By Francisco Salazar
Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, California - Coming back from an eleven month layoff, 38-year-old former multi-division champion Rafael Marquez (41-9, 37KOs) looked very old and took punishment as huge underdog Efrain Esquivias (17-2-1, 10KOs) stopped him in the ninth round.
Marquez started well but Esquivias began to outwork and outfight the veteran during much of the fight. Marquez came back in the seventh, hurting Esquivias bad at the end of the seventh, but then Esquivias hurt him bad in the eight and landed a big shot to drop Marquez hard at the start of the ninth. Marquez beat the count but he was out on his feet and the fight was waved off.Featherweight Ronny Rios won an eight round unanimous decision over veteran Jose Angel Beranza. Rios (22-0, 10 KOs) landed the sharper and effective punches during most of the fight. However, Beranza (36-28-2, 27 KOs) was able to use his craftiness by slipping a hook to the body or head and a counter right as well. However, Rios was busier and the punches that he landed had more effect on them. All three judges scored the bout in favor of Rios, 80-72, 80-72, and a more appropriate 78-74.
Junior featherweight Ryan Caballero (2-0) won a four round Lyonell Kelly. Caballero, who is the younger brother of Randy Caballero, landed the more telling blows over Kelly (0-2). All three judges scored the fight 40-36 in favor of Caballero
Former world title holder Rico Ramos scored a spectacular, one-punch knockout over Carlos Velasquez in the 10th and final round. Ramos (22-3, 12 KOs) was predictable from the beginning of the fight, throwing a jab followed by a right hand. Velasquez was able to beat Ramos to the punch, especially with right hands to the head.
In the fifth round, Velasquez (15-1, 11 KOs) dropped Ramos with a left hook to the head. Ramos was more surprised than hurt from the punch, getting up and finishing the round. Velasquez was getting the better of the exchanges in the second half of the fight. Entering the 10th round, it looked as though Ramos needed to score a knockdown or knockout of Velasquez. Midway through the round, Ramos landed a left hook to the head, dropping Velasquez to the canvas. It was reminiscent of when Ramos knocked Akifumi Shimoda out to win the title a few years ago.
Velasquez was motionless on the canvas, prompting referee Dr. Lou Moret to stop the bout at 1:36. Velasquez was able to get up under his own power a few minutes later.
Lightweight Maurice Lee won a four round unanimous over Juan Carlos Sanchez. The southpaw Lee (3-0, 2 KOs) could not miss with counter right hooks to the head or straight left hands. To his credit, Sanchez (1-2) took the punches and was not visibly hurt during the fight. All three judges scores the bout 40-36 in favor of Lee.
Junior featherweight Joet Gonzalez won a four round unanimous decision over David Reyes. Gonzalez (5-0, 1 KO) mostly worked from the center of the ring, countering to the head when Reyes pressed the action. Reyes (2-5-1) attempted to work the body, but was not quick enough to get his hands up from not getting hit by Gonzalez. All three judges scored the bout in favor of Gonzalez, 40-36, 40-36, and 39-37.
Junior middleweight Justin Deloach stopped Carl Hill in the third round of a scheduled four round bout. Deloach (4-0, 2 KOs) pressed the action during most of the fight, landing more frequently. However, Hill (1-7, 1 KO) would get Deloach's attention at times by landing a counter left hook to the head. In the third round, Deloach hurt Hill with a right hand to the head. Hill almost went down, but was held up against the padding in a corner, prompting referee Jack Reiss to administer an eight-count. Hill tried to battle back when the action resumed, but was hurt again by a barrage of punches from Deloach, prompting Reiss to stop the fight at 2:50.
Junior lightweight Ricky Lopez won a harder-than-expected four round unanimous decision over Pablo Batres. Lopez (10-2, 4 KOs) dropped Batred with an overhand right hand to the head in the first round. Undeterred, Batres (3-8-1) was able to bounce back, at times either outhustling or backing Lopez up. However, Lopez was the better technical fighter, even though he fought in spurts and was able to get the nod on all three judges' scorecards, 38-37, 38-37, and 39-37.