Ringside by Ricardo Trujillo and Oscar Castillo
Photos: Top Rank
Last night, in an IBF super bantamweight title eliminator held at the El Paso County Coliseum in El Paso, Texas, Alejandro Lopez of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, upset favored former IBF super bantamweight champ Takalani Ndlovu, via unanimous decision. Televised by TV Azteca and promoted by Top Rank, the pro-Mexican actually booed the decision.
Lopez was the aggressor in the first half of the round. The African counterpunched well and showed resolve in trying to get back to the championship form that he had last year. Ndlovu finished the round as the clear aggressor and landed the cleaner punches.
By the second and third rounds Lopez was connecting with overhand rights and left hooks to the body. At this point, 2-1 for Lopez in rounds, but in the fourth it was a clinch-fest with Lopez doing most of the holding and trying to survive the onslaught by Ndlovu.
The fifth was marred by a head butt from Lopez. While on the inside, Lopez swayed to his left and clearly butted the African above the left eye. No points were deducted because the butt was ruled accidental by referee Lawrence Cole. It put Ndlovu out of his rhythm and it took a couple of rounds to regain the form from round one.
In the sixth, Lopez was rocked hard by the former champ with a left hook right on the chops that caused him to the hold, sending both combatants tumbling to the canvas. At this point it looked like Lopez was gone for good. Somehow, he lasted the round. Lopez was deducted one point for holding – it was all he could do.
Being out-dueled by the African, in the seventh and eighth, it was starting to get ugly for Lopez, and the crowd began to boo the effort from the Mexican. Towards the end of the eighth, Ndlovu clocked Lopez with a beautiful left hook, right on the button. It was a knockdown but ref Cole waved it off, much to the chagrin of Ndlovu and his corner. Gert Strydom, trainer for Ndlovu, stood up and shouted at the ref for such a blatant mistake.
It was finally heating up in the ninth, Lopez digging lefts to the body and Ndlovu wincing, trying to move away. Another head butt by Lopez swelled the left eye of the African. In the ninth, Lopez was leading with his right and it clearly affected the former champ. By the championship rounds, it was very even.
Ndlovu’s eye began to swell even more, but good corner work between the eleventh and twelfth kept the eye from closing. Sharp leads by the African and just sheer volume of punches kept Lopez at bay.
The judges seemed to fill out their cards before the fight ended. Nearly everyone on press row had Takalani Ndlovu winning the fight by one or two rounds. When the decision was announced the crowd booed, unusual for the border town, considering the pro-Mexican crowd. But El Pasoans know their boxing – they threw paper cups and cans of soda at the Mexican who was declared the winner with scores of 116-111 twice and 117-110.
Fightnews reporters thought Ndlovu was robbed, scoring it 115-112.
Srydom, trainer for Ndlovu said, “I am filling a formal protest with the IBF to demand a rematch in South Africa. We won the match but lost the fight.”
Ndlovu, now 33-8, 18 KOs, was more adamant, saying “I’m surprised with this decision, I’ll fight him again anywhere anytime.”
Lopez, now 24-2, 7 KOs, was happy with the win.
“I won this fight,” he said. “I was the better fighter tonight.”
When asked about the Mexican crowd booing him, Lopez said, “I had the harder punches and controlled the fight. I don’t understand the crowd’s reaction, he was more experienced, but I carried the fight, I’m ready for Jonathan Romero. The title will be mine.”
Tapia wins co-main
In the eight-round co-main, and first TV fight, middleweight Glen Tapia (16-0, 9 KOs) decisioned Dashon Johnson (13-8-3, 4 KOs).
Tapia began the fight jabbing picking his shots, circling the ring and pacing round one with ease. Johnson moved straight forward, connecting his right hand at times, but Tapia was too quick with his one-two’s and speed.
In the second round, Tapia began circling the ring, using fancy footwork and speed to keep Johnson at bay. Johnson’s stubborn style attempted to make it a brawl. He finally landed a right over the top that landed flush on Tapia’s head, followed by a one-two combo that won him the round.
Round three began with Tapia boxing smart, using his reach and smarts in the clinch. He won the first half of round, with straight rights, one of which briefly staggered Johnson. This gave the round to Tapia, though blood began to drip off Tapia’s head from a clash of heads.
In the fourth round, Johnson began crowding Tapia, but getting hit with jabs in the first half of round. Johnson finished the round landing more counters and power shots. Round to Johnson.
In round five, Tapia came out boxing, landing jabs and counters while using speed and ring generalship. It gave him complete control of round five, though Johnson was relentless and still moving forward, Tapia caught Johnson with a counter right, but he was able to survive the round. Johnson’s corner was ready to throw in the towel, but the bell rang.
Midway through the sixth, Tapia continued to attack and controlling the pace with his speed, boxing circles around Johnson. Tapia was sitting down on his punches and with no jab from Johnson, he made it look easy.
By round seven, Tapia was, once again, boxing intelligently. He used speed and footwork to control the full distance. Too much speed and skill began to frustrate Johnson. Tapia was too slick and made Johnson miss.
In the final round, Tapia closed the show much like the second half of the fight, not allowing Johnson to get off. Not to discredit Johnson’s heart and determination, but he was just out-classed. Tapia won the round easily, just like the fight.
Judges had it 79-73 twice and 78-74. Fightnews had it 78-74 with both reporters in agreement.
After the fight, “Jersey Boy” Tapia was ecstatic. “I just kept putting on the pressure. His shots were wide and I took advantage up the middle. I think that confused him.
“I’m still an eight round fighter. I’m young and I will get better.”
When asked several different ways who he would like to fight, he responded with, “I’m not calling anyone out. I’m still an undercard fighter.”
Han destroys Terrazas
Proving himself to be a monster in the ring and scoring one of the cleanest knockouts seen lately, El Paso’s own middleweight Abie Han (18-0, 11 KOs) took out Arsenio Terrazas (9-3, 8 KOs) in stunning fashion.
Closing distance and closing the show, Abie Han has solidified his role as one of Top Rank’s better prospects. A sudden and dramatic one punch KO at 2:12 of the opening stanza sent Terrazas back to Mexicali with a wicked head ache.
Setting up with a range finder jab in the first two minutes, a quick short straight right over the top deposited the Mexican flat on his back. His head bounced twice off the canvas and the ref did not even bother to count.
“It was a scary KO,” said Han. “I just kept my distance and when I saw the opening I came over the top.
About future opponents, Han replied, “Whoever they (Top Rank) put in front of me.”
How about a top 20 contender?
Gutierrez outpoints Han in upset
The other sib did not fair so well. Featherweight Jennifer Han (8-2-1, 1 KO) – Abie Han’s sister – tasted the canvas in the second from a right hand from a determined Claudia Gutierrez (3-1).
Han was not on her game tonight, looking sluggish as she caught way too many punches from Gutierrez, who came to fight.
It was a split decision after four, Gutierrez capturing scores of 38-37 and 39-36 while one judge favored Han 38-37. Reporters had it 38-37 for Gutierrez.
Gutierrez was elated after the fight.
“I like La Chica Bonita,” she said, referring to herself, “I just wanted to establish my jab and see what she had. I think she knew I had her in the third, she looked frustrated because her nose was bleeding and she wasn’t getting off.”
Korobov decisions Nunez
In the opening bout, middleweight Matt Korobov (18-0, 10 KOs) showed his prowess by pounding out an impressive unanimous decision over Milton Nunez (22-6-1, 22 KOs) in an eight-rounder.
All judges scored it 80-72.
Solomon vs. Estrella fight of the night
In the fight of the night, Brad Solomon (18-0, 7 KOs) tasted the canvas but remained unbeaten against game Yorgi Estrella (10-9-2, 7 KOs).
Solomon tasted the canvas in the first round and was rocked several times by tough Estrella. Solomon showed he can take a punch and determination to win a fight by fighting his way back to a win. . He heads back to Lafayette, LA content with another win looking for contender status.
Judges score cards ranged from 75-75 while the other judges had it 77-73, for Solomon. . Fightnews concurred with a score of 77-73.
Williams decisions Carrillo
Unbeaten super bantamweight Tramaine Williams (4-0, 2 KOs) won a four round split decision against Raul Carrillo (1-7, 1 KO).