By Francisco Salazar
It was a crossroads bout between former contender Freddy Hernandez and Francisco Santana.
After their scheduled 10 round bout was over, it became clear Hernandez is not the same fighter, while Santana took a significant step forward in his professional career.
Santana won a 10 round unanimous decision over Hernandez before a sold-out crowd at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, CA.
The bout headlined a seven-bout “Central Coast Championship” card, presented by Gary Shaw Productions.
Santana had won four bouts in a row entering his fight against Hernandez against less than modest opposition. Santana had losses against Karim Mayfield (twice) and Jermell Charlo and was taking a major step up in class against Hernandez.
Having lost his last three bouts in a row, Hernandez was expected to use his height, reach, and experience advantages over Santana.
After a tentative first round, the shorter Santana fought in spurts and was able to land to the head and body of Hernandez. There were times Santana would leave himself open, but Hernandez looked a step slower in an attempt to counter to Santana’s head.
Sensing he was down in the second half of the fight, Hernandez began to find success in the sixth and seventh rounds. He was able to counter with right hands to the head of Santana and landing the occasional hook to the body.
However, Santana, who looked winded at times in the last couple of rounds, was able to find a second wind, pushing his punches and landing them to the head and body of Hernandez.
Santana won by scorecards of 100-90, 99-91, and 98-92. Boxingscene.com scored the bout 97-93 for Santana.
For what it is worth, the victory over Hernandez is the biggest for Santana’s young career. The victory could move Santana from prospect to fringe contender, despite Hernandez now having lost four bouts in a row.
Hernandez’s performance could lead one to conclude his best days as a contender are behind him and that he might be relegated as a gatekeeper in the super welterweight division.
Santana, from nearby Santa Barbara, improves to 17-3-1, 8 KOs. Hernandez, from Montebello, CA by way of Mexico City, DF, Mexico, drops to 30-6, 20 KOs.
Heavyweight Makani Sarellano stopped Jose Santamaria in the second round of a scheduled four round bout. Sarellano (1-1, 1 KO) dropped Santamaria within the first 15 seconds of the opening bell with a left-right combination. The short Santamaria tried to get on the inside, but was met with numerous wild punches by Sarellano. The second round was not any better for Santamaria, who was making his professional debut. Sarellano landed at will again in the second until Santamaria's corner threw in the towel at 1:14, prompting an end to the fight.
In the co-feature bout of the evening, Art Hovhannisyan stopped Daniel Attah in the sixth round of a scheduled eight round lightweight bout.
After an even first round, the southpaw Attah complicated things for Hovhannisyan by hurting him in the second round with a counter right hook. Hovhannisyan's legs buckled and had to hold on until the bell sounded to end the round. Hovhannisyan was able to get his legs under him and began to box effectively in the third round.
Hovhannisyan began to attack the body effectively, slowing Attach down considerably. Attah went into defense-mode in the sixth round, but Hovhannisyan did not back down and pressing the attack. His plan worked as he backed Attah up against the ropes, landing at will. Referee Dan Stell saw enough and waved the fight over at 2:11.
The victory by Hovhannisyan was a tune-up type of fight coming off the 10 round unanimous decision loss he suffered at the hands of Alejandro Perez on February 22nd. It looks like Hovhannisyan could stay at super featherweight or look for a fight in the lightweight division.
The Armenian-born Hovhannisyan, now residing in Glendale, CA, goes to 16-1-2, 9 KOs. The Nigerian-born Attah drops to 28-16-1, 11 KOs
Super flyweight Maggie Suarez won a six round unanimous decision over Gloria Salas. It was a back and forth bout as Salas (3-9-1, 1 KO) was effective early on as she was able to use her awkward style to her advantage. Salas would land lead right hands to the head of Suarez during the early exchanges. However, Suarez (6-0-1) took more the initiative in the second half of the fight, beating Salas to the punch during most of the exchanges. Both Suarez and Salas had their moments in the sixth round, but Suarez looked the effective fighter until the final bell. All three judges scored the bout in favor of Suarez, 58-56, 58-56, and 59-55. Boxingscene.com scored the bout 58-56 in favor of Suarez.
Light heavyweights Henry Calles and Zlatko Ledic fought to a four round majority decision draw. Calles would beat the southpaw Ledic during a majority of the exchanges in the fight. Calles, who was making his pro debut at age 36, pressed the action throughout the fight, but would pay for it at times as they clashed heads that opened a cut on his forehead. Ledic, who was making his professional debut at age 29, was very straight up, which made him easy to hit. Calles, who is from nearby Santa Barbara, looked for the knockout in the final round, but Ledic was able to survive until the final bell. One judge scored the bout 40-36, while the other two judges scored the bout 38-38. Boxingscene.com scored the bout 39-37 in favor of Calles.
Welterweight Abraham Lopez won an unpopular four round unanimous decision over Adriel Jose Pebenito. The taller Lopez (4-1, 1 KO) worked behind a jab, following it up with a right hand. When he was not throwing a jab, Lopez would throw and land lead right hands. However, Pebenito (2-7) showed much better ring generalship of the two. He would double up on left hooks to the head and body, even outlanding Lopez in the latter half of the fight. All three judges, to the chagrin of most in the crowd, scored the bout in favor of Lopez, 40-36, 40-36, and 39-37. Boxingscene.com scored the bout 38-38.
In a wild back and forth fight, featherweight Roy Tapia won a four round split decision over Manuel Romero, who was making his professional debut. The southpaw Romero, with his awkward style, staggered Tapia with a left uppercut at the end of the first round. Usually a brawler, Tapia was successful at boxing, countering Romero with hooks to the head and body. Tapia (7-0-1, 3 KOs) dropped Romero halfway through the third round with a left hook to the body. Romero was able to recover and was even able to score with more uppercuts in the fourth round. However, it was not enough as two of the three judges scored the bout 39-36 in favor of Tapia, while the third judge scored the bout 39-37 for Romero.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. He also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper. He could be reached by email at [email protected] or on twitter at FSalazarBoxing