In a “Friday Night Fights” crossroads battle from the Citizen Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA, welterweights Mighty Mike Arnaoutis and Demetrius Hopkins battled out for who gets to go to the next level and who stays right where they are. Hopkins, the naturally bigger man, pounded out a workmanlike unanimous decision over ten rounds.
The action started with Hopkins staying behind his tall jab while keeping the southpaw counter puncher Arnaoutis fighting a little out of character, being aggressive and pursuing the taller, more comfortable welterweight in Hopkins. “D-Hop” worked in uppercuts here and there, popped that jab and kept “Mighty Mike” at bay. The occasional right hand got a little redness going over Arnaoutis’ right eye.
The fight heated up a bit as “D-Hop” worked from long range, popping that right hand. The shorter Arnaoutis stayed out of the edges of his range, didn't work enough when he got inside and, while his skill level was keeping him in the fight, he was losing.
By the middle rounds, Arnaoutis was looking a little discouraged. His corner got pissed at him but it barely translated. He kept trying but Hopkins was just too big and too solid, technically, to be taken advantage of, despite some late flurries by Arnaoutis.
In the end, it was Hopkins, who improved to 30-1-1 with 11 KOs, who got the win via scores of 99-91 twice 100-90. The rumor is he may be in line to fight welterweight titlist Andre Berto. Arnaoutis, 22-6-2 with 10 KOs, may now be looking at gatekeeper status.
In the swing bout, Joseph Elegele took his record to 9-0 with 7 KOs with a win over last-minute replacement Willie Walton, 4-2 (4).
Elegele came out at long range, working his southpaw right jab and looking to gain control. Walton, a southpaw too, worked and pressured and looked for his spots. A nice left hand at long range buzzed Walton but he took it well, getting aggressive, attacking but eating one more left. Late in the round, Walton landed a nice left hand that hurt Elegele. Another series of shots, including a hard one-two, rocked the “Eggo Man” but Elegele went long range and found his sea legs again.
Elegele got over his scare in between rounds and tore into Walton in controlled long-distance fashion to start the second. He got off to the body of Walton and about broke him in half. Walton seemed hurt to the body and Elegele saw he was having an effect and went at him over and over again with that long-range left to the body. Right at the commercial break, Elegele got a knockdown on Walton. A replay showed it to be borderline.
Elegele looked to press the action and see how much Walton had left from the last round’s end. But while the combos were plentiful from Elegele, the specter of that first round loomed. Midway through, as Elegele got Walton in the corner, he unleashed a series of shots that made Walton put on the ear muffs, though he was not hurt at all. In fact, as a series of shots did not land, referee Wayne Hedgpeth inexplicably called the action to a halt at 1:37 of the third round.
In the opening bout, Francisco Contreras, 15-0 (13), took on Erik Cruz, 7-4-3 (7). Contreras came out sharp and aggressive behind a long lanky jab as he pressed forward and popped the game but a tad overmatched Cruz at will. Contreras pressed forward, got Cruz along the ropes and opened up with combos as he looked to take advantage of the short-notice opponent. Cruz warmed up late and they traded left hooks late but it was all Contreras.
He pressed forward again to start but this time with a little less urgency. Instead, Contreras poked away with the jab, letting off fewer three-punch combos and allowing Cruz at times to pump his jab at air and get inside. Still, it was all Contreras.
Contreras has a way of lulling you to sleep and I don’t mean he is boring. He just moves at a measured pace, gets his opponent mesmerized and then lowers the boom while he changes speeds. He did this to Cruz with great success, as he landed a big right hand late in the round and buzzed Cruz, who wasn’t all too hurt but definitely whacked pretty hard.
The pace slowed but Cruz heated up a bit. He got in a nice right hand midway through a round in which Contreras prodigiously used his legs. They traded left hooks but, still, Cruz, while finding the home a bit more for his shots, couldn’t take over the taller, lankier speedier Contreras, who was in control.
Cruz had his best round midway through as he stepped up his pace, worked to the body more and it paid a few dividends up top. Contreras fought back in spurts and landed faster shots which sometimes can be construed as flashier, but it was Cruz who made that round.
Contreras came out swinging hard to start the final stanza, looking to make a statement but it wouldn't last long as he tired and they began to clinch a bit. Time and again, Contreras appeared to move or clinch in an effort to power up for a big shot, only to have it dissipate into Cruz. Still, Cruz offered not much resistance and did not sustain an attack of note.
Scores were unanimous of 80-72 twice and 78-74 for Contreras.