Robert Manzanarez Wins by KO in his U.S. Debut in Downtown L.A.

FIGHT NIGHT AT THE BELASCO — Mexico’s Robert Manzanarez arrived as a mystery with a gaudy record and showed how he got it by stopping former champion Gamaliel Diaz by knockout on Friday.

Manzanarez (34-1, 28 KOs), a southpaw super lightweight, though born in Phoenix, had fought exclusively in Mexico and showed his talent was real in defeating fellow Mexican Diaz (40-16-3, 19 KOs) in the main event at the Belasco Theater in downtown L.A.

Standing an inch over six-feet in height, Manzanarez used his distance and height to keep the veteran Diaz at arm’s length.

Diaz had once held the WBC world super featherweight title and had wins over Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, Takashi Ao and Cesar Soto. But that was years ago and he was facing a lean, tall 22-year-old with power and long arms.

Manzanarez was a cool customer in keeping his distance and firing quick uppercuts to the oncoming Diaz. Finally, in the fourth round, one of those lefts caught Diaz right under the ribcage. Diaz took a few seconds then collapsed to the floor. He was counted out at 2:23 of the fourth round.

“I am very happy with this win, and I’m glad I stopped him early,” said Manzanarez. “I know I have to go back into the gym to work on everything, and I need to be in better form physically and mentally. There’s a big difference between fighting in the US and in Mexico, and fighting here was a dream come true of mine, and I hope I get more opportunities to do so.”

San Diego’s Genaro “El Conde” Gamez (4-0, 3 KOs) showed intelligence in figuring out Alejandro Ochoa (7-13-2). Gamez tried hard to take out Ochoa, a veteran with wins over several prospects, but was unable to find the solution. Around round four Gamez made adjustments and was able to stun Ochoa in the sixth and final round. But Bell Garden’s Ochoa was able to tough it out and make it until the final bell.

It was the first time Gamez had not won by first round knockout.

“This was the first time going all six rounds, which was a great experience for me,” said Gamez who trains in San Diego and Riverside. “He took a lot of hard punches from me and I took a lot from him. I wanted another knockout, but considering that this is my first fight in a couple of months, I’ll take this win. I am ready for another fight soon, so you will certainly see me back in action.”

Tenochtitlan Nava (5-0) out-worked New Orleans featherweight Thomas Smith (3-4-1) to win by decision after four rounds. Nava never hurt Smith or vice-versa but out-punched Smith in every round.

“I started out slow in this fight, I felt the need to be cautious with him but he definitely woke me up,” said Nava who fights out of L.A. “I knew he was going to move around, and he would block my blows with his counter. I want to thank all the Marching Skulls from Westside Boxing who came to support me and this win.”

Milwaukee’s Luis Feliciano (1-0) defeated Houston’s Angel Rodriguez (5-8-3) by unanimous decision after six rounds in his pro debut. The former amateur star showed good skills and precision in beating Rodriguez who truly knows how to fight. Feliciano won by scores of 60-54 twice and 59-55 in the featherweight clash.

“It was a great first fight – I was excited to get back into the ring after not fighting competitively for more than a year and a half,” said Feliciano. “It’s a transition you have to go through when you switch from amateur to pro, and there are always a pair of nerves when you make the switch and you make the stylistic adjustments. The win was what we planned for, and bigger things are coming from me, just watch as I represent Puerto Rico.”

Javier Martinez (1-0) came out banging and so did his opponent Miguel Barajas (2-2) of Guadalajara, Mexico with both exchanging bombs throughout the fight. Martinez was dropped with a long right cross at the bell in the second round, but stormed back to stop Barajas with a flurry of blows at 2:44 of the fourth round. Martinez is originally from Dallas but is trained by South El Monte’s Ben Lira.

“It was a defining debut fight, and I wasn’t going to let anyone take away what I had worked so hard for,” said Martinez. “I saw the bruise I left under his eye during the first round, and that’s when I knew he was a tough fighter, and was going to brawl with me. I learned a lot, and I am looking forward to maturing as a fighter, becoming smarter, and using my talent more.”

Jousce Gonzalez (4-0, 4 KOs) belted out Emmanuel Valadez (3-3, 3 KOs) at 2:42 of the first round of the super featherweight bout. It’s beginning to become a habit with the young Azusa prizefighter.

“This is my fourth straight, first round knockout,” said Gonzalez. “And that means a lot to me.”

Gonzalez is the younger brother of undefeated featherweight contender Joet Gonzalez.

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