By Michael Norby: Fireworks exploded in a Memphis arena on Friday night after power punching former junior welterweight world champion Randall Bailey knocked out tricky lefty Frankie ‘El Gato’ Figueroa with a single, stunning and fight ending right hand in the fourth round of an IBF 140lb world title eliminator at The Pepsi Pavillion in Memphis, Tennessee, USA.
Thirteen year veteran Bailey 39-6 (35) entered the fight as favorite and he fully justified the odds with as stunning a knockout victory as you’re likely to see this year. He dropped Figueroa 20-3 (13) in the opening round with a snap head shot and, after tasting the canvas himself in the next round, he connected with a missile of a right hand that finished his opponent in brutal fashion halfway through the fourth.
The action was messy in the opening seconds of the fight as both guys flailed at each other at close distance but, as soon as distance was established, Bailey pounced – catching Figueroa with a straight right hand and sending the southpaw to the deck. Figueroa got up immediately and, after dusting himself off, he fought well for the remainder of a round that saw both guys trading body shots in the final minute.
Figueroa rebounded early in the second round and scored with a three punch combination early on but Bailey soon stepped back and shot his jab from range looking to set up his vaunted right hand. He found that punch midway through the round but El Gato answered with a right hook/left hand sequence that staggered the former champion and a subsequent left hook dropped Bailey seconds later. The veteran was on shaky legs but did a good job in tying up and frustrating Figueroa until he got his sea legs back and he ended the round strongly after landing a pair of right hands in the final minute.
Bailey was able to find further opportunities with his money punch in the third as he connected with sporadic but searing right hands through the guard of his opponent throughout an otherwise closely fought three minutes. The 34-year-old was clearly confident that he would find gold with his favored power punch and, a round later, he found a huge pot.
Both guys pawed at each other from range with Figueroa sometimes zipping inside in search of scoring opportunities. Bailey looked to time his opponent and, midway through the round, he connected with a monstrous straight right hand that sent Figueroa flying down like a sack of potatoes. The punch was almost effortlessly thrown behind a decoy jab but it had the effect of a sledge hammer and Figueroa’s head bounced frighteningly off the canvas.
The 30-year-old lay flat on the canvas but thankfully responded verbally to ring doctors and was helped to a stool after a minute or so - dazed but otherwise OK. With that devastating punch, Bailey sends a loud message to IBF world champion Juan Urango, whose title the veteran has now earned a shot at.
Time of stoppage: 1:46 RD4
In junior lightweight action, undefeated technician Mark Davis easily out-boxed Californian Steve Gonzalez as he picked up a comfortable unanimous decision victory in a one-sided eight rounder.
It was a brisk workout for Davis 12-0 (4) a former two time national amateur champion, who, although lacking punching power, possesses terrific fundamentals and he tore through his opponent for the duration of tonight’s contest. The speedy 22-year-old scored heavily with sharp and fast combinations to the head and body in every round – rarely giving Gonzalez 7-3-1 (4) breathing room to return fire.
The effect of Davis’ punches increased as the fight wore on and, although he absorbed a scattering of clean right hands in the sixth, the unbeaten prospect was in complete control and welted Gonzalez’ face and torso with stinging combinations en route to a decisive points victory.
Scores: 80-72; 80-72; 78-74
Undefeated middleweight prospect Shaun Porter defeated made to measure Texan Eloy Suarez in the first round of a scheduled four.
Porter 7-0 (6) a 2008 US Olympic alternate, had little trouble weaving under the slow punches of his opponent and he tagged Suarez 10-5 (5) at will throughout the opening round. With just seconds remaining in the frame, Porter corralled his man in the corner and almost knocked him out of the ring after three straight left hooks forced Suarez to the canvas.
With the Texan peering nervously at his corner after scraping himself off the floor, referee Bill Clancy ruled that the fight should not continue and handed the hot prospect his sixth stoppage victory in seven fights.
Time of stoppage: 2:59 RD1