BERCHELT VICTORIOUS IN INDIO -Miguel Berchelt proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back in defeating WBC super featherweight world titlist Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas by knockout on Saturday.
But it was fun while it lasted.
Berchelt (31-1, 28 KOs) grabbed the world title after 11 rounds of back and forth action that saw him finally nail the bloody Vargas (23-1-2, 17 KOs) with a sizzling barrage of blows. The crowd of more than 2,000 at Fantasy Springs Casino was left breathless.
“I fight till the end,” said Vargas after the fight.
This fight very well could be the end of Vargas who was a bloody participant in back-to-back Fight of the Years in 2015 and 2016. Many wondered if he could handle yet another war.
He could not.
Berchelt walked into the boxing ring with much less experience than Vargas but his record of knockouts told a story of unknown abilities that played out in the fight. In the opening round both exchanged freely. But the second round was one of the more amazing rounds so far in 2017. Each fighter stunned the other but neither fighter would give in an inch. Pounding blows and counters echoed in the arena. It was an electrifying display of high level professional fighting.
But the rounds of exchanges were not kind to Vargas whose face welted and began to cut on both eyes. Blood flowed midway through the fight both from blows and accidental head butts.
“The blood bothered me,” said Vargas. “I couldn’t do what I wanted.”
Vargas, 32, was expected to face former champion Takashi Miura in a rematch should he win. But Berchelt, 25, was younger, fresher and unafraid as he weathered the early storm and began to rally late in the fight. You could sense he felt Vargas was tiring after 10 mostly even rounds.
Finally, in the 11th, Berchelt unleashed another barrage and this time did not let up on the attack. Vargas tried to bob and weave but was catching blows. Referee Raul Caiz Jr. had seen enough and stopped the fight at 2:19 of the round. Berchelt was the new WBC super featherweight champion.
“I was prepared. I wanted to fight the best and beat the champion,” said Berchelt who had never fought more than six rounds in his limited career. “He (Vargas) has a lot of heart and I have a lot of respect for him.”
In one corner was Takashi Miura the former super featherweight champion and winner of two “Fight of the Year” clashes. In the other corner was Mickey Roman a man who had not lost in five years with fists of steel. After nearly a dozen rounds Japan’s ultimate warrior walked out with his hand raised.
Miura (31-3-2, 24 KOs) and his no-prisoners approach showed the sold out crowd why he’s constantly engaged in mini wars. He also showed Roman (56-12, 43 KOs) what it takes to be a world champion.
In his southpaw stance Miura dictated the pace and distance as he out-punched and out-brawled Roman. He was also much more accurate in landing those lefts while sticking out his right to gauge the distance. Usually that practice is a no-no but Roman was unable to solve it.
Back and forth they fought until the 10th round when a Miura measured with the right and fired a left to Roman’s gut. Down he went and looked like he would not get up. He did.
In the 11th round as Roman was careful to guard his belly, Miura fired a six-punch combination to Roman’s head and down he went again. He beat the count and the fight resumed.
Finally, in the 12th and final round, Miura fired a left cross and down went Roman. This time he was counted out by referee Tom Taylor at 53 seconds.
Miura will now be the next opponent for Berchelt.
Former Olympian Sadam Ali (24-1, 14 KOs) opened quick against Tijuana’s Jorge Silva and sent him to the floor with a five punch combination in the first round. In the second round Silva used a body attack to get back into the fight, but it wasn’t enough. Ali opened the third round with a blistering attack and sent Silva to the floor with a clubbing right hand. The fight was stopped at 2:27 of the third round.
Indio’s hometown Luis Coria (3-0, 3 KOs) brought a large crowd dressed in colorful blue fluorescent t-shirts. They were not disappointed by his performance as he dismantled Mexico’s Gerardo Molina. A counter right cross by Coria sent Molina reeling across the ring, He was chased by Coria who connected once again with a looping overhand right that sent him sprawling to the ropes. Referee Ray Corona immediately stopped the fight at 1:26 of the first round.
“This was a big fight for me,” said Coria. “I do this for my family members who are the biggest fans.”
Lamont Roach Jr. (13-0, 5 KOs) blitzed Mexico’s Alex Valdez (26-9-2, 20 KOs) to win the vacant WBC Youth super featherweight title by emphatic knockout in the first round. It was obvious by the first combination that Washington D.C.’s Roach unleashed that he was much too quick for Valdez. A three-punch combination that ended with a right uppercut sent Valdez to the ropes and the floor. He managed to get up but was met with another vicious right uppercut and folded to the floor. The referee did not bother to count and the fight was called at 1:41 of the first round.
“It feels good to be 21 with a title already and this just lines up everything for a future world championship,” said Roach. “I got him to go down twice and he didn’t want to come back for a third.”
Vergil Ortiz (4-0, 4 KOs) allowed Israel Villelas (5-4) an opportunity to let loose with some combinations. Then he began to open up with his own artillery and landed an overhand right that floored the welterweight fighter from Mexico City. He got up on shaky legs and referee Ray Corona waved the fight off at 1:26 of the round. Ortiz fights out of Indio, Calif. but is originally from Dallas, Texas.
“I knew he was going to go down after I got him with one of my punches,” said Ortiz. “It’s baby steps in making a career that’s worthwhile, and this is a step towards that.”
Cesar Diaz (4-0, 4 KOs) connected with a quick one-two combination that floored Joel Cano (1-5) in the first seconds of the first round in their super bantamweight contest. After that, Cano was in retreat mode for the rest of the frame. In the second round Diaz caught Cano with a wide left hook that sent the boxer from Sonora, Mexico down in a heap. He was counted out at 51 seconds of the second round. Diaz hails from Palmdale but trains in Indio under Joel Diaz.
“It’s been an exciting start to my career,” said Diaz. “I was a little nervous at the start but I got into my groove.”
Vicente Portillo (6-0, 3 KOs) of Tijuana won a majority decision against L.A.’s Mike Melikyan (1-2) in a scrappy and entertaining four round super lightweight clash.
“Stylistically I feel like I was the better fighter and used the ring more,” said Portillo. “Yeah, he got me with some good shots, but overall he couldn’t take me down.”
Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.