By Jake Donovan
Omar Chavez picked up his fourth straight victory though had to walk through fire in order to get past power-punching Daniel Sandoval in their 10-round affair Saturday evening in Culiacan, Mexico.
Scores were 96-93, 96-92 and 95-93 in favor of Chavez, fighting in front of his hometown fans as well as his father, the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.
Chavez jumped out to a strong start, enjoying his best moments when working behind his jab and beating Sandoval to the punch. Whether it was an inability to keep his opponent at bay or an adrenaline rush to thrill the crowd, Chavez somehow found himself caught up in a war with a noted knockout artist.
Sandoval took advantage of Chavez' hands held low, scoring upstairs with power shots and also bringing it back to the body. However, the Guadalajara native went a little too low on more than one occasion, drawing stern warnings before losing a point in round five.
The sequence proved pivotal, as Chavez regained momentum in round six. Consecutive power shots bounced off Sandoval's dome, water and sweat spraying off of the top of his head and into the air for added effect. A power-punching surge by Chavez had Sandoval briefly in trouble in rounds seven and eight, to the point of Sandoval spitting out his mouthpiece in efforts to catch his breath.
Heading into the final rounds, Sandoval knew he needed to do something dramatic to turn things around. He did just that, dominating the ninth as Chavez was reduced to clinching, perhaps a bit fatigued after such a strong surge in the middle rounds. The hometown fighter recuperated well to close strong in the 10th and final round.
Chavez improves to 32-2-1 (22KO) with the win. Sandoval loses for the first time since 2010 - having won 15 straight - as he falls to 34-3 (30KO).
The bout aired live on Azteca TV in Mexico.
Much like the main event victor, Tomas 'Gusano' Rojas also extended his win streak to four straight. The former 115 lb. titlist had an easier night in the office, though as he scored an 8th round stoppage of Jose Cabrera.
The bout generally flowed in one direction, as Rojas' two-fisted attack was just too much for Cabrera's leaky defense. The fight ended with Rojas unloading and Cabrera (22-4-2, 10KO) beaten to the point where the referee felt the boxer could no longer defend himself.
Rojas, a former super flyweight titlist now campaigning at super bantamweight, improves to 43-14-1 (29KO). The 33-year old has scored stoppages in all but one of his past four victories since suffering a knockout loss to unbeaten bantaweight king Shinsuke Yamanaka in Nov. '12.
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