By Boxing Bob Newman at ringside
Along with two hundred delegates from the NABF convention, the five thousand partisan fans on hand for The Mayan Challenge At Xcaret outside of Cancun, Mexico were not disappointed on this sweltering Saturday night. With NABF title fights, several domestic bouts on hand, returning former champs and international battles pitting Mexicans against Brazilians and Filipinos, the paying crowd got their money’s worth, as well as viewers who watched the live telecast on Televisa, the biggest network in Mexico. In the main event, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez scored a ninth round KO over Brazilian Jefferson “Holyfield” Goncalo in an NABF Welterweight title defense, former WBC light fly champ Omar Niño Romero topped Juanito Rubillar in a WBC eliminator and NABF Fly champ Wilberth Uicab won a ten-rounder over B. J. Dolorosa.
The main event pitted NABF Welterweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez” defending his belt against Brazil’s Jefferson “Holyfield” Goncalo. Let it be said from the start, Goncalo’s only resemblance to his namesake is his awesome physique, not his fighting style, which more closely reminded one of Marlon Starling- earmuff defense and all. Fo the first few rounds, it was Alvarez showing off his improved skills- body punching, defense, footwork, you name it, Goncalo felt it. After four rounds, per NABF/WBC rules, open scoring was announced with Alvarez winning a shutout at 40-36 on all three cards, to the crowd’s delight. Goncalo started to open up more after the fourth, to no avail as the freckle-faced “Canelo” seemed to toy with his opponent, easily dodging many of the shots, countering back with his own, and pretty much doing as he pleased. If nothing else, Goncalo showed that he not only looked as if he was carved out of granite, he could take a punch as if he was made of such. Time and again he took flush shots to head and body with seemingly no effect. After eight rounds, the scores were again announced to the public at a unanimous 80-72, all for Alvarez. If Alvarez was discouraged that his best punches were landing flush with no effect, he didn’t seem to show it, letting Goncalo come forward as he wished, countering away, and dodging all with ease. Then suddenly, a looping right hand stunned the Brazilian for the first time in the fight. Alvarez jumped on his foe, landing five consecutive lefts to the head, the last sending Goncalo semi-conscious to the floor like a felled tree. Referee Russell Mora didn’t bother to count, waving matters off at 1:54 of round nine. The win moves “Canelo” to 26-0-1, (20), while Goncalo slips to 12-4-3 (5).
In the first of the co-features, NABF Fly champ Wilberth Uicab took on Filpino novice B. J. Dolorosa. In the first, a beautifully timed left caught the aggressive Uicab on the temple and he came about as close to hitting the canvas without doing so as this writer has ever seen, the seat of his pants almost touching as he sagged into a squatting position from the impact, only to shake off the effects of the blow. The pattern with Uicab moving forward and Dolorosa choosing to patiently counter continued. Another countering shot opened a cut under Uicab’s right eye on the cheekbone. While Uicab kept coming in and seemed busier, it was Dolorosa that seemed more accurate and economical with his blows. At the startof the fifth, Uicab seemed a desperate man, storming out after Dolorosa looking for the finish. Dolorosa calmly countered, back-pedaled and used the ring. By the end of the round though, Dolorosa was gassed and sporting a puffy right eyelid. At the beginning of the eighth, Uicab went for the gusto again, chasing Dolorosa from pillar to post, losing his own mouthpiece in the process, and slowing his momentum while waiting for it to be cleaned and replaced. He didn’t continue the assault for the remainder of the round, perhaps gassed and ate a huge counter right at the b ell. Undeterred, Uicab pressed forward against the ever retreating Dolorosa, who had never gone past eight rounds. To his credit, the Filipino lasted the distance against his onrushing foe in hostile territory, with minimal experience. Fortunately for him, the normally twelve round fight was shortened to ten for television. The tallies at the end varied some at 99-91, 97-93 and 96-94, all for Uicab who retains his belt and improves to 25-5-1 (16) and Dolorosa drops to 5-2 (0).
In the first of two walkout bouts, former WBC light fly champ Omar Niño Romero looked to avenge last year’s loss to Filipino Juanito Rubillar, in a WBC eliminator at light flyweight. Despite this being a rematch, it seemed as if these two were completely unfamiliar with their respective lefty-righty styles, clashing heads constantly. By the second round, Romero was cut over his right eye, and in the third, was also bleeding from the hairline down the middle of his forehead, all from clashing of heads. In the fourth, Romero sported a cut on the bridge of his nose, also from a clash of heads. Outside of that, things seemed even in this mauling, untidy scrap. Yet, at the end of the round, open scoring alerted all that Romero was ahead on all three judges’ cards, 40-35! By the seventh, Romero was now trickling blood from his left eyebrow – he seemed to be running out of places to get cut! After eight rounds, the fight was waved off due to the numerous cuts suffered by Romero, who was by then ahead on all scorecards, 80-71. Unknown to the fans, referee Curtis Thrasher had originally ruled the first cut over the right eye, the result of a punch. Video replay was used however to overrule Thrasher, showing a clear clash of heads. Due to the ruling, instead of Rubillar winning via TKO, Romero ended up winning a technical decision and the right to face champ Edgar Sosa down the road, should Sosa come out of his defense against Carlos Melo in two weeks. Incidentally, Romero won a ten rounder against Sosa seven years ago. Romero stands at 28-3-1 (11) while Rubillar lowers to 46-12-7 (22).
The final bout of the evening pitted Jorge “Maromerito” Paez Jr. against Jose “Lobo” Ramirez. The soft looking Paez seemed to go through the motions against Ramirez, who was willing if not green in the skills department. Paez was content to counter off Ramirez’ attacks, the two often landing in clinches. Not sure if this one would’ve been less painful to watch earlier in the show, or at the tail end. It seems tail end was better as fans started to file=2 0out at the midway point of the scheduled six rounder. In the fifth, the referee urged less standing around and more fighting, specifically to Paez, who was visibly gassed, breathing through his mouth. Mercifully for all, the fight ended in the seventh at 2:51 on a cut to Ramirez caused by a punch that Paez decided to throw. Paez crawls along to22-2, (13) while Ramirez reportedly is 5-2 (5).
In the opening bout of the evening, former WBC Light fly champ Eric Ortiz and two-time fly title challenger Gilberto Keb-Baas fought to a 6 round split draw. Ortiz survived a scare at the end of the fourth as he took some big shots from Keb-Baas. Ortiz also suffered a cut over the left eyebrow in the fifth. In the end the judges saw it 59-57 Ortiz, 59-57 Keb-Baas and 57-57. Ortiz moves to 31-8-3 (20) and Keb-Baas is now 28-19-3 (16).
Bout #2 saw Fecarbox lightweight champion Jose Emilio Perea have too much experience and firepower for novice Juan Pablo “Lagarto” Sanchez. In the second Perea unloaded a huge right that dropped Sanchez briefly. The follow-up barrage however would be too much as Sanchez was nearly felled again, saved by the ropes. The continued assault saw Sanchez out on his feet,=2 0forcing the stoppage by referee Curtis Thrasher at 1:47 of the second round. Perea improves to 15-0 (8), while Sanchez drops his first at 3-1 (3).
Bout #3 saw rising power puncher Sergio “Yeyo” Thompson absolutely demolish Miguel “Demoledor” Tiquet with a pulverizing left to the ribs, at 0:44 into round one. Thompson won the vacant Latino Mundo Hispano Featherweight title in the process. He moves to an impressive 9-0 (8) while Tiquet’s record is in some dispute. Boxrec.com had him at 0-0 entering the bout, but his record was announced in the ring as 6-0 (5). Either way, his nickname translates to “Demolisher” in English. He might want to clarify that to a more apt moniker!
Bout #4 saw a miraculous comeback to the ring for former WBC Featherweight champ Rodolfo “Rudy” Lopez. What made it so is that this was Lopez’ first bout in the ring after winning the fight of his life last year against Cancer in his stomach! Looking a little soft at lightweight, Lopez was nothing if not the aggressor against fellow Quintana Roo resident Pablo “Torito” Polanco. While Polanco tried to give as good as he took, in the second round it was all over as Lopez landed a vicious l eft to the body, dropping Polanco for the count. Lopez’ record is now 21-4-1, (15) while again, there is some dispute over that of Polanco. It is either 0-4 (Boxrec.com) or 10-5 (after the ring announced record).
Bout #5 have novices Aaron Velez and Luciano Canche go at it over four hotly contested rounds at featherweight. It was a Mutt-n-Jeff affair as the lanky Velez towered over the fireplug Canche. In the end it was a split win for Canche by scores of 40-36, 36-40 and 39-37. He improves to 2-1-1, while Velez evens out to 1-1-1.