By Jeff Zimmerman at ringside
In the co-main event, WBC, WBA and Ring Magazine flyweight champ Marlen Esparza (13-1, 1 KO) from Houston, Texas, kept her belts as she won an entertaining, back and forth battle with Eva Guzman (19-2, 11 KOs) from Venezuela over ten rounds at Dickie’s Arena in Fort Worth, Texas and streamed live on DAZN. Scores read 98-92 twice and 99-91 for the UD for Esparza.
Esparza landed a big right-hand just seconds into the fight and stayed on the attack over ten rounds against a game Guzman who picked up the pace in the middle rounds to make Esparza work. And Esparza did just that in the fifth round when she landed combos and displayed great defense with head movement to avoid the punches coming back from Guzman. In round six, Guzman came out aggressive but was thwarted by a counter from Esparza. In round eight, Esparza and Guzman let their hands go in the center of the ring as neither fighter backed down until the final bell.
Light heavyweight Bektemir “Bek the Bully” Melikuziev (10-1, 8 KOs) fighting out of Indio, CA, battered the body of Sladan Janjanin (32-13, 24 KOs) out of Boston, MA, over three rounds, dropping him 3 times, as referee Neal Yong waived it off with Janjanin still standing at 2:18 of the scheduled ten in the DAZN opener at Dickie’s Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. Melikuziev opened the fight with a hard crushing left hook to the body in round one and somehow Janjanin got up but was still visibly hurt. Over the next two rounds, “Bek the Bully” continued to pounce on the hurt prey as he landed big shots to both the head and again to the body, dropping Janjanin in the second and third rounds before the fight was called off. The Uzbek won a silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics as a middleweight and has rebounded with three wins in a row after his one punch knockout loss to Gabriel Rosado in June 2021.
Lightweight Floyd “Kid Austin” Schofield (11-0, 9 KOs) showed off his fast hands in a dominant performance against Rodrigo Guerrero (26-15-2, (16 KOs) out of Mexico City, MX, as he dropped Guerrero in the 3rd and 4th rounds en route to a technical knockout victory. The fight was called between the fifth and sixth rounds and the official time was 10 seconds of round six. “Kid Austin” showed versatility as well switching from orthodox to southpaw. Guerrero was game and went toe to toe with Schofield in the fifth round but took several big shots to the head in the process. Those shots might have done him in as the fight was waved off soon after and Schofield kept his perfect record intact and scored his ninth knockout in eleven fights.
In a super lightweight battle of southpaws, Chicago’s Alex Martin (18-4, 6 KOs) squared off against Philly’s tough “Hammerin” Hank Lundy (31-11-1, 14 KOs) over ten rough and physical rounds. Alex Martin outlasted the “Hammer” and won a unanimous decision by 98-91, and 97-92 twice. Lundy came out swinging his powerful left hand and scored a knockdown with it in the first round. There were constant tie-ups throughout the fight, but when Martin stayed on the outside and used a long jab and his right hand, he found success. Lundy seemed content throwing one big shot at a time but couldn’t let his punches go enough to win rounds. It was a hard-earned win for Martin who lost his last fight against Michael McKinson after he took the spot of Vergil Ortiz Jr. back in March when Ortiz Jr had to pull out due to health reasons. For Lundy at 38, who has shared the ring with pound-for-pound star Terence Crawford, it may be time to hang up the gloves with three losses in a row.
Super bantamweight Carlos Nava (9-0, 6 KOs) from Pasadena, TX, used a diverse attack to stop the tough Rodolfo Hernandez (30-11-1, 28 KOs) out of Mexico City, Mexico in the fourth round of the scheduled six. Nava countered Hernandez from off the ropes and dropped a right hand to the chin and put him on the canvas. Hernandez got quickly to his feet as the fight continued. In the third and fourth round, Nava was landed big bombs on Hernandez and referee Neal Young decided to stop the fight in the fourth with Nava on the attack and Hernandez still on his feet. The time of the stoppage was 36 seconds as Nava scored the TKO and remained undefeated.
In an entertaining strap, bantamweight Figo Ramirez (2-0, 1 KO) from down the road in Dallas came out firing in only his second pro fight to win a unanimous decision against tough Mexican Francisco Bonilla (6-14-3, 3 KOs) from Chihuahua, MX. The former Texas State Golden Gloves winner put together great combos and footwork to keep Bonilla at bay early in the fight, but had a pointed deducted for repeated low blows by referee Neal Young in the second round. Ramirez closed the show strong to the delight of his big fan base cheering him on. All 3 judges scored it 39-36. Ramirez is trained by Hector Beltran, part of welterweight contender Vergil Ortiz Jr. training team. Beltran told Fightnews.com® after the fight that he has lots of faith in Ramirez as he faced Bonilla with 22 pro fights and has a pro style that reminds him of Ortiz Jr.
In the opening fight on Saturday night at the beautiful Dickie’s Arena in Fort Worth, Texas for the big return to the ring for hometown fan favorite and rising star Vergil Ortiz Jr. who faces the undefeated Michael McKinson in a welterweight clash on DAZN and promoted by Golden Boy, welterweight Rohan Polanco (8-0, 5 KOs) out of the Dominican Republic blasted out veteran Dedrick Bell (31-33-1, 17 KOs) from Memphis, TN, in two rounds of the scheduled eight. Polanco dropped Bell in each of the first two rounds as Bell didn’t recover from the final big body shot as the referee reached the count of ten. Time was 2:13.