(Mexico City) The Mexico City Guerreros have decided that the pursuit of the top prize and the inaugural World Series of Boxing (WSB) Americas league crown isn't just a one-team race any longer.
With a 4-1 victory Friday night against the Los Angeles Matadors, the Guerreros solidified their standing and moved ever so close to the front-running Matadors while at the same time putting an end to the Matadors' six-match win streak in the process.
The Guerreros have now won three in a row with the win Friday and just three points separate them from the Matadors in the overall standings. After going 1-9 against the Matadors prior to Friday -- the lone win by way of walkover -- a dominating victory might have just been the kick start the Guerreros needed to finish the season.
The Los Angeles Matadors, however, brought an inexperienced squad that featured two new boxers and two other fighters with just one WSB bout under their belts. The Matadors, like many teams in the new, worldwide league, have added depth to their ranks recently to help finish out the season and to offset some of the injuries they are facing.
"It was a good experience for my guys," said LA Matador coach Manny Robles. "We came in with an inexperienced team who gave it all they had. I think sometimes you learn more from your losses than your wins. We'll be back."
The Guerreros seized upon that inexperience from the very beginning with Braulio Avila (Tlaxcala, Mexico) setting the tone with a unanimous decision victory over Matador newcomer Joseph Diaz (El Monte, Calif.) in the bantamweight division.
Avila used the experience of his three WSB bouts to outclass Diaz from the opening bell as the Mexican fighter scored a 48-47, 48-47 and 50-45 decision and moved his record to 3-1 on the season.
It was then time for the long-awaited debut of Hector Manzanilla (Caracas, Venezuela) as he squared off against José Saenz (Kansas City, Mo.) at lightweight. Manzanilla got the win in a thrilling battle, defeating Saenz all five rounds on all three judges' scorecards to record a 50-45 victory. Manzanilla had been injured much of the season but picked the right time to get healthy and earn his first career WSB victory. After a seson-opening win, Saenz now is 1-1.
Up two bouts to none, the Guerreros went gunning for the win and were primed to do so with Yamaguchi Florentino (Espirtu Santo, Brazil) entering the ring next against Charlie Watson (Johnson City, Tenn.) in the middleweight division. Florentino would have no trouble running his record to 3-1 on the year with a unanimous decision victory for the Mexican team, 50-45, 50-45, 49-46. Watson, meanwhile, fell to 0-2 in WSB action with the loss.
The lone victory from the Matadors came at light heavyweight as newcomer Elber Passos (Salvador, Brazil) forced an early surrender against another WSB new arrival in Cristian Montenegro (Mexicali, Mexico) who withdrew from the contest in the third round.
"I'm real happy with my victory and my first fight in the WSB," said Passos. "I can't wait to fight again for the home crowd in Los Angeles. I have a new family with the LA Matadors."
Action in the heavyweight division wasn't contested due to the inability of the Matadors to field a boxer at that weight.
Next up for Guerreros in Mexico City will be a February 18 date with the Miami Gallos. The LA Matadors will look to get back on track as they host the Memphis Force that same evening.