By Cliff Rold
In an exciting affair, 24-year old Welterweight swarmer Vincent Arroyo (12-1, 7 KO) of Amherst, New York, rocked but could not stop 25-year old Hector Sanchez (19-2, 9 KO) of Santurce, Puerto Rico. He didn’t need to, as his work was enough for a unanimous decision victory at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota on Friday night.
Both men weighed in below the 147 lb. Welterweight limit, both four pounds under at 143. The referee was Mark Nelson.
Sanchez, thin and rangy at 6’1, began with a long, fast left jab, and his right hand banging into the chest of Arroyo to keep his man pinned down. Before the first was over, Arroyo would have the first traces of blood over the left eye.
Arroyo responded to the sight of his own blood with fire, doubling the jab and ripping shots at Sanchez early in round two. Sanchez took advantage of the openings the aggression gave him, a counter inside knocking Arroyo off balance. It didn’t slow the attack. Arroyo kept coming, eating some shots, and slipping some others, Sanchez piling up points in his favor. Arroyo was assertive again to start the third but the pace slowed for both, some brief exchanges in the final minute able to break long lulls.
Round four was, like the third, slow in pace, and early promise in the fourth fizzled as Arroyo lacked the ability to stay inside on Sanchez for the full three minutes. Short hooks and crosses were landing for Sanchez late while Arroyo swung for the fences but couldn’t connect.
They were landing in the sixth. Digging hard to the body, Arroyo weaved, stayed on the chest of Sanchez, and wobbled the taller man with some booming hooks late. Sanchez kept his legs but his eyes were glazed. Sanchez employed more lateral movement in the seventh and Arroyo’s pressure slowed, till landing big in close but finding himself there much less than previous round.
Arroyo was there at just the right time in round eight. A left hook to the temple at the midway point of the round sent a tremor through Sanchez, Sanchez holding and leaning into the ropes to keep from touching the canvas. He remarkably managed to do so into the bell as Arroyo narrowed the early gap it appeared Sanchez built on the scoring.
The ninth was far closer, Arroyo unable to maintain to the feverish attack at the end of eight until late in the round. The best action was held for the final thirty seconds, Sanchez landing crisp shots and Arroyo bouncing back to stun Sanchez again with a left to the temple.
Both men took their chances in the tenth, Sanchez controlling more of the round with his jab, Arroyo’s pressure attack capturing attention, and both landing big bombs. Neither hit the deck and the bout went to the cards. By wider than it-looked margins, Arroyo took the nod at 96-94 and 98-92 twice.
In the televised opener, 28-year old Nigerian Cruiserweight Lateef Kayode (18-0, 14 KO), 198, of Los Angeles, California, stayed undefeated but failed to impress in posting a unanimous ten round decision over 31-year old Season Four “Contender” Contestant Felix Cora Jr. (22-6-2, 12 KO), 198, of Galveston, Texas. The referee was Steve Smoger.
The southpaw stance and steady, patient approach of Cora forced Kayode to work early on, forcing the action with left jabs and stiff rights aimed with more accuracy to the body. A cut was opened over the left eye of Cora in round two, replays showed by a headbutt, with Smoger ruling it caused by a punch.
A right by Kayode appeared to stun Cora in the third but he responded well, Cora jabbing and wisely clinching before finding opening for some clean, crisp straight lefts in the final minute. A change developed in the tenor of the contest, Kayode circling away more often and letting Cora come to him, searching for big counters. He was finding enough leather to win rounds, but failing to impress.
By the seventh, Cora was finding more offense, a flurry along the ropes catching the eye before a left to the body from Kayode was followed with a right to the eye of Cora. Both men would have their moments in a punishing frame, but Kayode’s blows appeared to hurt more than the opposite affect. Matters grew no better for Cora in round eight, suffering ample punishment but able to stave off any sustained attack.
The ninth would see a great change of fortune, Cora having a strong rebound round and rocking Kayode in the final minute. While replays showed an assist from tangled feet, the tiring of Kayode was evident and Cora was there, still throwing. The tenth round was sloppy but entertaining, a last moment slice of intrigue added when a low blow from Kayode resulted in a point deduction.
It had no affect on the outcome with unanimous scores of 97-92, 96-93, and 98-92, all for Kayode. Cora loses his third in a row by decision. Kayode will continue to work as he hopes to parlay top five ratings, including a number one slot by the WBA, into a shot at a major alphabet title at 200 lbs.
The card was televised in the U.S. on premium cable network Showtime as part of its ShoBox series, promoted by Gary Shaw Productions.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]