By David Robinett at ringside
In the main event of World Fighting Championship (WFC) 79 at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort in Rancho Mirage, California, former female world champion Kaliesha “Wild Wild” West (17-2-3, 4 KOs) returned from a three-year layoff to earn a close six-round unanimous decision over Kirstie Simmons (8-3, 2 KOs) by scores of 58-56, 58-56, 59-55 in a super featherweight contest. West, who has only fought three times in the last five years, said after the fight that she was inspired to return by the recent influx of female Olympians into the pro ranks.
However the rust showed early on, as she and Simmons short-armed most of their punches in a tactical, feeling-out round in the opening stanza. West managed to catch Simmons with the left hook several times in round two over the southpaw’s right jab, causing Simmons to short-arm most of her jabs again in round three.
In round four Simmons closed the distance just enough to start consistently landing her jab, and mixed in occasional hooks to the head before darting away to prevent West from countering, to take the round. But Simmons stood and traded in round five, which favored West and blunted the momentum Simmons had built the previous round by sticking and moving against the heavier-handed West. In the final round, Simmons tried to go back to boxing, flicking the jab and quickly retreating, but West was able to walk her down and landed several straight hands to punctuate her victory.
In the evening’s co-main event, super bantamweight Javier Padilla (4-0-1, 4 KOs) stopped Alan Garcia (0-2-1) at 1:03 of round three in a scheduled four-round bout. Padilla, who is coached by former Timothy Bradley trainer Joel Diaz, scored a flash knockdown during a fierce exchange in the opening minute of the first round but Garcia recovered quickly and took the fight to Padilla’s body. A Padilla right hook wobbled Garcia again late in round one. The bout was fought on even terms in round two before Padilla began to pull away in the third, connecting with several right hooks and uppercuts on a quickly fading Garcia before referee David Mendoza intervened to rescue Garcia.
Its always an entertaining fight when 5’1” MMA fighter “Little Monster” Mefi Monterroso (0-2) enters the squared circle and tonight was no exception, as the wee assassin put up a valiant effort before getting stopped late in the final round by Ryan Caballero (3-0, 0 KOs) in a scheduled four-round featherweight bout. Caballero, the brother of former IBF bantamweight titlist Randy Caballero, was back in the ring for the first time since 2013, but looked in shape and ready to go, catching Monterroso repeatedly with the right hand as the smaller man lunged in with big left and right hooks. Caballero did his most damage when he switched to the body beginning in round two, but he still took a few big right hooks from Monterroso for his trouble. Caballero’s sustained body attack eventually wore Monterroso down however, and although they went toe-to-toe in the final round, Monterroso was gassed and throwing noodles in the final minute while Caballero was still landing sharp, prompting referee Raul Caiz Jr. to step in wave it over at 2:36 of round four.
Luis Cervantes (8-9-3, 2 KOs) cruised to a 40-36 unanimous decision over Mario Aguirre (2-10, 2 KOs) in a four-round light welterweight bout. Cervantes was in control throughout, relying on his reach to land punches to the head and body that Aguirre was too far to counter, and then outworking Aguirre on the few occasions they fought in close. Cervantes, whose professional career began in 2004 but has been interrupted by multiple long layoffs, snapped an eight-fight winless streak dating back to 2008.
Bantamweight Jonah Flores scored a pair of knockdowns over winless Steve Lantry (0-3) en route to a four-round unanimous decision in his pro debut. All three judges scored the bout 40-34 for Flores. It looked like it might be a quick debut for Flores, as he dropped Lantry with a left hook to the body early in the opening stanza and didn’t let up to the body for the remainder of the round. Lantry, who fights professionally in boxing and MMA, showed some mettle by hanging around and even sneaking in a few hard right hooks that got the attention of Flores. Flores was simply the better fighter though, punctuating his win with a second knockdown from a right hand midway through the final round.
Bantamweight Saul Sanchez (5-0, 3 KOs) defeated Sergio Lopez (3-5-1, 0 KOs), at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort in Rancho Mirage, California, in the opening bout of Nevada-based World Fighting Championship’s 79th show, unambiguously titled WFC 79. It was a solid four-round scrap, with Sanchez seemingly shading all four rounds but having to work for each one against the gritty Lopez, who traded big hooks, uppercuts, and body shots with Sanchez but with very little power behind his punches. Sanchez was a little busier and his hands noticeably heavier, which were the differences in the fight. Sanchez was awarded a unanimous decision but scores were not announced.