Friday Night Fights Report - Jan. 9, 2009

Live from Primm, Nevada is the 2009 season debut of Friday Night Fights. The showcase fight tonight pits undefeated featherweight banger Yuriorkis Gamboa in a ten-rounder against Roger Gonzalez. Brian Kenny is in the studio with new ESPN boxing analyst Bernard Hopkins.

Hopkins says he thinks he still has a fight or two in him and feels like he can do something shocking in 2009 that can top last year.

The first fight of the night sees Cuban defector Erislandy Lara in action against Rodrigo Aguiar at 154 pounds. Lara is a southpaw who had a great amateur career and is 2-0 as a pro. He scores a knockdown right at the end of the first round and referee Joe Cortez calls a stop to it. It was a jab with a straight left behind it that did the trick.

Back in the studio, Kenny asks Hopkins about his strategy against Kelly Pavlik. Bernard says he knew he needed to get off first and take Pavlik's confidence away early. He also says the fight was very important for his legacy in the sport.

Asked about his longevity, Hopkins attributes it to always staying in shape and having good defense too. Who's next? Bernard wants a rematch with Calzaghe or possibly Jermain Taylor. He doesn't want to fight anyone in their 20s because he doesn't want to take away from the future of the sport.

They throw it to Teddy Atlas out in Nevada, who goes on a mini-rant about today's fighters not knowing the basics the way B-Hop does. Hopkins agrees that the fundamentals always give you a safety net to fall back on, and offers Roy Jones as a fighter who did not have that safety net once his physical gifts began to fade.

Next up is the U.S. debut of 2004 heavyweight Olympic gold medalist Odlanier Solis, who is 12-0 with eight KOs in his professional career. His opponent is Kevin Burnett, who just barely beat the count after getting knocked down late in a fight he was winning against Horace Grant in a memorable moment from Friday Night Fights last year.

Cuban fans make their presence felt as referee Jay Nady gets the fighters ready to go. Burnett is taller but he took the fight on short notice and is heavier than he's ever been.

Solis throws a cray combination from in close in the middle of round one but is forced to cover up when Burnett throws from the outside. Solis also shows a quick left hook when he sees an opening.

After the second round, Burnett's corner tells him he lost the first two rounds but is making Solis fight. Solis lands two wide right hands halfway through the third round and starts throwing like crazy, trying to seal the deal. Burnett weathers the storm without going down.

Hopkins chimes in from the studio to observe that Solis had some chances to go to the body when Burnett was hurt but failed to capitalize. The fourth round is relatively quiet compared to the fireworks that erupted in the third.

Burnett actually does some decent work in the first half of the fifth round, but Solis takes over down the stretch with some mean left hooks. Atlas says Burnett is fortunate because Solis has had some lulls. He has given every round but the second to Solis.

In the seventh, Burnett's trainer Pat Burns states that he's considering stopping the fight because his man has no chance to win on points and isn't defending himself well. Burns agrees with Atlas' assessment that a right uppercut might be the punch that could get to Solis, but he says it's up to Burnett to pull the trigger.

Soils turns up the heat in the eighth round and wobbles Burnett with a left hook. Nady waves the fight off and it looks like a good call because Burnett is practically out on his feet. That's an eighth-round TKO for Solis.

Atlas and Hopkins think Solis needs to get his weight and conditioning in order to become a factor in the heavyweight division. Both feel like the opportunity is there to make a name in a barren landscape for big men.

Kenny and Hopkins talk Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz for a bit. Asked about JMM moving up in weight, Bernard feels that he'll handle it fine, but pressed for a pick he goes with Diaz.

They move on to Antonio Margarito-Shane Mosley, and Hopkins says Shane will have to be perfect to win. He compares Margarito to a young Felix Trinidad in terms of relentless pressure and breaking the will of opponents. B-Hop says if anyone can pull off the game plan to win, it's his business partner Mosley, and he wonders if Margarito is taking Sugar Shane seriously.

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