By Phil Doherty
Six boxers entered the BB&T Center with undefeated records last night and all but one left unbeaten. Unfortunately for the Puerto Rican faithful in the sparse crowd, that lone blemish belonged to Braulio Santos (10-1, 9 KOs), the featherweight prospect backed by Miguel Cotto Promotions. He should feel no shame in his effort though as his unanimous decision loss to former and possible future prospect Derrick Wilson (10-4-2, 3 KOs) was beautifully fought from bell to bell.
Headlining the main event of Golden Boy Promotions’ Fight Series, Santos and Wilson went for broke early and often with the heavier-handed Santos keeping pace with the speedster Wilson.
Wilson, the 24-year old Ft Myers native, gave as good as he got to the body with Santos, the savage 23-year old left hooker from Carolina Puerto Rico. Although Santos’ body work seemed to do more damage early, Wilson kept returning fire as both men set an insane pace throughout the first round. Referee Sam Burgos also had to keep up, issuing the first of many warnings to Santos beginning in Round Two for a low blow.
Santos forced the action, pushing Wilson into the ropes in the third round after stunning him with a big left hook bomb. Wilson fired furious flurries to start the fourth round in an attempt to keep the Puerto Rican slugger at bay. Yet Santos kept coming forward, lifting Wilson up on one shoulder and slamming him to the canvas in a move reminiscent of Cotto vs. Clottey.
Both men continued traded heavy shots throughout the fifth with Wilson briefly stumbling Wilson towards the close of the round. Wilson caught a low blow warning from Burgos in the sixth, which allowed Santos to catch his breath. Revived, Santos poured the leather on in the seventh, landing five consecutive uppercuts but also earning another warning from Burgos, this time for rabbit punching.
Santos appeared to reinvest in the body assault during the eighth round as Wilson searched for his own second wind. He found it in the ninth with a straight right over Santos’ jab that forced the Puerto Rican slugger to take a glove and knee to the canvas—dramatically changing the landscape of the fight.
Feeling the pressure, Santos pursued the knockout in the tenth and final round but couldn’t close the deal despite frenzied exchanges. Judges awarded Wilson a well-deserved upset victory with scores of 95-94 and 96-93 (twice). The general consensus of fans at ringside and press row confirmed a rematch to be the most logical option.
Light middleweight Daquan Arnett (11-0, 7 KOs) of Orlando brought a vocal cheering section and a crushing left hook to his scheduled eight-round co-main event against Mexican Miguel Zuniga (13-2, 8 KOs).
Arnett caught Zuniga coming forward in the first round with left-hook right-hand combinations that did little to dissuade the gritty Mexican from unloading his own overhand rights. Arnett adjusted well in the second, utilizing movement to leave Zuniga swinging at empty space after eating Arnett’s two and three-punch shots.
Arnett started talking to Zuniga as he fired his punches in the third round although Zuniga scored a clean right hand with Arnett standing along the ropes. Arnett came out firing and the two men traded blow for blow with Zuniga taking the worst of it as puffiness rose around both his eyes.
Zuniga found effectiveness in the fifth round when Arnett chose to stand near the ropes and trade with him. Feeling emboldened by this turn of events, Zuniga continued pressing the action in the fifth with one-two shots. Waving Arnett to “come in and get it,” Zuniga left his right hand ever so low to allow Arnett to oblige the invitation to deliver a beautiful left hook that dropped Zuniga in his shoes.
The warrior spirit in Zuniga willed him up to beat the count but his corner wisely threw in the towel as referee Frank Santore Jr. halted the action at 1:37 of the fifth round.
Houston native Jermall “The Hitman” Charlo (14-0, 10 KOs) stopped former Ecuadorian Olympian Luis Hernandez (21-6, 14 KOs) in their scheduled six round light middleweight bout as original “Hitman” Thomas Hearns looked on from ringside.
Charlo measured the pace against his 39-year old opponent long enough to land a three-punch combination that snapped Hernandez’s head back in the first round. The second round saw Charlo fly out of his corner with vicious shots to floor Hernandez early.
Although he beat the count from referee Sam Burgos, Hernandez ate another overhand right that sent him to the deck again. Despite pleading his case to continue, Hernandez appeared too far gone for Burgos who stopped the fight at 2:26 of the second round.
In undercard action nineteen-year old undefeated welterweight Justin DeLoach (3-0, 2 KOs) of Augusta saved wild-swinging Jonathan Olivera (0-1) of Homestead from himself in his professional debut. Olivera came out with wild-swinging off balance punches that left openings for DeLoach to score easily. Referee Frank Santore halted the action following a solid body shot that floored Olivera at 1:40 of the first round.
Former US Olympian Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. (6-0, 5 KOs) of Dallas made quick and easy work of Mexican Guillermo Ibarra (7-3, 4 KOs) by way of knockout at 1:33 of the first round. The southpaw Spence dropped Ibarra with a right hook to the body, prompting an eight-count from referee Sam Burgos. Spence brought the “Truth” seconds later with a head shot to floor the Mexican, who lay on the canvas holding his gloved hand to the back of his head as Burgos counted him out.
The school of hard knocks taught another hard lesson for former amateur standout Steve Geffrard (0-2) as he lost his second professional fight in a row by way of split decision against Travis “Severe” Reeves (1-1-1) of Baltimore. The heavy-handed Reeves came out aggressively to start the action, dropping Geffrard with a left hook seconds into the first round. Geffrard fought on, covering up and looking for openings to potshot the advancing Reeves in the second and third rounds. Unfortunately it was not enough to sway the judges, who scored it 38-37 (Geffrard) and 38-37 (twice) for Reeves.
Puerto Rican welterweight Chris “Sugar Boy” Velez (5-0-1, 3 KOs) dominated the pace and punishment in his four-round unanimous decision victory over Jose Segura Torres (2-4-2, 1 KO) of Homestead. Working behind a steady jab Velez set up solid left hooks and straight rights to both the body and head of the game Torres. A clash of heads at the close of the third round left a nasty gash over Torres’ left temple, which streamed blood throughout the fourth round. Velez poured on the pressure to close the show with all three judges awarding him identical scores of 40-36.
Local lightweight Travis Castellon (1-0-1, 1 KO) notching his first career victory via technical knockout over Will Fauth (0-1) of Orlando. The southpaw Castellon spoiled Fauth’s pro debut after numerous unintentional head clashes left Fauth with a wicked knot on his forehead. Following consultation with ringside physician Dr. Allan Fields, Fauth’s corner retired prior to the start of the second round.