CARSON, CALIF.-WBO featherweight titlist Oscar Valdez wanted a thriller and Colombia’s Miguel Marriaga helped with 12 rounds of back and forth high level action that saw the champion retain the title by unanimous decision on Saturday.
And once again an arena seemed to bring out the best in a world title fight.
Valdez (22-0, 19 KOs) walked into the StubHub Center looking to improve on a previous poor performance at that venue, and Marriaga (25-2, 21 KOs) with his narrow shoulders and chin of granite helped provide the incentive before 5,419 fans.
A couple of years ago Valdez (pictured on the right) was floored and won a gutsy decision. He didn’t like performing so poorly especially at the StubHub that has been home to several “Fight of the Year” bouts since its inception as a boxing venue.
He didn’t have to worry about another poor performance but he did have to worry about the Colombian that nobody seemed to know.
Marriaga walked into the ring with shoulders that seemed narrower than his hips, but he packed speed and power in those fists. He also had a stone tablet chin that enabled him to absorb blow after blow from Valdez. The sound of those blows echoed in the night.
Valdez stormed out to a lead for the first four rounds with snappy jabs and lightning overhand rights that sounded like gun shots. But Marriaga kept pressing the action and unloading big blows to the body and head.
Marriaga had his best round in the fifth when he connected with a four-punch combination as Valdez stayed near the ropes. The Colombian ended the round with a thudding right to the body of Valdez.
From the sixth round on the action seemed to pick up with Valdez shooting stiff jabs and Marriaga landing right uppercuts and crosses.
Back and forth they fought with Marriaga getting warned twice for hitting after the bell.
Finally, in the 10th, Valdez slyly allowed Marriaga to pressure him along the ropes and as the Colombian fired combinations the champion unloaded a left hook the spun the challenger around and down. Referee Jack Reiss counted and Marriaga got up. Some fans screamed that the Colombian was allowed too much time to recover. The fight resumed and Valdez tried mightily to end it to no avail.
“I know he kept throwing that jab and he got a little comfortable with it and I threw the left hook,” said Valdez about the knockdown.
Marriaga was able to continue for the next two rounds until the end of the fight. Valdez connected several times with big bombs but the Colombian’s chin withstood the impacts.
All three judges scored it for Valdez 119-108, 118-109, 116-111.
Manny Robles, who trains Valdez, said there were many who felt it would not be a worthy fight. But the Colombian showed recognizable names do not always mean better quality fighters.
“We expected a great fight like that,” said Robles.
After the decision was rendered the two met during the interviewing.
“You’re a great champion and a great puncher,” Marriaga told Valdez.
Valdez answered “You will be a world champion.”
Another great fight at the StubHub
WBO super middleweight titlist Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (35-0, 24 KOs) won every round but it wasn’t smooth sailing against Max Bursak (33-5-1, 15 KOs) who would rather hold than punch.
Needless to say, Ramirez won by unanimous decision to retain the world title.
“I feel really grateful to be here fighting at the StubHub,” said Ramirez who hails from Mazatlan, Mexico. “My hand was pain free.”
The tall super middleweight was unable to knock down Bursak who dove into a holding position whenever Ramirez was within his grasp. Two points were deducted for holding against Bursak by referee Tom Taylor in the fifth and 11th round. The final scores were 120-106 three times.
Next for Ramirez, if he had his choice, would be middleweight titan Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin.
“Its 50-50 I don’t care if we have any title,” said Ramirez about fighting Golovkin.
WBO super bantamweight titlist Jessie Magdaleno (25-0 18 KOs) erupted from his corner in aggressive fashion from the opening round to win by knockout over the taller Brazilian Adeilson Dos Santos (18-3, 14 KOs).
Magdaleno immediately surmised he was the much quicker fighter and after a few jabs to the head and body he dove in for more and opened up the artillery early in the first round.
In the second, after testing early, Magdaleno found an opening and connected with a counter right hook that crumbled Dos Santos.
“I got him with a right hook to the temple followed with a left uppercut to the chin,” said Magdaleno. “It’s what we practiced in the gym.”
Dos Santos survived the first knockdown but Magdaleno was in killing mode and after some furious combinations, a right hook-right uppercut combination floored the Brazilian again for good. Referee Lou Moret waved the fight over at 2:51 of the second round.
“I’m going to be champion for a long, long time as long as I have my team,” said Magdaleno naming his trainer Manny Robles and manager Frank Espinoza. “We’re ready for the future.”
Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson won a technical decision over Arizona’s tough Edgar Brito in a foul marred six round featherweight fight. Stevenson showed off his speed and agility and rarely got tagged in return. Brito used whatever means necessary to keep the fight competitive, but ended up butting inside. An accidental clash caused a cut over Brito’s left eye and the fight was stopped one second into the sixth round. All three judges scored it 60-53 for Stevenson.
“He got work and did what he had to do,” said Top Rank’s Bob Arum. “It only gets better.”
Stevenson was honest about his pro debut.
“I was nervous at first,” said Stevenson who lives in Newark, New Jersey and is managed by Andre Ward and James Prince. “He was a difficult opponent.”
Mexico’s Mahonri Montes (31-6-1, 20 KOs) knocked down Santa Barbara’s Francisco Santana (24-6-1, 12 KOs) and that proved to be the difference in a split decision win that went 10 tightly contested rounds in the welterweight fight.
Santana was floored in the fifth round by a left hook that looked like a slip but it came after a punch and was counted. From that point on Santana changed the momentum and began pressuring the pressure fighter Montes but it was not enough to win the fight.
One judge scored it 97-92 for Santana, the other two saw it 96-94 and 95-94 for Montes.
Max Dadashev (7-0, 6 KOs) knocked out Bilal Mahasin (9-4-1) with a pretty feint right and left hook to the chin in 2:09 of the third round in a super lightweight fight.
Alexander Besputin (7-0, 5 KOs) knocked down Breidis Prescott (30-10, 20 KOs) in the seventh round and won the welterweight fight by unanimous decision after eight rounds.
Photo credit: Al Applerose
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