By Rocco Morales at ringside
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
In a tremendous fight, Bernabe Concepcion (31-4-1, 17KO) earned a harder than expected split decision victory over very tough Aaron Garcia (10-3-2, 2KO) to win the WBC Continental Americas title on Thursday night at the San Manuel Casino in Highland, California. The 23-year-old Concepcion, a two time WBO featherweight title challenger, who came up short in title challenges against Steven Luevano and Juan Manuel Lopez, demonstrated good speed and power but was unable to knockout his determined challenger and was very fortunate that he was facing an opponent with just a 14% knockout ratio and equally fortunate to be fighting in front of a boisterous Filipino crowd and fighting for the promoter of the event.
Concepcion’s best punch was a clubbing right cross that found its mark on many occasions but was often thrown by itself with no other punches preceding or following it. The fifth round stood out and featured violent exchanges with both fighters landing heavy shots until the bell sounded to end the round. Through six rounds of action, the fight appeared pretty even with the momentum going in Garcia’s favor. The seventh round was a battle of wills as the two warriors traded vicious punches back and forth with Garcia favoring hard left hooks to the head and body and Concepcion countering with powerful right crosses.
A clash of heads in round eight opened up a small cut over the left eye of Garcia that bled lightly for the remainder of the bout. Action slowed in the ninth round and this tempo seemed to favor Concepcion who was able to land his counter right cross from long range. After a slow start to the tenth and final round, Garcia came to life in the second round while Concepcion seemed flat and unable or unwilling to lay it all on the line.
Judges scored the bout a split decision victory for Concepcion by scores 96-94, 93-97 (Garcia) and 96-94, respectively. FightNews saw the bout 96-94 in favor of Garcia.
Semi main event action, a scheduled 8 round super flyweight bout, saw former WBC light flyweight champion, Rodel Mayol (30-5-2, 22KO), knock out Ernie Marquez (9-9-3, 3KO) by way of TKO at 2:43 of the fourth round. Mayol hurt Marquez badly with a digging left hook to the body midway through round two that saw Marquez buckle over but stay on his feet and survive each the second round and the third round by enduring head shots rather than expose his body to further punishment. Late in the fourth round, after Marquez winced in pain from a hard body shot, referee, Wayne Hedgepith, called an end to the bout in a somewhat premature stoppage, much to the chagrin of Marquez. Mayol, incredibly, has fought in seven world title fights but won just one of them. However, with his win here, Mayol notches his fourth victory in a row and stays in contention for yet another title shot.
Richie Mepranum (19-3-1, 3KO) won a unanimous decision victory over Rigoberto Casillas (6-7-1, 4KO) in a scheduled six round super featherweight bout. The southpaw Mepranum, despite not having an impressive knockout ratio, was able to hurt Casillas repeatedly, utilizing his speed and straight left crosses. Mepranum started fast in the first round, slowed in the second round but came storming back in the third round as both fighters traded hard punches. Casillas, despite his primitive skills, was able to turn it into a slugfest and land some good shots on Mepranum in the second half of the fight. Mepranum landed some beautiful combinations on the button but with so little power, the punches had little deterrent over the forward charging Casillas. Mepranum will need to figure out how to increase his power and defense if he is to fare well against higher level competition. Judges scored the bout 79-73, 79-73 and 78-74, respectively. Fightnews concurred with the 78-74 score.
In a scheduled four round welterweight bout, Javier “Deviant Smiles” Albonica (2-1, 2KO) won a unanimous decision victory over Troy Dorsey look alike Anthony McDavitt (1-3, 0KO). In an entertaining bout, Albonica relied on his boxing skills to overcome the unorthodox McDavitt who launched plenty of bombs but whose biggest offense was his half-mullet, half Mohawk hairstyle. McDavitt made it a competitive fight for the first three rounds but Albonica launched a scary assault in the final round. McDavitt showed huge heart in surviving the round on his feet when he looked as if he could be knocked out at any second during the final minute of the bout. Judges scored the bout 40-36, 40-35 and 40-35 in favor of Albonica.
A scheduled six round heavyweight bout saw Alexander Flores (6-0, 4KO) score a first round knockout over Chad Davis (4-10, 0K0). Davis, despite his less than impressive record, traded heavy punches with Flores in the opening round but was dropped for his efforts by a right cross that shattered the nose of Davis. Davis got up at the count of nine but due to the broken and bloodied nose suffered on the knockdown, the ringside physician called an end to the bout. Flores, a recent signing by Roy Englebrecht Promotions, wins in impressive fashion by TKO at 3:00 of the first round to keep his record perfect.
In other preliminary action, a women’s flyweight bout scheduled for four rounds, debuting Abigail Castaneda (1-0) won a convincing unanimous decision victory over debuting Guadalupe Gutierrez (0-1). Castaneda landed the harder punches throughout and only a solid chin kept Gutierrez up. All three judges saw the bout as 40-36.
Opening action for the evening, a scheduled four round super bantamweight contest saw Dave Clark (3-2) gave a harsh welcome to the pro ranks to debuting Santiago Alonzo (0-1), stopping him by TKO at 3:00 of the third round. Clark punished Alonzo throughout the bout, dropped him late in the second round and punished him enough in the third round to convince Alonzo to retire on his stool before the fourth round.
Manny Pacquiao was in attendance as was a large contingency of Filipino fight fans to support the numerous Filipino fighters on the card.
Promoter for the event was Top Rank Boxing and MP Promotions.