RANCHO MIRAGE, Ca.-Regardless of the three-year layoff Kaliesha “Wild” West shook off the rust while in the ring against southpaw Kirstie Simmons to win by unanimous decision on Saturday.
“My legs were right and my stance was right,” said West.
Before a large following at Agua Caliente Casino the former two-division world champion West (17-2-3, 4 KOs) used her experience and power to keep Simmons (8-3) of Colorado on the run. World Fighting Championship was the promoter.
West (pictured on the left) last fought in 2014 in a losing cause. But this time, though fighting at a much higher weight at 128 pounds, the Moreno Valley prizefighter seemed more powerful though not as fast.
Speed didn’t matter in this fight.
The left-handed Simmons tried to touch the body and fire combinations early in the first round, but a left hook by West staggered the Colorado fighter and from that point on she was very careful about exchanging.
In the second round Simmons landed a right to the body but was caught with a left hook that wobbled her. More left hooks followed and each one moved Simmons to places she did not want to go with West on her tail. It was a big round for the Southern Californian.
“I thought I could have knocked her out,” said West. “But she was tough.”
Simmons seemed more energized in the third round and was able to land quick combinations and move out of the danger zone. West tried to cut off her movements but Simmons maneuvered cleverly out of distance. It was the Colorado fighter’s best round.
In the fourth round West focused on the body and found more openings. Simmons tried to counter but was met with more left hooks and moved out of the firing lanes. Simmons was able to connect with rights and two-punch combinations but was rattled by those left hooks.
Both fighters exchanged more liberally in the fifth round with West continuing to land those left hooks and Simmons firing two-punch combinations. A three-punch combination by West forced Simmons to move out of danger for the rest of the round.
The final round saw West connect with a lead right cross and a four-punch combination. The former world champion seemed to be hunting for the knockout and Simmons looked to avoid it. Punches flied for the first minute but after that Simmons looked to punch when she had a clear opening. Few punches were landed in the final seconds.
“I didn’t even think right at the last round to increase the punch count. I kept going, going, going I was physically able to do it,” said West. “I got my second wind.”
West said in looking back, she could have tried harder for the knockout.
“In the last round the left hook caught her and she wasn’t in focus. I didn’t want to over-punch,” said West.
After six rounds all three judges scored it in favor of West 58-56 twice and 59-55.
“We pulled it off,” said Juan West the trainer and father of Kaliesha. “We knew Kirstie was a boxer and didn’t want a boring fight.”
Ryan Caballero (3-0) of Coachella remained undefeated by stopping Meti Monterroso (0-2) in the fourth and final round of their clash. Caballero had at least a four-inch height advantage and was pounding away at the shorter fighter. But Monterroso was able to survive the onslaught and land a few big blows of his own. Caballero was pounding away at a tiring Monterroso when referee Raul Caiz Jr. decided it was time to stop the fight at 2:36 of the fourth round. Caballero is the younger brother of former world champion Randy “El Matador” Caballero.
Luis Cervantes (8-9-3) of Cathedral City used his height and reach to pound out a victory over Chula Vista’s Mario Aguirre in a lightweight contest. Cervantes staggered Aguirre with a perfect left hook but could not follow up with any more blows. Aguirre had his moments but was not busy enough. The judges scored it for Cervantes 40-36.
Riverside’s Jonah Flores (1-0) floored Steve Lantry (0-3) twice to win by unanimous decision in his pro debut in the bantamweight division. A triple left hook to the body sunk Lantry in the first round but the fight continued. An exchange of overhand rights saw Flores floor Lantry again but he managed to survive the round. All three judges scored it 40-34 for Flores who is trained by Henry Ramirez.
Pacoima’s Saul Sanchez (4-0) out-worked Sergio Lopez (3-5) of Las Vegas to win by unanimous decision after four rounds in a bantamweight match. Sanchez was the harder hitter but Lopez hung in there for all three rounds. A Sanchez right hand in the second round staggered Lopez but he was never in trouble after that. All three judges scored in favor of Sanchez who trains out of Indio.
Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.