Hard hitting WBA Interim Featherweight Champion Jesus Cuellar took down Ruben Tamayo with a 5th round TKO when referee, Mark Nelson, halted the fight after the champ put Tomayo down for the second time in the round and the third time overall.
Cuellar (25-1, 19 KOs) came into the ring just three months after his brutal 2nd round TKO victory over former Super Bantamweight and Featherweight Champion, Juan Manuel Lopez. A fight that quite likely ended any chance for Lopez to return to the upper echelon of boxing he was once so firmly a part of.
Challenger, Ruben Tamayo (25-4-4, 17 KOs), entered the ring on a four match winning streak and with a big opportunity in hand.
On to the rounds.
Round One: Cuellar comes out typically aggressive, backing Tamayo up. Cuellar lands a couple punches that were close to being behind the head. He’s a rough customer. Cuellar pushes Tamayo against the ropes. Not where he wants to be. Tamayo lands a solid left and gets back to the middle of the ring. Cuellar is forcing the action with Tamayo looking to counter. Cuellar slips and his glove touches the canvas. Referee Mark Nelson scores it correctly as a slip. Cuellar is the busier fighter and should have taken the round.
Round Two: The action picks up in the 2nd, but nothing significant is landing either way. Cuellar gets Tamayo in the corner and digs to the body. Cuellar is a bit of a bull in there. Undeterred by Tamayo’s power and forcing the pace. Tamayo lands a decent right due to Cuellar being so wide. Those are too few and far between though. Cuellar closes the round by forcing Tamayo to the ropes. He lands three solid shots upstairs and another to the body.
Round Three: Tamayo is just too stationary. If he wants to box, he’s going to have to move more. Cuellar is starting to find him too easily. Cuellar is coming in with wide hooks, but Tamayo is not taking advantage. Cuellar lands a hard left to Tamayo’s ear. Tamayo takes it well. Tamayo is not utilizing the jab to keep Cuellar off of him and isn’t landing effective counter when Cuellar comes in wide, which is often.
Round Four: Cuellar has no respect for Tamayo’s punching power. He’s trying, but either his strategy is flawed or his ability to execute is lacking. He just stands there and waits for Cuellar who comes forward right on time, but Tamayo offers no great resistance. In the last minute of the round, Cuellar lands a right to Tamayo’s chin and sends him to his knee. Tamayo beats the count at eight. Cuellar lands a massive left to the body and Cuellar lands at will, sending Tamayo to the canvas again in the corner. Nelson is late to the corner and Cuellar lands at least two more punches when Tamayo hanging on the ropes. He beats the count again and is saved by the bell as Cuellar stalks him.
Round Five: Cuellar is looking to close the show. Tamayo is on his bicycle. Cuellar forces Tamayo into the corner and lands some hard combinations. Cuellar keeps getting Tamayo to the ropes and is roughing Tamayo up with regularity. Two nasty body shots send Tamayo back to his knee and Nelson correctly waves off the bout at the 1:23 mark.
This was Cuellar’s third title defense as the interim champion. Which makes me wonder if the word “interim” means what I think it means. Regardless, Cuellar is a fun fighter to watch and clearly one of the better fighters in the featherweight division. Tamayo did not offer a lot of resistance against a pugilist who can be a bit crude in technique. His punches are wide, he leans in too far, and is not big on defense. That being said, he comes to the ring with a desire to do damage. One wonders what a matchup of Cuellar and Gary Russell Jr. might look like. If styles make fights, the brute (Cuellar) vs. the boxer (Russell) could indeed be worth seeing.
Photo credit : Stephanie Trapp