Two early knockdowns set the tone for Anselmo 'Chemito' Moreno to rack up his 12th successful title defense with a wide unanimous decision win over Argentina's Javier Chacon.
Scores were 118-108, 117-108 and 117.5-109.5 in their 12-round main event Saturday evening at Arena Roberto Duran in Panama City, Panama.
Widely viewed as one of the best tacticians in the sport, Moreno's glaring flaw is that he doesn't ply his trade nearly often enough. Saturday's affair was his first fight of 2014, following just one fight in 2013 and two fights in each of the previous three years.
However inactive, ring rust wasn't at all a factor in the latest defense of the bantamweight title he's held since 2008. Chacon (19-2, 4KO) was never viewed as a big threat to bring the belt back home to Argentina, nor did he ever pose a real challenge at any point in the contest.
Moreno showed a rare power surge, scoring two knockdowns in round two. The first knockdown came amidst confusion, as Chacon insisted he was pushed down. The second knockdown was also met with a protest from the visiting Argentinean, who claimed a leg sweep caused his trip to the canvas. What was missed by the challenger was a subtle uppercut on the inside that literally knocked him off his feet.
Despite the threat of an early knockout, the rest of the bout was a typical day in the office for Moreno. There existed plenty of brilliance on display, though the night wasn't an entirely clean affair. The 28-year old southpaw received numerous warnings for low blows before he was finally docked a point in round ten.
It hardly mattered in the end; if anything it removed the threat of a total shutout. Chacon played a hand in that as well, enjoying rare moments of success late in the fight and even briefly stunning Moreno, though not hard or long enough to properly capitalize or add to the list of boxing upsets racked up elsewhere in the world in its own version of March Madness.
In Panama, the #1 seed did his job in this one-man bracket. The wide points win was good for Moreno's 12th successful title defense, extending what is already among the longest active title reigns in the sport. All told, Panama's favorite active son moves to 35-2-1 (12KO).
The bout aired live on Max 9 in Panama and on TyC Sports in Argentina.
Carlos Ortega edged Gilberto Pedroza in a terrific 10-round strawweight slugfest.
The bout was every bit as thrilling as their eight round draw earlier this year, and arguably just as inconclusive. Neither fighter seemed to gain a significant edge at any point in their regional title fight, though Ortega manage to outwork his countryman just enough to tip the scales in his favor.
Scores were 96-94 (twice) and 96-95, all in favor of Ortega, who
improves to 9-3-2 (4KO). Pedroza is now winless in his past three contests as he falls to 10-2-2 (5KO).
Bryan De Gracia scored a six-round unanimous decision over Ezequil Hamilton in the opening bout of the telecast. Scores were 60-54, 60-55 and 59-55 in their six-round affair.
The bout was a rematch to their entertaining scrap last October, which saw both fighters hit the deck. The sequel didn't feature any knockdowns, though not for a lack of trying. De Gracia was nonstop in his attack, but unable to put together the finishing touch on any given combination to end the fight.
The 20-year old instead had to settle for a wide decision win, advancing to 9-0-1 (7KO). Hamilton now sits at .500, his record falling to 5-5-1 (2KO).
Leroy Estrada managed a 10-round unanimous decision over sub .500 fighter Edwin Diaz in their 10-round strawweeight contest. Scores were 97-92 (twice) and 96-93 in favor of Estrada (12-1, 5KO), a 19-year old southpaw who has now won five straight.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox