photo by Al Applerose
ONTARIO, CALIF.-Mariana “Barbie” Juarez returned to California and discovered Japan's Shindo Go was not there for vacation, but out scrapped the challenger to win by split decision and retain the WBC flyweight world title on Saturday.
A very small crowd saw Juarez (35-5-3, 16 KOs) return after a seven-year absence and make her seventh and toughest defense against the very quick and strong Go (10-2, 8 KOs) at the Citizens Business Bank Arena. A mixed bag of American and Mexican promoters staged the fight card.
Juarez has steadily built up a reputation as one of female boxing's best fighters pound for pound. With her combination of pure fighting skills and heady ring strategies she usually dominates most opponents by the third round. Not this time.
Japan's Go had quick hands and reflexes and used them to open up the fight in the very first round. She also brought a small but vocal crowd that cheered every time she fired a punch. From the first exchange it was clear that she felt comfortable fighting Juarez and landed some good blows and took some.
The second round saw Juarez use a stiff left jab and double it up. A one-two plus a ramrod left jab seemed to stun the fast approaching Go. It also forced Go to slow down her aggressiveness.
Both fighters opened up the third round as if they were angry. A vicious exchange saw Go fire and connect with solid one-twos and keep Juarez on defense. Round four was also filled with exchanges and skillful maneuvering by both girl boxers. Some of the moves and techniques used were high level stuff and Go was anxious to fire those right hands.
Juarez took control of round five with a steady use of sharp, pinpoint jabs. She maintained a distance and dared Go to attack. It was one of the slowest rounds of the fight so far. In round six Juarez began to mix up her attack with jabs followed by right leads and an occasional left hook. Go took too much time thinking and not fighting. Toward the end of the round she picked up her offense and began strafing right hands that connected and forced a retreat by Juarez.
Go forced her way inside and began to time Juarez's left jab. The tactics changed so Juarez looked for counters in round eight. Though the Mexican Barbie landed some good blows Go's offense picked up and she looked aggressive once again. Juarez began to concentrate on the body and found it open during every attack.
Juarez continued the body attack in round nine and forced Go to exchange. While both connected on top it was Juarez who mixed in solid body blows that scored without fail. Go ran into a left hook to the head but wasn't fazed.
The final round saw Juarez work the body and head but both fought furiously with Go finding some room for her long rights whenever the Mexican fighter backed off a bit. It was a toss up round with many in the crowd not sure who was winning the fight. Go was tough and even the partisan crowd realized the fight was close.
“I wanted to do more inside especially to the body,” said Juarez. “But she was wearing her protector (belt) real high and there wasn't much room to hit. Next time I'm going to make sure that my opponent does come into the fight like that.”
One judge Max De Luca scored it 97-93 for Go. Judges Ray Corona and John Druxman tabbed it 96-95 and 96-94 respectively for Juarez.
“She was very strong,” said Juarez. “But she hit me more with her head than with her hands. Really.”
Juarez thanked the fans for remembering her. She last fought in California in 2005.
Carlos Gonzalez (1-1) got his first pro win by majority decision against fellow Mexican lightweight Pablo Cupol (2-6) after four rounds. Both started out swinging and tired a bit, then Gonzalez seemed to get a second win to pull out the win.
Santa Maria's Marie Suarez (1-0) used combination punching to out hustle San Bernardino's Blanca Raymundo (0-7) in a four round flyweight match up. Raymundo landed some solid right hands but Suarez was busier throughout the four rounds. All four judges scored it 40-36 for Suarez who got her first professional win.
Cassie Trout (1-1) got her first pro win after four rounds against Lupita Gutierrez (1-2) of a bantamweight fight. Trout started strong with a three punch combination that floored Gutierrez in round one. Though the Mexican fighter rallied in the last two rounds it wasn’t enough. All three judges scored it for Trout 39-37, 40-35, 39-36.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV