LAS VEGAS (May 11, 2012) – After losing his perfect record in his ShoBox: The New Generation debut, Willie Nelson survived a highlight reel knockdown to upset Yudel Jhonson by unanimous decision. The 10-round junior middleweight SHOWTIME® main event was scored 97-92 twice and 95-94. In the evening’s co-feature from Texas Station Gambling Hall & Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev., Badou Jack defeated Alexander Brand via split decision by the scores of 77-75 two times for Jack and 77-75 for Brand in the eight-round super middleweight bout.
When ShoBox fans last saw Nelson, he entered his bout against Vincent Arroyo as the favorite with a sparkly undefeated record. The gritty Arroyo turned in a career-best performance and knocked down Nelson three times en route to a majority decision victory.
Tonight’s scenario was much different for Nelson (18-1-1, 11 KOs), of Youngstown, Ohio, as he entered the ring as an underdog against the unbeaten Cuban amateur standout Jhonson (12-1, 8 KOs), of Miami, Florida. Nelson started strong with one-two combination punching and standing tall to take full advantage of his six-foot-four frame. In the second, the southpaw Jhonson rocked Nelson with a big left hand but Nelson retaliated later in the round with a perfectly placed right that sent Jhonson to the canvas for the first time in his career. Jhonson quickly returned to his feet and continued to stalk Nelson with his powerful left hand.
In round four, Jhonson’s left hand landed in spectacular fashion. Jhonson threw a counter overhand left that sent a stiffened Nelson directly onto the canvas. Nelson bounced right back up to survive the round.
Working under the direction of new trainer Jack Loew, Nelson regained his composure and momentum by avoiding Jhonson’s left and staying more active than his opponent. Jhonson landed 77 of his 377 punches, while Nelson connected on 136 of 534.
“It was my fighter’s instinct that got me back to my feet after that knockdown,” said Nelson. “But once I got up, I was only hurt for a couple more seconds.”
Jhonson felt differently about the knockdown. “The referee did a poor job. He gave [Nelson] a lot of time to recover from that knockdown,” said Jhonson. “I thought I did enough to win.”
Nelson added, “I will definitely be staying at 154 pounds. I felt great in there. I can’t be beat at this weight.”
The first fight of the night featured a pair of unbeatens when Jack (11-0, 8 KOs), of Las Vegas, Nev., was pressed to his limits by Brand. Jack began the bout by controlling the pace with his jab before Brand disrupted his rhythm with an unusual fight style. Brand (17-1, 15 KOs) of Bogota, Colombia, loaded up on wide, lunging punches and moved throughout the ring with bursts of aggression in such an unorthodox manner that it caught Jack off guard at times throughout the bout.
Although Jack abandoned his signature body punching for most of the eight-round affair, both men landed their share of punches.
By the middle rounds, SHOWTIME boxing analyst Steve Farhood pointed out of Brand, “This guy’s technique is terrible and he’s still landing shots.”
In the eighth, the action was temporarily stopped when Brand’s protective cup fell down through his shorts. After his corner helped return the cup to its proper position, the two fighters began throwing bombs as they both completed eight rounds for the first time in their professional careers.
“[Brand] was awkward and he didn’t want to fight. I had to press him to get to him,” said Jack after the fight. “I will do better next time.”
The telecast will replay on Tuesday, May 15 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME EXTREME®. The event was promoted by Warriors Boxing.
Mike Crispino called the blow-by-blow action on ShoBox with Farhood serving as expert analyst. Gordon Hall is the executive producer of ShoBox with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.
For information on SHOWTIME Sports, including exclusive behind-the-scenes video and photo galleries, complete telecast information and more, visit the website at http://sports.SHO.com.
Photo Credit: Tom Casino/SHOWTIME