By Jake Donovan
A pair of early knockdowns were enough to preserve a lead for Fernando Montiel, who managed a majority decision win over Cristobal Cruz in a battle of faded former champs Saturday evening in Chiapas, Mexico.
Both fighters had long ago seen better days, but it's Montiel who stands more to lose with each fight these days. The former three-division champ is barely clinging to a Top 10 ranking in the super bantamweight division these days, but struggles to prove that he any longer belongs at the top level.
His performance on Saturday will hardly help his cause, although it appeared early on that he would enjoy an easy night's work. Knockdowns in rounds two and four allowed the recently turned 35-year old Mexican star to build an early lead. It would come in handy down the stretch, as Cruz - who turns 37 in May - forced his countryman to labor every step of the way.
Cruz' hard work was reflected on one card and in the opinion of the viewing public. One judge had it even at 94-94, but the announcement of tallies of 96-92 and 97-91 completely removed the threat of an upset. Montiel was announced as the winner, a final verdict that was surprisingly met with a chorus of boos from the passionate crowd on hand.
Whatever the case, Montiel officially picks up his fifth straight win as he improves to 51-4-2 (38KO). His last loss came in Nov. '11, dropping a 12-round decision to Victor Terrazas, who has since won and lost a major 122 lb. title.
Cruz is now 1-5-2 in his last eight, but perhaps posting his best performance in years with Saturday night's effort. Alas, the official verdict puts his record at 40-16-3 (24KO).
The bout aired live on UniMas in the United States and TV Azteca in Mexico.
Jake Donovan is the
Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing
Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox