For this week's Closet Classic we're heading over to Illinois for a 2007 Light Flyweight clash that had action, drama, controversy, skills, and some great back and forth. Despite being a memorable clash at the time the bout has, sadly, been somewhat forgotten by the passing of time, and the drama we saw unfurl that day has failed to live on in the minds of many fans. With that said we take great delight in sharing the bout as part of this Closet Classic series.
Rodel Mayol (23-1, 18) vs Ulises Solis (24-1, 18)
Although not too well remembered now a days Filipino fighter Rodel Mayol was one of the notable little men from the 2000's and early 2010's. He was a some what crude boxer-puncher, with solid power, a rough side to him and some clumsy awkwardness. Although never the best fighter out there he typically a very dangerous fighter, though one who did struggle against the top fighters. By August 2007 he was 23-1 (18) with his sole loss coming to Den Junlaphan in 2006, in what was a WBC Minimumweight title bout. Following that loss he moved up in weight and began to pursue a Light Flyweight world title.
In Mayol's first Light Flyweight world title bout he faced off with IBF champion Ulises "Archie" Solis. Solis was a tremendous boxer, with a great boxing mind, great ring control and solid, if somewhat unspectacular, punching power. He knew how to box, he had enough oomph on his punches to keep opponents honest and up to this point had shown very few flaws. His sole loss was a decision to the now often forgotten Nelson Dieppa. He had won the IBF title in 2006, dethroning Well Grigsby, and had scored 4 defenses in 18 months, beating the likes of Eric Ortiz, Grigsby and Jose Antonio Aguirre. He was regarded as one of the very best in the division, and not just some random title holder.
The bouts wasn't just Mayol's first Light Flyweight title bout but also his US debut, and he was looking to win a world title and make his mark on a US audience.
As with many Light Flyweight bouts this started relatively fast and within the first minute we had seen both throwing some heavy leather, rather than just looking to jab their win into things. For the most part the big shots weren't landing but they were being thrown, with neither man quite quite having their accuracy down. Sadly the crowd, who were there to see some much bigger names on the show, were getting on the fighter's backs very quickly with whistles which were overshadowing a relatively decent, though not sensational, opening round. Thankfully the crowd were, eventually, won over by the final moments of the round as both began to put their foot on the gas a little bit more.
In round 2 both men began to zone in a bit more, with Solis landing several heavy shots as Mayol began to press more. Solis was getting the better of it, but Mayol was landing some solid shots himself, as the fans began to slowly buy into the action. It was a technical battle, but it was a tense one, and one that saw both men having moments in exchanges and saw some really nice counter shots from Solis.
Mayol was getting more aggressive in round 3 as the even and competitive action continued to build. The action was clean, it was explosive and although Solis kept control of the range it looked like Mayol's power could be an issue at any moment. The main problem for Mayol was he was struggling to set his big shots up, and Solis was usually getting the last word in on any exchange, usually a stinging left hook.
With Solis looking like he was getting a grip on the Filipino and getting in control it seemed clear that Mayol needed to change tactics and in round 4 he did begin the to have more moments, including a really eye catching combination mid way through the round. He also managed to leave Solis with a nick around the eye and looked like he was finally starting build some momentum against the excellent champion.
Then momentum of Mayol was slowed in round 5 as he began to look for a 1-punch KO and was countered by Solis who seemed to click again. But then we got the drama in round in round 6. The round saw both men starting well, despite facial damage showing on both. Mayol seemed to be backed up at one point in the middle of the round and took some solid shots from Solis, who seemed very much on point through much of the round. Mayol however turned things around when he landed a brutal left hook that rocked Solis to his core. Solis would go down moments later and the referee somehow failed to rule it as a knockdown. Mayol saw his chance and went for the kill giving us a thrilling round round as Mayol seemed to be on the verge of turning things around.
We'll leave the bout here, after that big Mayol round for you to enjoy without spoiling the result.
For those who like technical stuff this has plenty of that. Solis was technically brilliant he boxed so well through out the bout and looked like a little boxing genius at times. Mayol looked crude and lazy but like a dynamite puncher and he seemed to show that power in round 6, and in round 7, as he forced Solis to dig deep. The momentum had been with Solis early, Mayol then turned it around in his favour and proved he could hurt Solis. Despite a slow start it got going and became a very, very enjoyable contest that is really worth watching, despite the early whistling from the crowd.
This isn't an all out war. It's not a none stop action battle, but it's a wonderfully compelling bout, without ever descending into a slugfest.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features