By David A. Avila
LAS VEGAS-A pair of Southern California-based prizefighters returned home with WBO world titles as Oscar Valdez won by knockout to retain his featherweight belt and Jessie Magdaleno usurped the champion Nonito Donaire by decision on Saturday.
Both Valdez and Magdaleno are trained by Manny Robles Jr. and managed by Frank Espinoza.
It was a good night for all 16,132 fans at the Thomas and Mack Center.
Valdez (22-0, 19 KOs) was defending the WBO featherweight title for the first time since winning it back in July. He was facing Japan’s Hiroshige Osawa (30-4-4, 19 KOs) who had not lost a fight since 2009. He was as tough as expected at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Immediately it was evident that Valdez had the superior speed, but Osawa had a decent jab and was able to land effectively in the first two rounds. A small welt developed on Valdez’s face from those jabs. But Valdez was getting the range of Osawa and distance. At the end of the second round a left hook stunned Osawa but he held tight to keep Valdez from landing more.
Valdez seemed to find a comfort zone and timed an exchange by Osawa and beat him to the punch with a left hook to the chin that floored the Japanese. He got up and was met by a furious barrage from Valdez who looked close to ending the fight as the referee looked on. Osawa found a moment to clinch Valdez and that saved him for the moment.
Probably worried about blowing his lead, Valdez became more conservative with his punches and Osawa was much less aggressive than before.
In the sixth round Valdez switched to southpaw for an unknown reason but was still able to out-score Osawa who couldn’t find an antidote for the Mexican fighter’s speedy blows. Valdez kept the pressure on but not as tight as before.
Valdez opened up the seventh round more aggressively and seemed intent on ending the fight. A barrage of punches forced Osawa against the ropes and he was unable to defend as wicked combinations were finding the mark. The referee saw Osawa’s head snap back and he jumped in to stop the fight at 1:50 of the round. Valdez was declared the winner by technical knockout.
Magdaleno new champion
Nonito Donaire (37-4, 24 KOs) had won titles in numerous divisions and was among the top fighters pound for pound for a number of years. But time slows down everyone and, at 34, he’s not the lightning quick “Filipino Flash” that knocked out Vic Darchinyan and numerous others.
Magdaleno (24-0, 17 KOs) was challenging for his first world title. He wasn’t the first in his family to do so, his older brother Diego Magdaleno had two shots and was unable to grab a belt. Recently he switched training camps and moved to Carson where he works with Manny Robles Jr. who also trains Oscar Valdez.
Working with Valdez and Robles might have been the key to usurping an elite fighter like Donaire.
Immediately it was clear that Magdaleno (pictured; he’s the faux blond) could match speed with Donaire. The only question was could he match or take the incoming power shots. He could.
Donaire started slowly but by the third round he found his rhythm and mixed with his knowledge, he made things tougher for Magdaleno who was fighting in front of his hometown fans. But youth has its advantages and fighting in his neighborhood did too. Fans were plenty.
Around the sixth round Magdaleno began pounding the body of Donaire and that seemed to open up some firing lanes. Things turned around and Magdaleno was back in the driver’s seat. For the next four rounds the momentum was all for him and he seemed to take a sizeable lead unofficially. But Donaire knows how to win.
The Filipino speedster slipped into a higher gear and instead of boxing he began gunning for the knockout blow. Magdaleno must have realized it quickly because he slipped into a counter-punching mode and suddenly the momentum changed again. Donaire began connecting repeatedly with lead right crosses that snapped the head of Magdaleno repeatedly. For the last three rounds Donaire took control.
Magdaleno suffered a cut near his eye but was able to avoid the big blows that Donaire was firing in rapid fashion. But the final bell rang and Magdaleno was still standing. All three judges scored it for Magdaleno 116-112 twice and 118-110.
Magdaleno is the new WBO super bantamweight world titlist.
“I can’t believe I’m a world champion,” said Magdaleno. “And I won it against someone like Nonito Donaire.”
Donaire was perplexed by the scores.
“I thought I gained control of the fight in the second half,” Donaire said.
After the fight Magdaleno walked into Donaire’s dressing room where he was receiving stitches for a cut.
“You’re a great champion,” said Magdaleno.
Donaire was gracious.
“Let’s do it again,” he said.
Russia’s Alexander Besputin (5-0, 5 KOs) won by stoppage when Panama’s Azael Cosio (20-5-2, 17 KOs) did not come out of his corner for the seventh round of their super welterweight match. Besputin, a southpaw, was hurt several times by Cosio but used his legs to evade further harm. Besputin was the fleeter fighter but was troubled by lead right hands. It didn’t matter. Cosio could not continue after six rounds.
Brooklyn’s Teofimo Lopez, a fighter of Honduran descent now training in Florida, won his pro debut by knockout over Mexico’s Ishwar Siqueiros at 2:03 of the second round of their lightweight clash. Lopez floored the taller Tijuana fighter twice in the opening round and was knocked down himself at the end. But the former Honduras Olympian stormed out of his corner in the second round and floored Siqueiros with a three right hand bombs. The Mexican beat the count but then was floored again with a left hook to the body. He did not beat the count.
Riverside’s Fernando Fuentes (9-7) handed China’s Xu Que (9-1-1) his first loss as a professional by unanimous decision after six hard fought rounds in a featherweight contest. It was the opening bout of the Las Vegas fight card and Fuentes seemed to surprise Que with his aggressiveness. Both landed big blows but the taller Fuentes never slowed while Que let the middle rounds slip away. Two judges scored it 58-56 and the other 59-55 for Fuentes.
In the opening bout of the card, Brazil’s Robson Conceicao, a 2016 Olympic gold medalist, won his pro debut with a 6-round unanimous decision over Louisiana’s Clay Burns.