Rahkmankulov and Damien Lopez Win at Burbank

In a rare battle between prized prospects Sagadat Rahkmankulov out-dueled Jhon Leon by unanimous decision in a fight much closer and intense than the scores indicated on Friday.

Kazakhstan’s Rahkmankulov (2-0), now fighting out of Oxnard, proved to be slightly better than Colombia’s Leon (3-1) in a seesaw skirmish at the Burbank Marriott Hotel in Burbank, California.

Rahkmankulov, who is managed by Egis Klimis, was sent out to sink or swim against the dangerous Leon who had dumped a few glittering prospects before meeting the Kazakh on Saturday. He nearly drowned but kept his head above water.

The battle seemed won in the first two rounds as Rahkmankulov jumped out quickly with a forceful attack behind a strong jab and intense pressure. Leon tried countering with an overhand right that looked similar to Muhammad Ali’s famed anchor punch he used to knockout Sonny Liston in their second encounter. That blow was used many times by the Colombian.

After two dominant rounds by the Eastern European, the Colombian went to work on the body with some powerful rights and lefts. That visibly shook Rahkmankulov who retreated from the attack and countered with combinations. The tide seemed to turn.

Leon has an array of awkward looked blows especially the anchor punch and looked to be the aggressor. But Rahkmankulov never allowed Leon to get too much momentum especially in the last round as he kept the Colombian pinned against the ropes. Some flashy but ineffective combos impressed the judges enough to give him the win by scores of 59-55 twice and 58-56.

It was a well-deserved win by Rahkmankulov.

“I think I did good work but I made a lot of mistakes,” said Rahkmankulov.

In the co-main event, Burbank’s Damien Lopez (5-0- 1) defeated Arizona’s Rodolfo Gamez (2-5) by knockout in the fifth round. Lopez had hurt Gamez in the fourth round and was pummeling him at the end of the frame. The referee Zack Young looked carefully at the fighter and allowed him to fight in the fifth round. Lopez did not allow him more than eight seconds as he fired two left hooks to end the fight by knockout.

It was Lopez’s most impressive performance so far. The local fighter’s timing was on point and his ability to slip incoming fire set him apart from previous fights.

Other bouts

Pacoima’s Rudy Garcia (7-0) defeated Houston’s Josue Morales (5-7- 3) by unanimous decision in a six round bantamweight clash.

Jesus Cruz Bibiano (17-13) upset Humberto Velasquez (6-1- 2) by split decision in a six round welterweight match. Velasquez attacked immediately the first two rounds but always used the same punches. Cruz quickly figured it out and slipped and countered his way to victory.

Roger Gutierrez (7-1- 1) knocked down Jordan Baletero (2-6) in the first round with a right cross and dominated the fight in winning by unanimous decision in a four round featherweight contest. Gutierrez fights out of Pacoima, Calif.

Ricardo Quiroz (6-0) won by majority decision over New York’s Archie Weah (2-10) after four rounds in a lightweight fight.

Gerardo Alvarez (0-0- 1) and Derion Chapman (1-1- 1) fought to a split draw after four rounds in a super welterweight bout.

Santos Ortega (1-0) only needed one punch in the entire fight to knock out Giancarlos Espinoza (0-1). Espinoza fired a left jab and Ortega countered with a right cross and out went Espinoza. One punch is all Ortega used to win at 20 seconds into the fight. The winner is managed by former world champion Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley.

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