By Barbara Pinnella
Photos by Marlene Marquez
The first four fights that were held in the afternoon were also free to the pubic, and they had a pretty good turnout for them. Three of these fights were televised on CBS, and hopefully they will get to broadcast fights on there again.
Headlining that telecast put the IBF bantamweight title on the line as the champ Leo Santo Cruz (23-0-1, 13 KO’s) took on Alberto Guevara (16-1, 6KOs) in a fight scheduled for 12 rounds. Both men came out swinging in the first, but a lot of Guevara’s punches were not landing.
Round two, and so far we have not seen the signature body punches from Santa Cruz. The movement of Alberto was making that a lot harder in those first two rounds. In the third Guevara was landing when Leo took control with some heavy shots. He started off the fourth that same way, but Alberto is tough as nails and was taking those punches.
In the fifth Santa Cruz was able to land a few body shots, but Guevara was really slippery and would roll out of reach. It was the same in the sixth. Leo was scoring the most points, but Alberto is not giving in. In the seventh Santa Cruz started to take over. He was peppering his opponent with both hands to both the head and body.
Santa Cruz was still in control in the eighth, but Guevara was refusing to quit. In the ninth Leo found times to connect with those punches, but it was obvious why each of these men were undefeated. They were putting on quite a performance.
The action had not stopped through 10 rounds, with two more to go. Santa Cruz was the more polished fighter, but Alberto was slick and fast and packed a good punch. So many times in the fight Leo’s right hand was able to snap Alberto’s head back, but he could not finish the job.
This fight had everything, with the men both boxing and brawling. There was 36 minutes of non-stop action that we witnessed in a really, really good fight. We went to the scorecards. It was a unanimous decision; 119-109, 116-112, and 118-110, all for Leo Santa Cruz. It was too bad that one of the fighters had to lose their ‘0’, because they fought their butts off.
Guevara said later, “This was a very tough fight for me. Leo is very tough and strong. In the fifth round he hurt me, but I said I would stand there right in front of him. I took the fight three-and-a-half weeks ago, and I think I did great!”
Leo did admit later that the speed and footwork of Guevara confused him a little bit. His nose was bleeding and he could not breath well either. Yes, that can slow you down.
In a fight scheduled for four rounds in the cruiserweight division, Marcus Browne (2-0, 2 KOs) beat down Richie Cherry (3-6, 1 KO), putting him down once, and then put his down again, but had a point taken away for hitting him behind the head. Cherry was then knocked down again, and then again. finally the referee waved the fight off just as the bell rang of the opening round. This was a very sloppy fight, and it was hard to see any skill that Browne might have, as he had no chance to display it.
Olympian Joseph Diaz, Jr. made his professional debut against Vicente Alfaro (5-3, 1 KO) in a junior featherweight fight scheduled for four rounds. Diaz was all over Alfaro from the start and it continued throughout the fight. He also sent Alfaro to the canvas once in this fight. The judge’s scores were identical; 40-35 for Diaz, making his first pro fight a winning one.
The first bout got off at 1:00, and featured junior middleweights in a fight scheduled for four rounds. It saw Richard Andrews (5-3-3, 2 KOs) going up against Olympian Errol Spence (2-0, 2 KO). Spence controlled the action in the first, with his hard combinations and powerful body shots throughout. He continued to do that in the second, and at one time the fans thought the fight was over. But Andrews hung in there.
But that did not last long, as the referee Thomas Taylor had seen enough and called a halt to the bout at .44 of the third round.
Yosmani Abreu (3-6-1) went up against Chris Pearson (7-0, 6 KOs) in the middleweight division. This fight was for a scheduled six rounds. The first two rounds were made difficult for Pearson because of Abreu’s style. He was awkward jerky, making it hard for Chris to get any rhythm or set his feet to throw a solid punch.
Pearson was able to get in a few shots in the second, but then Abreu would hold on. Both men did a little more fighting and connecting in the fourth. Pearson’s skills were showing through even though it was a tough task to look polished. Chris definitely took control in the fifth, landing most of what he threw. Abreu was now looking out of his league.
The fight was stopped before the bell for the sixth on the advice of the ring physician, as Abreu’s left eye was swollen shut.
When I spoke with Pearson shortly after his fight, he did say he was awkward. “He was very awkward. I’ve seen him fight several other prospects so I knew it was gonna be a good test. You can’t really look at these guys’ records. He looked like a guy who was good in the amateurs and probably took some last minute fights and fought some good guys so that’s why he got losses. But it was a good little test for me.
“I hurt him in the fifth pretty good, so I knew coming to the sixth I had a chance to get him out of there, but thank God they stopped it early and I didn’t have to do extra work. I’ll be ready in January or February, whatever Al Haymon has for me, I’m ready.”
The first fight for Extreme was a welterweight bout scheduled for 10 rounds between Julio Diaz (40-7-1, 29 KO’s) going up against the undefeated Shawn Porter (20-0-1, 14 KOs). We saw good exchanges in the first, with Porter demonstrating his power, while Diaz would then fire back and push him back.
A lot of action in the second as well. Shawn did not have to rely on the jab to set up another punch to keep Julio at bay, because it packed enough of a punch to do damage on its own. In the third, while Diaz was throwing punches, most were not landing solidly, while Porter’s were on target and strong. At the bell Shawn landed two big shots on Diaz.
The fourth round was by far the best for Diaz. His right hand found its target several times, and he seemed to have gained confidence that he can hurt his opponent. In round five, while Shawn did connect a lot, it didn’t seem as if his punches were as strong as they were in the first couple of rounds. Conversely, Diaz continued to try to break Porter down.
In the sixth Shawn was throwing a lot of punches and Julio got caught several times. Diaz was still able to get in his right hand, but Porter would seem unfazed by it. Porter was doing some running in the seventh, but he would still manage to throw those hands out there and connect. Right at the bell Diaz landed a shot. Julio’s right hand was still working, albeit not often enough.
The eighth Diaz had good moments, and more of them than Porter. Julio was able to land three good body shots within 30 seconds to wear the end of the round, and they seemed to bother Shawn. In the ninth the tide shifted back to Porter who was able to avoid the punches thrown by Diaz and connect with his own.
In the tenth and final the men threw many, many punches, and found their targets. Porter was the one who connected more often and was able to avoid the gloves thrown by Diaz. But there was no lack of intensity during this fight. we went to the scorecards. We had a split decision. One judge saw it 96-94 for porter, another had it 96-94 for Diaz, and the third called it 95-95. This fight was a draw.
Frankie Gomez (14-0, 11 KOs) faced off against Pavel Miranda (19-9-1, 10 KOs) in a welterweight bout that was scheduled for eight rounds. Gomez needed much less time than that – 48 seconds to be exact. He put Miranda down and out in the very first round.
In a junior middleweight fight that was scheduled for eight rounds, Hugo Centeno (17-0, 9KOs) battled with Allen Conyers (12-8, 9 KOs). Centeno controlled all the action and Conyers quit on his stool at the request of his corner after the sixth round.