By Jake Donovan
More than 12 hours after Nonito Donaire was able to claim a title after just four rounds of a cut-shortened fight with dethroned featherweight champion Simpiwe Vetyeka, unbeaten Carlos Cuadras claimed his first major belt in similar fashion.
The local knockout artist won a technical unanimous decision over visiting Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, winning a 115 lb. title in their pre-empted main event Saturday evening in Mexico City.
Cuadras built up an early lead, which served him well upon the fight's inconclusive finish. A headbutt left him cut over his eye, forcing the ringside physician to order a medical stoppage in round eight.
Scores were 78-73, 77-74 and 77-75 at the time the bout was stopped.
Fighting on the anniversary of his 6th full year in the pro ranks, Cuadras came out strong early on, fighting with the intent of proving he belongs on the title stage. Sor Rungvisai struggled to keep pace, even as the defending champion and having won 26 straight dating back to his 6th pro fight.
After falling behind in the opening round, Sor Rungvisai decided he would play the role of aggressor in round two. Cuadras mixed boxing and banging, but was forced to ease off the gas a bit as Sor Rungvisai threw every punch with knockout intentions.
Both fighters are known for their power, but it was Cuadras' hand-speed that made the difference in this fight. Realizing that pure power punching wasn't going to get the job done, the local favorite decided to box smart and force the visiting champion to work hard in order to keep up.
The tactic worked well through four rounds, as open scoring had Cuadras ahead by scores of 39-37 on all three scorecards. His lead grew in round five, when Sor Rungvisai was deducted one point for a headbutt.
Realizing his title was slipping out of his grasp, Sor Rungvisai changed gears in a hurry at the midway point. Cuadras picked up on the sudden sense of urgency from his opponent and created distance between the two. As the fight went deeper, Sor Rungvisai knew a knockout was going to be his best chance, but couldn't hurt Cuadras if he couldn't find him.
Struggling to cut off the ring through six rounds, the Thai puncher suddenly found himself first to the punch in round seven. Cuadras was unable to get out of harm's way, as the Mexican was forced to ride out a vicious body attack in what was by far the most clear-cut round for the champion to that point in the fight.
Just as action picked up in round eight, it suddenly came to a crashing halt. The cut over Cuadras' left eye was long and deep, enough so to where the ringside physician ordered the contest to be stopped.
The fans on hand were furious with the early ending, even with the sense that their guy was ahead on the scorecards. The official verdict confirmed that belief, but still left the crowd displeased and shortchanged even if mixed with reactionary celebration for Cuadras, who now at 30-0 (24KO) wins his first major title.
Sor Rungvisai's title reign comes to an end after just over a year's stay atop the 115 lb. division. The 27-year old won his belt with an 8th round stoppage of Yota Sato last May. Saturday's bout was just his second attempted title defense, though his ninth fight since winning the title.
The inconclusive ending to this bout leaves a bitter taste and unfavorable memories of his first pro fight outside of Asia. Unless there are grounds for a protest and an overturning of the official verdict - highly unlikely, for what it's worth - Sor Rungvisai heads to Thailand with his record now at 27-4-1 (25KO). The loss is his first since Feb.' 10, when his career staggered out to a dismal 1-3-1 start. He had won 26 straight, including six straight knockouts heading into Saturday evening.
The bout aired live on Televisa in Mexico.
Top junior flyweight contender Pedro Guevara survived a knockdown and a major scare to edge out journeyman Armando Torres in the evening's chief support.
Guevara is in the running to land a title shot against newly crowned champ Naoya Inoue, who won the 108 lb. title just four days shy of his 21st birthday. He nearly blew it against Torres, a 16-year ring veteran who has long ago seen better days.
As unflattering as an 8-round split decision win appears on his record, it's enough to preserve Guevara's pending title shot, which he hopes to land later this year. The win is his fourth straight as he advances to 22-1-1 (14KO). Torres falls 19-12 (13KO), having now lost his last three contests.
Irma Garcia (10-1-1, 2KO) picked up her third straight win, scoring a 4th round stoppage of Filipina bantamweight prospect Honey Mae Bermoy. The stoppage win marks the first time since 2012 - her 4th sanctioned pro fight - in which Garcia wasn't required to go to the scorecards. Bermoy (6-4, 3KO) has now lost two straight.
Silvia Torres (3-0, 1KO) begins her 2nd year as a pro on the right foot, scoring a four-round unanimous decision over Edith Flores.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox