Ringside Report: Erick Ituarte Wins NABF Title in Ontario, Calif.

ONTARIO, CA — A night of split decisions saw Erick Ituarte survive a knockdown and slide by Isaac Zarate in the main event on Friday.

Split decisions ruled the night and Ituarte (17-1-1, 2 KOs) did just enough to beat Zarate (12-3-2, 2 KOs) in an eight round fight for the vacant NABF junior featherweight title on the Thompson Boxing Promotions card.

Ituarte, 22, fights out of Santa Ana, Calif. and like most of the fighters from that gym lacks the power blows that others possess. But like most of the boxers from his gym they are fundamentally sound and very busy in the boxing ring.

San Pedro’s Zarate connected with a left as Ituarte was caught squared up and down he went in the third round. But Zarate slowed down after that and allowed Ituarte back in the fight.

The Santa Ana fighter began working the body more diligently and Zarate stopped using the jab. The rounds began mounting for Ituarte who despite a lack of power can command respect.

After eight rounds one judge saw Zarate as the winner 76-75 but two saw Ituarte the winner 77-74 and 76-75.

“He was a tough guy but we came with a good plan,” said Ituarte after the fight.

Other bouts

A super lightweight fight demoted to semi-main event status ended in a draw when last-minute replacement Cesar Villarraga (9-3-1) and Juan Garcia Mendez (19-2-2) fought to a split draw after six rounds.

Villarraga of Colombia replaced San Diego’s Giovanni Santillan who was forced to drop out of the fight due to dehydration problems from cutting weight.

Super featherweight prospect Ruben Villa (6-0, 4 KOs) of Salinas California scored a fifth round knockout over Mexico’s Anthony Ruiz (2-3). It was the second consecutive knockout win for the 20-year-old southpaw who is co-promoted by Thompson Boxing and Banner Promotions.

In a bantamweight clash Christian Ayala (10-1) survived a first round knockdown to rally and win by split decision over Ricardo Espinosa (10-2) after eight rounds.

Mario Hernandez (2-0) defeated San Bernardino’s May Garduno (0-1) by unanimous decision in a very close bantamweight fight. Hernandez had his way in the first round but Garduno caught fire in the second round and kept the pressure. But the judges did not see it Garduno’s way. The scores were 40-36 and 39-37 twice for Hernandez.

Brandon Trejo (1-0) won his pro debut by unanimous decision after four rounds in a lightweight fight versus Pablo Cupul (9-23). Trejo fights out of Napa, California. Cupul fights out of San Diego.

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Erick Ituarte