By David Robinett and Miguel Maravilla at ringside
Welterweight contender Marcelino Lopez (34-2-1, 19 KOs) fought back a spirited challenge from faded but game Breidis Prescott (30-12, 22 KOs), to score a knockout just before the bell at 2:59 of round five in a scheduled eight-round bout. Despite normally fighting a weight class lower than Prescott, Lopez traded with the bigger man from the start. The two put on an entertaining show, trading punches off and on early before Lopez started to pull away in round five. A short right hook by Lopez clipped Prescott late in the fifth and sent him to the canvas. Prescott beat the count in decent shape but went toe to toe with Lopez as the latter tried to close the show. A much bigger right hook caught Prescott flush right before the bell and dropped him on all fours, where he was counted out.
Filipino lightweight Romero Duno (16-1, 14 KOs) made quick work of Yardely Armenta (21-10, 12 KOs) in scoring a first round knockout. Duno was aggressive from the start attacking Armenta as a right hand did it dropping Armenta as referee Jerry Cantu reached a ten count at 1:07 of the first.
In a good matchup of local unbeaten prospects, Francisco Vargas-trained youngster Francisco Esparza showed his class with a sixth-round stoppage of Tenochtitlan Nava in a scheduled eight-round featherweight bout. Esparza (7-0-1, 3 KOs) established himself as the better fighter from the get go, slipping punches from the wilder Nava (7-1, 1 KO) and countering effectively before moving out of range and setting up to do the same moments later. Esparza also had success leading to the body with both the left and right hand, when not waiting to counter. As Nava began to tire Esparza came forward more aggressively, not content to just counter. By rounds four and five Esparza was peppering Nava with left jab, right hand combinations and more of those effective lead hands to the body. In round six Esparza was landing at will with no resistance from Nava, and after a left hook violently snapped Nava’s head back the referee stepped in to call a halt to the one-sided affair. Time of the stoppage was 1:43.
Undefeated Ferdinand “Lucky Boy” Kerobyan (8-0, 4 KOs) needed every ounce of luck he came in to the ring with, barely escaping a shocking upset at the hands of unheralded opponent Lucius Johnson (4-2-1, 3 KOs) in a six-round super welterweight bout. Kerobyan dominated the fight for five and a half rounds, teeing off on Johnson with little resistance, although apparently not with the one-punch power necessary to drop him. In round four Kerobyan really took it to Johnson, including an entertaining sequence where he knocked Johnson’s mouthpiece out about 15 feet out of the ring, and when Johnson’s corner brought in a different mouthpiece to replace it, Kerobyan knocked that one out about 15 feet past the ring as well. Then, while cruising to an easy win, Johnson caught Kerobyan with a straight right hand that seemed unassuming at first, but caused Kerobyan to stumble around the ring in a delayed reaction, before finally hitting the canvas. The referee incorrectly ruled it a slip, and when Kerobyan rose he looked to be in serious danger. However Johnson inexplicably took his time following up, leisurely looking for one punch to end it when a sloppy flurry probably would have just easily dropped Kerobyan. Johnson took his time all the way up to final bell, allowing Kerobyan to survive and remain undefeated by the score of 59-54 on all three cards.
Middleweight Daquan Pauldo (formerly Daquan Arnett) earned a six-round unanimous decision over replacement opponent Osbaldo Gonzalez, by scores of 58-56, 58-56, and 59-55. Pauldo (17-1, 9 KOs), who was originally slated to face Yoshihiro Kamegai, was in control from the start, working effectively behind a stiff jab and catching Gonzalez early and often with the right hand. The pace started to slow in the middle rounds, allowing Gonzalez to stay in the fight, as both fighters leaned in on each other while trading punches inside. Pauldo seemed to be a little fresher down the stretch though, stepping back occasionally to fire a jab or hook and outworking Gonzalez inside to cement the victory.
In the opening bout at the Forum in Inglewood, California, amateur standout and former United States National Team member Javier Martinez (5-0, 3 KOs) overcame his toughest test as a professional so far, grinding out a deceptively wide unanimous decision over journeyman Danny Flores (11-10-1, 5 KOs). Scores were 58-55, 58-55, and 59-55 for the six-round featherweight contest. Flores knocked down an off-balance Martinez midway through the opening stanza, and while Martinez briefly stormed back to show he wasn’t hurt, it was give and take through each of the first four rounds, with Flores getting the better of Martinez during several exchanges. However Flores tired badly over the last two rounds, allowing Martinez to breathe a little easier and cruise to the finish.