By Jake Donovan
Felipe Orucuta came as close as you can possibly come to winning a world title on the road without actually getting the nod in his spirited split decision loss to Omar Narvaez this past May.
His performance on Saturday evening didn't come anywhere close to resembling that fighter. Instead, Orucuta barely did enough to squeak past Javier Gallo in a bout shortened by a headbutt after just five rounds of action in Tijuana, Mexico.
Gallo was the local favorite fighting in his birth city, even more so when adding in the underdog factor. He fought accordingly, jumping out to a strong opening round while Orucuta struggled to get untracked.
Falling behind after two rounds, Orucuta was settled down by his legendary head trainer Nacho Beristain. The talk in between rounds had an immediate effect. Realizing he wasn't winning the battle on the inside, Orucuta kept the fight at long range, where Gallo was considerably outclassed.
The fight appeared to go in Orucuta's direction for good after a dominant fourth round that saw Gallo in serious trouble. However, the super flyweight contender never had a chance to finish the job. A headbutt left Gallo gorged in the fifth round, which worsened after Orucuta treated the wound like a bulls-eye. The blood flowed to the point where the referee and ringside physician had no choice but to stop the contest.
Gallo's brave effort was rewarded on one scorecard, winning 48-47. His courage was to be admired; however, scoring in his favor was to falsely reward him for such a showing. Still, the card was closer to reality than were the far-too-wide tallies in favor of Orucuta, winning by scores of 49-46 and 49-45.
Boxingscene scored the contest 48-46 in favor of Orucuta, who improves to 28-2 (23KO). The ubiquitous Gallo falls to 21-8-1 (12KO), ending a three fight win-streak that covered a span of just six weeks over the summer.
The best way to avoid controversy on the scorecards is to not leave the fight in the hands of the judges. Jose Uzcategui did just that, dominating Jesus Nerio every step of the way before knocking him out early in round six of their scheduled eight round super middleweight affair.
Uzcategui had Nerio hurt on several occasions in sweeping the first five rounds. The local transplant - born in Venezuela but now calls TJ home - landed power shots at will before putting Nerio down and out early in the sixth. A flurry of head shots - which came after five rounds worth of body punches and right hands upstairs - willed Nerio to the canvas, prompting the referee to wave off the contest without a count.
The win advances Uzcateguio to 19-0 (15KO) and qualifies him as worth a second look the next time he's in the ring. Nerio falls to 12-3 (6KO).
Two draw verdicts in as many undercard fights came about, as Sergio Frias offered a disappointing performance versus sub .500 clubfighter Mario Lara (5-10-3, 1KO) in their six-round super flyweight bout. Scores were 58-56 Frias (14-3-2, 7KO) and matching cards of 57-57 for an end result of a majority draw.
Jose Quirino and Angel Ramos fought to a four-round draw in a spirited battle of unbeaten prospects. Quirino (5-0-1, 2KO) appeared to have the upper hand, which was reflected on one card giving him the nod by score of 39-37. Ramos (6-0-1, 3KO) was competitive enough to sway the other two judges to view the bout even at 38-38. None of the scores were out of line, as it was a nip-and-tuck affair for all 12 minutes.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter @JakeNDaBox