Erik “Terrible” Morales’ Box Latino made its triumphant return to Tijuana on Saturday night with a highly successful night of professional boxing that saw a new king get crowned while a local favorite defended his title for the second time. Around three thousand boxing fans took in the action at the Tijuana Municipal Auditorium as Mexico City’s Oscar “Finito” Gonzalez (28-1, 21KOs) captured the vacant WBC super bantamweight International title by stopping late sub Gerardo “Locomotora” Espinoza (28-13, 26KOs) of Tijuana, Mexico, in the fifth round of a scheduled twelve. The night was broadcast live in Mexico by the Televisa network.
Gonzalez is a former WBC Youth 122 lbs. champ and is coming from winning the “WBC Future Champions” Tournament late last year. The tournament was a “Contender” like series that ran on Mexico’s Televisa network. In the series, Gonzalez defeated both Robert Vasquez and Vacharakrit Senahan to take the $100,000 prize.
Espinoza came back from a five year hiatus late last year when he faced Abraham Lopez in Ontario, CA, and was stopped in four rounds. Previous to that, Espinoza had lost his last six. In his heyday, Espinoza was a tough customer in the bantamweight division and once challenged Cruz Carbajal for the WBO bantamweight title. In his off time, Espinoza became the chief second for current 126/130 lbs. contender Juan Carlos Burgos.
The bout began slow enough as both fighters used the first usual round of study to do just that. Espinoza did take the round as he scored a series of right hand and uppercut combinations as Gonzalez didn’t do much as far as offense. The second was pretty much the carbon copy of the first as the veteran Tijuana fighter continued to score with a well educated right hand that he would sneak either into or around the Gonzalez guard. Gonzalez looked lethargic as he circled around the ring.
After the most of the third followed suit, Gonzalez woke up near the end as he initiated a heated exchange in which he got the best of it although Espinoza held his ground. Espinoza went back to work in the fourth with his double jab followed with a sneaky right that found a home on Gonzalez’s face more times that not. Despite Gonzalez being more sporadic with his his offense, every time he landed he seemed to hurt Espinoza and the proof was on Tijuanense’s face as the right side began to redden.
Gonzalez came out in the fifth much more determined than any of the previous rounds and hurt Espinoza with a right hand early in the round. As Gonzalez went in for the kill, the experienced Espinoza took a knee to stop the punishment. Gonzalez’s assault didn’t slow down but only intensified once the action resumed and a hard body shot sent Gonzalez to the canvas once again. The tough veteran beat the count but Gonzalez attacked him as he caught him against the ropes. Espinoza’s corner threw in the towel but referee Jose Cobian, whose back to Espinoza’s corner, did not see but seconds later he decided to halt the action. Official time was 2:21 of the fifth round.
“Cobra” Mendoza Retains Title with Spectacular Stoppage
In the semi main event, local junior flyweight Javier ” Cobra” Mendoza (16-2-1, 13KOs) successfully defended his WBC Continental Americas strap with a seventh round knock out of Armando “Chiquita” Vazquez (20-8, 4KOs) in a scheduled twelve rounder.
The popular Mendoza of Tijuana, Mexico, by way of Acapulco, Guerrero, wasted no time as he went after his prey from the opening bell with heavy pressure. Mexicali, Mexico’s Vazquez was not intimated and kept his calm as he was the more controlled of the two and scored with precise punching. The action continued in the second as the hard hitting Mendoza tried to give his hometown crowd what they came to see, a knockout, with a wild power punches that missed their mark the majority of the time. Vazquez kept his defense up and was able to score with the more effective punches.
In the third and fourth, Mendoza was able to close up and the gap and began to land solid punches as Vazquez seemed to begin to fold under the pressure. At the end of the fourth, Vazquez was able to hold off the storm as he finished off the round strong with a multi-punch combination.
The pace slowed in the fifth as Vazquez kept boxing and Mendoza tried to find a new strategy since stalking down Vargas was not working as well as he intended. The ending began to write itself in the sixth as Vazquez began to look more tired from the constant movement he had to use to keep Mendoza at bay. Despite Mendoza being able to score more effectively now, Vazquez showed his opponent he was still in the game when he closed the sixth with a hard left hook to the body.
As if knowing that he only had one last push, Vazquez went after Mendoza in the seventh as if trying to ending right there. Despite not having to much power as proven by his KO% of 14.29, Vazquez was able to wobble Mendoza with a barrage of punches. Mendoza was able to recuperate quickly and as Vazquez threw a left hook to the head, Mendoza got there first with left uppercut to the mouth of the stomach that Vazquez never saw coming which in turn dropped him to the canvas. Referee Manuel Rincon counted Vazquez out. Official time was 2:14 of the seventh round.
Ivan “Niño Maravilla” Morales Keeps Shining with Unblemished Record
The latest addition to the Morales dynasty, twenty-year old southpaw Ivan “Niño Maravilla” Morales (16-0, 11KOs) remained undefeated as he stopped tough journeyman Ricardo “Rocky” Armenta (15-14-1, 7KOs) of Agua Prieta, Mexico, in the third round.
The taller Morales, who is the younger brother of current WBC light welterweight champion Erik “Terrible” Morales and former WBO super flyweight champ Diego “Pelucho” Morales, took the initiative early as he began to use his reach and keep the stockier Armenta at bay while scoring with a jab and straight left combination. Armenta, who in his thirty fight career has faced the likes of Alberto “Metro” Guevara, Arturo “Fuerte” Badillo and Hernan “Tyson” Marquez among others, stayed in the pocket as he tried to get inside of Morales’ guard.
The tempo slowed down in the second as Morales tried to pick his punches as Armenta moved around the ring. Morales added a left hook to the body to his arsenal that began to make an effect on the older Armenta.
Armenta had his best round in the third as he began to sting punches together and begin to score on Morales although sporadically. Unfortunately for Armenta, his good fortune was not to see the end of the stanza as Morales scored with a hard uppercut to the abdomen of Armenta that made the Sonora fighter collapse to the canvas. He did not beat the count. Official time was 2:36 of the third round.
“Hollywood” Estrella Gets Back in the Winner’s Circle
By far in the best fight of the night, super flyweight Jose “Hollywood” Estrella (10-3-1, 8KOs) earned a tough unanimous decision over the very game Pedro “Guerrero” Melo (7-3-1, 1KO) of Mexico City in a six round war.
Tijuana’s Estrella, who in his last right last December dropped a four majority decision to Victor “Ranita” Godinez, almost made it an early night for Melo as he came out like a bat out of hell from the opening bell and scored with swift combinations punctuated with a straight right hand that found a home early. Melo had no answer for Estrella’s measured attack and it was testament to his granite chin that he survived the round.
The tough as nails Melo turned into the aggressor in the second and went after Estrella successfully pinning the Tijuana fighter against the ropes and scoring with his own set of combos. Both fighters picked up the pace in the third as Estrella was able to hurt Melo with a left hook to the body. From there, the battle became one of attrition as the began to exchange bombs in every corner of the ring and in the center. Estrella’s power punches were the harder ones but Melo was right there giving as good as he took and was the busier of the two.
Melo’s chances didn’t improve in the fourth as a power punch from Estrella opened deep gash over his right eye. Estrella got in the driver’s seat and controlled the round as he punished Melo with combinations that either began at the head and finished at the body or vice versa. Melo had no answer but to try to defend himself and on occasion was able to score with his own set of punches.
Estrella was visibly tired in the fifth as the high output of punches from both fighters began to take its toll. Melo again was able to push Estrella into the ropes where he had much better success despite being the taller of the two with longer arms. Melo was able to control the action as Estrella had difficulty in scoring while his back was against the ropes.
The sixth round was one of the best seen lately in the border town as Estrella was able to take control once again in the first minute of the last round with more well placed combinations. Melo gave his last hurrah in the second minute as he actually seemed to hurt Estrella as the Tijuana fighter truly looked spent. As the crowd chanted “Estrella, Estrella”, Jose was able to muster one last assault on Melo that sealed the deal in the last minute with a hard right hand that snapped Melo’s head back coming in the last ten seconds of the bout. No official scores were announced.
Hometown favorite “Mario “Popeyin” Padilla (9-5-3, 1KO) came up short versus the taller Aber “Destroyer” Lopez (4-0, 2KOs) in a lightweight six rounder. Lopez of Agua Prieta, Mexico, fought well from a distance but Padilla was successful in getting inside his guard and scoring. It was all Padilla in the first half of the bout as he dominated the action with wild over hand rights that found their mark. Once he settled in, Lopez was able to gain control of the bout from the outside and began to score on Padilla as the Tijuana favorite began to fade near the end. Lopez was able to catch him with a barrage of punches to start off the fifth with prompted referee Juan Jose Ramirez to halt the action. Official time was 1:06 of the 5th round.
In a run of the mill super flyweight six rounder, Los Mochis, Mexico’s Osvaldo “Waldo” Castro (12-4-1, 8KOs) earned a unanimous decision over veteran Tijuana journey man Roberto “Pollito” Lopez (30-24-1, 12KOs). The tough to catch Lopez moved well around the ring but Castro did just enough to take the win. Official scores were not announced.
Tijuana knock out artist Javier “Pelon” Gomez (12-7, 9KOs) needed only a round a half to stop Cesar “Mr. TNT” Luna (4-2, 1KO) of Agua Prieta, Mexico, in a scheduled welterweight four rounder. Gomez was clearly to much for the over matched Luna and once he caught him with a big right hand against the ropes, it was the end of the night for Luna. Official time was 1:16 of the second round.
In an all action lightweight four round bout for the regional Gold Belt, Jesus Valadez (3-1, 1KO) survived a second round trip to the canvas to come back and earn a split decision victory over Cesar “Demoledor” Sanchez (2-7-3), both of Tijuana. One judge saw it 38-37 for Sanchez while the other two scored it 38-37 for Valadez.
Ciudad Obregon, Mexico’s Jorge Guerrero (7-9, 5KOs) got back in the win column with a tough earned split decision over local and formerly undefeated Victor Ruiz (3-1, 3KOs) in a super flyweight four.