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24 MAY 2018

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Late Replacement Brinson Scores Upset Over Melendez

Mike Sloan – The crowd inside the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, NY, was decidedly on the side of Albany’s Nick Brinson, a man brought in on a week’s notice to essentially act as cannon fodder for Jorge Melendez, a junior middleweight contender from Bayamon, Puerto Rico with a murderous punch. With 25 of his 26 wins coming via knockout, it was common belief that Melendez would walk right through Brinson in the main event of the latest ShoBox card.


As it turned out, Brinson had other plans.


When Brinson received the call to fight Melendez on such short notice, he was walking around near the light heavyweight limit (he normally fights at middleweight) and he had to drop five pounds on the day of the weigh-in. The two met at a contracted weight of 158 lbs., but the drastic cut in weight didn’t hamper Brinson in the least.


Right from the start, Brinson tore into his opponent with a ferocity not typically seen from a man with only six knockouts on his ledger. Still, he was relentless and dug vicious punches from all angles, forcing Melendez to sit back and defend without much of an offense of his own. Brinson kept the aggression at top speed for the first two rounds and it seemed like Melendez was being overwhelmed. He was confounded, frustrated and couldn’t land any of his vaunted power shots to keep the relentless somewhat-local fighter off him.


Melendez finally got his offense going in the fourth, but a perfect left hook, coupled with Melendez being off-balance, led to a flash knockdown about 45 seconds into the round. He sprung to his feet, but when the fight resumed, Brinson pounced all over him. Brinson was landing most of his power shots and momentarily it appeared as though Melendez was rocked. He was getting tagged repeatedly and clearly losing the fight until everything changed.


A sizzling left hand during an exchange landed clean on Brinson’s jaw, buckling his knees. In the blink of an eye, the fight’s tide had completely changed and now it was Brinson who is in serious peril. His body went limp as Melendez tore into him but somehow he was able to stay on his feet. When he sagged into the ropes, referee Charlie Fitch ruled him down and administered a count. At this point Brinson was out on his feet and barely coherent, but somehow the third man allowed him to continue. Miraculously Melendez was unable to land one more clean shot to end the fight and it cost him.


For reasons known only to Melendez himself, he opted not to jump on Brinson at the start of the fifth round even though he was still out on his feet. By round’s end, Brinson had cleared his head and back to leading the charge against his foe. Slowly but surely, the control of the fight had been seized back by the late replacement. From that point forward, Brinson rattled off combo after combo while Melendez settled for trying to land one brutal punch at a time.


The action inside the ring got dirty at times late in the battle as well. Melendez had a point taken away in the ninth for repeatedly hitting on the back of the head and after said frame, the two continued to fight when the bell sounded. Melendez appeared to head butt his opponent, inciting a bit of a melee between the two camps. Luckily ordered was restored and nobody was disqualified.


Melendez needed a miracle knockout to win the fight entering the final round, but it never came. Brinson moved when he needed and landed a few hard shots as well, capping off a spectacular night where he pulled off a win that almost nobody expected.


Brinson was awarded the victory via unanimous decision with scores of 96-92, 98-91, 99-90 to improve to 15-1-2 with 6 KOs. SecondsOut also saw it 98-91 for Brinson. Melendez dropped to 26-3-1 with 25 KOs.


In the co-feature, Caguas, Puerto Rico native Jeffrey Fontanez, a promising young lightweight with quite a bit of hype surrounding him, almost lost his perfect record. Fontanez looked sharp early against opponent Alejandro Rodriguez, a late replacement as well, but as the rounds wore on, Rodriguez got stronger and stronger.


Fontanez appeared to tire out late in the fight and started giving rounds away to his foe, a man he was expected to trounce. But as his offense sputtered and his energy levels weakened, Fontanez began slipping more and more dangerously close to the fire.


A surprise right hand floored Fontanez with mere seconds remaining in the seventh frame and in the eighth and final round (the fight was originally scheduled as a six rounder), Fontanez’s sense of desperation was nil; he was on his bicycle the entire stanza.


In the end, the early rounds that Fontanez snatched were enough to secure him the fight, albeit via split decision. One judge had it 76-75 for Rodriguez, but that score was offset by the two others who saw it in favor of the Puerto Rican 77-74 and 78-73. SecondsOut also scored it for Fontanez, who improved to 12-0 with 9 KOs, but by a slimmer margin of 76-75. For his efforts, Rodriguez, who hails from Guadalajara, Mexico, dipped to 18-11 with 11 KOs.


Also on the card:

Samuel Kotey Neequave won a unanimous eight round decision over Guillermo Sanchez; John Franklin earned a six round verdict unanimously over Joshua Reyes; and Rynell Griffin earned a unanimous four round nod over Jose Emanuel Saenz.



You can also follow Mike Sloan on twitter at

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