By Ryan Maquiñana
Junior featherweight prospect Manuel “Tino” Avila kept his record unblemished with a unanimous decision victory Monday night over a game Enrique Quevedo at the Storm House in Salinas, Calif.
The main event was the final bout on a card that was televised on Fox Sports One. Scores were 97-92 across the board for Avila, who struggled in the first half of the fight before emerging the clear winner down the stretch. To give an idea of the competitiveness of the clash, CompuBox tabulated an identical 181-181 count for punches landed by both fighters.
Quevedo (15-7-1, 9 KOs), from Los Algodones, Mex., sported a ho-hum record heading into the bout, but his last outing was a shocking upset of a 27-2-3 Christopher Martin in October.
Avila, from Fairfield, Calif., was named the 2013 Northern California Prospect of the Year by CSNBayArea.com/Norcalboxing.com earlier in the day, but that title was put into question in the early moments of the bout.
Avila (14-0, 5 KOs) found the opening minutes more challenging than expected. The charging Quevedo edged the first stanza by ducking to his left and winging right hand that somehow reached its destination faster than his opponent’s left jab and hook.
Quevedo showed his creativity by switching between orthodox and southpaw to work his way inside; the movement and pressure made Avila uncomfortable, and one could make the argument that Quevedo took the second round as well.
However, Avila began to figure out Quevedo -- who revealed a cut over his left eye -- in the third frame. Avila’s left jab found the target and he was able to work his way out of trouble when Quevedo tried to smother him inside.
Quevedo resumed his assault in the fourth round, starting with the lead right hand. A flustered Avila threw a haymaker of a right hand that was met with two solid counters from Quevedo. Avila had his moments on the inside, and the round was close, but Quevedo appeared to take it.
Avila controlled the fifth round. A short counter left hook and a pair of thudding 1-2 combinations up top were the highlights as Quevedo’s volume decreased slightly.
The sixth was marked by some entertaining back-and-forth slugging. As Quevedo closed the distance, Avila attempted to lure him into a counter left uppercut or left hook. Bouncing on his toes and circling to his left, he seemed to take the round by throwing three-punch combos upstairs and then resetting.
Avila continued to fight with rhythm in the seventh, moving side to side with more confidence and scoring with two and three jabs at a time. Quevedo rushed in once more, but aside from the occasional lead right hand, his advances were met by a left hook or short right hand from Avila.
Quevedo was noticeably tired in the eighth round, growing more ineffective in cutting off the ring. Avila began to attack him from angles while sticking the jab in Quevedo’s face to thwart his foe’s pressure.
The ninth round was a carbon copy of the last three frames. Quevedo followed Avila around the ring, and the California kid darted to his left and scored with the jab and the intermittent three-punch combination.
With Quevedo going for broke in the 10th and final round, Avila finally struck paydirt with a right uppercut and counter left hook that sent his opponent to the canvas. As Quevedo rose to his feet and persisted in swinging for the fences, Avila weathered the storm and reached the finish line to cap a fight that will serve as a learning experience for the 21-year-old Golden Boy-promoted prospect.
Lightweight Andy Vences (7-0, 3 KOs) of nearby San Jose stopped Daniel Coca (8-7, 2 KOs) of Watts, Calif., after beating him to the punch for three rounds. Though Coca had some success when he pressed forward, most of the action took place in the center of the ring rather than the ropes, a locale much more advantageous to Vences -- an accomplished amateur who once captured a bronze medal in the National PAL.
By the third round, Vences loaded up on his left hand, leading and countering with hooks around Coca’s guard. Coca’s activity ground to a halt by the end of the frame, and soon after the bell, the reason was apparent. Coca motioned to referee Ed Collantes that he injured his left hand and was unable to continue.
Middleweight Paul Mendez (15-2-2, 7 KOs) abruptly knocked out Raul Casarez (20-5, 9 KOs) in the second round of a scheduled 10-rounder. Mendez, coming off an unimpressive draw with Louis Rose that many observers felt he lost, jumped back in the win column by stopping Casarez, who hailed from Edinburg, Texas.
From the outset, Mendez, from Salinas, Calif., stayed out of the slugger Casarez’s punching range, working behind an accurate piston of a left jab to capture the first frame.
The conclusion was swift and vicious. In the second round, Mendez got Casarez on the ropes and then unloaded a one-two, with the right cross colliding on Casarez’s temple. The impact caused a delayed reaction, as Casarez appeared to spiral toward the canvas before Mendez unleashed his final flurry of shots. Official time was :43.
Diego De La Hoya (3-0, 3 KOs) of Mexicali, Mex., stopped countryman Sergio Najera (6-13-2, 1 KO) of Tijuana in one round, but not before eating a left jab that momentarily jarred him in the early going. De La Hoya, cousin of Hall of Famer Oscar De La Hoya, would soon recover, and a four-punch combination followed by a counter left hook and short right hand sent Najera into the ropes and onto the canvas.
Najera rose to his feet, but the end was inevitable. De La Hoya unloaded two swift left hooks and then teed off on Najera, whose guard was penetrated thoroughly until Collantes called the bout off at 2:14.
Follow Ryan on Twitter @RMaq28 or email him at email@example.comTags: Diego De La Hoya , Paul Mendez , Manuel Avila