Hard core fight fans gathered at the StubHub and were treated once again to a memorable and impressive clash between featherweights.
Mexico’s Oscar Valdez promised to ratchet up the intensity and was met with equal vigor by relatively unknown Miguel Marriaga of Colombia last Saturday before 5,600 fans. And of course it took place at the StubHub.
If you’re a fight fan, you know all about the StubHub and its almost magical ability to draw out the best of the best. From Tim Bradley and Ruslan Provodnikov to Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez, epic moments are created at the tennis venue.
Who would imagine that a tennis venue would be a haven for gladiator-like wars almost every year? It’s almost comical.
Valdez was protecting his hold on the WBO featherweight title and when it was first mentioned that Marriaga would be the opponent, many cried foul. Because he was not a household name or someone named Vasyl Lomachenko, people waved off the fight as a set-up.
But those die-hard fans that arrived and those watching on pay-per-view saw an intense and furious battle between superior featherweights. The kid from Colombia, small shoulders and all, could crack like a cannon. And his chin was far above average. Whenever Valdez connected with those same blows in previous battles, it was lights out. But Marriaga could take it and give it.
If not for Valdez’s reflexes and defense he would have been a statistic.
In the end, Valdez was able to simply out-think Marriaga and win by unanimous decision. Though I agreed with the judges it’s only fair to point out that every single round was contested fiercely.
“That was the toughest fight I ever had,” said Valdez after the fight.
It’s a little too early to make predictions but Valdez may be on his way to achieving pound for pound greatness. But he’s in one of the toughest divisions and buffeted by a tough division above and a tough division below.
Speaking of super bantamweights, Las Vegas slugger Jessie Magdaleno looked even more impressive than in his title win. Perhaps it’s because he was not fighting an all-time great like Nonito Donaire this time. But he still fights in one of the toughest divisions right now. Rival promoter Golden Boy Promotions has several fighters in the 122-pound division including Diego De La Hoya. A showdown with any of those super bantamweights makes sense to occur in the StubHub.
Top Rank has another fight show, this time at the Burbank Marriott Convention Center in Burbank on Friday April 28. UniMas will televise.
Many of the Las Vegas-based company’s middle tier fighters will be showcased at the Southern California venue. Some are hanging by a thread to their promotion contracts.
Austin, Texas lightweight Casey “The Wizard” Ramos lost his battle of the lightweight prospects last November when he suffered a severe cut near the eye to Andy Vences. It could have been an aberration but he will not get any pass against Miguel Beltran Jr. who has twice fought for world titles. It’s another test for Ramos. Both fighters are 27.
A welterweight contest features undefeated Arnold Barboza (15-0) against Markus Morris (10-2) in an eight round bout. Barboza, 25, is very athletic but seems to lack in timing. In Morris he meets a fighter who’s stopped two of his last three opponents. It’s do or die for Barboza.
Another welterweight clash poses an interesting match-up. San Bernardino’s Artemio Reyes (23-2, 19 KOs) faces Hector Munoz (25-18-1) of Albuquerque. Reyes was out of boxing for a while after suffering injuries then promotional contract issues. He was a fast-rising slugger before that. Now he’s managed by Frank Espinoza who knows how to spot winners. Now 30, Reyes knows this is his last crack at a world title opportunity and finally returns to the ring after two and a half years away.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Mayweather Promotions brings a large card to Sam’s Town Hotel and Resort Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday April 29. Fox Sports 2 will televise.
Undefeated Carlos Zambrano (26-0) of Peru meets Claudio Marrero (21-1, 15 KOs) of the Dominican Republic for the vacant WBA interim welterweight title. The vacant IBO title is also at stake.
Marrero, 28, has faced the better opposition including wins over Rico Ramos, Juan Jose Beltran and Jonathan Arrellano. His only loss came to Jesus Cuellar and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
But you never know when it comes to South American fighters, especially someone from Peru like Zambrano. Early in his career he fought on the east and west coasts. Then he packed up and traveled to fight in his native Peru for six years. This will be his return fight on American soil.
Other fights on the card involve several prospects including Jeison Rosario, Kevin Newman Jr. and Southern California’s Daniel Gonzalez, a former amateur world champion fighting at featherweight.
Two female fights are on the card including women’s boxing’s best fighter pound for pound Layla McCarter. The Las Vegas fighter faces Hungary’s Szilvia Szabados in a 10-round welterweight bout. Szabados recently fought Claressa Shields and was stopped on her feet in the fourth round this past March. Last week, Szabados won by knockout in her home country. McCarter is looking toward a showdown with welterweight world champion Cecilia Braekhus of Norway. This fight could lead to a meeting between the two female powerhouses.
McCarter’s fight with Szabados will be televised.
Photo courtesy of Al Applerose
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