INDIO, CALIF.-A pair of Philippines versus Mexico lightweight clashes ended in a draw as Filipino lightweight Romero Duno (pictured on the right) won his match and Mexican lightweight Oscar Duarte took his bout on Thursday night.
Both fights ended in surprising decisions.
After Filipino lightweights upset previous undefeated Mexican fighters, Golden Boy Promotions again matched up prospects at Fantasy Springs Casino. Both fights were crackling with energy as about 700 fans expected knockouts on the ESPN televised card.
Duno (17-1, 14 KOs) whacked his way to recognition with an early knockout win a year ago, but found Mexico City lightweight Gilberto Gonzalez a little more defensive conscious and not easy to disassemble. It did not stop him from trying early on.
Gonzalez, a tall lightweight fighter with power too, was careful early on with Duno’s powerful combinations. The Mexican southpaw had some moments but not enough to win any rounds during the first five stanzas. Though switching from southpaw to right, nothing seemed to work as Duno fired combos after combos.
The sixth round was pivotal as Gonzalez took a stand and traded bombs with Duno who was eager to oblige. Both connected with solid shots but though it was the Mexican fighter’s best round, it wasn’t enough as Duno scored with a solid left and right hand at the end of the round.
Gonzalez quickly discovered that Duno had tired from the previous round and began whacking the Filipino with his own long armed shots. Though none were enough to hurt Duno the tide changed finally in the Mexican’s favor as he won a round for the first time.
Duno slowed more in the eighth and allowed Gonzalez to gain the upper hand with solid shots to the body and head. Though the Filipino fighter was never seriously hurt, the blows were effective enough to win the round for the Mexico City fighter. The tide had turned.
The Filipino knockout artist was tired in the ninth but fought smartly in trading with Gonzalez. Though it was another close round Duno had edged out his opponent with a few more connects than Gonzalez.
Few expected the fight to endure a 10th round but here they were exhausted but willing to hear the final bell. Duno had won the ninth round but seemed to have spent most of his energy. Gonzalez was looking for the knockout especially with the left uppercut. Duno was wise to not exchange as the Mexican lightweight tried to goad him into an exchange that would allow him to unleash one solid uppercut. Duno did not take the bait and allowed Gonzalez to win the round, but not the fight.
Two judges scored it 97-93 and the other 98-92 for Duno. Both fighters raised each other’s hand aware that they had given the fans a memorable fight.
“Gonzalez is a very good fighter with a good chin,” said Duno who lives in General Santos, Philippines. “I got him early, but he’s very tough, so he lasted the whole fight.”
Oscar Duarte (14-0-1, 9 KOs) floored dangerous Filipino fighter Rey Perez (22-10, 6 KOs) twice in winning by unanimous decision after 10 rounds in a lightweight fight.
The Mexican native, who is trained by Joel and Antonio Diaz in Indio, proved to his promoters and fans that he’s ready for the next step.
It wasn’t so long ago when a very green and primitive style boxer arrived from Parral, Mexico with little clue on what to do other than throw blows. Defense was an after- thought. But after working with the Diaz brothers Duarte became perhaps the most improved fighter in the ever-growing Golden Boy stable.
Perez, 27, had recently tripped up another undefeated Golden Boy fighter and many expected the stylish boxer to give Duarte problems too. But Duarte had other plans. After a slow deliberate start, it became clear that the muscular Mexican fighter was approaching Perez as his most dangerous opponent to date. It was a wise approach.
“I started cautiously because I needed to find my distance,” said Duarte, 22. “Once I found my distance, I was able to land more shots. I saw that I was hurting him, so I looked for the combination that would drop him, starting from the head and finishing to the body.”
After Perez dictated the pace more or less by boxing and pot-shots, Duarte occasionally unloaded rapid fire combinations with powerful impact. But he was always careful of the return fire. Around the sixth round came the body attack and once the blows landed solidly it opened up the top. Suddenly, Perez was out of options.
Perez had used his slick boxing skills to keep the dangerous punching Duarte from planting his feet. But in the eighth round a combination on top, then to the body, sent the Filipino slumped to the floor. He beat the count and then was mauled by Duarte who looked to end the fight. Another combination punctuated by a short right cross sent Perez down again willingly. He accepted the count and found a way to survive the next onslaught.
It was all Duarte for the next two rounds as he attacked anxiously but a little sloppily. Perez looked for opportunities to catch Duarte running into a punch but wisely the young Mexican fighter did not make that mistake. After 10 rounds two judges scored it 99-89 and the other 98-90 for Duarte.
“I look forward to working on my craft and moving on to bigger and better fights,” Duarte said.
No one has improved as much as Duarte in the past three years.
Las Vegas featherweight Francisco Esparza (8-0-1, 3 KOs) out-hustled Laredo’s Edgar Cantu (7-4-2) over eight rounds to win by unanimous decision. No knockdowns were scored and all three judges saw it 80-72 for Esparza who is trained by former world champion Fernando “El Feroz” Vargas.
In a one-sided light heavyweight fight Jaba Khositashvili (3-0, 2 KOs) fired right after right and connected most of the time in flooring Mexico’s Fabian Valdez (2-3) twice before the fight was stopped in the second round. Referee Jerry Cantu stopped pummeling at 26 seconds of round two.
Fontana’s Raymond Muratalla (1-0) swept all four rounds against France’s Benjamin Da Cunha (0-4) in a lightweight fight. It was Muratalla’s pro debut and he not only brought his speedy counter-punching style but more than 100 fans to the arena. No knockdowns were scored but the California fighter showed excellent defense. All three judges saw it 40-36 for Muratalla.
Photo credit: Tom Hogan / Golden Boy Promotions
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