Ringside by David Finger
WBC No. 16 ranked middleweight contender David Medina survived one of the scariest rounds, and fights, of his career last night when he got up of the canvas in the seventh round to score an eight round split decision victory over rejuvenated Anthony Shuler at the El Paso Coliseum.
he main event, of the Zeferino Entertainment-promoted “El Paso Superfight 2” was suppose to be an opportunity for the popular Medina to make a statement in his quest to crack into the top ten. Medina, however, was forced to dig deep and show the WBC something entirely different: flashes of his “Gatti of the Rockies” style that marked his early career.
Although Shuler had a history of getting caught early, and seemed to come into the ring bone dry, the first round saw Medina boxing cautiously behind a left jab and right cross while Shuler looked to counterpunch. A hard right hand from Shuler caught the attention of Medina midway through the round, and although it appeared to be a Medina round, boxing fans in attendance quickly realized that Shuler was not about to lay down for the Kansas based slugger.
The next three rounds saw Medina stalking his slick boxing opponent, jumping in with hard combinations upstairs while catching hard right hand counters in return. Round three saw Medina briefly buckle from a hard hook to the body, a move that revived the warrior instinct in the Mexican-American brawler, who began to abandon his strategy in an attempt to get Shuler to brawl with him.
Although most of the early rounds were close, with Medina the aggressor and Shuler landing the hard right hand counter, Medina was also showing signs of fatigue. It was enough to cause trainer Eric Bonilla to implore Medina get back to the basics in the fifth.
Medina returned to the jab and footwork in that round, sweeping it on all three judges scorecards as he turned the counterpunching Shuler into the stalker that round. Round six saw more of the same, but Shuler was able to catch Medina in his corner briefly in the last minute of the round, stealing it on one judges scorecard.
Going into the seventh round, the fight appeared to be anyone’s for the taking, with the right hand counters of Shuler clearly taking a toll, but the aggressiveness of Medina also clearing paying dividends against a fading Shuler. Most ringsiders recognized that the tide would soon turn, although the consensus was still out on who would capitalize.
As it turned out, it was Shuler, who dropped Medina hard with a right cross that hurt Medina badly halfway through the round. Medina stumbled to his feet at referee Robert Chapa’s count of eight, and clearly was in serious trouble as Shuler rushed in for the kill. Medina, however, proved once again that he knew how to survive tough situations. Medina survived the round through a combination of clinching and counterpunching, and seemed to have recovered as the round came to a close.
Shuler, perhaps thinking he was ahead or perhaps badly winded from the energetic seventh round, failed to capitalize in the eighth as Medina put forth one of the best rounds of pure boxing in his career, flicking a hard jab and right cross counter that was absent in earlier rounds. With a minute left, Medina landed a hard three punch combination upstairs, his best of the fight. Although many ringsiders wondered if Shuler had pulled off the upset as the fight ended, nobody disagreed with the judges who all gave the final round to Medina.
In the end it proved to be a critical mistake for Shuler as judger Jerry Venzor and Levi Martinez gave the fight to Medina (by scores of 77-74 and 76-75, respectively). Judge Raul Valencia scored the fight for Shuler, 77-74. With the win Medina improves to 22-2, 10 KOs, while Shuler, whose stock skyrockets after this performance, drops to 20-8-1, 14 KO’s.
“I really tip my hat to Shuler,” commented promoter Ramirez. “He came to fight tonight, and showed the world that he still has the skills to compete in the division. And although the fight proved to be a tough one for David, I think he still did show a lot, particularly in that eighth round. I won’t lie, it wasn’t his best performance, but I’m proud at how he continues to rise to the occasion whenever he faces adversity.”
Han defeats Lopez
In the co-main event of the night, talented undefeated junior middleweight Abraham “Abie” Han improved to 11-0, 9 KO’s as he scored a lopsided, but tough, decision over Hilario Lopez (12-11, 8 KO’s).
Lopez, who has gone the distance with such fighters as Omar Henry and Mike Alvarado, came out aggressively in the first but simply couldn’t come up with an answer to Han’s blinding speed. Han pumped the left jab in the first two rounds, but once he incorporated a diversified attack utilizing the right hand he began to land with more regularity against Lopez.
Lopez never was in danger of hitting the canvas during the fight, and did find a home for hard right hands of his own on occasion, although a clash of heads in the fourth proved to be the only time Han appeared hurt.
All three judges (Raul Valencia, Levi Martinez, and Jerry Venzor) scored the fight 60-54 for the popular El Paso native Han. Although the local boy Han had only gone the distance once prior to this, he looked sharp in the sixth and final round and appears ready to step up to eight-rounders in the near future. The referee was Gary Simons.
Valenzuela brothers win
In the undercard, undefeated El Paso resident Cesar Valenzuela improved to 5-0 with a lopsided decision over game, but outclassed Lorenzo Estrada, of Las Cruces, N.M., over four rounds. Estrada came out aggressively throughout the fight but was no match for the speed and reach of Valenzuela.
All three judges (Valencia, Marinez, and Venzor) scored the fight 40-36 for Valenzuela. Estrada drops to 3-17-1, 1 KO.
In the opening fight of the night Ceasar’s younger brother Oscar Valenzuela improved to 2-0 with a tough four-round TKO over debuting local boy Joaquin Abilla. Oscar came out aggressively against Abilla in the first, and seemed to hurt him in the opening minute of the fight, but a grazing counter hook to the chin shook him up a minute into the round, proving to Valenzuela and the crowd that Abilla was no pushover. Valenzuela continued his aggressive style as the round progressed but Abilla continued to land hard counter shots throughout the round.
Although it appeared that one of those shots opened up a cut over Valenzuela’s left eye (promoting a stoppage in the action for a few minutes) referee Gary Simons ruled it came from a head butt. As the round came to a close it appeared that Abilla was somewhat rattled by a right cross, but fired back with a right hand of his own to close the round out.
As the second round progressed the aggression of Valenzuela never ceased, although his gas tang was clearly depleting rapidly. The cut would prove not to be a factor in the fight, but as Valenzuela continued to load up with looping power shots (that would land) while eating hard counter shots (that also would land) the question on everyone’s mind was how much longer could both fighters keep up in what was proving to be one of the better brawls to his El Paso in some time. The answer came in the fourth as Abilla got caught with a right hand from a badly winded Valenzuela. Abilla stumbled around the ring and as he spun around found himself unable to maintain his balance as he stumbled into the corner. Referee Gary Simons saw enough and wisely waved off the fight at 1:38 of the forth and final round.
The fight card lived up to the moniker “El Paso Superfight” and proved that “The Pass” is proving to be one of the best cities for boxing in the state of Texas. Promoter Zef Ramirez indicated that he hopes to come back to El Paso for another Superfight before the end of the year.