by Cliff Rold
One day after missing weight on three attempts, the last a narrow miss of 2/10 of a pound, now former 22-year old IBF 115 lb. titlist Juan Carlos Sanchez (16-1-1, 8 KO) of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, soundly outboxed 28-year old Roberto Sosa (24-1, 14 KO) of Buenos Aires, Argentina, including a knockdown in the final round to earn a unanimous decision win on Saturday night at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Sanchez weighed in officially at 115.2 lbs. while Sosa came in at 114 ½. Sosa could have won the vacant title. Sanchez’s only defeat came in 2011 in an eight round affair against current unified Flyweight titlist Juan Francisco Estrada.
The taller, longer limbed Sanchez began the fight trying to establish his southpaw right jab. Sosa, taking his time to warm to the task, looked to the body. Late in the opening frame, he dug in to the body and then found a short shot upstairs for a closing statement.
The next two rounds saw a steady flow of intense action. Sosa, applying pressure, looked for the left hook over the jab of Sanchez while remembering to dig to the body. Sanchez went to the body to even greater affect in round four, digging a right uppercut to the ribs and a shot upstairs before clearing rocking Sosa near the ropes. Sosa took some nasty shots to the head and body but would not fall, digging deep to force himself forward by the end of the round winging big shots.
Sanchez rocked Sosa again in the fifth, a left hand sending Sosa back on his heels at mid-ring. The story of the fight through six, no matter the game efforts of Sosa in spots, remained the length of Sanchez at range and his ability to endure abuse on the ropes and land uppercuts to get off. Into the seventh, Sosa looked to be having a better round but the counters of Sanchez and his left to the body had Sosa favoring his right side over the second half of the round. Sanchez maintained control in round eight.
Sosa, perhaps growing desperate, received a warning in round nine for holding Sanchez behind the head and banging hard to the body. Sanchez didn’t seem too troubled by it, calmly returning to outboxing the shorter man.
After a tenth round where he, again, just couldn’t stay close long enough to turn the tide, Sosa seemingly willed himself to steal the eleventh round down the stretch. Driving Sanchez to the ropes, he did some of his best work since the early rounds as he did his best to try and score what looked like a necessary miracle to take the belt on the line.
The miracle wouldn’t come and Sosa saw his scoring hole grow deeper instead. Sanchez scored a knockdown late in the round and, while he wasn’t hurt, he clearly wasn’t winning either. With seconds to go, referee Robert Byrd errantly stepped between the fighters as Sosa tried for one last bomb. Angered by the referee, Sosa shoved Byrd after the bell and Byrd laughed it off, seemingly recognizing his mistake.
It didn’t matter. Sanchez got runaway scores at 116-111 and 117-110 twice. Whether he returns at 115, or moves up to 118, remains to be seen.
The contest was televised in the U.S. on UniMas as part of its “Solo Boxeo” series, promoted by Top Rank.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at email@example.comTags: Juan Carlos Sanchez