Lightweights on Parade: Romero Duno at Fantasy Springs and More

When the best fight the best you get a Romero Duno who was put on a small fight show and unexpectedly knocked out the hometown favorite easy peasy.

On another show, Rey Perez toppled the same hometown fighter and he’s now in the semi-main event.

The two Filipinos fighters headline the fight card at Fantasy Springs Casino. It won’t be easy for either but that’s the road they chose.

Duno (16-1, 14 KOs) faces tall Mexican veteran Gilberto Gonzalez (26-4, 22 KOs) on Thursday May 17, at Fantasy Springs Casino. The lightweight bout is scheduled for 10 rounds but don’t expect it to go the distance. ESPN will televise.

Years ago during the Manny Pacquiao era it was a lot easier for Filipino fighters to get on televised fight cards. But now with “Pacman” training in his home country and not at the Wild Card Gym, the opportunities have dried up for other Filipinos.

Duno, 22, arrived last year at the Belasco Theater show and was placed against rising local fighter “Chimpa” Gonzalez. It was expected to be a firefight but soon turned out to be more like England versus Argentina in the Falklands. Duno blasted out Gonzalez in two rounds.

Now, Duno meets another tall, lanky fighter in Gonzalez who fights out of Mexico City and usually that means war.

“We studied the fighter Gilberto Gonzalez,” said Duno on Instagram. “I hope it’s a good fight. My plan is to win by knockout.”

Duno’s only loss was by decision in Russia two years ago. So far, that’s the only defeat endured by the prizefighter from General Santos, Philippines.

Also on the card is Filipino fighter Perez (22-9, 6 KOs), a solid and strong boxer who defeated Chimpa Gonzalez by decision last February at the same venue. He’s paired against Oscar Duarte (13-0-1, 9 KOs) in another 10-round lightweight clash.

Perez, 27, has good boxing skills and can give anyone problems who relies on simply power.

Power is Duarte’s game and the Parral, Mexico native has lately added additional boxing skills to his arsenal. Under the coaching of brothers Joel and Antonio Diaz, the pale Mexican fighter has improved vastly from a clubbing one-dimensional plodder to a more multi-faceted prizefighter capable of moving into better angles.

Lomachenko Effect

The decisive win by Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko over Venezuela’s Jorge Linares last weekend for the WBC lightweight world title in New York City opens up the 135-pound division to elite status now. With many journalists covering boxing naming the new champion as the best pound for pound, whoever challenges him will get full interest from not only boxing writers but old fans and curious sports fans.

Lomachenko sported a more serious pro style against Linares. There was no more of the dancing and prancing as seen in other bouts such as the Miguel Marriaga and Nicholas Walters debacles. Other than maneuvering in and out of range, the speedy southpaw was professional through and through.

Though floored by Linares, the new champion showed resiliency, intelligence and enough power to win in a higher weight division. Now comes the real challenges and with it comes fan interest.

“We’ve known for a while that eastern Europeans are highly trained,” said Top Rank’s Bob Arum. “Lomachenko is very unique. We’ve never seen anybody with his skill set.”

That skill set will help against the bigger and stronger lightweights that roam the division. Lightweights pack stopping power and though Linares wielded serious knockout power, imagine Mikey Garcia or Robert Easter Jr connecting with their power shots.

Fans love challenging fights.

Arum said to expect Lomachenko back later this summer.

“I’m bringing him back twice this year,” said Arum. “I’m bringing him back in defend the lightweight title. Then have him fight this winter in a major fight, probably in December.”

ESPN has an exclusive four-year deal with Top Rank and will televise both Lomachenko fights.

Suddenly the lightweights are back in the spotlight.

Title Fight

Just below the lightweights are the featherweights.

WBC featherweight world titlist Gary Russell Jr. (28-1, 17 KOs) defends against Jojo Diaz (26-0, 14 KOs) in a 12 round affair on Saturday May 19, at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Showtime will televise.

It’s a battle between the supersonics.

Russell, 29, is a very fast southpaw and a former member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team that went to China. He’s also a former Golden Boy Promotions fighter that departed with a number of other fighters back in 2014.

Diaz, 25, is a speedy lefty from South El Monte, Calif. and a former member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team that went to London. He’s currently with Golden Boy Promotions and is one of the rare fighters from that promotion group to face off against an Al Haymon backed fighter.

You never know what will happen when lefty fights lefty. It seldom happens and especially in world title fights. It usually comes down to who adapts quicker.

Russell has speed and hasn’t lost since 2014 when Vasyl Lomachenko handed him his lone defeat. The Maryland-based fighter feels confident.

“I’m glad that people only have to drive 15 minutes to see this massacre,” said Russell.

Diaz was confident too.

“I’ve got all the experience I need come May 19,” said Diaz. “He is the champion. That’s what champions do, fight in their backyards.”

Prior to the fight both had exchanged words but times up now. Don’t miss this matchup on Showtime.

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