By Jake Donovan
Wilfredo Vazquez Jr continues to put plenty of distance between his star on the rise and the claim that he’s just the son of a former three-division world champion. The rising undefeated super bantamweight further proved his worth Friday night in Kissimmee, Florida when he dominated divisional trialhorse Jose Angel Beranza over twelve rounds.
The bout served as the main event aired live from the Kissimmee (FL) Civic Center on Telemundo.
Beranza showed little desire to play the role of opponent, immediately taking the fight to Vazquez from the opening bell. Both fighters started off feeding off of the pre-fight tension that came with playing up to the Puerto Rico-Mexico in-ring rivalry.
They eventually settled into their groove midway through the round. Vazquez remained composed, but opened up near the end of the round, landing consecutive overhand rights shortly before the bell. The late shoeshine wasn’t enough to take the round on the scorecards, but served as fair warning that Beranza wasn’t about to take his heart.
With Vazquez headlining at the Kissimmee Civic Center, conga drums and rabid crowd participation are sure to follow. The unofficial theme music was cued up early in the second round, and Vazquez gave them plenty of reason to further applaud. A right hand early in the right got things going for the young Boricua, who did a much better job of dictating the tempo throughout the round.
The sequence usually marks the point in the fight when Vazquez would take over for good. That was against opponents far less experienced than Beranza, who came right back in the third, landing right hands early to draw a collectively shocking “ooh” from the partisan crowd on hand.
Vazquez came back in the second half of the round, targeting the body and closing the gap between the two fighters. The strategy spilled over into the fourth round, with Vazquez attacking Beranza right from the opening bell. Action slowed midway through the frame, but rapidly picked up steam in the final minute. Vazquez connected with a body shot and left hook upstairs to ignite a rally. Beranza was game, but was also getting repeatedly nailed with head shots.
Referee intervention was required early in the fifth by third man Frank Santore Jr, who issued a final warning to Beranza for roughhouse tactics after the Mexican bullrushed his foe. Vazquez went on the attack to see if the tactics were really Beranza’s way of asking out of the right. The crowd was given plenty of reason to cheer, as Vazquez repeatedly landed flush shots upstairs.
To his credit, Beranza took everything his younger foe had to offer and kept coming, even momentarily stunning Vazquez with an uppercut late in the round. Both fighters traded down the stretch, with the crowd in awe of the courage on display in the ring.
Things cooled down in the ring during the sixth, but heated up in the crowd. Chants of “Yo soy Boricua, pa’que tu lo sepas!” rang throughout the arena, in hopes of willing Vazquez to victory. The Puerto Rican responded, landing a right hand and left hooker-cut late in the round. Beranza tried to respond, but the look on his face indicated that his gas tank was beginning to creep towards empty.
A brief scare came early in the seventh, when Vazquez landed a right hand, but slipped and fell to the canvas as Beranza was throwing in return. The referee correctly ruled it a slip, but caused Vazquez to go on the defensive for much of the round. Beranza tried to capitalize, but failed to gain his second win, and was forced to plod forward without much of a game plan.
Sensing wounded prey in front of him, Vazquez progressively intensified his attack with each passing round. By round ten, Beranza was reduced to a punching bag. He tried his damnest to fight back, but was leaving himself open for heavy return fire whenever he let his hands go.
As the bout entered the championship rounds, the pace suggested a distance fight was inevitable. Vazquez Jr did his best to correct that course, but instead was met with more roughhousing from his opponent. The dirty tactics eventually cost the Mexican a point, though merely adding insult to injury considering that his chance to win a decision came and went a long time ago.
Such was confirmed on the final scorecards, with Vazquez Jr winning by margins of 118-109, 119-108 and perhaps a bit of hometown favoritism on the final card that read 120-106. With the win, the 24-year old advances to 15-0-1 (12KO), marking just the third time he has been extended the distance in his young career. It’s the second straight fight in which he sees the 12th round, though he was able to close the show in knocking out Victor Martinez in the final round of their November bout.
This time, he’s forced to go the full twelve, as Beranza has proven throughout his career that he doesn’t lie down for anyone. Such was confirmed in his last fight, an upset win over previously unbeaten Jesus Rojas. That win interrupted a five-fight skid, but it’s back to the loss column for the 32-year old super bantamweight gatekeeper, who dips to 31-15-2 (25KO).
The show was presented by Felix “Tuto” Zabala’s All Star Boxing.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com and a voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Please feel free to contact Jake at [email protected].