Brannon Captures Fringe USBA BeltDateline: 03/20/99
Several months into its run, ESPN2's Friday Night Fights continues to work at filling the shoes vacated by the cancellation of USA's long-running Tuesday Night Fights series. The quality of the fights is similar -- some good, some not-so-good. The quality of the telecasts is similar. But something is still missing. Maybe it's just that for years USA more or less owned Tuesday nights with boxing fans, whereas on Fridays ESPN2 is often competing with more attractive alternatives than an evening in front of the tube in hopes of finding an entertaining bout. Fortunately for fans, ESPN2 replays the entire 2 ½ broadcast again in the middle of the night (actually early Saturday morning) for insomniacs and those who like to tape the action and fast forward through it all the following morning.
In any case, last night's fights from Philadelphia's famed Blue Horizon were a hit-and-miss bunch, punctuated by discussions regarding the repercussions and ramifications of the ludicrous decision rendered in the Holyfield-Lewis attempt at heavyweight unification. In the main event, Bryant Brannon (20-1, 13 KO) scored a 12-round majority decision over Demetrius Jenkins (12-3, 11 KO) to claim the vacant USBA super-middleweight title. Jenkins, a late replacement for Antoine Byrd, was knocked down in the first, but was competitive throughout, actually winning the fight (114-113) on the scorecard of one judge. The other two judges had Brannon, KO'd by Roy Jones in two rounds back in 1996, ahead 116-111 and 114-113.
Lightweight Billy Irwin (25-3, 15 KO) attacked the body of David Armstrong (16-5-2, 9 KO) relentlessly, forcing the scheduled 10-rounder to be stopped in the second frame. The bout was to feature 'open scoring' so that the fighters, as well as everyone watching the fight, would always know exactly how the judges were scoring the fight. Unfortunately, the quick stoppage essentially ended the experiment before it even began.
Junior welterweight Mike Stewart (14-0-1, 6 KO) knocked out Tyrone Jackson (3-3, 1 KO) with a big right hand in the first round of their scheduled six rounder.
Also, the light heavyweight bout between Sidney Outlaw (10-10-1, 1 KO) and Sammy Ahmad (11-0-3, 6 KO) was stopped in the fifth round when an accidental clash of heads resulted in a broken nose for Outlaw. As a result, the fight, scheduled for six, went to the scorecards as of the end of the last completed round (the fourth) -- at which time the judges had the fight scored a split decision draw: 39-37 Ahmad, 38-37 Outlaw and 38-38 even.