By Scott Kraus
Tucson, Arizona - In the Box Azteca main event, Jesus Soto Karass snapped a five-fight winless streak by defeating Said El Harrak in an entertaining action fight.
Both boxers fought valiantly but Soto Karass earned the split decision win based on his aggression and superior punch output.
Coming off a fifth-round, cut-induced TKO loss to Gabriel Rosado and having not won a fight since August of 2009, Soto Karass needed to turn in a strong performance to maintain his status as a television fighter.
He did just that by outhustling El Harrak with unflinching pressure in a grueling fight. El Harrak was able to effectively target stiff counterpunches to Soto Karass’ onrushing head but did not land enough to earn the nod in the eyes of the judges.
With the close win, Soto Karass improved to 25-7-3 with 15 KOs and maintains his reputation as a tough fighter who makes crowd-pleasing fights. El Harrak fell to 10-2-1 with 5 KOs despite his game effort.
The first round was fought on fairly even terms, with El Harrak controlling the early action with cleaner, sharper punches, though Soto Karass turned the tide in the final minute of the round when he pushed El Harrak to the ropes and landed his own share of shots.
Soto Karass continued to press the action in the second, controlling the majority of the action in the round. El Harrak landed a several clean, sharp punches in the final minute but Soto Karass was more effective for the majority of the frame.
El Harrak picked up his pace to start the third round and snapped hard straight rights and uppercuts that Soto Karass could not avoid. Soto Karass was forced to lunge and miss often in the round, as El Harrak boxed effectively and kept the hard-charging Soto Karass at bay.
The fighters exchanged winging punches in the opening minute of the fourth, each landing his share of effective shots. El Harrak was the sharper puncher and landed a higher percentage, while Soto Karass was relentless with his aggression. The round ended with the fighters exchanging vicious shots against the ropes in an entertaining action sequence that encapsulated the tossup nature of the round.
Soto Karass brought more aggression in the sixth, landing wide hooks to El Harrak’s body and head in the first half of the round. Once again, the fighters engaged in a wild exchange to punctuate the round, reinforcing Soto Karass’ reputation as a reliable action fighter.
The action slowed momentarily to start the sixth, as Soto Karass stalked and El Harrak danced more than either punched. The action picked up in the final minute with the round up for grabs and both fighters made a case for themselves with purposeful punches.
The aggression of Soto Karass returned to start the seventh as he pushed El Harrak back with hooks in the opening minute. El Harrak momentarily gained position against the ropes but was unable to take full advantage; Soto Karass managed to withstand the momentary surge and finish the round as the more effective puncher.
Midway through the eighth round, Soto Karass landed a multiple punch combination that left El Harrak reeling. El Harrak managed to regain his composure but he was unable to turn the tide in his favor as the fight began to slip from his grasp.
The ninth round featured more entertaining exchanges in which both fighters did damage. El Harrak had one of his better rounds of the fight, landing stinging shots that rattled Soto Karass, though he at his share of punches as well.
Soto Karass showed no signs of slowing down in the tenth despite bringing constant pressure throughout the fight. He withstood more sharp punches from El Harrak and responded with thudding combinations of his own. The fighters exchanged punches through the bell as Soto Karass raised his hands in anticipation of his victory.
The two judges who scored for Soto Karass scored the bout 97-93 and 96-94. The dissenting judge scored the bout 97-93 for El Harrak.
BoxingScene.com scored the bout 96-94 for Soto Karass.
In a four-round lightweight bout on the Box Azteca undercard, Erick Flores won his second fight in as many professional attempts as he easily outboxed Rudy Gamez.
There was simply nothing Gamez could do to deter the attack of Flores, who was sharper and more precise from the outside and more accurate and active inside. Flores won every round on all four judges’ scorecards and improved his record to 2-0, 1 KO.
Gamez fell to 1-2.
Flores was the aggressor in the first, pushing Gamez to the ropes and landing hard right hands. He continued his command in the second, outpunching and outlanding his overmatched opponent.
In the third round, Flores focused his attack on the body, landing several thudding shots. Gamez fought back with a flurry in the corner to briefly turn the tide, but Flores quickly regained control to take the round.
With blood flowing from his open mouth, Gamez gave a game effort in the fourth round, catching Flores’ attention with a right hand. The round ultimately followed the pattern of the preceding, however, as Flores strafed Gamez repeatedly with stinging shots up until the final bell.
BoxingScene.com scored the bout 40-36 for Flores.
In the opening bout of the Box Azteca broadcast from Tucson, Arizona, heralded welterweight prospect Jose Benavidez controlled every minute of his fight against Josh Sosa, winning all but one round on the scorecards to earn a unanimous decision.
Benavidez fought a measured, controlled fight, picking off Sosa from the outside with his long jabs and right hands and countering when his opponent rushed in. Sosa had no answer for Benavidez, showing heart in surviving but little ability to trouble the young, upcoming fighter.
The best action from Benavidez came in the third round. After controlling the fight from the outside and bloodying Sosa’s nose with the jab in the first two rounds, Benavidez unleashed a series of combinations that left Sosa defenseless and reeling in the third. He then shifted gears and enticed Sosa to punch, only to rattle the overmatched fighter with counters.
Benavidez opened up his attack once again in the sixth and final round, landing several right hands that snapped Sosa’s head back. Although he appeared to have an opportunity to press for the knockout, he seemed content with rolling to a decision win.
With the win, Benavidez improved to 15-0 with 12 KO. Sosa fell to 10-3 with 5 KO.
BoxingScene.com scored the bout 60-54 for Benavidez.