By Jeff Zimmerman at ringside
In an unusual trilogy in boxing today, bantamweights Joshua Franco (15-1-2, 7 KOs) from San Antonio, TX and Oscar Negrete (18-2-2, 7 KOs) out of Columbia squared off for the 3rd time in as many fights on Saturday night in Grand Prairie, Texas. The first fight ended in a draw and Franco won a close rematch, a fight that Negrete feels he deserved to win. And like the first two fights, this one was a seesaw battle throughout, as these two know each other so well.
Negrete came out firing from the opening bell as he landed a big right hand and teed off on Franco with combinations to the head and body. Negrete continued in the 2nd round with a triple right hand down the middle and big uppercuts that had Franco railing and in trouble, but Franco hung tough and had his moments towards the latter part of the round. In rounds 3 through 6, Franco found his footing and had a great 4th round as he scored to both the head and the body. In the 7th round, Negrete landed a hard uppercut to the chin of Franco, but Franco found success to the body. In the 8th and 9th, Franco and Negrete took turns landing at will on the other. But in the 10th and last round, Franco landed a huge uppercut and clearly took the fight to Negrete. But in the end, in what was a “too close to call” battle once again, as Franco and Negrete settled for a draw as the scores read 96-94 for each and 95-95. With the draw and the second between these two combatants, Franco retains his NABF & WBA International bantamweight title.
Undefeated lightweight Hector Tanajara Jr. (18-0, 5 KOs) showed good movement and a solid jab to keep the free swinging Ezequiel Aviles (16-4-3, 6 KOs) and his left haymakers away most of the time. Aviles came out aggressive in the early rounds where he landed to the head and body, but the footwork and the left jab was a key for Tanajara throughout the fight. Tanajara had a great 5th round, where he landed an uppercut and a left hook to the head of Aviles. The 7th round was very similar as Tanajara scored an uppercut, combination and straight left to the face in succession. Tanajara continued to control distance through the latter rounds and countered Aviles who continued to apply pressure. Aviles did have his moments as he landed on occasion to the body and head, but more often than not it was Tanajara landing the stiffer shots. Tanajara, well in control, began to tee off on the frustrated Aviles, who tried desperately to land a big shot to turn the tide, but to no avail. The three judges agreed and gave all 10 rounds to Tanajara as the scorecards read 100-90. Tanajara stayed perfect as he earned his 18th win and retained his USNBC belt. In the ring after the fight, Tanajara called out one of Golden Boy’s most popular fighters, Ryan Garcia, for his next fight to the roar of the crowd.
Welterweight Marcelino Lopez (36-2-1, 21 KOs) started off slow against the lanky, southpaw Daniel Echeverria (21-9, 18 KOs) from Mexico as he tried to work is way inside. Echeverria, however, used a solid right jab and a straight left hand over the first few rounds to keep Lopez at bay, but in the 4th, Lopez finally got inside and dropped Echeverria with a massive right hand that sent him crumbling to the canvas. Somehow Echeverria got back to his feet, but Lopez dropped him again with a left hook towards the end of the round. He was warned by Referee Rosario Solis for spitting out his mouthpiece for a 2nd time. In the 5th round, Lopez ducked under a hook by Echeverria and countered with a right hook that put Echeverria down for the third time, but this time, he was not getting up. The referee counted to ten and Lopez earned the impressive KO at 2:59 of the 5th round of the scheduled 10.
In a back and forth slugfest, super welterweight Travell “Black Magic” Mazion (15-0, 12 KOs) out of Austin, TX showed little rust after nearly a year out of the ring against the gritty Jeremy Ramos (11-7, 4 KOs) out of Puerto Rico. Mazion scored a knockdown in the 1st round with a left hook followed by a right hand. Ramos showed he was more than game and exchanged in the center of the ring with Mazion in round 2 and 3. Mazion appeared to have hurt Ramos, but then threw him to the canvas and was quickly warned by referee Laurence Cole. In rounds 4 through 6, both guys landed combos, but the action slowed down, but in the 7th round the action picked back up as Ramos took the fight to Mazion and landed beautiful combos that Mazion shook off. As the round ended, both fighters were exchanging heavy hands at close distance. In the 8th and final round, each fighter left it all on the line landing several power shots, without either one flinching and went all the way to the final bell. The judges scored it 80-71, 78-73 twice for Mazion in a unanimous decision.
After watching his older brother George Rincon win impressively, the younger Alex Rincon (7-0, 6 KOs) may have just outdid him against Joel Guevara (4-6-1, 3 KOs). The super welterweight southpaw Rincon used his long reach to feel out the short Guevara in the first part of round one, but Rincon soon landed a big right hook and multiple combos to the head and body of the outgunned Guevara. Guevara did hit the canvas, but was ruled a slip by referee Neal Young, although he was clearly hurt. Rincon landed a nasty left hand that snapped Guevara head back before the round ended. Rincon went right after Guevara in the second round and landed two huge right hooks that dropped Guevara into the ropes and down. Guevara made little attempt to get up and referee Neal Young counted him out. Rincon got the KO victory at 58 seconds of the 2nd round. Rincon stayed undefeated with the big win.
Former amateur star, light heavyweight Tristan Kalkreuth (1-0, 1 KO) out of Dallas and trained by the great Ronnie Shields, made his pro debut in front of his hometown fans and did not disappoint against Kynndale Prather (0-2). Prather, a southpaw, came out throwing wild left hands, but Kalkreuth quickly countered with his big right hand. Once Prather felt the power of Kalkreuth it was only a matter of time. And seconds later, Kalkreuth forced Prather into the corner and unleashed a flurry of punches that included a massive left hook and devastating right hand, before referee Rosario Solis jumped in the middle to waive it off. The time of the stoppage was 42 seconds of the very first round of the scheduled four. Kalkreuth punctuated the victory with a back flip and gave his fans a big win in his pro debut. At 17, Kalkreuth is one of Golden Boy’s hot new prospects. He is also managed by Lester Bedford who also managed San Antonio’s Jesse James Leija to a world title and has been in the middle of the Texas fight game for decades.
In a battle of undefeated super bantamweights Dallas’ Hector Valdez (11-0, 7 KOs) and Los Angeles Rafael Delgado (6-1, 5 KOs) went toe to toe from the opening bell as both guys landed bombs. Valdez dropped Delgado with a big right hand, right before the 1st round ended that put Delgado on the canvas. Valdez controlled the first couple rounds with lightening fast combos, but Delgado began to show success in the 4th round as he landed big shots of his own and landed a big right hand in the 5th as well. In the 6th and final round Valdez snapped Delgado’s head back with a left hook that clearly hurt him. Valdez went in for the kill, but could not put away the tough Delgado. The judges awarded the unanimous decision to Valdez 59-54 and 58-55 twice as he kept his undefeated record intact.
In the opening bout in Grand Prairie, Texas, on the homecoming fight of Vergil Ortiz Jr who faces former title challenger Antonio Orozco in the main event, light heavyweights Joshua Juarez (9-0, 4 KOs) and Emmanuel Sanchez (7-14-1, 1 KO) squared off in a six rounder. Juarez landed a straight right hand effectively most of the fight against the game, yet awkward southpaw Emmanuel Sanchez . Juarez was technically more sound and the aggressor throughout, but was countered at times by the wild left hand of Sanchez. In the end, the judges scored it a unanimous decision 58-56, 59-55, 60-54 for Juarez who remained undefeated with the win.
Super lightweight George Rincon (8-0 5 KOs) put on a blistering performance in front of his vocal, hometown crowd as he dropped Enrique Escobar (17-7, 14 KOs) in the 1st round with a body shot and then twice in the 2nd with a vicious attack to the head and body that laid out Escobar. The southpaw Rincon came out from the opening bell and cut off the ring against Escobar who tried to counter, but to no avail. Escobar barely got up from the first knockdown in the first and when he went down the second time in the second, Referee Neal Young didn’t even bother to count. The Golden Boy prospect earned the TKO victory at 2:13 of round 2.