LOS ANGELES-Mexico’s Marvin Quintero proved it’s not over until the final bell, in knocking out Puerto Rico’s Jeffrey Fontanez to win the Mexico-Puerto Rico battle on Friday.
Mexicans won this night against the always tough and talented Puerto Ricans at Belasco Theater on the Golden Boy Promotions card.
It wasn’t easy. It never is.
Quintero (28-6, 24 Kos) was losing the first three rounds easily to Fontanez (15-2, 12 Kos), who was quicker and seemed to have a solid fight plan.
Fontanez had his way for the first three rounds by using his long reach and quick combinations. The left-handed Quintero landed single punches but not enough to offset Fontanez winning those rounds.
In round four Quintero attacked more and fought inside the long reach of the Boricua. A stiff left lead from the Mexican southpaw connected soundly and had Fontanez backing away. It was the first time Quintero won a round.
Quintero approached the fifth round knowing that his adjustments to bring the fight inside had worked. Fontanez was fine as long as he kept the Mexican at a distance. Quintero took that away with a lead left cross that decked the Boricua with a single blow. He got up but was delivered to the canvas again with the same punch. He got up again but the Mexican swarmed Fontanez with a series of well-placed blows. The Puerto Rican corner wisely tossed in the towel at 2:21 of the fifth round to end the fight.
“Feels great and extremely satisfying to get this win in the name of my country. My left hand was a big weapon for me tonight,” said Mexico’s Quintero.
Puerto Rico’s Fontanez was gracious in defeat.
“I knew he was an experienced fighter. I knew I was ahead in the card but he landed a very lucky shot in the fifth round that I couldn’t come back from,” Fontanez said.
L.A.’s Carlos Morales (12-1-3, 6 Kos) stopped Puerto Rico’s O’Nell Negron (10-2-2, 8 Kos) in the seventh round to win the Mexican-Boricua battle of lightweights.
A pair of long armed lightweights showed off their chins for several rounds, especially Puerto Rico’s Negron. But slowly and surely Mexican-American Morales whacked him around the ring, landing perfectly connected uppercuts for the first three rounds. Negron merely shrugged and asked for more.
Puerto Rico’s Negron took a pounding in the sixth round but did land some good body shots of his own. Somehow Negron looked confident despite the pounding and kept moving forward. Despite their similar records, Morales seemed more skilled.
“I saw film of him and I thought he was slow,” said Negron. “He kept me at a distance with his jab.”
Heads collided in the sixth round when Morales attempted a body shot. Negron winced in pain and was allowed time to recover. Overall Morales did everything he wanted against Negron, who doesn’t seem to like to jab.
Finally in the seventh round, Morales unloaded a total of 28 blows to the head of Negron and referee Zack Young stopped the fight at 2:07 of the round for a technical knockout win for Morales. It was the right call. Though Negron never seemed hurt two fighters died this last week from injuries in the ring. Why chance it?
Oscar Negrete (12-0, 3 Kos) remained undefeated with a one-side fight against Mexico’s Jose Estrella (14-8-1, 10 Kos) that ended in a technical knockout at the end of the sixth round. Estrella did not come out for the seventh round and seldom fired punches against Negrete.
San Antonio’s Hector Tanajara (2-0) won his second consecutive fight at Belasco Theater. This time the long-armed lightweight defeated Mexico’s Antonio Martinez (3-5, 3 Kos) by unanimous decision. All three judges scored it 40-36. Tanajara lives in San Antonio but has been training in the Riverside area under Robert Garcia.
“I feel I was in control throughout the fight. I was looking for the knockout,” said Tanajara. “I felt my jab was an effective weapon in the fight.”
Undefeated featherweight Emilio Sanchez (10-0, 7 Kos) was matched tough against veteran competitor Juan Sandoval (7-17-1, 4 Kos) and stopped the San Bernardino fighter at the end of the second round. Sanchez and Sandoval slugged it out for two rounds but a left hook caused a huge swelling on the taller Sandoval. It was an evenly matched fight but Sanchez’s hard blows did more damage.
“I wanted to break him down to the body, throw combinations was my plan,” said Sanchez. “I feel really pleased with the work I’ve shown.”
Francisco Esparza (1-0) of Las Vegas won his pro debut over Bell’s Carlos Gonzalez (1-8) after four rounds of a lightweight fight. Esparza was the busier and harder puncher and won all three cards 40-36. Esparza is trained by the great junior middleweight champion Fernando Vargas.
Mexico’s Oscar Duarte (3-0-1, 2 KOs) remains undefeated by winning by split decision over Ohio’s Alejandro Salinas (3-1, 3 KOs), who walked in the ring with Kelly Pavlik’s old trainer. Duarte floored Salinas with a left hook to the chest. He’s very heavy-handed with both hands, and has a Pipino Cuevas style of fighting. Salinas started quickly but once Duarte let go his heavy blows that affected the Youngstown fighter.