By: Nick Bellafatto
Last night’s main event on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights from The Times Union Center in Albany, New York would feature a battle between two undefeated fighters in defending WBO/NABO junior welterweight champion Karim “Hard Hitta” Mayfield (16-0-1, 10 KO’s) of San Francisco, California, who would put those very titles on the line against challenger Raymond Serrano (18-1, 8 KO’s) fighting out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The end result would be a TKO victory for Mayfield which came at the 0:47 mark of round 5 as Serrano would never fully recover from a knockdown literally scored at the sound of the bell to end the fourth. With the Philly fighter rising off the canvass to beat the count at the end of four rounds, Serrano, still out on his feet courtesy of a solid right hand to the chin, would wobble back to his corner.
In hindsight, and in consideration of Raymond’ condition at the time he had risen, it’s surprising to many that referee Eddie Claudio didn’t take a closer look and wave the bout off then and there. This thought would not be lost on at least one of Serrano’ cornermen who would signal that he wanted the bout stopped, while another team member in the challenger’s corner vehemently argued against the stoppage in what amounted to disarray.
While this dysfunction went on in between rounds, nobody would tend to or try to revive Serrano who would enter the fray in round 5 only to see Mayfield jump on the challenger non-stop to wobble an already unsteady looking challenger across the ring. However, before Mayfield could administer further punishment along the ropes, referee Claudio would mercifully step in between the fighters and call a halt, as “Hard Hitta” would hand Serrano his first professional defeat.
Early on round 1 belonged to the taller and rangier fighter Serrano who would throw the more technically sound looking punches as Karim Mayfield seemed reduced to winging somewhat in what appeared to be a round of nervous energy. With both fighters looking to end things with one punch from the get go, it was towards the end of this same first round that the bout would take on a pattern which would continue for the remainder of the bout.
Without the benefit of using a jab, a perhaps less than seasoned and anxious Serrano would contribute to his own downfall by giving up what height or reach advantage he possessed, playing right into the hands of the shorter Mayfield who would look to counter with a well timed right hand.
Round two would see Mayfield reaching with his punches on more than one occasion, to subsequently begin to find a home for that right hand counter, a punch which would win him the round and eventually the bout.
The third stanza would once again see Serrano walk right in without utilizing what is considered the most important punch in boxing, the jab, for which Karim would make the challenger pay by dropping Serrano with a hard one-two combination. Mayfield would subsequently load up in an effort to close the show, to no avail though, as his opponent would make it out of what amounted to a 10-8 round 3 for the defending champion.
With the challenger on somewhat shaky ground, cut and bleeding by now, Mayfield would become more composed and methodical in his approach during the fourth frame. “Hard Hitta,” who is not much for inside fighting, preferring to tie up opponents rather than let his hands go in tight, would land his weapon of choice, an explosive right at the sound of the bell to end the fourth which for all intensive purposes really ended the fight. Ironically, Mayfield would never see that blow connect as his eyes were down towards the canvass.
Apparently focusing on the target isn’t an issue if your opponent is going to oblige you by standing in front of you a stationary target. In other words Serrano fell asleep, let his guard down, and was a participant in his own demise. Game effort from Raymond who’s lack of a jab cost him dearly, while Mayfield takes advantage to maintain both his undefeated record, as well as his two title belts, belts which at some point could be used as bargaining chips for a major title shot in the not too distant future.
In now his second appearance on Friday Night Fights, a venue that has traditionally been a stepping stone or gateway to landing on a major network like Showtime or HBO, it remains to be seen what’s next for the San Francisco native who looks to further his career under the guidance of trainer Ben Bautista, and now Andre Ward trainer Virgil Hunter who has recently come on board.
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