By Ryan Burton
Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas - Score one for Puerto Rico in the latest chapter of the Puerto Rico versus Mexico rivalry. Rocky Martinez (26-1-1) picked up the vacant WBO super featherweight title in an exciting split decision victory over Miguel Beltran (27-2). Beltran appeared to land the harder shots and control the pace of the fight but the judges thought otherwise. Their were many close rounds that could jhave gpone either way. The scores were 116-111 Beltran and 114-113 twice for Martinez. Beltran started out fast wobbling Martinez on numerous occasions in the first round to the delight of the many Mexican fans in attendance. Neither fighter is known for their defense and both had their moments.
Beltran landed a huge right in the 4th round that hurt Martinez which lead to a chorus of "Mexico" chants from the fans. Rocky came out aggressive, swinging wildly as he tried to turn the momentum of the fight. Rocky had his best moments of the fight until another huge right from Beltran hurt him badly at the end of the round as the fight turned int a full fledged brawl. The two way action continued in the 6th round as both fighters landed big shots. Beltran and Martinez continued to trade punches through the 8th.
Rocky dominated the 9th as he continued out landed and out worked Beltran. The Mexican picked up the pace with a dominant 10th round as the crowd became re-energized. Referee Russell Mora took what proved to be a very important point aeay from Beltran in the 11th round for pushing Martinez's head down. He had already warned him twice earlier in the fight for the same infraction. Martinez closed the fight strong in the 12th round to secure the win.