By Jake Donovan
Former three division titlist Fernando Montiel bounced back well from the worst loss of his otherwise impressive career to score a third round stoppage over Nehomar Cermeno on Saturday evening at Estadio Banorte in Culiacan, Mexico.
The ending came under strange circumstances, as Cermeno was counted out moments after the bell rang to begin the third, without so much as a punch being thrown.
The battle of former bantamweight titlists began slowly, both measuring each other up before showing a willingness to commit. Montiel was in counter punching mode, which allowed Cermeno to create openings. The Venezuelan – now fighting out of Panama – forced the pace early on, although his success rate was never suggestive of an upset in the making.
Montiel hit his stride in the second, resembling the smooth boxer puncher that has cruised to title reigns in three separate weight classes. The Mexican wisely mixed it up between boxing and trading, though a lot more of the former while remaining at a disciplined pace.
The beginning of the end came in the closing seconds of round two. Montiel went on the attack, targeting Cermeno’s midsection and catching him with several clean body blows. Cerrmeno initiated a clinch, at which point Montiel attempted to shove his way out and wound up pushing his opponent to the canvas.
No count was offered as the referee correctly acknowledged that no knockdown had taken place.
However, a count would come at the start of the third, as Cermeno was still in pain and clearly had no intention of leaving his corner. He rose from his stool when the bell sounded to begin the round, but his cornermen remained on the canvas with all of their equipment still in place. The referee began to count and didn’t stop until he reached ten.
The official time was 0:12 of the third round.
The win was a huge bounceback moment for Montiel, who returned to the ring for the first time since his disastrous turn versus Nonito Donaire this past February. His record now advances to 45-3-1 (34KO).
Cermeno, who burst onto the scene with back to back upset wins over Cristian Mijares, has since fallen on hard times. He has now dropped four of his last five as he falls to 20-4-1 (13KO).
Whereas Cermeno’s sudden dropoff is mildly surprising, Montiel’s sudden fall from grace garnered far more headline coverage. He entered the fight as a unified titlist and regarded as the best bantamweight in the world, but all of that changed once Donaire blitzed him in their HBO-televised main event earlier this year.
Donaire became a superstar overnight with the win, though ensuing legal battles in an effort to switch promoters has managed to drain all of the momentum out of the win. So much, that Montiel – a vicous knockout victim – returns to the ring well before the transplanted Filipino can even dream of being the case.
Still, he has a long way to go before once again proving he’s worthy of top billing in his division, as was the case when he rallied from behind to knock out Hozumi Hasegawa last April. Two title defenses followed, thought it was the Hasegawa fight that reintroduced him to several pound-for-pound lists.
His reaction on Saturday was that of a person who showed no ill-effects of suffering such a potential damaging loss, All he needs now are the right wins to leave him with the reaction of a fighter who realizes he’s once again at what and wear the company has to offer in order to keep someone here.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to JakeNDaBox@gmail.com .