By Ryan Maquiñana
WOODLAND, CALIF. – Vicente "Chente" Escobedo continued to re-invent himself as a junior lightweight contender Saturday night with a 10-round unanimous decision over Juan Ruiz on TeleFutura’s Solo Boxeo.
“My plan is to go forward,” Escobedo (26-3, 15 KOs) told BoxingScene.com. “Whoever’s in the way, whether it’s Broner, or anyone else, it doesn’t matter. I want to get my title, and I want to stay at this weight class. I’m ready.”
A large walk-up crowd filled the Woodland Community Center to watch Woodland native Escobedo as the sweet sounds of Frank Sinatra permeated the Northern California air from the D.J.’s booth throughout the night.
However, one would probably classify Escobedo’s performance as workmanlike rather than virtuoso; Ruiz (23-10, 7 KOs), from Santa Clarita, Calif., employed a head-first style and iron chin that made it difficult for the hometown hero to replicate his first-round knockout of Lonnie Smith in the same venue two months ago.
Instead, Escobedo found himself constantly trying to turn his stubborn opponent or catch him coming in, two things difficult to do against a foe that continued his streak of never having been stopped. As visual proof, Escobedo showed off a pair of inflamed hands following the fight in the dressing room.
“It was a tough fight,” he said. “We knew Juan was not a soft opponent. He was tough, awkward. We were worried about his head. I hit him with some shots, and he definitely could take some shots.”
A pair of 100-90 scores overruled a 99-91 tally. BoxingScene.com saw it 99-91 for Escobedo as well.
Now Escobedo looks forward to a world title shot against WBO 130-pound boss Adrien Broner in Cincinnati on July 21.
“Yeah, it doesn’t matter to me,” Escobedo said when asked if he would indeed be amenable to a July 21 fight. “I talked about it with my manager. We can make it happen.”
VICENTE ESCOBEDO UD10 JUAN RUIZ
Ruiz, 129, was riding a four-bout losing streak, but he showed almost immediately that he was far from shot. Right away, he tried to get inside, working the body and hurling some quick, wide hooks. But Escobedo caught most of the volleys with his gloves and stuck his left jab. Ruiz scored with an overhand right and worked Escobedo on the ropes, but that advantage was brief, as Escobedo landed a right uppercut as he rested on the ropes. If there were one round to give to Ruiz, it would probably be this one.
Escobedo landed a one-two to open the second, then followed it up with a left hook and three-punch combination on the inside. Ruiz wildly swung and hit him with a wide right hand, but with his head down, he became a target for a backpedaling Escobedo, who tagged him with a left hook and a couple right hands. Ruiz swung for the fences but again found Escobedo’s gloves. Escobedo then tagged Ruiz with a flurry to close the frame.
The third began with Ruiz stalking on Escobedo on the ropes. However, Escobedo pivoted his way out of trouble and hit him with the right hand. Escobedo landed a screaming right in the middle of the ring, which was easily the biggest punch in the fight so far. Ruiz shrugged it off and continued to dig his head into Escobedo’s midsection, even landing a left hook inside. But Escobedo’s scoring shots were clear and he took the round.
Ruiz’ plan was evident; he wanted to cut off the ring from Escobedo and give him no room to operate by smothering his offense. But Escobedo used Ruiz’ bullish advances to his advantage, landing several shots as he backed up with his head up. Ruiz, almost leaning on Escobedo, looked for an opening as he led with his curly mane once more. The two traded left hooks; both landed, but Escobedo followed his with another scoring combination before the bell.
Ruiz began to either slow down in the fourth or Escobedo had begun to get his timing down, as he stepped around his foe and hit with him everything, from left hooks to right uppercuts. Ruiz threw a solid right hook that found the mark but did not hurt Escobedo. Ruiz now doubled up the jab and threw a right to the ribcage of the hometown fighter. Still, it was not enough to win the round for Ruiz, who was making it apparent that Escobedo was not going to have the easy night several expected.
Escobedo started the fifth with a left hook and right hand that caused Ruiz to nod his head in acknowledgement. Ruiz’ hands were down in the center of the ring, and Escobedo used angles to hit him. Escobedo now backed up with his own hands down and Ruiz landed a lunging left hook. Seconds later, two shots from Escobedo downstairs followed by a chopping right hand stopped Ruiz in his tracks. Whether Ruiz was hurt is up for debate, because he continued to plod forward until the stanza was over.
It was clear that Ruiz was in excellent shape, as he commenced the sixth the same way he did the previous five rounds—with concentrated pressure. But the familiar trend of Escobedo landing the cleaner, more impactful shots proceeded to occur. Ruiz finally hit the canvas at the end of the round during one of these exchanges, but referee Dan Stell rightfully ruled it a slip since the fall did not come from a punch.
Escobedo finally got some distance to operate in the seventh round and made the most of it, landing three and four-punch combinations. Still, Ruiz had his moments. In one instance, he snuck in a looping right as Escobedo drew back.
However, Escobedo won that stanza and the eighth as well, as he was able to get Ruiz on the ropes and played hunter for once, hitting the Santa Clarita resident upstairs with the right cross. But overall, Ruiz would not refrain from digging his noggin into Escobedo’s chest and prevented “Chente” from showing off his skills to full effect.
The pace slowed down in the ninth, and Ruiz backed off Escobedo. Giving the hometown fighter space was to his detriment, as Escobedo teed off with a three-punch combination that ended with a clean left hook.
The tenth and final round brought the fans more of the same. At this point, one had to wonder if Escobedo was just trying to avoid a cut that would shelve him for an Adrien Broner fight in the late summer. But to his credit, Escobedo went after his foe in the last half of the round, unleashing a series of flurries to close the clash strong.
OSCAR GODOY TKO2 JAIME DEL CID
After unbeaten junior middleweight prospect Alfonso Blanco abruptly pulled out of the card, Golden Boy brought in Oscar Godoy, 152, of Watsonville, Calif., and Jaime Del Cid, 156, of Sonora, Mex., as last-minute replacements.
Del Cid, who looked like he had seen better days, came to Woodland by himself. Salinas-based trainer Max Garcia and Bay Area cutman Phil Mondello volunteered to help him in the corner mere hours before the fight, but unfortunately for the traveling man, there would be no Cinderella conclusion.
The fight began as Del Cid’s wide stance left him vulnerable to a much more mobile Godoy, who tapped the Mexican off-balance with a left jab. However, Godoy was too tentative and was content to cruise through the round.
The second was a different story, as Del Cid actually tapped his gloves together defiantly after taking a one-two from Godoy and tried to make it a fight. Godoy then went to the body, landing a jab and a couple of hooks to the ribcage. Del Cid leaned away from his foe and pawed a left jab out there, but Godoy then teed off with a left uppercut and right hand. However, Godoy did not commit to his punches, surprising because Del Cid was not punching back by the end of the round.
Perhaps he knew a retirement was inevitable, as Del Cid’s makeshift corner threw in the towel before the bell rang to signal the third.
“I saw the guy didn’t have anything,” Godoy said. “In my last fight, I jumped straight to eight rounds, and it didn’t go so well, so this time, I was trying to get myself more rounds. They said maybe I’ll be back on June 7th in Tijuana, so I’ll go back to the gym and keep getting better. I’m trying to go back down to 147 and fight there.”
Godoy jumped to 5-2 with 3 KOs, while Del Cid descended to 8-7 with 3 KOs.
MORIS RODRIGUEZ KO2 BRET DE LA TORRE
Moris Rodriguez, 140, who hailed from upstate Chico, Calif., knocked out Bret De La Torre, 141, of nearby Vacaville, Calif., in highlight-reel fashion, resulting in some scary moments afterward.
After the two traded jabs to start the bout, Rodriguez landed a straight right to the body and replicated the act moments later. De La Torre got his left jab through the guard in a very tactical first round where neither fighter distinguished himself.
That would all change in round two, as Rodriguez landed a right hand over the top following a one-two from De La Torre. Rodriguez then began his assault, starting with another overhand right. After missing with a lead left hook, he backed De La Torre into the ropes and buckled his opponent with a crushing right hand. With De La Torre crouching as he lay on the ropes, another flurry from Rodriguez finally put him down.
While De La Torre beat the count, Rodriguez looked to end it, swinging with another right upstairs. De La Torre looked to grab, but Rodriguez would not relent, and the Vacaville native would fall again after a right hook to the body. Referee Dan Stell asked De La Torre if he was able to continue. De La Torre gave an affirmative answer but his unsteady legs were indicative of what was to come. The ultimate blow from Rodriguez was a right hand that had De La Torre out before he crashed onto the canvas. He was down on the ground for a while but was able to leave the ring after receiving medical attention.
“When I got him on the ropes, I hurt him, and I could just see when I hit him with the right hand, he would go down,” Rodriguez said, who then talked about the knockout blow. “I knew if I got him with the right hand again—I was waiting on a good right hand—and then it was done.”
Official time was 2:12. Rodriguez rose to 3-0-1 with 2 KOs, while De La Torre incurred his first loss, dropping to 2-1.
ULISES SORIANO MAJ. DRAW 4 GABRIEL PINEDA
Coming off two Northern California Fight of the Year candidates, Ulises Soriano of Richmond, Calif., 134, is developing quite a name for himself as one of the most exciting fighters in the region after a scintillating four-round majority draw with Gabriel Pineda of Hillsboro, Ore., 136.
Right away, both men mixed it up in the center of the ring. Pineda landed a strong left jab and straight right but Soriano’s body work on the inside scored as well. Pineda would then find a home for his left hook both to the body and head, but Soriano roared back and clipped Pineda with a right hand over the top. Both fighters had their moments in an entertaining, close round that could have gone either way.
Both fighters picked up where they left off in the second. The taller Soriano lunged forward with lead left hooks while Pineda parried his shots and popped his jab and right cross. Soriano scored with a four-punch combination upstairs and Pineda landed a couple of counters in another narrow frame fought at a frenetic pace.
In the third, the fight in the phone booth continued. Pineda threw hooks and uppercuts with both hands and Soriano did the same. Pineda hit Soriano with a short three-punch combination and another short left hand. Soriano then retaliated with a one-two and a right uppercut. The pair of punching machines traded no less than 20 shots in the last 10 seconds to conclude an exciting third round.
The two men touched gloves to start the fourth, and they did not waste any time engaging in warfare one final time. The combatants traded turns landing big shots. Pineda hammered Soriano with a left hook to the jaw and Soriano returned the favor with short punches inside. With the bout coming to an end, it was clear that both fighters were in outstanding shape and unwilling to give an inch. Soriano thumped a one-two, while Pineda lanced a digging left to the body and right uppercut. By then, the raucous crowd stood in appreciation as Soriano and Pineda traded at will during the last ten seconds. The two men embraced in mutual admiration.
A pair of 38-38 cards overruled a 39-37 tally for Soriano. BoxingScene.com saw it even.
Soriano (2-0-1) and Pineda (1-0-1, 1 KO) had differing accounts of the fight.
“It is what it is,” Soriano said. “I think I could have done better. It’s the first time when I brought about 60 people, so I was a little nervous. I think I rocked him a couple times. He’s a warrior. In my previous fights, they always seem to have a weight advantage or age advantage, but I don’t let it bring me down. If we do a rematch with him, then cool. If not, I’ll be back in the gym to keep on working.”
“I’m a little disappointed, but I can’t put myself in the judges’ spot. I thought it was a little unfair,” Pineda said. “They’re from California and I’m from Oregon, but in the end, it doesn’t matter. I should have taken care of it. I gave him one round, but I thought I won. I showed my speed in there, and they usually don’t see that because I’m a big guy.”
DENIS MADRIZ TKO4 LUIS VILLAGOMEZ
In the opening bout of the evening, San Francisco, California-based Denis Madriz, 125, earned his first pro win by stopping debutant Luis Villagomez, 128, on cuts after three competitive rounds.
Moments into the fight, a lead left hook from Madriz floored Villagomez, who made the trip north from Fresno, Calif. Villagomez would stand up and recover on shaky ground. Madriz, who had a height and reach advantage, tried to pounce on his wobbled foe, but Villagomez weathered the storm and threw some leather of his own in the rest of the first-round exchanges, landing a left hook off a left jab.
In the second, Villagomez went to work, landing some shots through Madriz’ guard, especially a left hook and a short, chopping right hand. Madriz went to his left jab and tried to turn it into a boxing match, but Villagomez made it a brawl, even garnering chuckles from the crowd for landing a jumping left jab in order to reach his taller opponent.
Madriz opened the third by sticking his jab to keep Villagomez at bay. Villagomez lunged forward with wide combinations. Madriz capitalized on Villagomez’ tendency to lean forward by clocking him with a clean right uppercut on the inside. Undeterred, Villagomez pressed on, with a variety of shots, especially an overhand right. The slugfest was on. Not to be outdone, Madriz came back with his own firepower, and a counter left hook was his weapon of choice. Villagomez then got Madriz on the ropes, scoring with several looping rights to the head and left hooks to the body. Madriz landed another right uppercut. The two continued to trade until the bell.
With the fight even or close to it heading into the fourth, the ring physician examined a cut over Villagomez’ right eyebrow. The doctor deemed the Fresno fighter unable to continue, and unfortunately, amid a shower of boos that were no fault of Madriz’, the San Francisco native earned his first professional victory.
“It was a war. He gave me a battle,” Madriz said. “This is a learning experience. I’m going back to the gym and work on a couple things. It was a right hand [that caused Villagomez’ cut]. I was able to catch him with it, and I was able to come through. It feels good to get that first win.”
“It was a headbutt. I felt it in the last 10 seconds of the round,” Villagomez said. “He landed that shot in the first round and I went down, but I wasn’t hurt. I want a rematch. The cameras are going to see it was a headbutt and not a punch, and I’ll get my rematch.”
Madriz moved to 1-0-1, while Villagomez dropped his debut to fall to 0-1.
Ryan Maquiñana writes a weekly boxing column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and on the Ratings Advisory Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at [email protected] , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28