LAS VEGAS-In a nip and tuck battle, Puerto Rico’s Ada Velez (20-3-3, 6 KOs) made adjustments from their first encounter to win by majority decision over hometown Las Vegas fighter Melinda “La Maravilla” Cooper (21-2, 11 KOs) at Texas Station on Sunday.
Cooper could not avenge her loss last March to Velez in a fight that looked lopsided in the Las Vegas girl’s favor. This fight was close.
Combinations by Cooper landed early and Velez landed some good single right hands in round one with neither fighter needing to get warm. It was a very busy first round as it looked like Cooper was going for the knockout early.
Even exchanges took place in round two as Cooper looked to be landing the big shots and Velez was countering with her own. Both landed big blows with neither backing up. Left hooks by Cooper were followed by left hands from Velez.
Stiff right hands by Cooper landed in round three. Velez fought off the blows and for the next several rounds the fight was taken inside as both fighters seemed to collide heads several times. Holding and hitting by Velez was not stopped by the referee so she continued.
A solid right uppercut during a clinch at the bell was the best punch landed by Velez who used the holding and hitting tactic for several rounds until she seemed to tire in round seven. Cooper began to follow the Puerto Rican fighter who looked like she needed a breather and landed several single shot right hands.
Back and forth each fighter banged with Cooper able to slip more punches down the last three round stretch, but Velez battled during each exchange. At the end of round nine Velez returned to her corner with a look of serious pain.
The final round saw Velez land a stiff left cross with Cooper moving inside and landing multiple punches. Both fired with Cooper landed several lead right hands and then Velez returned fire inside. It was Cooper’s round but the fight was never clear-cut.
One judge scored it 95-95, the other two 98-92 and 97-93 for Velez. It was a much closer fight than the two scores indicated but Velez was the winner.
Dominican Republic’s Dahiana Santana (28-6, 12 KOs) grabbed the IBF featherweight title by unanimous decision over Stacey Reile (10-4, 4 KOs) who held it, but was upended in the rematch.
A Santana right hand dropped Reile in round two and a point deduction from an intentional head butt gave the Dominican a five-point edge by the third round. From there on it was just a matter of staying on her feet and she did.
Reile’s conditioning and strength kept her in the fight as she continued forward and Santana began tiring after round seven. Both exchanged evenly with the challenger firing more blows as Reile kept her guard high.
In round nine both clashed heads and tangled each other up. During one clinch Reile stopped to yell, “She bit me.” The fight resumed. All three judges scored it for Santana 97-90, 98-90, 97-91. Last March, Reile beat Santana in Costa Rica and in this fight Santana jumped out fast and it proved fruitful.
Panama’s Azael Corio (12-1-2, 9 KOs) needed time to figure out New Jersey’s Michael Torres (14-3, 7 KOs). A left hook dropped Torres in the third round and a well-timed right cross knocked him out at 43 seconds of round five of a welterweight match.
Despite giving up several inches in height Tatina Anderson (5-1-1, 4 KOs) rolled through New Mexico’s Victoria Cisneros (5-13-2) in a junior welterweight bout set for four rounds. Anderson connected several times in the third round and let loose with a barrage of blows until referee Robert Byrd halted the match at 1:02 of the round.
Colombia’s Alexander Brand (15-0, 13 KOs) won by unanimous decision over Texas’s Terrance Woods (9-3, 6 KOs) after six rounds of a super middleweight bout. Brand’s tricky movements confused Woods who was bloodied midway through the fight. Scores were 60-54 and 59-55 twice.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV