match at the Grand Hotel Tijuana between Benn and Mexican journeyman Isaias Lucero, the last person to win a 10 round decision over Orozco. Lucero is coming off a split decision loss to a guy named Chester with a 10-3 pro record and no photo on BoxRec. So, they’ll both have some level of redemption to fight for!
Jessica McCaskill SPLIT DRAW Sandy Ryan
Wild scores gave us an unsatisfying split draw here, in a fight that DAZN commentary and most observers in our live thread felt was a wide victory for Sandy Ryan. If anything, I’m biased for McCaskill, because I have a soft spot for her raw style that I’ve described as “angry grizzy bear escaped from the zoo.” And even I had this one 97-93 for Ryan, with no idea how anyone turned in a card tighter than 96-94 in her favor.
The decision might have been lousy, but the fight was scrappy and active throughout. McCaskill (12-3-1, 5 KO) did her best work early, drawing blood from Ryan’s nose in the 3rd. Ryan (6-1-1, 2 KO) was very sharp, though, deflecting and slipping a lot of McCaskill’s combinations and landing much cleaner in return.
Punishing 7th round body shots from Ryan slowed McCaskill down, allowing Ryan to take the action straight to McCaskill in the final two rounds. Overall, Ryan spent most of the night looking like she had the better end of the fight, even when she planted feet and brawled with McCaskill.
Official scorecards were 97-93 McCaskill, 96-94 Ryan, and 95-95 for the split draw result. Both women were diplomatic and gracious about the decision, and both proposed an immediate rematch. There’s certainly business to be resolved here, so let’s hope that’s what we actually get.
Austin Williams UD-10 Steve Rolls
Ammo Williams didn’t set the house on fire, but he did enough to handle the veteran craft and Canadian trickery of 39 year old Steve Rolls in the opener. Williams (15-0, 10 KO) looked great early, doing excellent work with the lead right hand and a very patient, disciplined attack overall.
Questionable corner advice may have changed the texture of the fight, as Team Williams spent 8 rounds telling their man he was on the verge of forcing Rolls (22-3, 12 KO) to quit. He did have Rolls bleeding from the nose in the 4th round, but Rolls was never actually ready to pack it in. Rolls fought through it and picked up some rounds in the middle behind very smart counters that forced Williams to fight more tentatively.
Rolls appeared to gas out a little late, allowing Williams to claim the 9th and 10th rounds. All three judges saw it the same way, 97-93 for Williams, which wasn’t far off from our unofficial score of 96-94.