LOS ANGELES-No title was at stake but that didn’t stop Ontario’s Celine Roman from challenging IFBA lightweight champion Crystal Morales and winning a close fight by majority decision on Saturday.
Roman (3-1-1) entered the ring with her counter-punching style to meet world champion Morales (8-10-1) in a six-round lightweight fight. She was not surprised at the Oxnard boxer’s constant pressure in front of 1,000 fans at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in the downtown area.
“She was strong,” said Roman, 24, who had previously fought at a lighter weight but opted to fight at a heavier weight to keep her strength.
“She was very aggressive but I made her miss and I put together stronger, cleaner punches,” said Roman. “She was very strong.”
Morales wanted a fight to keep her sharp after winning the IFBA lightweight world title last August in Orange County. After six rounds the Oxnard female boxer known as “La Morenasa” was positive she had won the fight, but two of the judges did not.
“I definitely felt I won four of six rounds,” said Morales, 27.
For all six rounds Morales fired away at Roman’s body and was the busier fighter throughout the fight. But Roman found the mark for pinpoint left hooks and right uppercuts that must have impressed the judges, who ignored the overwhelming punch connects by Morales in favor of the single blows.
Morales kept busy with a relentless body attack especially when pinning Roman on the ropes. But once the fight moved into the center of the ring the taller Roman fired uppercuts and would land at least one flush uppercut or left hook.
In round four Morales was able to rip body shots and caught Roman with a perfect left hook to the head. Both fired big blows with Roman landing some hooks and uppercuts while Morales landed two left hooks to end the round.
Roman rallied in the fifth round with left hooks and more uppercuts. Though neither boxer was hurt by the punches it was the Ontario boxer’s round and set the stage for the crucial sixth and final round.
Both female boxers showed signs of weariness and the steam out of their punches seemed to be apparent. Morales was again the busier fighter as she was through most of the fight but at the end of the final round two judges favored Roman’s more conservative style. The scores were 57-57 and 58-56 twice for Roman.
“It means a lot to beat a champion,” said Roman, who hopes the win leads to a title fight.
Morales was visibly upset by the decision and looks forward to meeting Roman again.
“I landed a lot more punches and pressured her throughout the fight,” said Morales. “I definitely thought I did more. Yes, I want a rematch.”
Heather Gonzalez, manager for Roman, said that the win proved her fighter is capable of fighting at the elite level.
“It’s really difficult for women to be able to show their skills,” said Gonzalez. “Celine worked very hard to upset a world champion.”
Rancho Cucamonga’s Daniel Franco (6-0-2, 3 KOs) won by unanimous decision after six rounds against Alejandro Ochoa (3-7-2) in a lightweight match. Franco’s speed proved the difference in winning by unanimous decision against Bell Garden’s Ochoa.
L.A.’s Ray “Bad Boy” Chacon (5-6) upset Moreno Valley’s Anthony Villarreal (10-5, 5 Kos) after four rounds in a fight between super quick southpaws. Chacon knocked down Villarreal in round two and that proved critical in the decision win.
Neeco Macias (2-0) stopped Robert Duran (0-2) at 2;12 of round one of a junior welterweight bout.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV