By Jake Donovan
Just when they had him written off, Vicente Escobedo emphatically punched his way toward contention, rallying from behind to knock out previously unbeaten Dominic Salcido in their Telefutura televised main event.
The bout aired live from the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa in Cabazon, California.
The two fighters couldn’t have been more opposite in appearance and fighting style. Escobedo was the clean-cut kid, suggested by some as too nice for the sport, while trying to develop as a complete fighter under the tutelage of noted trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain.
Everything about Salcido was loud, from his glitzy ring attire, to his excessive body art, and of course his rooster-style bright red hair accompanied by checkerboard style patterns on each side of his head. His demeanor and fighting style were reminiscent of current junior welterweight contender Paulie Malignaggi, with flashy combinations and alternating between boxing on his toes and standing and trading.
The whispers around the water cooler prior to the fight were whether or not the seemingly passive Escobedo was biting off more than he can chew in taking on Salcido. The first round suggested as much; Salcido boxed smart, offering in-and-out movement while shooting off rapid-fire, if not particularly debilitating, combinations.
It was more of the same in the second until Escobedo made his presence felt late in the round. Salcido was using every inch of the ring, but got a little too cute for his own good. A right uppercut landed midway through the round, though Salcido elected to play to the crowd with a mock bolo punch that never launched.
Escobedo made him pay, landing a left hook that caused Salcido’s knees to buckle with about 30 seconds to go in a highly entertaining round.
Perhaps still a bit buzzed from the round prior, Salcido fought far more flat-footed at the start of the third. He was still getting off first with combinations, but Escobedo suddenly discovered the power aspect of his game that made him a cult favorite early in his career. Both fighters were effective to the body, though it was Escobedo landing the more telling blows.
Salcido considered it wise to return to boxing off of his toes, which is precisely what he did as things wound down toward the end of the third.
Both fighters struggled to find their range early in the fourth, with more air balls than flush shots offered in the frame. Chants of “Chente” began to pick up among the rabid casino crowd, many making the trip from the Bay Area to support the Woodlawn product despite the fact that Salcido’s Rialto hometown was less than 45 minutes away.
Things slowed in the fifth as well, though the crowd still cheered every punch thrown, whether or not they landed. It was another round with Salcido fighting from the outside while Escobedo targeted the body in his best efforts to keep the fight in a phone booth. Salcido soon obliged, taking advantage of an inactive Escobedo down the stretch, only to get clipped by a left hook just before the bell.
It was Salcido’s arrogance that would ultimately cost him the fight early in the sixth. Opting to stand and trade, the Rialto prospect found himself well within Escobedo’s punching range. A fight-altering left hook left Salcido out on his feet; three more clean head shots would send him crashing to the canvas.
Salcido showed heart in beating the count, but clearly had nothing left. Escobedo moved in for the finish, landing ten unanswered punches before referee David Mendoza peeled him off of a clearly wounded Salcido, immediately ending matters.
The official time was 0:42 of round six.
Questions were constantly asked of what happened to Escobedo’s power. He found it big time, scoring his first stoppage in almost two years. He improves to 19-1 (12KO) with the win, his 10th straight, and sixth since hooking up with Beristain. It took a while to go, but the relationship now appears to be a match made in heaven.
Growing pains aside, Salcido showed plenty in defeat, the first of his career as his record dips to 16-1 (8KO). The flamboyant junior lightweight promised to entertain, and he accomplished just that. Surely, Telefutura will have him back; at what level remains to be seen.
Handlers in the career of super bantamweight hopeful Nestor Rocha are still trying to decide if he’s a work in progress or a bona fide contender. His televised co-feature told little, as he had no problems whatsoever in dispatching overmatched journeyman Javier Cintron in the second round of their scheduled ten.
Competitive action was strictly a rumor, with Rocha dominating throughout the brief affair. A left hook floored Cintron early in the second round. He beat the count, but was dropped to a knee mere seconds later. Referee Tony Krebs reached the count of seven, but didn’t like Cintron’s reaction, thus electing to wave off the bout.
The official time was 1:24 of round two.
Rocha improves to 20-1 (7KO) in picking up his third straight win. His name was once attached to rumors of a possible alphabet title fight against Gerry Penalosa, but even Golden Boy Promotions backed off that claim – or at least walked sideways when pressed on the issue, with the belief that the Mexican needs more seasoning before partying with the division’s top players, especially one as loaded as super bantamweight.
Cintron is now 1-3-2 over his last six, falling to 14-11-2 (10KO) overall.
An early exit in the co-feature made room for a super featherweight swing bout to receive airtime. Undefeated prospect Charles Huerta only used up 92 seconds of his allotted 15 minutes of fame, tearing through Efrain Perez en route to a quickie knockout.
Huerta came out throwing from the opening bell, landing a flush left hook that had Perez in retreat mode 30 seconds into the fight. The heavily-tattooed Perez never recovered, getting nailed with flush head shots before a clean-up left hook cleaned his clock. Referee David Mendoza immediately intervened, removing Perez’ gum shield and asking him to remain on the canvas, waving off the bout without a count.
The official time was 1:32 of the opening round.
Huerta improves to 7-0 (4KO), with all seven bout taking place in his home state, with this fight just 24 hours shy of one full year as a pro.
Perez dips below .500 for the first time in his young career, dropping his second straight as he falls to 2-3 (2KO). All five of his fights have ended in the first round.
The show was presented by Golden Boy Promotions.
Jake Donovan is a voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Comments/questions can be submitted to JakeNDaBox@gmail.com.