LOS ANGELES-A packed arena saw Ricardo Mayorga steal Fernando Vargas’s thunder with two knockdowns on the way to a 12-round majority decision at the Staples Center on Friday.
It was Vargas last appearance in the ring and despite hoping to go out with a win, Mayorga wasn’t cooperating.
“I thought that Mayorga would be much wilder,” said Vargas (26-5, 22 KOs). “Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.”
Before more than 10,300 fans, Mayorga (28-6-1, 22 KOs) proved the stronger and more resilient boxer in a fight that displayed many low blows, elbows, and head butts throughout the entire fight.
But it was an exciting fight from the first round until the very end.
Despite two extremely low blows by Vargas in the first round, the Nicaraguan brawler fired a left hook then followed up with a barrage of punches that floored Vargas. He beat the count near the end of the round.
Mayorga seemed to be toying with Vargas and landed two right hands. But a counter left hook stunned Mayorga to stop the momentum.
Vargas stunned the Nicaraguan fighter with a right hand in the third round but was unable to land more telling blows. Mayorga was satisfied to weather the blow. It was the same pattern in the fourth round.
Mayorga dominated the seventh round as Vargas seemed to lose steam. The Nicaraguan fighter picked apart the Oxnard fighter with little fear of return blows.
The ninth round began with Mayorga apologizing for a late punch from the previous round, then the two brawled and scrapped in the best round of the fight. Both fighters exchanged vicious punches.
The last three rounds found both fighters tiring, but neither fighter refused to surrender. If anything there was a mutual respect that was gained.
With seconds left in the 11th round, a right hand counter dropped Vargas on the seat of his pants as he backed away from the punch.
“Vargas came out with a different style than I had anticipated,” Mayorga said. “I adjusted well and was able to land heavy punches.”
In the final round both fighters raised their hand in anticipation of victory. But two of three judges favored Mayorga. The scores were 113-113, 115-111, 114-112 for the Nicaraguan fighter.
“Vargas was faster than I thought,” Mayorga said. “But I stuck to my game plan and put the pressure on him.”
Vargas had wanted to end his career with a victory but it just didn’t happen.
“He was the better man tonight,” Vargas said. “This is absolutely my last fight.”
It was vintage Vargas, who went out on his shield as promised, but Mayorga was the winner.
Both fighters shook hands after the fight. Mayorga went down on a knee to thank Vargas for the fight and ask for forgiveness for his crazy method of promoting a fight.
“I thank all my fans for all the applause,” said Vargas.
Kathy Duva, president of Main Events the co-promoter of the event, said the pay-per-views outsold the Miguel Cotto-Shane Mosley event several weeks ago.
“It was a night that we (boxing) looked very very good,” said Duva.
IBF titleholder Cintron hit Jesse Feliciano with one of the hardest blows of the night in the first round, but nothing happened. From then on it was a nose-to-nose battle with both fighters fighting for 10 rounds and neither giving an inch.
“I hurt my right hand with the first punch I landed,” said Cintron (29-1, 23 KOs), who writhed on the floor from the pain immediately after the fight. “I tried to use it but it was difficult.”
Feliciano (15-6-3, 9 KOs) grinded out a battle in the middle of the ring and followed Cintron everywhere he moved. He never gave the titleholder room to load up on too many punches. And those that landed with a thud, didn’t seem to faze the Las Vegas brawler.
“It was a rough start but I battled back,” Feliciano said.
After nine rounds of infighting, Cintron took it to the outside and used his reach. A blistering 11-punch combination had Feliciano’s head sustaining a battering until referee Jon Shorley decided to step in an halt the fight at 1:53 of the 10th round. But Feliciano never was knocked down by the hard-hitting Cintron.
“I think fans know now that I give 110 percent and I’m another Rocky,” Feliciano said. “Cintron is a tough guy.”
A clash between two former world champions ended in a count of 10 as Russia’s Roman Karmazin (36-2-1, 23 KOs) fired a four-punch combination that floored Mexico’s Alex Terra” Garcia (25-3, 23 KOs) in 1:24 of the third round.
Karmazin, who picked up the WBC Intercontinental junior middleweight title with the win, had been dangling his left arm that left his face unguarded. But Garcia was unable to capitalize and instead was dropped once in the first round and then again for good in the third round with body shots. Referee Raul Caiz Jr. counted out Garcia.
“I knew I was going to knock him out after the first round,” said Karmizin, a former IBF junior middleweight titleholder. “I knew my speed was too much for him.”
Minnesota’s Jason “All American Boy” Litzau (23-1, 19 KOs) and Edel Ruiz (28-18-5) engaged in a 10-round seesaw lightweight battle. Litzau emerged with the victory by unanimous decision and proved he cannot engage in a boring fight. The judges scored it 98-92 twice and 97-93 for Litzau.
Welterweight sensation Henry Crawford (17-0-1, 8 KOs) rolled on with a unanimous decision over San Jose, California’s Jose Bermejo (10-6-2, 7 KOs). The judges scored it 80-72 for Crawford. No knockdowns were scored.
Venezuela’s Nelson Linares (15-0-1, 8 KOs) dropped Mexico’s Jorge Padilla (7-5-3) with a right hand in the sixth and coasted to a unanimous decision 80-71 twice and 79-72 in a junior middleweight contest.
Nicaraguan heavyweight Evans Quinn (15-2, 14 KOs) unleashed an eight-punch salvo against Oxnard’s Victor Barragan (8-3) and floored him with two final right hands. Referee Jerry Cantu stopped the fight at 54 seconds into the first round on the advice of ringside physician.
Post fight notes
Robert Ferguson, the conditioning coach for Vargas, said his fighter lost 100 pounds in less than a year.
“He weighed 264 pounds last January,” Ferguson said at the post fight press conference.
In the audience was Felix Trinidad, Roy Jones Jr., Shane Mosley and Sylvester Stallone.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV