Golden Boy Promotions in association with Erik Morales’ Box Latino presented an exciting night of action last Saturday night in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, as former super bantamweight world champion Daniel Ponce de Leon (42-4, 35KOs) brutally battered over matched Omar “Dinamita” Estrella (15-4-2, 10KOs) en route to a sixth round knock out win in the main event of the “Batalla En La Bahia (Battle at the Bay)” held at the brand new venue “Bodega del Boxeo”. With the win, Ponce de Leon captured the vacant WBC USNBC featherweight title. Over fifteen hundred fight fans filled the restored where house to the brink as they enjoyed a nine bout fight card. The event was televised live in Mexico by Televisa.
Ponce de Leon, who with the win snapped a two fight losing streak, only needed a half round of study as he quickly displayed the style that has carried him to the top of both the 122 lbs. and now the 126 lbs. divisions. With a pawing southpaw jab, Ponce de Leon controlled the distance and made room for his straight left that from the get go began to land flush to the face of the Tijuana’s Estrella. Despite being the bigger and quicker of the two, Estrella had no answer for Ponce de Leon’s attack as early as the first round which resulted in his downfall. Ponce de Leon of Chihuahua, Mexico, by way of Huntington Park, CA, continued his attack in the second as he resumed his two punch attack but also added a right hook to the body that seemed to miss more than land as Estrella would slide out of reach. Mid way through the round as Ponce de Leon was coming in to continue his assault, Estrella landed his best punch of the night, a hard right hand to the mouth of the stomach which sent Ponce de Leon to the canvas for only the second time in his career. Ponce de Leon beat the count with ease and despite the knockdown, it was not enough to encourage Estrella to pick up the pace.
Ponce de Leon kept punishing Estrella’s face with his signature straight left hand in the third. So much so that Estrella’s right eye began to show the effects of it as it began to swell. Estrella, known for a boxer-puncher style, seemed stuck in mud as he just did not let his hands go as the obviously less technical Ponce de Leon would leave himself open with his awkward punching style. The onslaught continued in the fourth but with a new twist as Ponce de Leon, noticing that Estrella was not really in engaging, began to walk the Tijuana fighter to the ropes and began to score with multi-punch combinations.
Surprisingly, despite the fact that a WBC regional title was at stake, the scores were not read at the end of the fourth round as expected. Rumor has it that the WBC caved in to pressure from Ponce de Leon’s team despite the protests from the opposing side.
By the fifth round, Ponce de Leon was full steam ahead as he dominated the round, not really hurting Estrella, but completely taking charge of the action as Estrella would just not throw punches. The end came in the sixth round as Estrella’s face showed the signs of the Tijuana police-style beating. From the opening bell of the round, Ponce de Leon looked intent of making it the last inning and as a good closer, trapped Estrella once again against the ropes and didn’t stop punching until his victim was down on his knees waiting for referee Tom Taylor to reach the ten count. The end came officially at 1:30 of the sixth round of a scheduled twelve.
Santa Cruz Cruises to Early Win
Former amateur standout Leo “Teremoto” Santa Cruz (19-0-1, 11KOs) of Lincoln Heights, CA, cruised to an easy win in the semi-main event as Alejandro “Payaso” Hernandez (24-9-2, 13KOs) refused to come out for the fourth round of a scheduled super bantamweight ten. Santa Cruz dictated the action from the get go as he controlled the distance with his reach advantage. Hernandez didn’t do much as he was content in moving around in the ring in the first stanza. Hernandez started the second much stronger but faded half way through. Santa Cruz scored as he trapped Mexico City’s Hernandez in the corner and landed a flurry of punches to both the body and head. Inexplicably, Hernandez kept his guard low as the punches came in, especially the right hand from Santa Cruz.
In what turned out to be the last round, Santa Cruz stepped up on the gas and kept battering Hernandez with nothing really coming back. Hernandez at times scored with an over hand right but it wasn’t nearly enough to stop “Teremoto” from coming forward. In the rest period before the the fourth, Hernandez’s corner announced that their fighter had hurt his right hand and they decided to waive off the action. Official time was :10 of the fourth round.
“Crazy Russian” Suleymanov Wins Again in Mexico
In a special attraction, Chelyabinsk, Russia by way of Los Angeles’ Khabir “Crazy Russian” Suleymanov (13-1, 6KOs) scored a tough earned majority decision over cagey veteran Roberto “Pollito” Lopez (30-23-1, 12KOs) of Tijuana in a six round bantamweight bout. The 2005 New York Golden Gloves co-champion Suleymanov pushed the action as Lopez looked content to just survive by holding or dodging anything that came his way. The action began quickly in the first as the former Iron Curtain resident feinted as he looked to knock off Lopez’s head right off his neck with lunging over hand rights with bad intentions. Lopez still scored sporadically, mostly to the body of Suleymanov, but was more intent of not getting hit than actually scoring himself.
By the third round, Khabir was able to close the gap a bit and land a couple of shots in a row before Lopez would hold on for dear life. As soon as Suleymanov had him against the corner, Lopez already had arms extended ready for the clinch. Visibly frustrated, Suleymanov pleaded with the third man in the ring to keep an eye on the holding from Lopez. Suleymanov was successful in feinting and then scoring a from the outside but it wasn’t enough to convince all the judges since after six entertaining but complicated rounds, two judges scored it for Suleymanov while one saw it a draw. Official scores were not announced.
In the fight of the night, all action Mario “Popeye” Padilla (9-4-3, 1KO) of Tijuana earned an exciting four round decision over Ensenada’s Eduardo “Choko” Gonzalez (10-1) in the televised swing bout which turned out to be an all out war. After dropping Gonzalez with a stiff right hand in the opening seconds of the fight, Padilla and Gonzalez stepped into the phone book and thrashed each other for twelve minutes straight with Padilla scoring the more telling blows. Bloody, bruised and battered, Gonzalez never the less made it to end of the brawl in front of his hometown. Unfortunately for him, two judges saw it for Padilla with scores of 40-36 and 40-38 while the third scored it a draw 38-38.
Despite hitting him with everything but the corner stool, undefeated super middleweight Marco Antonio Periban (16-0, 10KOs) of Mexico City was just not able to knock out the much smaller Jesus Angel “Dandy” Nerio (15-2, 4KOs) in an eight rounder. Usually a super welterweight, the late sub Nerio of Monterrey, Mexico, was able to hang in there with Periban and at times making the much taller and stronger fighter take a step back from crisp combinations that penetrated the guard of the Mexico City native. Periban, the busier of the two, did score the harder punches.
Local junior middleweight Carlos “Kalimba” Lozano (4-1-1, 1KO) looked impressive as he scored a knock out in the fourth and last round over Gerardo Mendoza (1-2) of Tijuana, Mex. The southpaw Lozano dropped Mendoza with a left uppercut in the third and repeated the dosage in the fourth to end his night. Official time was 1:18.
In a junior welterweight four rounder, Jesus Valadez (1-1, 1KO) of Tijuana scored the first knock out of his career over perennial loser Jorge “Amor” Silla (1-4, 1KO), also of the border town, in the third round. Valadez dropped the raw Silla with a left hook to the body in the second and ended the action with a right hand in the next round. Official time was 2:49.
Lanky Javier “Pelon” Gomez (11-7, 8KOs) scored yet another knock out over Jose “Pipi” Torres (10-3), both of Tijuana, in the second round of a six round junior welterweight affair. The action stated early with Gomez taking the role of aggressor while Torres the one of counter puncher. In the second, in true “Rocky” fashion, the two fighters landed a left hook at the exact same time with Gomez’s getting there quicker and harder which sent Torres crashing down to the canvas. “Pipi” was not able to beat the count. Official time was 2:59.
In a run of the mill four rounder, junior welterweight Cesar Sanchez (2-6-3) of Tijuana earned a unanimous decision over Julio Paz (3-2), also of Tijuana.