By Jake Donovan
As Wilfredo Vazquez Sr ponders his chances of possibly being elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, fighting son Wilfredo Vazquez Jr is now coming into his own as a super bantamweight on the rise.
The next generation or WV2 as he's aptly nicknamed continues to cruise along, as evidenced in mpressive showing in his toughest test to date. Vazquez was extended past the eighth round for the first time in his career, but put it all together for a 12th round knockout of Victor Martinez, Friday night at the Kissimmee (FL) Civic Center.
The bout aired live on a special edition of Telemundo Boxeo.
Vazquez began the fight at a measured pace, as is the case in most of his bouts. Not to where he's willing to give away the opening round, but more so to see how willing his opponent is to engage, and then adjust accordingly.
After getting a good look in the opening round, Vazquez spent the next few frames closing the gap and landing with greater frequency. Martinez managed to land a couple of flush right hands in the second, but left himself open for counter opportunities. Vazquez exploited such openings in the third, landing a one-two that drew a rise out of the raucous partisan crowd.
The jab was put to good use as early as the fourth round, as Vazquez started off every combination with the stick. Martinez refused to back down, often motioning for Vazquez to come in, but the Puerto Rican wisely never took the bait. Round by round, Martinez' activity level would drop, while Vazquez' accuracy would progressively improve.
That the bout would never become competitive was apparent early and an absolute by the midway point, with the only question being whether Vazquez would be taken deeper than in any other fight to date, or if Martinez would eventually get got.
The answer turned out to be both.
Vazquez Jr. considerably picked up the pace the moment the second half of the fight was underway. A left hook caught Martinez on the chin, paving the way for a combination upstairs, much to the crowd's delight. More of the same played out in the eighth, though there was clearly no quit in Martinez.
Such was apparent in the ninth, the first time in his career any Vazquez fight ran that deep. It actually turned out to be a good round for Martinez, perhaps not good enough to win, but where he employed in and out movement to avoid most of the incoming. Vazquez remained calm under pressure, still of the belief that the knockout would eventually come.
A sloppy tenth round included Vazquez touching the canvas, though as a result of Martinez wrapping up his arm and shoving him downward. Referee Brian Gerry correctly ruled it a slip, a rare moment of involvement for the third man to that point.
Gerry would have more work to do in the11th, waving off a Martinez trip to the canvas, as the Mexican fell on all fours after wildly missing with a right hand. That didn't deter Vazquez from trying to put him down for real, spending the final 30 second on the attack, determined to disallow his opponent the pleasure of crossing the finish line.
Martinez survived the round, but not much more than that. Vazquez flew off his stool at the start of the final round, immediately peppering his foe with right hands. Martinez could never steady himself, stumbling into the ropes, where he took more punishment, before a final left hook to the body and right hand upstairs forced him to a knee.
It would be the last punches thrown in the fight. Referee Brian Gerry began the count, first in English, then in Spanish. It didn't matter the dialect, as Martinez' body language told the tale of a fighter who had no interest in getting up. Such was confirmed ten seconds after the knockdown, as he was counted out at 0:29 of the 12th and final round.
The win caps a breakthrough year for Vazquez, who advances to 14-0-1 (12KO) and from newcomer to bona fide super bantamweight prospect. All five of his wins in 2008 came inside the distance, with four knockouts and a disqualification win during the summer.
Martinez was game in defeat, but falls to 14-4 (10KO). The loss was his first in six fights since returning to the ring in 2007 following a six-year hiatus.
Junior lightweight Karl Garcia overcame a massive seven-inch height disadvantage to outfight Rolando Reyes in a four round battle of 1-0 fighters.
The slightest of edges can decide a four round fight; Garcia gained the upper hand by sending Reyes to the canvas courtesy of a right uppercut less than a minute into the fight. Reyes spent the rest of the fight trying to pin down Garcia, but only enjoyed mild success and not enough to overcome the 2-point opening round deficit.
Scores were 39-36 (2x) and 38-37 for Garcia, a stable mate of Wilfredo Vazquez Jr and trained by Wilfredo Sr. He now improves to 2-0 (0KO). Reyes, a 6'1" Dominican now fighting out of Kissimmee, evens up at 1-1.
Tonight's show was presented by All Star Boxing.
Jake Donovan is a voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Comments/questions can be submitted to JakeNDaBox@gmail.com.