HIGHLAND-Rhonda “The Natural” Luna tried and tried and finally got her world title with a strong effort after 10 hard rounds against New York’s Ela “Bam Bam” Nunez (9-7-1) on Thursday.

Luna (16-2-2) had fallen short in three previous attempts but in front of a strong home crowd at San Manuel Casino she won by unanimous decision to capture the GBU junior lightweight world title.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Luna, who had world title attempts in 2005, 2007 and 2009. “I could have gone another 10 rounds.”

The world title fight evolved quickly a week ago when promoter Patrick Ortiz of Ringside Ticket Promotions lost several men’s bouts. He decided to bump the female bout to a world title fight if both female prizefighters agreed. They agreed.

Perhaps the quick change hurt Nunez but you couldn’t tell early on.

Nunez’s clever movements in the first round caused Luna to observe more than fire. Left hooks from the New York fighter landed hard.

The second round saw Luna firing three –punch combos behind more jabs. Though few punches were fired it was Luna’s punches that were more effective.

Both fighters opened up in the third round and fired combinations at will. A right hand uppercut landed for Luna who was countered by a big right hand from Nunez in a close round.

“I got hit way more than I should have,” said Luna, 32, of Rowland Heights. “She kept throwing looping right hands and I have a bad habit of stepping back.”

Counter right hands from Luna found the mark in the fourth round. Time after time the counter right hand connected. Toward the end of the round a big right hand landed for Nunez.

Luna was winning the fifth round handily but was caught with a big right hand at the bell that sent her into the ropes.

In the sixth round Nunez enticed Luna to brawl and she obliged and ran into a right hand that connected flush. Luna shook her head to prove it didn’t hurt and both engaged again. The round slowed a bit in the final 30 seconds.

“She hit me with the hardest shot she’s got,” said Luna, who smiled recollecting that moment. “Nothing.”

Nunez decided to get on her toes in the seventh round and it cost her as Luna scored heavy whenever she caught the New York fighter on the ropes. At one moment Luna stood still with her hands down to force Nunez to fight. They did and Luna landed a right hand counter flush.

Luna won big in the eighth round as Nunez seemed to tire and fire punches wider than usual. Luna connected often with right hands to the body and head. A right counter at the bell landed flush for Luna as Nunez seemed to tire badly.

The ninth round saw Luna go back to work on the body and head. Nunez couldn’t muster energy though she was never seriously hurt she was absorbing a lot of blows especially on the ropes.

In the final round Nunez seemed to catch a second wind and land some big left hooks and overhand rights. Luna was too strong to be affected by them but Nunez did seem to win the last round convincingly. Some short combos by Luna landed but were offset by Nunez’s bigger shots.

All three judges scored it for Luna 96-94, 97-93, 98-92 for Luna.

Luna opened the double doors of the arena and was greeted loudly by several hundred fans. She wore a yellow and blue bracelet for a young friend in Chino. Though the actual world championship belt was not presented to her, she was supremely content.

“Somebody out there doesn’t want me to have a belt, but that’s alright,” Luna said with a smile.

She’s a world champion at last.

Other bouts

Colton’s Artemio Reyes Jr. (8-1, 7 KOs) seems to get better every fight. Against Arizona’s Martin Vierra (5-4) it was a blistering body attack by Reyes that proved the beginning of the end for the Phoenix-based boxer.

Reyes used a tight defense to move closer while firing shots and blocking most of the returns blows. Vierra was quick on his feet and with his short combinations but Reyes found more openings.

By the third round the relentless body shots by Reyes opened up more holes in Vierra’s defense and also slowed him down. Reyes opened up with combos to the body and head and finally a left hook to the liver dropped Vierra for the count. Referee Jack Reiss counted Vierra out at 2:08 of the fourth round.

Duarte’s Aris Ambriz (14-1-1) used double hooks and uppercuts to score but found it difficult to land anything flush against Tulare’s clever veteran Hector Alatorre (16-12) after six rounds. All three judges scored it for Ambriz 60-54, but Alatorre once again displayed sound ring skills in avoiding big punches.

Pittsburgh , California’s Dario Castillo (6-10-1), a southpaw, continually landed right hooks and uppercuts to dominate Mexico’s Martin Armenta (14-26-3) in a four round junior welterweight bout. Armenta’s chin stood up to all the blows but the judges scored it unanimously for Castillo 40-36.

A battle between female flyweights proved to be all action as Riverside’s Cindy Amador out-slugged San Bernardino’s Blanca Raymundo after four rounds. Each round was close but Amador’s punch output convinced the judges she was the victor by unanimous decision 40-36 on all three cards. It was both fighters pro debut.

Riverside’s Sean Solomon (1-1) grabbed his first win as a professional by split decision over Apple Valley’s Floyd Smith (0-2) after four rounds of a junior featherweight match. During most of the four rounds Smith grabbed and held and occasionally punched. Solomon dropped Smith with a quick one-two combination in the first round. Two judges scored it 40-35, 39-36 for Solomon, judge Vince Delgado scored it 38-37 for Smith.