By Jeff Zimmerman at ringside
Photos: Robert Hughes/Top Rank
World rated Featherweight Roberto Marroquin (23-2, 16KO) rebounded in dramatic fashion from his previous fight, a loss to WBA Super Bantamweight World Champion Guillermo Rigondeaux last September, with a devastating KO of veteran Antonio Escalante (28-6, 19KO) at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma Saturday night. Marroquin landed a double jab followed by an overhand right that ended the fight at 49 seconds of the 3rd round.
It was a hotly contested fight early on as the taller Marroquin used his jab to walk down the smaller Escalante, but Escalante was having some success to the body and also landed some combinations to the head of Marroquin. The turning point of the fight, however, came late in the 2nd round when Marroquin appeared to have landed a knockdown with a body shot that was ruled a slip by Referee Jay Nady. Marroquin may have not gotten the call, but he knew he hurt Escalante with that punch.
“Absolutely it was a straight shot to his abs and I knew he was hurt. I followed him but Escalante’s is known to knock out his opponents while he’s hurt so I just stayed alert and focused. Like I was saying, I kept using my jab, you noticed all that damage after the 1st round nothing but jabs that landed in his face.”
Although Marroquin was never seriously hurt in the fight, Escalante did get his attention with one of those body shots.
“There was a body shot that he threw that landed but it didn’t do much damage really. He started throwing little flurries and there was a punch that caught me but nothing to hurt me. I just put my guard up and was cautious and try to go the distance really.”
Marroquin stated at media day in Dallas that this was a crossroads fight for his career.
“My career was on the line. I told everybody once I lose two in a row I might have second thoughts about coming back to the ring, but we trained hard and like Paul was saying use your jab and it was really easy I’ll tell you right now.”
Marroquin’s trainer Paul Reyes praised the jab.
“You saw that jab was working, that jab was working. That was the key to this win, the jab, he was setting him up.”
Reyes sees the same championship pedigree in Marroquin that he had in his former champions, Donald Curry and Paulie Ayala.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that Robert proved to the boxing world that he is going to be a world champion. We anticipated a tough fight like I told you before and this guy has been around and Robert is just a little bit better.”
With only big fights on the radar for Marroquin, there was talk in Marroquin’s dressing room after his win that a possible showdown with the newly crowned IBF Featherweight World Champion Evgeny Gradovich could be on the horizon.
After calling this fight with Escalante a crossroads fight after losing to one of the best in the world in Rigondeaux, let’s hope Marroquin enjoys this one for awhile.
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Hot Top Rank Welterweight prospect Alex Saucedo (8-0, 6KO) scored a TKO of Norman Allen (6-8, 4KO) at 1:40 of the 2nd round in a scheduled 6. Allen took the fight to Saucedo at the opening bell with a left to the body and head of Saucedo, but that only seemed to energize Saucedo who had a huge following at the fight.
Saucedo snapped back the head of Allen and later sent him to the ropes with a powerful overhand right. Allen mustered a late rally before the end of the 1st round that had Saucedo staring him down as he walked to his corner.
In between a few flurries by Allen, it was all Saucedo. Saucedo fired multiple shots to the head and body of Allen before landing the knockout blows, which came from a straight right, followed by a left hook that put Allen on the canvas. Allen got to his feet right away and started stomping his feet and apparently was not paying attention to Referee Laurence Cole who told him to come forward. Cole at that point called off the fight as Saucedo stayed undefeated with the win.
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After a slow start, Top Rank middleweight prospect Abie Han (19-0, 12KO) battered the tough but outclassed Brandon Baue (12-9, 10KO) over 8 rounds to win a unanimous decision of 80-71 on all judges scorecard.
Han dropped Baue in the 3rd round with a shot to the body for the fight’s only knockdown, but Baue got up at the count of 9 from Referee Jay Nady. Han remains undefeated with the win.
Travis Hartman (12-16-1-1, 6KOs) vs. Haskell Rhodes (12-0, 7KOs)
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In a foul filled fight, Super Lightweight Haskell Rhodes (13-0, 7KO) threw everything at Travis Hartman (12-17-1, 6KO) but the kitchen sink over 6th rounds but could not put him away and instead settled for a unanimous decision of 59-54, 58-55, and 58-55.
Although there were no knockdowns in the fight, Hartman went down three times in the 3rd round and once in the 5th from low blows. In the 5th round, Referee Laurence Cole had seen enough and took a point away from Rhodes, although he did warn Hartman for pushing down the head of Rhodes causing some of those foul.
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Former amateur sensation Super Bantamweight Tony Lopez (2-0, 1KO) picked apart with left and right hooks to the body and head of Manuel Rubalcava (1-3) over 4 rounds for the 2nd time in the last couple of months to once again win a unanimous decision of 40-36 on all judges scorecards. Rubalcava sustained an accidental head butt that had blood dripping from his right eye, but Lopez could not take advantage but still came out with his 2nd pro win.
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Light Heavyweight Bo Gibbs (7-0, 5KO) pummeled Rich Cherry (3-7-1, 1KO) scoring a TKO at 1:40 of the 2nd round. The brawny Gibbs overpowered Cherry to come away with his 5th knockout in 7 pro fights.
Dennis Knifechief (1-2, 1 KO) vs Rolando Garcia (2-0 1KO)
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Middleweight Rolando Garza (2-0, 1KO) demolished Dennis Knifechief (1-3, 1KO) at 2:40 of the 1st round to earn the TKO victory. Garza dropped Knifechief twice with left hooks before Referee Jay Nady waived it off to save Knifechief from further damage.