By Jake Donovan
Ronny Rios’ latest victory came in familiar surroundings on several levels. The unbeaten featherweight prospect played the Phoenix Club in Anaheim for the second straight time, scoring an eight round decision over Guillermo Sanchez in their Telefutura-televised main event Saturday evening.
Scores were 80-72 (twice) and 79-73 for Rios.
The bout was largely one way, though Sanchez made his presence felt just enough to let Rios know it was never going to be an easy night’s work. Rios cruised to victory in his last appearance in the venue and on the network – a fourth round stoppage of Jeremy McLaurin.
The goal in that bout was to allow Rios to rebuild his confidence after going life and death with divisional trialhorse Roger Gonzalez in his prior outing. Like any rising fighter should, Rios took the hard-fought win as a learning experience, cruising past McLaurin and on Saturday evening finding a way to keep a pesky Sanchez off of him without looking to coast.
Rios looked sharp in the early going, though Sanchez managed to land just enough punches in the second round to draw a rise from an otherwise partisan crowd on hand. The visiting Puerto Rican – now residing in Buffalo (NY) though his trunks proudly bearing his island’s flag as its principle design – was game throughout the contest, never allowing Rios a chance to take a breather.
It was just the type of test Rios needed, not just to show that he can handle the pressure but also find a way to effectively overcome it. The Californian did just that, though it required regaining the respect of the crowd, which was way too quick to boo the action anytime it threatened to slow down.
The first signs of restlessness came in the fifth, a rare lull in an otherwise entertaining battle. Rios quick turned the jeers into cheers with a flurry that hand Sanchez reeling. A similar sequence occurred in the seventh, with Rios furiously targeting the body before bringing the attack back upstairs.
Rios picks up his second win of 2012 as he improves to 18-0 (8KO). The bout marked his third straight Telefutura headliner, having long ago established himself as a fixture on the Solo Boxeo circuit.
Sanchez was valiant in defeat – his fourth straight – as he dips to 13-6-1 (5KO).
In the televised co-feature, rising junior middleweight Hugo Centeno scored a 4th round stoppage over Gerardo Cesar Prieto. A combination floored Prieto midway through the 4th, with referee Lou Moret intervening soon thereafter.
The official time was 1:34 of round four.
The 21-year old Centeno - managed by Joel de la Hoya - rolls to 13-0 (7KO), scoring his first knockout in more than a year. The Californian's last six fights went the distance, after scoring knockouts in his first six fights as a pro.
Prieto falls to 7-13-1 (0KO), losing for the 8th time in his past nine fights.
Julian Ramirez made quick work of Salvador Cifuentes (1-4-1, 0KO), scoring two knockdowns en route to a 1st round knockout in their televised swing bout. Cifuentes was simply overwhelmed by Ramirez (2-0, 2KO), who ended the fight with a combination upstairs that forced his battered foe to remain on the deck. The official time was 1:20 of round one.
OFF CAMERA (LUIS SANDOVAL AT RINGSIDE):
Xavier Montenegro has yet to score his first knockout, but continues to find ways to win the early stages of his career. The 20-year young East LA junior lightweight was forced to work in taking a four round decision over Rocco Espinoza (3-4, 0KO). Scores were 40-36 (twice) and 39-37 for Montenegro, who advances to 2-0 (0KO).
Johnny Reyes enjoyed a successful pro debut though he didn’t stick around very long. The local junior lightweight newcomer scored a 1st round bodyshot knockout of Jose Ortiz. A combination to the midsection put Ortiz (0-3) down for the count, with Reyes (1-0, 1KO) declared the winner at 1:22 of round one.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter:@JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]