Monday, April 28, 2008

Friday Night Tournament: The Next Lightweight Champion

I'm going to break format today. Instead of going over the matches of the previous Friday, I'm going to look ahead. I've already documented the doings in the Averlast Lightweight Championship Tournament, and last Friday was the semifinal matches, the ones that determined who would be in this week's main event to fight for the belt.

When the dust settled, the two left standing were Dwain Aeon (7-1, 3 by KO) and JoJo Nightfire (5-2, 2 by KO).

It's a tough call. This is exactly the sort of matchup that you'd expect a well-fought tournament to produce. Both fighters share a strength in speed. To borrow a metaphor from the boxing column of today's Philadelphia Daily News, being in the ring with either of them must be a lot like trying to eat soup with a fork. They're elusive, tenacious, and the pair of them colliding will be a sight to see, come Friday.

Much to my surprise, a browse through the official records at the forums shows that they have never faced each other in the ring before. With so many one- and two-time fighters passing through the lightweight ranks before heading on to other virtual distractions, that's perhaps not entirely unexpected. But on the other hand, both fighters have been around for long enough that one would think that there was a prior matchup between them at some point. The fact that there wasn't only serves to add to my anticipation for Friday.

And yeah, I really am excited about the fight. Maybe I've fallen victim to the hype that I've helped promote in the past couple of weeks, but the only way I could anticipate Friday's main event more would be if I were in it.

Normally, this is how it works: Someone approaches Karine with a request for a title shot. If she approves the shot, then I work up a poster for the next event, maybe post an item or two on forums as part of the effort to draw people in, and then I'm done. With the tournament, the final match is something I've watched coalesce as the other boxers fell to the wayside. Both weeks provided good action and posed the same unanswered question: Who will win next week?

It's kind of like the "cliffhanger" endings you would see in the old movie serials. The unanswered question dogs you until the next installment. And then, once that question is resolved, it's suddenly posed again and sends you out the door in eager anticipation of next week's installment.

The past two weeks have been like that for me.

Something else worth noting is that fact that JoJo is the first female contender for the lightweight title since Alma Despres relinquished it last October. I don't know why that should be. We've had any number of female fighters in the lightweight ranks who would have been credible contenders for the belt, but, to the best of my knowledge, none of them have stepped forward requesting a shot.

Reasons, no doubt, vary. All I know is that, as the guy who makes the posters, the only one that features a woman in a championship match (aside from the current one, of course) is this one. It was the second poster I ever did for Averlast.

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