by Cliff Rold
32-year old Jr. Welterweight Mauricio Herrera (19-3, 7 KO) of Lake Elsinore, California, ended a two-fight losing streak on Thursday night at the Omega Products International in Corona, California, with a ten-round unanimous decision over the exciting but overmatched 26-year old South Korean Ji-Hoon Kim (24-9, 18 KO) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was Kim’s fourth loss in seven starts and second in a row.
Herrera came into the bout at 139 lbs., Kim spot on the division limit at 140. The referee was Lou Moret.
Both men came out sticking firm jabs and digging short body shots in an early clinch. The more refined Herrera appeared quicker, finding the mark with greater ease as he fired shots from range. It was hard to miss though that Kim appeared the larger man in the ring. His single shots landed with force. Herrera outmatched them with clean combinations in between.
It stayed that way, brutally so, for much of the first half of the fight. Kim battled with the determination he’s known for but it was often target practice for Herrera. Things took a slight turn in the sixth, Kim willing himself forward with big shots. Herrera took them fine.
Kim carried some of the momentum of the sixth into the seventh early on but Herrera’s accurate counters began to multiply again. Referee Lou Moret visited the corner of Kim after the round, warning them about the punishment their charge was taking.
Kim fought the eighth like a man who had no wish to head home early. Banging at close quarters, Kim sought to maul and land on whatever he could find while Herrera waited for chances to counter. A slight cut under the left eye of Herrera gave color to the contest as they dug in for some grueling trench warfare.
It was more of the same in the ninth as Kim let loose every punch he could think of while Herrera boxed almost exclusively off the ropes for the last two minutes of the round. They changed the geography a bit in the tenth, closing the final round near center ring with Kim swinging for the fences and Herrera drilling him with shorter shots. Both men raised their arms after a long, brutal affair. Herrera appeared the winner but Kim, as is often the case, left a piece of himself in the ring for the fans.
And indeed Herrera was the winner at 98-92 and 99-91 twice, a well-earned victory.
Leading off the broadcast, 27-year old Lightweight Miguel Gonzalez (21-3, 15 KO), 135, of Cleveland, Ohio, picked up the best win of his career and furthered the woes of 35-year old former WBA Lightweight titlist Miguel Acosta (29-6-2, 23 KO), 135, of Caracas, Venezuela. Each man was on the deck but it was Gonzalez controlling the second half for a unanimous decision win in ten rounds. Acosta loses for the fourth time in five starts. The referee was Raul Caiz Sr.
Acosta got off to a deliberate start, firing his left jab while the southpaw Gonzalez tried to sneak in long left hands. A sneaky cross put Gonzalez on the deck briefly in the second round but he recovered well and the fight stayed at a steady pace.
Gonzalez had a burst of offense in the fourth, Acosta busted towards the ropes, but the former champion stayed up and went back to boxing. He wouldn’t be as lucky late in the fifth round. Acosta slipped to the floor off a wild miss and, moments later, was sent to the deck again with a short left on the button. Acosta beat the count and headed to the corner on wobbly legs.
Both men kept their feet for the next couple rounds with the next spate of drama coming in crimson. An accidental headbutt in the eighth caused a small cut to Gonzalez while Acosta fought through a swelling left eye. They traded bombs in the corner, and the tone of the final rounds was set. It would be Gonzalez playing the aggressor while Acosta would look for spots and reserve his legs. It appeared Gonzalez got the better of it but he had an early deficit to overcome.
He handled that just fine, the judges all seeing Gonzalez at scores of 97-91, 96-92, and 95-93.
The card was televised in the U.S. on ESPN2 as a special edition of its “Friday Night Fights” series, promoted by Thompson Promotions and Banner Promotions.
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 protected]