ONTARIO, CALIF.-Jose “Gato” Roman pounded his way to victory by unanimous decision over Mexico’s Marco Antonio Lopez and took a pounding too, on Friday night.
Garden Grove’s Roman (21-1-1, 14 Kos; on left, in Ray Flores photo) had a nine pound advantage over Lopez (24-7, 16 Kos), along with a speed and length edge, but couldn’t seem to put it all together in front of more than 1,000 at the Doubletree Hotel.
In the audience was HBO’s ace analyst Harold Lederman.
From the opening round Roman landed his shots but took several, too. A large welt began to grow alongside his left eye.
Standing right in front of Lopez was a bad proposition for Roman who has athleticism but prefers to exchange rather than box. The Orange County fighter took more blows than necessary but it paid off a bit in the second round when he caught Lopez with a left hook and down went the fighter from San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
Lopez was deterred a few rounds and slipped into pot shot mode. He moved around a bit as Roman looked for the knockout. Few jabs were fired by Roman who opted to load up the left hook. Lopez used that to his advantage and stayed away from the hook.
For the second half of the fight Roman rarely used his jab, but found some success with a few well-placed body shots. Lopez kept the distance after those body blows and was unable to mount a serious counter-attack after the fifth round.
After eight rounds all three judges sided with Roman by scores of 79-72, 77-74, 78-73.
Sharpshooting Cesar Villarraga (8-0, 4 Kos) of Colombia couldn’t get a bead on Tijuana’s Jose Araiza (34-13-1, 25 Kos) in their lightweight match. But slowly the former Olympian began to find his timing and jab to win by unanimous decision after six rounds. Two judges scored it 59-55 and one judge saw it 60-54 for Villarraga.
San Francisco heavyweight LaRon Mitchell (8-0, 8 Kos) was tentative at first against taller Roy McCrary (4-4, 3 Kos). But after two probing rounds, southpaw Mitchell unloaded with combinations and floored McCrary with a left hand. McCrary beat the count but was overwhelmed with a barrage of blows including a final left that dropped him a second time in the third round. Referee Raul Caiz Jr. waved off the fight at 2:59 for a win by knockout for Mitchell. Interestingly, Mitchell, a teacher in the Bay Area, brought some of his students to his fight.
Hemet, Ca. Fernando Fuentes (6-5) came out punching and San Diego’s Joe Perez (5-4-1) joined in with glee in their super bantamweight clash. After four vicious rounds Fuentes was declared the winner by unanimous decision 40-36 twice and 39-37. No knockdowns in the slugfest.
Westminster’s Humberto Rubalcava (3-0, 3 Kos) shook up Washington’s Isaiah Najera (0-1) with a right cross, then followed up with two knockdowns via the left hook. Najera beat the count but when he tried to fire a punch it was weak and listless. Referee Raul Caiz quickly jumped in and stopped the fight at 2:36 of the first round. Rubalcava was declared the winner by knockout in the super bantamweight fight.