This week Daniel Barrera (Hughes) took on the much taller Ben Saunders (Serra).
In the opening round, Barrera came out firing on all cylinders. He dropped Saunders with an impressive right hand early, but his incredible lack of savvy in dealing with an opponent on his back had me screaming at my TV.
Barrera failed to attack when Saunders was down. How Barrera could fail to hear his corner yelling instructions was beyond belief—everyone in my living room could hear Hughes pleading with his fighter.
The first round turned out to be a well-matched slugfest. Both fighters got some good shots in, and both ended the round with blood on their faces.
When Round Two began, Saunders turned to kicks, low lead leg shots, body shots, and head shots. He continued to pound Barrera with kicks and punches as the fighters stood toe-to-toe.
Barrera struggled to get inside on the much taller Saunders, and when he did he looked very out-of-sorts.
At times it appeared that Barrera wanted out of the ring—with referee Herb Dean stopping the fight at point to ask if he wanted to continue.
Although Barrera's mouth said yes, his actions said no. On more than one occasion, he jogged around the ring to avoid Saunders.
As everyone prepared for Round Three—both fighters, Dana White, hell, even me sitting at home on my couch—it was announced that the judges had picked one fighter as the winner in both previous rounds.
I wasn't shocked to see Saunders' arm raised in victory, but I do think Barrera won the first round. I wasn't alone in that feeling—both coaches and Dana White agreed.
Dana even gave both fighters the $5,000 bonus for ending a fight early.
A third round would have been ugly—both fighters were gassed, and their techniques had gotten sloppy. As a former fighter, there's nothing I like more than a great knock out, but at least I can say the more prepared fighter is moving on to the semifinals.
Still, I think Barrera has the makings of a great fighter. He seems to be focused, and he loves to train. He may spend a little too much time in front of the mirror, and he needs to learn how to fight a taller fighter, but I'm sure we will see him again.
Until next week—keep your hands up, your chin down, and fight on.