By David Robinett at ringside
Photos: Sumio Yamada
WBC super bantamweight champion Rey Vargas (33-0, 22 KOs) survived a second round knockdown to successfully defend his title for the fifth time, earning a twelve-round unanimous decision over Franklin Manzanilla (18-5, 17 KOs) by scores of 117-108 on all three cards in a rough and tumble affair.
Vargas, the more polished of the two fighters despite coming off a nine month layoff due to injury, came forward in a textbook stance behind his jab, while Manzanilla was a little more unorthodox, lunging forward with wide swinging attacks. Manzanilla’s style paid dividends in round two, when a long left hook clipped Vargas on the chin and dropped him to the canvas. Vargas was hurt but was able to get off the canvas to evade and hold his way to the bell.
After an initial frenzied attack to start round three by Manzanilla, the fight quickly settled into a pattern of Vargas boxing smartly in the center of the ring, using accurate one and two-punch bursts to punish Manzanilla every time he lunged forward to attack. Vargas was particularly effective to the body, lifting Manzanilla up at times, which then freed up the head for Vargas to snap back with crisp left and right hands, which he did on several occasions.
Despite Vargas’ superior boxing, Manzanilla was game and wouldn’t give up, swinging wildly to try and land something meaningful to try and wrest back the momentum, resulting in clashes of heads and two point deductions from Manzanilla for hitting on the break. Manzanilla’s aggression was not without its success, leaving Vargas bleeding from both eyes from Manzanilla’s head and leather, but Vargas was just too good and too disciplined for his wild opponent, ultimately scoring a hard-fought but decisive victory.