By Cliff Rold
Madison Square Garden, New York City - 27-year old Featherweight Salvador Sanchez III (30-5-3, 18 KO), 125 ¼, of Tianguistenco, Mexico, entered the ring in the red velvet trunks his late Hall of Fame uncle Salvador Sanchez wore for what would be his final fight against Azumah Nelson at Madison Square Garden on July 21, 1982. Sanchez came from behind to stop Nelson in the final round that night.
His nephew wasn’t as lucky two decades later. 24-year old Jayson Velez (20-0, 15 KO), 125 ¾, of Juncos, Puerto Rico, was too good for that on the night, scoring two knockdowns on the way to a stoppage in three rounds.
After a measured first round, Velez began to unleash the heavy artillery in round two. A right and left landed flush to put Sanchez on the defensive. Pursuing with accurate power shots, Velez continued to dole out the punishment as Sanchez did his best to stay away. Inside the final ten seconds, a left cracked Sanchez and had him looking to hold. Taking a step back for room, Velez landed a booming right hand, Sanchez lurching forward on all fours. Sanchez beat the count of referee Harvey Dock and headed to his corner on rubber legs.
The third picked up where the second let up. A right uppercut had Sanchez on all fours again. Again, he rose and Dock let the fight go on. Velez trapped Sanchez on the ropes and landed a right hand to send sweat spraying well into press row. Seconds later, another right had Sanchez reeling and Dock had seen enough, waving the fight off at :38 seconds of round three. The crowd roared as Velez collapsed to the floor in joy.
Velez entered the bout rated #10 by the WBC and, with the win, captures a WBC silver belt to pull into heavy contention for a crack at WBC titlist Daniel Ponce De Leon (44-4, 35 KO). Speaking in the post-fight interview, Velez stated, “I feel so happy. This is unbelievable…I have no words.”
Velez, to the delight of the crowd, dedicated the win to Puerto Rican great Wilfredo Gomez, who lost to the senior Sanchez in a major Featherweight title fight in 1981. Speaking about a showdown with Mexico’s De Leon, Velez said, “I want the fight. I think he wants the fight too. Mexico and Puerto Rico is always a war.”
In the televised opener, the inspiring comeback story of cancer survivor Danny Jacobs continued.
The 25-year old Middleweight Jacobs (24-1, 21 KO), 161 ¼, of Brooklyn, New York, gave a workmanlike performance, breaking down a brave but outmatched 25-year old Chris Fitzpatrick (15-3, 6 KO), 163 ¼, of Cleveland, Ohio, and forcing a corner retirement after the fifth round.
Jacobs came out in an aggressive posture behind a southpaw right jab, Fitzpatrick trying to establish his jab and working in a left hook. Both men landed single, hard body shots as the round unfolded, Jacob chose to box steady and let Fitzpatrick try to force the fight. It was much the same in the second, the boo birds unleashed in the crowd as the paying masses waited for someone to genuinely engage.
A clash of heads in round three brought a crimson stain to the hairline of Fitzpatrick. The sight of blood seemed to wake Jacobs up as he let his hands go more, briefly trapping the tough “Irish Ghost” on the ropes twice with hammering blows. Fitzpatrick covered well and never really looked hurt.
Another sustained assault along the ropes wouldn’t come until late in the fifth. Referee Steve Willis kept close watch as Jacobs went to work but, again Fitzpatrick covered fairly well. A left hook to the body seemed close to bowling him over but he sucked it up and stayed on his feet. Once back on the safety of his stool, Fitzpatrick’s corner kept him from getting back on them, notifying Willis their man would not go on.
Interviewed following the bout, Jacobs acknowledged the boos of the crowd but stated he was satisfied with his performance and that he looked forward to getting more rounds in his comeback. A statement of respect for the recently deceased Hector “Macho” Camacho had him back in the Garden’s good graces.