By David Finger
In what was supposed to be his first major test as a professional boxer, undefeated lightweight Abel Mendoza, 132.8, passed with flying colors as he dominated the rugged Mexican Victor Zaleta, 130.6, by way of TKO in round four at the Inn of the Mountain Gods in Mescalero, New Mexico.
There were questions as to how Mendoza would do against the seasoned former WBC FECOMBOX champion, but in the end it proved to be a lopsided affair.
Mendoza started off going to body well, a move that clearly bothered the veteran. Although Mendoza would get caught with a left hook halfway through the round it failed to rattle Mendoza and proved to be the Lone highlight for Zaleta. By the end of the first Zaleta was showing signs of being seriously bothered by the body attack, which naturally set up a picture-perfect hook to the chin ut body attack pays off as left hook to chin rattled the Mexican veteran at 2:50. As Zaleta clearly buckled from the shot, Mendoza showed veteran poise as he wisely didn’t head-hunt, and instead fired a hard shot to the body that dropped Zaleta in the closing seconds of the round. Although Zaleta got up, it was clear that he was badly damaged. And it showed in round two.
Mendoza again went back to work on the body and clearly outworked Zaleta, who ended up spending much of the round on the ropes.
Mendoza continued his dominance in round three and again rattled his opponent at 2:50 of the round, and by round four fans were wondering how much longer the fight would last as the fight turned into a complete mismatch as Mendoza landed at will. However the prospect still wisely went to the body, which continuously opened up big shots to the chin. A looping right hand landed for Mendoza at the two minute mark and less than twenty seconds later he again dropped Zaleta with a devastating right to the body. Referee David Rios wisely waved off the fight at 2:23 of round four. With the win Mendoza improves to 31-0, 24 KOs while Zaleta falls to 20-6-1, 10 KOs.
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And for fans who were fearful that the exhibition fight featuring Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera and Daniel Ponce de Leon would turn into a Evander Holyfield-like debacle can breathe easy. Sure, Barrera is not the same fighter he was in his prime, but he can still fight. Barrera and De Leon engaged in a crowd-pleasing affair over six rounds that showed that both men still have enough skills to put on an entertaining scrap. There was no decision for the exhibition. The referee was Rocky Burke.