By Ryan Maquiñana
Sacramento fight fans reacquainted themselves with an old friend as the Memorial Auditorium played host to welterweight sensation Yoshihiro Kamegai’s American television debut, a majority draw with Jorge Silva.
In a compelling brawl, Kamegai (21-0-1, 18 KOs) made good on his reputation as an action fighter, continuously exchanging onslaughts with Silva (18-2-2, 14 KOs), who gave an equally thrilling performance in a very close bout that could have tipped in either direction.
Kermit Bayless and Bruce Rasmussen scored the bout 95-95, while Steve Morrow had it 96-94 for Kamegai.
“The scoring is done by the judges,” Kamegai said. “To me, I just had to do more to get better scores. I would like to go back and start from scratch, watch the video, and decide from there [if I want a rematch].”
Silva was more adamant about garnering a return bout.
“I thought I won the fight. It was well-fought,” Silva said. “Definitely, I would want a rematch. Either that or something better.”
In the co-feature, former titleholder Jorge Linares (32-3, 20 KOs) broke a two-bout losing streak with a bruising unanimous decision over faded but rugged veteran Hector Velazquez (52-18-3, 35 KOs) in the second half of a twinbill that was televised by Fox Sports.
In his first fight back with trainer Sendai Tanaka after parting ways with Freddie Roach, Linares captured a classic battle of boxer versus brawler by using his movement and pinpoint punching to outwork his foe over 10 rounds.
Kermit Bayless scored the bout 100-89, Steve Morrow 98-91, and Bruce Rasmussen 97-91 for Linares, who returned to the win column and is looking to fight again in December before pursuing a title fight in 2013.
“I’m really happy and it was a good win for me,” Linares said. “I was happy to come out with the victory. Out of a scale from one to 100, I give myself an 80.”
Several local legends were in attendance, including three-time world champion Tony “The Tiger” Lopez, his brother Sal Lopez, former 140-pound titlist Loreto Garza, and state champion Richard “Mr. KO” Savala, who all fought under the auspices of promoter Don Chargin. The Hall of Famer held the event in association with Golden Boy, Paco Presents, and Jorge Marron.
YOSHIHIRO KAMEGAI MAJ. DRAW 10 JORGE SILVA
Tokyo resident Kamegai, 147, was taken the distance and ended up with a majority draw against Silva, 147.6, of Tijuana, Mexico.
Silva started the fight with three shots inside, including an uppercut that temporarily rearranged Kamegai’s floppy hairstyle. Kamegai would right the ship with a straight right, but Silva continued his assault, scoring with uppercuts and left hooks that caught the Japanese fighter flat-footed. Silva clearly took the first frame and displayed his confidence throughout, smiling as he darted in and out of trouble.
The second commenced with another barrage from Silva, as he winged shots, namely an overhand right. Kamegai responded with a high guard and threw the left hook to the body in hopes of slowing down his foe. But Silva buzzed Kamegai with a hard right that caused the Japanese fighter to twist his waist. Kamegai then backed Silva into the corner, tapping his left jab and trying to explode through an open door. But Silva covered up and gave him nothing to punch, seemingly taking his second straight round.
The orthodox Silva jumped off his stool and started the third by throwing the jab downstairs. Kamegai tried to walk his opponent down, but soon found himself fending off more shots in the pocket from the more active Silva. Gradually, Kamegai came on, slugging away to the body with the left hook and then reaching back before clocking Silva with a right hand that might have won him the stanza.
In the fourth, both men exchanged power shots with success. Silva caught Kamegai coming in with a right hand, and Kamegai cracked a left uppercut when Silva squared up. A second uppercut, this time from the Japanese fighter’s right hand, followed by two left hooks, might have marked a change in momentum in the bout. Silva leapt in and landed two shots upstairs, but his activity had seem to drop ever-so-slightly as Kamegai appeared to have evened the fight at two rounds apiece.
Silva hoped to revert to form in the fifth, but instead of using his movement to confound Kamegai, he was lured into a trading leather—a style of warfare Kamegai seemed comfortable doing. Kamegai backed out of a clinch and smashed Silva with a right hand. He followed it up with a three-punch flurry on Silva, but the Mexican extended his arms to his sides to taunt him. Nonetheless, despite Silva’s wry demeanor, he was outworked.
In the sixth, referee Marcos Rosales warned. After he broke them up again seconds later, Kamegai caught Silva at the end of a long right hand. Silva landed a left hook to the beltline. Suddenly, with just seconds left in the stanza, a short right hand from Silva hit Kamegai leaning in, and the Japanese fighter was clearly hurt. Holding on for dear life, Kamegai made it to the bell.
With the momentum leaning Silva’s way, he took the initiative and pressed forward in the seventh, hurling left hooks to the body and right hands upstairs. But Kamegai seemed to get his feet under him and pumped his left jab, putting a solid right hand behind it. Silva was not amused, and tapped his chin. Both men then traded in close quarters; the Mexican scored with a hard left to the body, while Silva replied with a overhand right of his own. The round could have gone either way.
Kamegai landed the first shot of substance in the eighth, a right uppercut that had Silva using his feet to get out of the way and reload. As Kamegai closed the distance, Silva scored with a short right that hit Kamegai in the left temple. Silva found himself fighting off the ropes for the majority of the round, but the Mexican was effective, answering Kamegai’s assaults with his own violent attacks, making the stanza another tough one to score for either man.
In the ninth, both combatants picked up where they left off, with Kamegai forcing Silva to withstand his avalanche of shots. But this round was dominated by Kamegai for the most part. He loaded up and took his time bombarding Silva with left hooks, uppercuts, and right crosses in another exciting three minutes.
With the outcome in doubt, the 10th brought a shade of drama. Both men traded left hooks and right hands. Kamegai’s landed with more force. Silva again laid on the ropes as Kamegai wailed away. Silva clipped Kamegai with a counter left hook and winged a right hand to the body. Kamegai answered with a six-punch combination. For the last 10 seconds, the warriors unloaded with reckless abandon, looking for the knockout blow. While neither achieved their goal, the entertaining scrap caused Kamegai and Silva to embrace in mutual respect before an appreciative crowd that cheered them on until the final bell.
JORGE LINARES UD10 HECTOR VELAZQUEZ
Linares, 135.5, of Barinas, Venezuela, defeated Velazquez, 134.4, of Tijuana, Mexico, by unanimous decision in a much more competitive contest than expected.
Velazquez opened up the scoring with a short right hand with both men in close quarters. Linares then boxed his way out of trouble, shooting the left jab and a three-punch combination. However, Velazquez would answer with a stinging left hook to the midsection with Linares’s back on the ropes. To cap a close round, Linares landed a counter overhand right.
The second began with Linares hitting Velazquez with a right uppercut as he backpedaled. The Venezuelan followed it up with two hard shots to the body. Velazquez tried to turn the tables by bullying his foe into the ropes and throwing a right hand to the body followed by a heavy right hand upstairs that caught the fans’ attention.
In the third, Linares came out with a four-punch flurry where at least two shots penetrated Velazquez’s guard. The Mexican then feinted and worked his way inside, pushing Linares and trying to put him on the backfoot. But Linares’s left hand would keep his opponent at bay with a jab to the body and head as he circled again to his left. Linares would take this round by countering well, especially to the body. He even displayed his athletic ability ducking two bombs from Velazquez as he pivoted out of harm’s way before the bell.
Velazquez tried to close the distance once more in the fourth, slugging away to Linares’s body. Moments later, Linares would catch Velazquez coming in with a pinpoint straight right hand. Velazquez then found himself eating two quick shots from Linares as he continued to step through without the aid of a left jab. Linares, who displayed a cut over his left eye, then unleashed a cascade of punches from a variety of angles to finish the stanza strong.
The Mexican toughman would not relent, but Linares began to pick him apart in the fifth, mixing up a diet of left jabs with some hard right hands thrown on a dime as he continued to fluster him with his constant movement. A left hook from Linares landed solidly on Velazquez’s chin, causing the Mexican to shrug his shoulders in order to mitigate the damage perception-wise. However, he was unable to respond with anything substantial to wrest the round away from Linares.
The sixth began with a pace that more suited Velazquez, as he commenced the action with a few hard shots to the body. But Linares bounced on the balls of his feet, slipping and utilizing the counter left hook over the top of Velazquez’s right hand. As the round ended, a well-placed combination from Linares was substantial enough to stop Velazquez in his tracks.
Velazquez had his moments in the seventh as his right hand found the target early and often, but Linares’s flashy flurries continued to score Halos of sweat momentarily engulfed Velazquez’s head as Linares scored with a couple of quick volleys upstairs to mark another round that Linares edged with a late-second surge.
In the eighth, a right hand and left uppercut from Linares hit Velazquez on the button. However, the Mexican showed no signs of wear as it only seemed to spur him on. But as a recurring theme, Velazquez’s durability failed to win him the round, as Linares continued to dodge shots and take the frame.
The ninth began with Linares throwing a left hook below the beltline that caused referee Dan Stell to warn the Venezuelan. Undeterred, Linares hurled a similar shot, but this one landed legally. Velazquez caught Linares with some short right hands, but Linares got the best of their exchanges and edged another stanza on this writer’s scorecard.
With one round to go, Velazquez charged forward and hit Linares with another right hand, but Linares roared back with a two-punch salvo that was accurate as it was aesthetically pleasing. But he would not follow it up with another barrage, leading Velazquez to stop in the middle of the ring and caused the Mexican to call him, “Chica.” Linares would eventually engage his foe, but seemed content to win a decision. After Velazquez hit Linares behind the head, Stell penalized him one point as boos temporarily showered the Memorial Auditorium air before the final bell.
GUY ROBB UD6 ADOLFO LANDEROS
Sacramento’s Guy Robb (10-1, 4 KOs) pounded out a six-round shutout over Mexico City’s Adolfo Landeros (22-28-2, 10 KOs).
The veteran Landeros, 126.4, attempted to impose his will in the early going by trying to back Robb, 125.8, into the ropes. Robb would pivot his way into the center of the ring and land a straight right. In a stanza where the fighters were mostly feeling each other out, Robb tagged Landeros with a body shot before the bell.
Both men swung for the fences and missed to open the second. Finally, midway through the round, Robb connected with a left hook that landed flush but did not hurt Landeros. The Mexican then caught Robb sleeping with a sharp right hand inside. As Landeros jumped in, Robb hit him with a right hand and turned over a left hook right after. Robb then cornerned Landeros and scored with two shots to the body.
The third saw Robb attempting to establish his left hook. Landeros landed a looping right, but Robb responded with a one-two that tapped his foe’s head, followed by a hard right to the body. Robb was comfortably ahead, but Landeros was making it a challenge for him.
Landeros snapped Robb’s head back with a jab as the fourth began. Robb found a home for his right to the body, and connected as Landeros backed into the ropes. Robb then took advantage of Landeros’s aggression, scoring with a four-punch combination to the head that temporarily buzzed him. Landeros, a tough journeyman who once took Gary Russell Jr. the distance, refused to wilt and cracked Robb with a looping right with seconds left in the round.
In the fifth, Robb went back to the jab, either throwing it by itself or in concert with the right cross. Robb, known more as a brawler, showed off some boxing skills. Eventually, Landeros played possum and tried to lure Robb into a war. But Robb wasn’t buying it, deciding instead to work on his opponent’s body to rack up another round.
Well behind on the cards, Landeros seemed more content to finish the fight upright than go for the win. He reversed course into the ropes while Robb teed off on his midsection. With about a minute and a half left, Landeros finally emerged from his shell and stood in the center of the ring with Robb. While Robb would stick Landeros with the occasional right hand or left hook, it was evident that the fight would go the distance.
Scores were 60-54 on all the cards as Robb reached the double-digit mark in victories.
“There were times where I could hear the crowd cheering for me to get in a war and I had to hold myself back,” Robb said. “But I listened to my coach Ray Woods, stuck to the gameplan, and came away with the win.”
JOHN ABELLA TKO4 PABLO CUPUL
In front of his hometown fans, John Abella (3-0, 2 KOs) stopped Pablo Cupul (6-9, 4 KOs) in the fourth round.
After a first frame where both men bombed away, Abella, 123.6, took control in the second frame, opening up Cupul, 122.8, with a variety of power shots—namely a short right hand—to the head.
Cupul pressed the issue in the third, but Abella was always just one step ahead, staying out of range and countering with the left hook. Cupul showed his durability by taking Abella’s punches well, but could not retaliate with anything significant to keep Abella occupied.
The fourth and final stanza saw a grand finale from Abella, who rocked Cupul with a right cross and ended his opponent’s day with a furious flurry of volleys on the ropes. Referee Marcos Rosales called a halt to the bout at :30.
“I told you I was bringing Sacramento boxing back,” Abella said. “The straight right hand started it all and I knocked him out, but it wasn’t easy. He had a really hard head.”
JONATHAN CHICAS TKO2 RALPH PRESCOTT
Local prospect Jonathan Chicas (7-0, 3 KOs) os San Francisco remained undefeated with a second-round stoppage of Seattle’s Ralph Prescott (2-6).
Chicas, 139.5, put his movement on display in the first, only setting his feet to hurl left hooks to the body. The smaller Prescott, 139, had trouble walking his way inside, and sure enough, a double left hook from Chicas caught him coming in and sent him to the canvas. Although Prescott would beat referee Marcos Rosales’s count, he was noticeably dazed as he walked back to his corner.
A more cautious Prescott now approached Chicas with his hands high in the second round. But Chicas would still use his fleet feet to dart out of trouble and land a variety of shots that forced Prescott to return fire. Ultimately, a right uppercut from the Bay Area fighter rocked his foe and had him ducking in the neutral corner as Chicas teed off uncontested. Rosales would call the fight off at 2:19.
“He was hurt and I had to finish the job,” Chicas said. “The right uppercut started it and I kept my hands up, went to the body, and finished up top.”
ANDY VENCES UD4 CARLOS GONZALEZ
San Jose’s Andy Vences (1-0), the 2011 National PAL bronze medalist at lightweight, made a successful early transition to the pros with a four-round shutout over Los Angeles resident Carlos Gonzalez (1-2).
In the opening moments, Vences, 130.8, approached the referee and called for time when his left glove seemed to break open after a punch. A seven-minute delay ensued as Gonzalez, 131, sat on a stool in the neutral corner while Vences laced on a new pair of gloves.
When the action resumed, Gonzalez landed the first meaningful shot, a counter left hook that landed flush but didn’t budge Vences. Not to be outdone, Vences controlled the rest of the first round with some effective bodywork and a couple right crosses that found the mark.
In the second, Vences scored with a hard left hook to the midsection but Gonzalez countered with a volley of his own. Vences then landed a right uppercut behind a left jab that tapped Gonzalez’s chin, later following it up with a chopping right hand over the top to take the stanza.
Gonzalez called on his most reliable weapon, the lead right hand, and clipped Vences with it to open the third. The Angeleno then hammered his rival with two left hooks moments apart that punctuated what appeared to be his round.
Vences’s left hand won the fourth and final round. Refraining from using his right hand for the vast majority of the three minutes, the one-pawed Vences jabbed and hooked with his left while slipping Gonzalez’s final advances en route to the win.
Scores were 40-36 for Vences, who captured his first triumph as a pro.
“I hurt my right hand, but we’ve been working on the left hand in the gym,” Vences said. “It came in handy in that last round.”
HUGO CENTENO UD6 JUSTIN WILLIAMS
Hugo Centeno (16-0, 8 KOs) of Oxnard, Calif., continued his winning ways with a six-round unanimous nod over Justin Williams (4-6-2, 2 KOs) of New Orleans.
Centeno, 153, opened the scoring with a three-punch combination to the body but Williams, 154.4, fired back with a one-two that struck paydirt. But Centeno would take over in the closing seconds by returning to the body and backing Williams into a defensive shell.
The second round saw Centeno resume his relentless work to the body, then finishing upstairs with heavy right hands and left hooks. The third featured more of the same, but Williams decided to trade and scored with two quick shots to the temples that had Centeno shaking his head in defiance.
Down three stanzas, resolved Williams charged at Centeno to open the fourth and took an early lead on the strength of the one-two upstairs. Centeno closed the round with a torrent of shots; most of them were blocked in this instance.
Williams snuck a right hand through Centeno’s high guard to start the fifth. Centeno then went to work, landing a lead left up top followed by a left hook to the body that resonated throughout the venue.
The final round was a microcosm of the fight, as Williams started with a brief flourish, but Centeno finished the final half of the frame with flurries highlighted by a stiff left jab and body work that halted his foe’s activity to a standstill.
Scores were 60-54 on all three scorecards as Centeno remained unbeaten.
“He’s a tough dude and gave me some good rounds, but I pulled it out and on to the next one,” Centeno said.
PRESTON FREEMAN UD4 JOSE MENDOZA
Making his professional debut, former National Golden Gloves bronze medalist Preston “Presto” Freeman (1-0) of St. Louis, Mo., dominated Jose “Polvora” Mendoza (7-8, 3 KOs) in a four-round unanimous decision.
Now training in Salinas, Calif., Freeman, 142.5, clobbered Mendoza, 143, in the opening round, flooring him with a counter right hand. Mendoza would beat the count administered by referee Ray Balewicz.
The second round saw a more confident Freeman open up with lead left hooks and a lead right hand that had Mendoza wobbling into the red corner. Mendoza then switched tactics, going to a southpaw stance and pressing forward but still losing the frame.
The third was fought at a more measured pace, but Freeman remained in control throughout, even knocking Mendoza’s mouthpiece out into the neutral corner.
A bloodied Mendoza attempted to cross the finish line in the fourth, landing the occasional left hook, but Freeman continuously found openings through the guard with his solid handspeed until the final bell.
Scores were 40-35 across the board for Freeman, who earned his first victory in the pro ranks.
“It felt good to be out there for the first time,” Freeman said. “It was a good experience, and I’m still learning, but it was good to get the win.”
CHRIS PEARSON NC FRANK GEDEON
Chris Pearson (5-0, 4 KOs) vs. Frank Gedeon (4-0, 3 KOs) was cancelled when Gedeon did not get medical clearance in time.
Ryan Maquiñana writes a weekly boxing column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.