By Felipe Leon
Photos: Renzo Novara
World class boxing returned to Tijuana once again courtesy of hometown Zanfer Promotions along with Thompson Boxing and Gary Shaw Productions presented an IBF super bantamweight championship bout where undefeated Jonathan “Momo” Romero (23-0, 12KOs) took the hardware home by defeating Tijuana’s own Alejandro “Alex” Lopez (24-3, 7KOs) in front of over 3,500 fans at the Municipal Auditorium via a close split decision. The fight card was broadcast live in Mexico by Canal Azteca.
The hometown fighter Lopez, who earned the right to fight for the title that Nonito Donaire left vacant by defeating the tough Takalani Ndlovu in a title eliminator late last year, knew that he had to take the fight to the taller “Momo” Romero of Barranquilla, Colombia. Romero earned his shot but defeating Efrain Esquivias around the same time to become the IBF’s #2 ranked 118 pounder. Even though the shorter Lopez needed to push the fight, the slick Romero was the aggressor as he threw his piston-like jab and kept Lopez at the end of it to start off the bout. A hard left hook woke up Lopez in the second and he tried to return the favor but Romero was too elusive to get caught with anything meaningful.
By the fourth Lopez began to push the fight as Romero boxed from the outside. Lopez aggression didn’t come with out consequence as a sharp right hand caused a slight cut over his right eye. Lopez began to have some success by slipping the long right hand of Romero and coming back with a left hook to the chin that caught the Colombian more than once.
Halfway through the bout Romero began adding some dirty tactics to his repertoire of punches as he began to attack Lopez’s kidneys and the back of the head. Referee Genaro Rodriguez was stern with his warnings to Romero through out the remainder of the fight including taking off a point in the final round.
Both fighters began to switch off the lead as Lopez and Romero took turns pushing the action while the other counterpuncher with Romero scoring the better shots. With the hometown crowd pushing him with their chants and the fight slipping away, Lopez almost struck gold in the championship rounds when a hard left hook stunned Romero. Lopez sensing his only chance for the win went after the Colombian but couldn’t finish the job. An accidental head butt in the eleventh almost had the fight called off due to the severe cut on Lopez’s forehead but after intense scrutiny, the ringside doctor allowed the fight to continue until the final bell.
Two judges scored it for Romero 116-111 and 115-112 while the third had it 115-112 for Lopez. Fightnews had it a closer 114-112.
“Cobra” Gonzalez Jr. Weathers the “Tornadito”
Newly crowned Alejandro “Cobrita” Gonzalez Jr. (16-0-2, 11KOs) proved that he is ready for bigger and better things as he put to sleep hometown favorite and previously undefeated Hanzel “Tornadito” Martinez (19-1, 15KOs) in forty-one seconds of the second round. The action began early as Gonzalez Jr., the son of former champion Alejandro “Cobra” Gonzalez, began to score with straight punches to the head of the shorter Martinez from the outside. Martinez, the ex-brother of law of Antonio Margarito, did not look interested in getting in the inside of the longer Gonzalez but instead wanted to taste the power first. Halfway through the round, Martinez began to inch himself closer to his opponent and that is when the fireworks began to go off as both traded leather until the bell that marked the end of the first.
As it looked the war will continue in the second, Gonzalez scored with a straight right to the chin that hurt Martinez sending him on his back foot then “Cobrita” sprung with a left hook that knocked down “Tornadito”. Despite the hurt Martinez barely beating the count, experienced referee Jose Cobian felt compelled to waive off the fight with little protest from the Martinez corner.
With the win, Gonzalez Jr. takes home the WBC Youth bantamweight title.
Uzcategui Passes Test
Venezuelan transplant Jose “Bolivita” Uzcategui (17-0, 13KOs) of Tijuana scored his biggest win to date when he boxed himself to a unanimous decision over tough Rogelio “Porky” Medina (30-3, 24KOs) of San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, Mexico, in a ten round middleweight bout.
Uzcategui, who before this fight had never faced anyone of consequence, took control early as he used his superior reach to box from the outside and keep Medina at bay. Medina looked to be taking his time warming up as he kept up with Uzcategui but didn’t score or much less throw anything meaningful in the first couple of rounds. “Porky” gradually began to throw his hands more and close off the ring to the still boxing Venezuelan. As Medina began to throw more, Uzcategui was able to show his defense as he bobbled his head and used his waist to slip the wide power punches from Medina.
Medina was not undeterred as he kept coming forward, flat footed with a minimal movement but steady and was able at times to trap “Bolivita” against the ropes and score to the body. “Porky” kept pushing forward and seemed to be turning the tide in the seventh and eight rounds as he took the fight to the inside but Uzcategui was able to right the ship in the last two rounds as he went back to boxing. In the ninth, Uzcategui looked to go for the finish as he threw and landed huge haymakers to the head of Medina. Medina blocked most of them but looked on wobbly legs. Frustrated with the movement of his opponent, Medina clinched and often in the tenth and final round as well as landing a great upper cut to the crotch of Uzcategui. Referee Juan Morales Lee had no choice but to take a point off.
The deduction made no difference as Uzcategui took the win with scores of 97-92 two times and 96-93.
Korobov Stops the “Horse”
Undefeated Russian middleweight Matt Korobov (19-0, 11KOs) dropped in to Tijuana to stop local Arturo “Caballo” Rodriguez (12-13, 8KOs) in the fifth round of a scheduled eight.
The southpaw Korobov made his intentions known early as he attacked the body from the start of the bout with hard hooks to body. Rodriguez tried to charge in but was caught midway with left uppercuts to the mouth of the stomach from the Russian. Things got worse in the third for Rodriguez as Korobov began to put his punches in combinations but never forgetting the body of the Tijuana fighter.
The work paid dividends in the fifth as early in the round Korobov scored again with a left hook to the liver but this time Rodriguez was forced to take a knee. Rodriguez was able to incorporate himself before referee Juan Morales Lee reached the count of then but only to meet the canvas again from an upper cut to the chin. Rodriguez, visibly hurt, beat the count once again but met the canvas for the third and final time from another body shot. Juan Morales Lee waived off the bout at the 1:07 mark of the fifth round.
Los Angeles’ Saul Rodriguez (9-0-1, 5KOs) looked impressive as he remained undefeated and scored a high light reel knockout while annihilating Luis “Bofo” Viedes (7-8-1, 2KOs) in little over one round. Viedes looked game but Rodriguez, with 2012 trainer of the year Robert Garcia in his corner, was obviously the more skilled of the two. The quick Rodriguez caught Viedes against the ropes and scored a series of straight punches that knocked out the Tijuana fighter on his feet. Referee Juan Jose Ramirez had no choice but to stop the bout at the 2:06 of the second round.
Emilio Sanchez (2-0, 2KOs) of Los Angeles, CA, made mince meat of Ivan “Chino” Diaz (0-3), as he only needed 1:31 of the first round to score a devastating left hook to the chin that sent Diaz crumbling to the canvas. Diaz of Rosarito, Mexico, barely beat the count but only to get hit with a barrage of punches which forced referee Christian Curiel to stop the action.
Light welterweight Anthony Flores (4-0, 3KOs) of Inglewood, CA, needed only 1:59 of the first round to stop Tijuana’s Luis “Pacman” Contreras (0-3) of a scheduled four. The punishment started early as Contreras suffered a bloody nose almost from the beginning of the fight. Contreras had nothing to hold Flores off and a huge right hand made Contreras stagger back against the neutral corner prompting Juan Morales Lee to jump in and stop any further damage.
Two left hooks to the body is all super flyweight Leonardo Reyes (0-3) could take from hard hitting southpaw Luis “Pantera” Nery (5-0, 3KOs), both of Tijuana. Nery stalked Reyes from the opening round and although Reyes was able to score a couple of times with right hooks to the chin, Nery’s pressure was too much and the body attack forced Reyes to take a knee twice. The second knockdown forced referee Juan Morales Lee to call the action. Time was 2:18 of the first round.
Las Vegas, Nevada’s Juan Heraldez (4-0, 4KOs) kept his perfect record intact with an impressive knockout over Tijuana’s Benjamin Romandio (0-1). Heraldez scored hard punches from the get go, relaying heavily on his jab to set up his power punches. Romandio was holding his own in the first half of the round but Heraldez made the second half his and scored a left hook to the chin that sent Romandio to the canvas. No count was necessary. Official time was 2:26 of the first round scheduled for a junior welterweight four.
Undefeated Ensenada, Mexico, super lightweight Rafael Guzman (9-0, 7KOs) scored a workman like knock out over game but over matched Rodolfo “Boxer” Manriquez (0-3) of Tijuana in the opening bout of the night. Guzman was in control all the way with relentless pressure but Manriquez stayed in the pocket and tried to fight back. Guzman was just to young and live for the Tijuana fighter and scored a barrage of punches in the last round that forced Manriquez to take a knee. Manriquez wasn’t able to beat the count by referee Juan Morales Lee. Official time was 1:18 of the fifth round.
Los Angeles, CA’s Sergio “Tabasco” Nuñez (9-0, 5KOs) remained undefeated as he sent over matched Carlos “Torito” Avila (1-5) to the canvas early in the first and almost a couple more times through out the first round. Near the end of the three minutes, Avila complained of a rabbit punch and as he took his one minute rest, told his corner he would not continue making the official time :10 of the second round of a scheduled super featherweight six.
Hometown longtime favorite Alvaro Aguilar (21-2-1, 16KOs) made his once a year appearance by taking a six round super welterweight decision over game southpaw Carlos “Kalimba” Lozano (5-3, 2KOs) of Ensenada, Mexico. Both had their moments but Aguilar was the better fighter, scoring the harder punches including left hook to the liver that forced Lozano to take a knee. Thinking the fight was his, the natural super lightweight Aguilar allowed Lozano back in the fight but he turned up the heat at the end to take the win with decision with scores of 60-54, 58-55 and 57-56.
In the walk bout of the night, Mexicali, Mexico’s Sergio “Checho” Ortega (11-0, 7KOs) stopped professional loser Adan “Ojitos” Gamboa (1-16) of Tijuana. It was Ortega the whole way and after bloodying Gamboa’s nose halfway through the fight, he forced referee Cristian Curiel to call the action at the 2_19 mark of the 4th and last light welterweight round.