There are those that will try and elevate Edwin Valero to the top tier of the 135 pound class with his second round rubout of Antonio Pitalua at the Erwin Center at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas on Saturday night. Then there are those that would like to see the bombs away Venezuelan, to this point merely a YouTube sensation in the US because of licensing/health issues, take on a more proven opponent than Pitalua, whose record came padded with soft touches, before he is designated the next big thing at 135.
Despite the chasm between those camps, most all will agree that Valero is at the very least the owner of some intriguing power, and deserves to test it out against more stellar competition. He sent Pitalua to the mat twice in the second, and refused to give him any breathing room to get his legs as he pounced on the loser, and forced a TKO stop at :49 of round two. Valero owns the WBC lightweight belt with the win. He said after that he'd like Juan Manuel Marquez next, if promoter Bob Arum can make it happen. He said he'd be happy to go to 140 to take on the Pacquiao/Hatton winner. Barry Tompkins after said Valero showed him he has the good, as Pacquiao did when Tompkins saw him way back when.
The PPV event, put on by Golden Boy, was tagged “Lightweight Lightning,” and featured a solid slate of rubouts (Valero), upsets (Vicente Escobedo over Carlos Hernandez, Rolando Reyes over Julio Diaz) and all-around enjoyable beefs with a mystery finish (Michael Katsidis over Jesus Chavez).
Valero (former WBA junior lightweight champion; age 27; 134 ½ pounds; from Venezuela) was 24-0, with 24 knockouts, coming in, while Pitalua (age 39; 135; from Colombia) was 46-0, with 40 stops entering the scrap.
In the first, the lefty Valero came out furious. He jabbed to the body, surprisingly, and looked supremely confident as he went to work. Mostly, he fired power blasts, and exhaled like a tennis pro after many heaves. In the second, a right put Pitalua on the deck. It was thrown as the third punch of combo,as the Colombian went to counter. He got up, on bad legs. Down he went again, after being trapped on the ropes. Valero went back to work, piling up unanswered blows, and ref Laurence Cole moved in to stop it as Pitalua, never in the game, crumbled.
Barry Tompkins, Doug Fischer and Bernard Hopkins worked the PPV show. Interestingly, the show did not feature the use of any punch-count service. Perhaps the absence of CompuBox was attributable to the woeful economy?
Jesus Chavez was giving punishment, and taking punishment, and he was in the thick of things through seven rounds against Michael Katsidis. He then went to his corner, and after a conference with his crew, the ref raised Katsidis’ hands. Had Chavez quit, citing the cut on his hairline? Had his corner said No Mas? “The blue corner informs referee John Schorle that they can no longer continue the bout, and he stops the fight upon the conclusion of round number seven. Your winner, by way of technical knockout, Michael Katsidis The Great,” the ring emcee said.
Fans know that Chavez dealt punishment to Leavander Johnson in their 2005 bout, and Johnson succumbed to a brain injury from the effects, so to try and peg him as a quitter is an iffy proposition. But strangely, the announcing crew didn’t bounce off their butts to figure out EXACTLY what was said in the Chavez corner. Fischer only speculated that perhaps Chavez quit, saying, “We’ve never seen Chavez do that…” though he did the same thing against Julio Diaz in 2007 after he hurt his knee. And, he sat on his stool and didn’t rise for the tenth and final round in his 2001 bout with Floyd Mayweather either; he protested then that trainer Ronnie Shields pulled the plug, but he drew heat for not protesting.
Bottom line: People, if you have to, get an intern to suss out the truth. The fans deserve to know the details.
Chavez (age 36; 136 pounds; 44-4, 30 KOs coming in; ) lives in Austin, and said coming in, “I must win this fight.” The Aussie Katsidis (a former WBA lightweight titlist; 24-2, 20 KOs entering; age 28; 135 pounds) heard some boos as his name was announced, as the faithful sent him a message that they backed their homie, the former IBF light heavy and WBC super feather crownholder. The Mexican-born Chavez has had knee and shoulder woes pile up over the years, and he knew coming in that his pool of chances at big fights was not infinite. In the first, wanted to send a message with right crosses, and set the table with jabs.
In round two, Katsidis came forward, which is no surprise to anyone that’s taken in his act. His hands looked faster than Chavez’. The close-quarters work guaranteed some heavy hits hitting flush. Both men were busy, and not afraid to eat a missile if it put them in position to launch one in the third. Chavez had a cut on his hairline, from an accidental butt, in round four. Katsidis saw red and stepped it up. He sees red, any red, his red, the ref’s red, and he always steps it up. In the fifth round, Chavez kept slipping, and using his feet to good effect. He shoved Katsidis off with his forearm time and again. But Kat’s jabs and rights landed cleaner late in the round.
In round six, the blood trickled down, and then the round stopped for the crimson Chavez to insert his mouthpiece. There wasn’t as much movement from Chavez and that didn’t bode well for him. He’s a puncher-boxer, but not so heavy a puncher that he can get too far away from smart, technical pugilism. In the seventh, Jesus clanged a right, and set a tone early. He made Katsidis miss a good amount here, and he looked like he had some premium left in the tank after the close. Then he went to his corner, and started talking. The ref came over, and halted the bout. The crowd didn’t like that move at all, as they saw Chavez with vigor, and then saw the ref call it.
Vicente Escobedo came up big, as he subbed in for injured Jorge Barrios, and made the most of it. He sent Carlos “Famoso” Hernandez to the deck in the first and second, steered cleared of the vet’s rushes, for the most part, and rolled to a UD10 win. Quite likely, we’ve seen the last of the ultra professional Hernandez, who was hoping to act in the manner of Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins, and refuse to act his age. Instead, he played the part of Goyo Vargas, who bowed out to the fresher Hernandez in Jan. 1997.
The cards read: 96-91, 94-93, 95-91, for the kid.
Escobedo (age 27; from California; a 2004 US Olympian) came in with a 19-1 (12 KOs) record, and he weighed 134 ½ pounds on Friday. “El Famoso” Hernandez (age 39; from San Antonio, Texas) weighed 135 ¾ pounds on Friday and had a 43-7-1 mark entering, with 24 stops. He is the former IBF junior lightweight titlist. Escobedo dropped Famoso with a left hook-right follow in the first. The bell sounded, and prevented the younger man from piling on. Hernandez had been doing nice work to that point. The vet went down again off a counter right at 1:55 of the second. Esco has a nice jab, and sticks to it smartly. He was in trouble in the third, though, as Famoso, with blood trickling down his face, got down to business. He’d been away from the game since 7-14-2006, and fought just once, last September, since ’06.
In the fourth, the fight was up for grabs, as Esco had slowed down and the vet showed his gameness. In the fifth, it was more of the same: hard banging, Famoso bulling forward, Esco backing up a lot, but still scoring off counters. In the sixth, Esco hit the canvas, and he said that Famoso stepped on his foot. The ref didn’t see it that way. A replay told viewers that it was a foot on foot scenario which dropped Esco.
In the seventh, Famoso’s right eye was puffed, but his energy was decent. He slipped shots with pep, and hurt Esco. To start the eighth, there was Famoso, rushing across the ring to engage the kid. He knew, with that eye deteriorating, that he needed to stay aggressive and maybe step it up, or risk being stopped. The doc and ref looked hard at Hernandez after the session. In the ninth, Esco played it smart, as he knew the vet would look to unleash a Hail Mary on him. In the tenth and final round, Famoso hit with a mean right, and Esco held on. The vet won the round, and he was whaling away with all his might at the final bell. The crowd’s decibel level in their applause showed their respect for the two men, especially the veteran who may well wave goodbye to the sweet science.
What was Ron Borges talkin’ about!? Lightweight Rolando Reyes (31-4-2, 20 KOs; 135 ½ pounds; age 30) knocked out former two-time IBF champion Julio Diaz (36-5, 26 KOs; 136 ½ pounds; age 29) in the fifth round. The Californian Reyes dropped the Mexican born Californian Diaz twice in the fifth before the bout was halted. A fierce right and uppercuts set the end in motion. Time was 2:17. Both men debuted in 1999. Reyes subbed in for Joel Casamayor