By David Robinett at ringside
Photos: Tom Hogan – Tom Hogan Photography/Golden Boy Promotions
In an old school ESPN slugfest between two reliably exciting veterans of the ring, Mauricio Herrera (24-7, 7 KOs) banked enough rounds early to withstand the late rally of Jesus Soto Karass (28-12-4, 18 KOs) to earn a ten-round majority decision by scores of 95-95, 96-94, 96-94 in the main event at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.
Both fighters worked behind the jab early, with Herrera the more active of the two. It was apparent early on that Herrera’s game plan was to box the bigger Soto Karass, and he generally did a good job early of avoiding prolonged exchanges. However Soto Karass kept coming forward, drawing Herrera into more frequent exchanges as the bout progressed. Surprisingly Herrera held his own trading punches with Soto Karass but utilized more boxing in rounds five and six, circling Soto Karass and relying on his left jab to keep Soto Karass at a safe distance. There were a handful of good exchanges in each of the middle rounds, but not enough for Soto Karass to change the momentum of the fight, with Herrera switching back to boxer-puncher whenever things started to tighten up. However by round eight the distance evaporated and the remainder of the fight was fought in close quarters with neither fighter taking a step back. Although Herrera countered effectively, the last three rounds clearly favored the heavier handed Soto Karass, who opened a bad cut over Herrera’s right eye in round nine and was beginning to overpower Herrera until he ran out of time at the final bell.
It was a big win for Herrera, who is at the stage of his career where every fight is a crossroads fight. While Soto Karass lost, and is now winless in his last five fights going back to 2013 (albeit against top-flight competition), he proved he is still a viable commodity and a tough out for all but the elite of the division.
In the ESPN-televised co-main event from Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, Ukraine’s Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs) captured the vacant WBC USNBC Light Heavyweight title with a seventh round stoppage of previously unbeaten Todd Unthank-May (10-1-1, 4 KOs) in a scheduled ten-round bout. Unthank-May, described by Golden Boy Promotions as a protégé of Bernard Hopkins, gave Shabranskyy trouble early with his fast hands, landing punches before Shabranskyy could set his feet or counter. Unthank-May’s lack of power hurt him though, as he landed several punches flush on Shabranskyy that did not cause the damage they should have. Shabranskyy, on the other hand, hurt Unthank-May several times with the right hand, opening a cut near Unthank-May’s left eye in round two, and visibly rocking his unbeaten opponent on several occasions. Shabranskyy also suffered a cut near his left eye in round three, but by round four appeared to have the measure of Unthank-May, landing his jab and right hand with ease as Unthank-May’s left side of his face became a bloody mess. In round five nearly everything Shabranskyy landed snapped Unthank-May’s head back, with Shabranskyy having particular success targeting the cut near his opponent’s left eye. In round seven Shabranskyy was landing at will and by the end of the round Unthank-May looked ready to go. His corner apparently agreed, as the bout was halted at the end of round seven.
Undefeated Niko Valdes (6-0, 5 KOs) went the distance for the first time, earning a tough six-round unanimous decision over the mysterious Jaime Solorio in a super middleweight contest by the unpopularly wide scores of 59-55, 59-55, 60-54, which drew a steady rain of boos from the fans in attendance. Solorio, who is portrayed on the online boxing database BoxRec and a general internet search as a baby-faced knockout artist from San Quintin, Mexico, with a record of 10-1-2, was represented at Fantasy Springs by a pudgy, older-looking man from San Quintin, Mexico, with a record of 7-3-2. Whichever Solorio showed up however did all the Solorios out there proud, starting slowly but by the end of the fight trading bombs with the undefeated youngster and getting the better of many of those exchanges. Valdes escaped with the official victory but Solorio walked away with the respect of the crowd.
Super flyweight Ricardo Sandoval (8-1, 7 KOs) earned a decision victory for the first time in his career, going six rounds to beat Antonio Rodriguez (8-18-1, 5 KOs) by scores of 59-55, 60-54, 60-54 in a bout that was closer than the scores indicated. Sandoval’s record coming into the fight was somewhat misleading, with his seven prior wins coming against competition with a cumulative 3-44-3 record, and his lone loss coming against his only opponent with a winning record. Nevertheless, Sandoval had enough to get by Rodriguez, outworking his game opponent and landing the more effective punches, particularly with his right hand.
Super lightweight Jonathan Navarro (11-0, 6 KOs) won a hard-earned eight round unanimous decision over game Angel Sarinana (7-7-2, 3 KOs), by scores of 79-72, 80-71, 80-71. Sarinana came in as one of those opponents with little power who usually gets knocked out, but he brought his “A” game to this bout, forcing Navarro to work hard for nearly every round. Navarro looked like he would roll early on, knocking Sarinana down with a right hand just before the bell to end round one. Navarro also ripped punches to the body early and often, which seemed like it would pay off in the later rounds, but Sarinana never went away, loading up with both hands in a defiant attempt to show he was not intimidated. Despite Sarinana’s best efforts, Navarro still landed the harder, more accurate punches and was rightly awarded the clear decision.
In the opening bout at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California, undefeated super welterweight Marvin Cabrera (5-0, 4 KOs) got a pass from the judges, earning an unfairly wide six-round unanimous decision over upset specialist Esau Herrera (19-9-1, 10 KOs). Scores were 59-55, 59-55, 60-54 for a fight that seemed much closer. Herrera, whose last two wins came over undefeated fighters, was fighting for the first time since 2014 but he was the more active fighter through most of the fight, coming forward with both hands, while Cabrera was content to pick his spots and tag Herrera with short punches coming in. Ultimately the judges favored Cabrera’s counterpunching and accuracy over Herrera’s activity.