LOS ANGELES-Oxnard’s David Rodela needed a win badly and got it while Frankie Gomez and Jose Navarro both showed their pedigree on Thursday.
Fighting at Club Nokia is nothing new but Rodela (15-3-3, 6 KOs) was facing a three-fight losing streak and a dangerous knockout puncher in Puerto Rico’s Eric Cruz (7-3-3, 7 KOs) before more than 1,769 spectators including Golden Boy Promotions boss Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins among others.
Rodela had lost by knockout in Mexico and had suffered a loss before that against Eloy Perez in a tremendous battle. Now he faced murderous punching Cruz and could not afford to stand and trade.
Rodela rolled in the early rounds by sticking and moving against the patient stalker Cruz. But around the fifth round the distance began to close and the Puerto Rican began landing more and more.
Cruz rallied in the final three rounds with right hands mixed in with left hooks to the body. He never could land the big punch but forced Rodela to move and give ground. On the ropes Cruz did his best work.
After eight rounds judge Tony Crebs scored it 78-74 for Cruz but judges Marty Denkin and Pat Russell tabbed it 77-75 for Rodela and a split decision win for the Oxnard boxer.
“I got a bad blister on my right foot. It kind of bothered me. I was sparring with Amir Khan up in Hollywood and from there we went to Canada. Freddie Roach and my coach reminded me that I was a good amateur and I should box. I usually try to show off to the crowd and get caught up in the moment,” said Rodela. “The last three rounds I had to stop and clinch. I did get a little winded. It was the first time I got tired, but I didn’t come out as bad and bruised my wife will be glad for that.”
Rodela said don’t count him out.
“Puerto Ricans are tough,” said Rodela. “But I had a good training camp. I tried to imitate Paul Malignaggi with the moves and it helped out great.”
Despite the more than a 19-month layoff Navarro (27-5, 12 KOs) looked sharp against always awkward Benji Garcia (14-15-3) in a six round bantamweight fight.
Navarro’s elite class showed with his sharp right uppercuts and hooks followed by some piercing jabs. Garcia countered those punches with a lot of gusty fighting but he just wasn’t on the same plane as Navarro. All three judges gave all six rounds to Navarro 60-54.
“I still have some ring rust even after six rounds. Fortunately I got to throw a lot of punches,” said Navarro, a four-time world title challenger and US Olympian. “I was trying to land one punch. I could have dominated a little more. And maybe get the ring rust out but I was trying to land the perfect punch.”
Golden Boy’s young hopeful Frankie Gomez (3-0, 3 KOs) made very short work of Akeem Akinbode (1-3-1) in a fight scheduled for four rounds and held at welterweight. Gomez saw the opening an unleashed a barrage of punches that Akinbode just couldn’t avoid.
“I think he threw the first punch and I knew he wasn’t going to be much. The right hand I caught him with I felt I hurt him and I have great conditioning,” said Gomez who ended the fight in 46 seconds.
Gomez has a fight in July and plans to go right back into training.
“After every fight I go up to Big Bear and train two, three times a day. I got the Las Vegas show on July 31,” Gomez said. “I’m a little bit more relaxed.”
East L.A.’s Ramon Valadez (1-0) won by unanimous decision over L.A.’s Javier Romero (0-4-1) in a welterweight bout. It was Valadez’s pro debut. He found it a little tough against Romero though that fighter was exhausted from the first round. The judges scored it 40-36 for Valadez.
East L.A.’s Xavier Montelongo poured on the speed and captured the first two rounds easily against Pasadena’s Carlos Morales in a lightweight match. Montelongo’s quick combinations scored plenty from the outside and he was out of there when Morales attempted to counter. In the third round Morales discovered the uppercut and scored several times but it wasn’t enough to win the fight. Montelongo won by decision.
Hawaiian Garden’s Kevin Luna powered through Commerce’s Alfonso Sanchez to win by decision in a junior welterweight bout.
Commerce’s Juaquin Chavez rallied from a lukewarm first round to win the final two frames against Pasadena’s Osmond Rivera and captured the decision in a junior welterweight showdown.