By Mark Vester
At the Las Vegas Hilton in Las Vegas, Eric Morel (42-2, 21KOs) won a close twelve round split decision over Gerry Penalosa (54-8-2, 36KOs) to grab the WBO's interim-bantamweight title. The scores 115-113 for Morel, 115-113 for Penalosa, and 116-112 for Morel.
Morel was jabbing heavy for most of the first round. Penalosa did not throw much of anything and tried to set his pace. Morel stayed on the move in the second. He was jabbing and moving. Penalosa was on the chase. Morel hit him with a bad low blows that gave Penalosa some time to recover. They started trading in the final ten seconds. The action was closer in the third round with Morel doing the better work.
In the fourth round Penalosa's face was started to swell up and he was being outboxed. During the fifth, both of them were trading a lot of leather. Penalosa was standing his ground and throwing some big shots with both hands. A clash of heads during the sixth round opened up a cut above the right eye of Penalosa. A few moments later there was another clash of heads and another cut opened up above the left eye of Penalosa. Blood was flowing from both eyes and Penalosa's face was a mess.
In the seventh and eight rounds, the action was a bit closer with Penalosa having his moments in certain spots. Morel was not closing out the rounds well. He was controlling a good portion of the action. In the ninth round, Penalosa was landing the much harder punches with Morel trying to stay on the move with his boxing. Penalosa continued to press the action in the tenth. He was landing some very good shots. Morel tried his best to stay away and seemed to be very paranoid about getting hit. In the eleventh, Penalosa was still pressing, throwing big punches and pushing Morel back. Morel just seemed to lose control of this fight in the last few rounds and his corner was very upset.
Morel tried to make it more of a fight in the twelfth and final round. Morel started off well. It didn't take long for Penalosa to take over the action with his style and power punches.