HIGHLAND, Calif. – Fontana’s Heather Percival finally got her wish and emerged victorious in a scrappy six-round junior bantamweight contest against New Mexico’s Tonia Cravens at San Manuel Casino on Thursday.
Cravens (2-3-1) raced out swinging like a human windmill against Percival (8-2) who calmly moved and jabbed out of range. It was the boxer versus the brawler once again in a junior bantamweight showdown.
In her last fight Cravens met another Inland fighter Kaliesha West. Both fought on the inside and rarely allowed more than a few inches to separate them. Not in this fight. Percival used the ring to keep a steady two foot distance that allowed her to keep her at arm’s length.
“I saw her fight before, I knew I had to box her,” said Percival, 23.
But Cravens is no quitter. She raced after Percival firing blows as if hitting a speed bag. By the fourth round the formula repeated itself with Percival calmly firing one-twos and moving out of range as Cravens hurled herself toward her opponent with little concern for her own safety.
“I thought I won,” said Cravens, who switches from southpaw to conventional. “I thought I landed the straight right hand.”
From the onset, the New Mexico fighter took the aggressive road by flinging punches in bunches as Percival circled around. On several occasions she connected, but Percival, while not as prolific in the punch output, fired and landed many counterpunches. It was these that the judges favored rather than the flurries offered by Cravens.
“I knew she was going to box,” said Cravens, who stood a few inches shorter than Percival. “I saw her fight against Teri Cruz so I knew what to expect.”
Rocky Stapleton, who co-trains Cravens, felt the judges missed the call.
“What do we have to do to get a decent decision,” said Stapleton. “Tonia was the aggressor the whole fight.”
Percival suffered a cut over her left eye in the final round from a probable headbutt. Her trainer Larry Ramirez said the cut came in the last minute.
“She was coming in with her head,” said Ramirez of Cravens. “It was accidental, but I wanted Heather to move her head side to side so she wouldn’t get cut.”
During the last 30 seconds a cut emerged on Percival.
“She can’t fight for 60 days now,” said Ramirez disappointingly.
The judges scored it 60-54, 59-55, 58-56 for Percival. The crowd favored the ‘safety last’ fighting of Cravens.
“Next time we’ll make it eight or 10 rounds,” said Stapleton. “We definitely want a rematch with Percival.”
Cravens nodded in agreement.
“Heather is a good boxer, but I felt I did more than enough to win,” Cravens said. “But she is a good fighter.”
Percival smiled after the decision was announced.
“I know there’s people here who think she won the fight because she was very aggressive,” Percival said. “My whole plan was to box her. Some people don’t like to see boxing, they like to see brawling. That’s ok.”
In other bouts:
Inglewood’s Calvin Odom (15-8, 12 KOs) upset Chicago’s Luciano Perez (13-5, 12 KOs) by forcing referee Tony Crebs to halt the bout in the seventh round of a scheduled ten- round bout. Perez suffered a badly swollen eye midway through the fight and was being pummeled by Odom. Though he fought back valiantly, Perez could not offset the handicap.
Junior middleweight David Banks (9-0-1) scored a unanimous decision over Abdias Castillo (9-16) after six rounds.
Maurice Louishome took a split-decision over Bob Marthaller in a light heavyweight bout 55-59, 58-56, 58-56.
Inglewood’s Jonathon Embry (4-2-1, 3 KOs) won by technical knockout when New Mexico’s Tim Means suffered an injured left wrist at 2:17 of the second round of a cruiserweight contest.
In a welterweight bout, Rodrigo Mosquera (1-0) of East L.A. won his pro debut with a unanimous decision over Miguel Ortiz (1-1) of San Antonio.